Monday, November 06, 2006

Ok, I'll Make An Argument (Second, Briefer Version)

Ok, first of all, a definition. On my blog, a troll is not defined as someone who posts politely and respectfully a comment that I disagree with wholly and in full. A troll would have replied, "u fag, i hope u die of aids suxxor!" or "repent because you are going to hell for thinking gays are ok, what about the children!" or suchlike. Carlos has a different definition, which he has expressed to me on numerous occasions. Regardless, name-calling is not allowed unless it is done by me, in which case it is always appropriate.

With that out of the way, Anonymous, you lost me pretty quickly. As Carlos pointed out, 1.5 percent of the population is still a hell of a lot of people. 4.5 million, actually, or the number of Native Americans and Alaskans that identified themselves as such on the 2000 census. It is 800,000 fewer than live in the state of Wisconsin. By contrast, only about 1.6 million Americans regularly rely on wheelchairs to get around in public. Yet we feel that's a good enough reason to require curb cuts and accessible rest rooms at great expense to business, as well as providing tax-cuts for the installation of powered doors and other accessibility items to business. Would you have me tell Peanut that because there are so few people like her, we shouldn't bother providing these things for her? These are not nameless, faceless people. One of the people who commented before you married her wife in Canada and they have a young daughter. I have at least one other periodic commenter who is also in a committed relationship, trying to have a baby. This isn't some abstract, philosophical argument for them. These kinds of laws affect them and their families, and I can't imagine how you could look someone like Elsewhere in the eye and tell her that her life is sinful and doesn't deserve the protections my family has.

Next comes the religious argument. I am a Christian, but admittedly no scholar of the bible. Carlos made some points there, and I have a devout friend or two who do know their scripture, disagree with the ban, and might be tempted to add their two cents in soon. I do know that there are plenty of items in Leviticus that I violate regularly. I am not adverse to wearing a cotton-blend from time to time, for instance. Nor do I make any animal sacrifices at the end of my menstrual period. However, that is all beside the point. I do not think that homosexuality is sinful nor immoral. You do not have the right to impose your religious interpretation of the bible on me or anyone else. You don't. My church is a mainstream church, and my minister, who has a doctorate in theology, signed a statement against the ban. Go ahead and see how many others, including the US Episcopal Church, have publicly renounced the ban. Obviously, many learned people of faith have reason to believe that either homosexuality is not as sinful as you think, or that the government has no business regulating this behavior.

The bible was used at one time to justify slavery. The Word of God is now being used to justify torture (for a breath of fresh air after that link, see the other side), as well as the oppression of gays and lesbians. I don't believe Jesus's teachings could allow any of these actions to be considered Christian behavior, and I find it ironic that I would be accused of not being open-minded by someone who would vote to ban a basic right to people whose "lifestyle" is not one they agree with. All I said was that I question the character of someone who thinks that's ok. I didn't say you shouldn't be allowed to vote or anything. But if you don't like this, feel free to go find another country that doesn't separate the church from the state. Saudi Arabia comes to mind. Or Haiti. Though Finland and Denmark might not be so bad. Of course, they allow civil unions.

But say you are steadfast in the idea that gay marriage is wrong, no matter what. Leaving aside the fact that it is already illegal in Wisconsin, please understand what the ban says. They want to have written into the constitution not only a ban on gay marriage, but on anything that even looks like it supports any kind of official relationship outside of marriage for anyone. This is where business gets involved. Labor unions, chambers of commerce, and various other business leaders and groups, like that bastion of the left, the UW-system Board of Regents, are against the ban. Similar bans have cost other states and cities millions of dollars in tourism and convention money. The way the ban here is written, it will likely mean that domestic-partner benefits will be illegal, and will certainly no longer be offered at the state level. That means a lot of people who might want to do research for the UW, or take a position at Oscar Mayer, will choose to go elsewhere. It's been happening at the university for quite some time, actually, as we're the only one in the Big Ten that doesn't offer benefits, and never would with the ban in place.

Or you could vote against it for the children. Both the WI chapter of the American Association of Pediatricians and the WI Medical Society are against the ban. From the AAP site:

WHEREAS, strong and credible medical evidence demonstrates that legislation which outlaws or invalidates civil unions and domestic partnerships other than those between a man and a woman is potentially harmful to the children and
WHEREAS, despite this evidence, the Wisconsin legislature is currently contemplating such legislation, and a change in the State of Wisconsin constitution regarding the definition of marriage and
WHEREAS, Wisconsin children would suffer the same deleterious effects, if such legislation is passed, that has been documented in other states
BE IT RESOLVED, that the Wisconsin chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the referendum to amend the State of Wisconsin Constitution regarding the definition of marriage because the proposed amendment is not in the best interest of children.

