So everyone knows that California recently passed a proposal to modify the state constitution so as to only recognize marriages between men and women. Prop 8 was considered by most conservatives, and most Christians, to be a real victory in a battle over tradition, and (somewhat separately) morality. I, myself, am a Christian, and I’m probably ‘conservative’ (whatever that term means – it probably means that I think homosexuality is in some way a bad thing, which I do). But, I probably wouldn’t have voted for Prop 8 if I were a Californian. I’m not sure that it should have been passed, or that its passing was much of a victory over anything. Let me explain, because each state is eventually going to have to go through the same thing California just went through, and we need to be thinking about how we should respond when that controversy knocks on our door.
As I already said, I am morally opposed to homosexuality. I don’t think it’s good for humanity or morally right, and I think families with same-sex parents are unhealthy environments for children. So, at that moral level, I’m on the same page with most of the people who voted for Prop 8. Why then would I probably not vote for it? If I think something is immoral, unhealthy, and dangerous to children, wouldn’t I want it outlawed? The answer is no. Or, at least not necessarily. I don’t believe that just because something is morally wrong it should be illegal. In fact, there are tons of things that I think are truly morally wrong that I don’t think the state should step in and outlaw. For instance, rudeness, gluttony, fantasizing about another person when you’re married, gossip, promiscuity, white-lying, and many other things are all wrong, but I (and I bet most everyone else) would have a real problem if the government decided it was going to start regulating people’s diets or monitoring their thoughts for illicit fantasies.
So (unless you’re totalitarian-minded), if you agree that at least some of the above things are morally wrong, you will agree that just because something is immoral doesn’t necessarily mean the state ought to illegalize it. There’s a line somewhere, between things that ought to be legal (which includes some immoral things) and things that ought to be illegal (which includes both immoral and moral things – for instance, there’s nothing inherently immoral about driving on the left side of the road, but it’s certainly illegal, and should be here). The question is, where do we draw that line, and why do I think maybe we should draw it to allow marriage between same-sex couples?
Well, to be honest, I’m just not sure why it should be illegal. I have a hard time coming up with a reason why it should be illegal that wouldn’t also make illegal some other things I don’t think should be outlawed. For instance, if we say that homosexual marriage should be illegal because it’s morally wrong, then we also ought to outlaw gluttony and illicit fantasizing, which is ridiculous. If we say it should be illegal because homosexuality is a sort of disorder that is psychologically unhealthy for the person who ‘has’ it, and is unhealthy for them to practice, then we should also outlaw phobias, but that’s stupid. If we say that it should be illegal because it poses a psychological threat to children, then we should also make it illegal for parents to let their children watch most horror movies, but that doesn’t seem like it should be illegal either. Probably the most common argument for illegalizing gay marriage is that it is not an ideal home life for children in general, but then neither is a divorced home an ideal home life, but the state certainly shouldn’t outlaw divorce.
So I basically have no good argument for making gay marriage illegal, and, because I believe in the principle ”innocent until proven guilty” (or in this case, ”legal until shown that it should be illegal”), I have to say that I wouldn’t vote for Prop 8 if it came to my state, and I don’t think anyone else should either until they have a good argument for why gay marriage should not be legalized. All in all, I’m not really opposed to outlawing gay marriage if there’s some good argument for it. I just don’t know of one. If you have an idea, feel free to throw it out.