In the past, I've been vaguely opposed to legal gay marriage, albeit without any substantial passion. It certainly hasn't been an issue that has captivated me, as it has others.
But on this recent election day, I had to take a firm position because there was a constitutional proposition on the ballot here in Florida to ban gay marriage:
Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.
The ban passed with more than 62% of the vote.
Now I had to choose to either vote for or against this amendment, so I could not longer waffle on the issue. I decided to vote against this intiative. Here's why:
I see no particular reason to ban gay marriage. And my default political paradigm is to restrict government power, not enable it. So what arguments are there to ban gay marriage? It certainly has been a hot issue, especially given the surprising constitutional amendment recently passed in California.
One common argument that I've heard and read alot is that gay marriage should be banned (or simply not legalized) in order to preserve marriage between one man and one woman, as it always existed since the beginning of time. I hope that I don't have to explain how historically preposterous this position is. Monogamous heterosexual marriage is the historical norm in American history, but certainly not world history. Anyway, the historiocity of an activity (e.g. slavery, domestic violence) does not by itself validate its continuation.
Another argument is that gay marriage harms the marriages of heterosexual couples. I just don't see this works. The health of my marriage is dependent upon the emotional health of my wife and me, and our ability and willingness to commit to each other. If a gay couple next door gets married, I simply don't see how it affects us. If a heterosexual marriage is negatively impacted by the gay marriages of others, then it was pretty weak to begin with.
Now some opponents of gay marriage have argued that it is an attack on heterosexual families by undermining the values that heterosexual couples who are opposed to gay marriage teach to their children. Well, shoot, I meet plenty of people every day whose values are completely contrary to those that I wish to teach my child. But that still doesn't mean that I should get to use government force other people to live according to my lifestyle (e.g. no worshipping false gods, hanging out in strip clubs, or being ungenerous to the poor). Teaching my kid my values is my responsibility, not the responsibility of other people. And I certainly don't want people with values contrary to mine using government force to interfere in my upbringing of my child. Mind your own damn business and I'll mind mine.
One argument against gay marriage does have some traction: legalizing gay marriage can lead to legalizing polygamy. Well, I guess that it could. Discussions of legalizing polygamy have resurfaced now that supporting gay marriage has become mainstream. But if we believe that consenting adults should have the right to do what they want with their own bodies and relationships without government interference, then maybe this is a discussion that we need to have.
Anyway, I had to make a decision when I had the ballot in front of me, so I voted against the ban.
It's not so much that I support gay marriage as much as I oppose government. The idea of using government force to define interpersonal relationships gives me the libertarian heebie jeebies. So I followed my default position and voted against the ban. I'm making no commitment in support of legalized gay marriage, but opponents are going to have to come up with better arguments before I'll get on board.