Of course, they are against spanking too, so you know what crazy thinking they are capable of.

You will have to trust me when I tell you I have heard the arguments against. Boy howdy, have I ever. So do me this favor: please browse the FAIR Wisconsin site, and read the list of editorials against the ban (click to read them too. Tomah's is pretty good, actually). They have info regarding the religious arguments against homosexuality, and why they are perhaps spurious. They talk about the legal and economic ramifications.

Wisconsin was one of the first states, if the the first, to ban discrimination on the basis of sexuality. Now we are considering writing that discrimination into the constitution. If we are to amend the constitution, it should be to give people more rights instead of taking them away. If you don't like gay marriage, then don't marry someone who is gay. Just don't force someone else to live your idea of Jesus's teachings. On that note, I leave you with the Slacktivist:

In every religion, it seems, you'll find a group loudly proclaiming its allegiance and submission to the dictates of scripture -- the Bible, the Koran, the Pentateuch, Dianetics, it doesn't matter which. Their every action, every aspect of their lives, they say, is shaped and determined by the commands of their holy book.

Such sternly obedient believers face an epistemological dilemma. How can they know, with certainty, precisely what it is that their scripture demands? Most of us believer types, in every religion, tend to interpret our holy books through the lenses of reason, tradition and experience. But for these biblicists, reason, tradition and experience must all also "submit" to the dictates of the scripture. The meaning of scripture, therefore, has to be treated as self-evident and unambiguous -- two things which scripture tends self-evidently and unambiguously not to be.

Suggest any form of scholarship, textual, literary or linguistic criticism and the biblicists tend to get angrily defensive. These are all useful and important tools for determining what it is that scripture says and means and requires of its adherents. But the biblicists aren't interested in refining or clarifying their supposedly self-evident interpretations. They reject all such study as a potential threat to their own preferred interpretation.

And that, right there, tells you all you need to know about their supposed allegiance and obedience to their scripture. The scripture is not their true starting point after all. Their starting point is their own preferred interpretation, their own preference. They, and not their supposed Word of God, are the ultimate arbiters of truth, reality and meaning.

That's why whenever you hear someone say that the Bible is "inerrant" and "infallible," what they're really saying is that "My reading of the Bible is inerrant and infallible." What they're really claiming is, "I am inerrant and infallible."

What they're really claiming is, "I am God."

Now I can go back to bed.


RLGelber said...

Great post!

julia said...

Excellent stuff.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for you response. I appreciate your respectful explanation of position! Nothing shuts down meaningful, honest and open communication like acrimony. Therefore, after reading your post and getting a feel for what was written, I didn't even check the comments section. (Sorry, Carlos!) A few quick things. Many references were made to the Levitical law, and I've seen this pretty commonly used. Check out this website (, particularly the section marked Leviticus 18 & 20. I aplogize for the way my population comment was perceived. I can see how that could have been misconstrued. My ONLY intent was to correct the misconception that the GLBT population represented a "significant" portion of the population numerically, not that they weren't significant. And that has absolutely no bearing on how I feel about curb cuts or ramps. As to finding another homeland, should I suggest that those who want these rights could themselves go to Canada? Or Finland or Denmark? No. Use the democratic process to vote as you please. Again, it is my intention to honestly explain to you where I am coming from, because it seemed as though you legitimately wanted to understand. Again, thanks for the honest discourse. And sorry about the initial post that was lost. I know how much that stinks.

Carlos said...

We have had that discussion a lot, haven't we?

Anonymous, do you eat pork? Read Leviticus 11:7-8. Carrie tells me that you're worth bothering with, but I'm only seeing someone ignorant about their own faith being politically cruel because they're creeped out by gay people, and using religion as their excuse.

Pronoia said...

Carrie, thanks so much for having our backs.

mdunne02 said...

It's interesting that I stumbled upon this blog purely by accident while searching for material on written arguments.

Be that as it may, I would like to correct the common misconception, at least the one that mis-applies to me:

I am not creeped out by gays, I do not hate gays, and I am not scared of gays (the term homophobe is a total misuse of the english language in my opinion). I do believe that it is an un-natural lifestyle. I do not believe that it (homosexuality) should share the same societal benefits provided by race, color, creed, handicapped status, etc.

I have seen no convincing proof, despite empassioned arguments to the contrary, that homosexuality is ingrained or in some way genetic. Every human has sexual urges. Some have more than others; some less. At the risk of sounding crass, if there is an orafice, there is a human that will try to have sex with it. If a person wants to marry a coconut, that's fine - go ahead. But please don't ask that the marriage be recognized by our government and supported by our tax dollars.

People are free to do what they like in America - but that doesn't mean we all have to agree with it and/or fund it.

Thank you for providing a fair forum for those of differing viewpoints to politely share their opinions.