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Morning rays, Cañon de Chelly

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Adam and Ernie


I think that gay marriages are something that should be between a man and a woman. – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

In the beginning was the word, or so we are told in Genesis. While it is not my intention to wander into realms of theological "pilpul" for the purposes of this discussion, the effect of language on homo sapiens should not be overestimated. I always like to recommend the written works of the late Dr. Leonard Shlain, in this case The Alphabet and the Goddess where he explores the concept with considerable depth and scholarship.
200,000 - 90,000 years ago
    Language develops.
    Homo Sapiens differentiate away from hominids.
    Language requires complete rewiring of human brains.
    Over 90% of language modules placed in the left hemisphere of right handed    humans who comprise 92% of the population.
    Split Brain phenomenon becomes highly exaggerated only in humans.
    Most hunting and killing strategies placed in left hemisphere.
    Most nurturing and gathering strategies placed in the right side.

5,000 - 3,000 years ago
    Writing invented.

    Left hemispheric modes of perception, the hunting/killing side, reinforced.

    Literacy depends on linear, sequential, abstract and reductionist ways of thinking - the same as hunting and killing.

    Early forms of cuneiform and hieroglyphics difficult to master.

    Less than 2% literate.

    Scribes become priests and new religions emerge in which the god begins to supersede the goddess.
Today the Supreme Court, as arbiter of the land, is grappling with the difficult question of gay marriage. I guess that I should say difficult for some, I don't have personal problems with it. But many do and the argument is a distillation of some other cultural divisions that have us at loggerheads, not only in this country but internationally in places like France or in Africa where homosexual behavior can be punishable by death in places like Uganda.

So in order to talk about gay marriage, we must first talk about marriage itself. It certainly has different meanings for different people. To the biblically inclined it means a consecration of a coupling by the divine power, let's call he or she god for the sake of this discussion.

Here is Merriam Webster's take on the marriage matter;  

a (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage <same-sex marriage>
b : the mutual relation of married persons : wedlock
c : the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage 

While the national differences on gay marriage are certainly thought provoking, I think that the rifts and thinking regarding our thoughts on hetero marriage is equally interesting.

Last week a representative of the Family Research Council said that the adoption of children by Chief Justice Roberts was the second best way to have children. Because marriage is now framed as principally a tool for species propagation, an easy way to keep same sex couples out of the equation, non child bearing couples like my wife and I as well as couples that adopt are now given second class status.

The argument was reduced even more absurdly today in the supreme court oral arguments.
Justice Elena Kagan drew laughter in the courtroom when she pressed attorney Charles Cooper to explain why the government should deny marriage to same-sex couples. Cooper, who represents the sponsor of Prop. 8, said marriage was about “responsible procreation.”
That cannot be the only reason for marriage, Kagan said. What about two 55-years old—a man and a woman—who decide to marry?
Cooper pressed ahead, arguing that the man could still be fertile.
Kagan countered that it was not likely that couple would produce many children.
“Lots of people who get married can’t have children,” added Justice Stephen G. Breyer.
I think that what this ludicrous reasoning points out is the weakness of the argument and the need to keep religion out of government. Do we really want a system that places a hierarchal value on the validity of an older person's marriage versus a younger couple's? Or the nonfertile?

I support same sex marriage for several reasons. Number one, the children I know of gay couples are as well balanced if not more so than their straight parent counterparts. They shouldn't grow up with the stigma of being second class citizens. Two, the rights of survivorship are horrible for civil unions. Gay couples are denied the right to file a joint tax return, something that costs them money.
Another major tax issue at stake in the DOMA case is the estate tax. Currently, surviving spouses in federally-recognized marriages don't have to pay taxes on their deceased spouse's estate, while same-sex widows pay a 35 percent estate tax on anything in excess of a $5 million exemption.
The case challenging DOMA was filed by New Yorker Edith Windsor, who sued to get back the $363,000 in estate taxes she paid when her partner of more than 40 years died.
This is just plain awful to me. Totally unfair. Somebody at coffee said we should leave it to the states. Well. We tried that with slavery and it didn't work. Without federalism, not to mention the Civil War, we might still have slavery in this country.

If you are of a religious mind that says that marriage is a consecration by god that is best left to the church and synagogue, I appreciate your argument. I would say that if we go down that road we need to redefine our legal and tax code and make all permanent coupling a legal matter and a civil union. De-classify marriage and let that be the provinces of religious institutions but do not let it carry any legal weight whatsoever.

Genesis © Robert Crumb

4 comments:

Sanoguy said...

As to leaving the issue to the States: This will result in chaos. If a couple is married in one State that allows gay marriage and they then move to a State that does not recognize the marriage, where is the couple legally??? It seems like they are in the State of Limbo!!

If gay marriage is to be allowed, it should be recognized as a universal right across the States.

Another way to solve the problem would be to have the States recognize "civil unions" for legal rights and allow churches to perform the marriage ceremony. The marriage would be recognized by the church, civil unions by the State. If a particular church did not believe in gay marriage, they would not be required to perform the ceremony. The couple would still be recognized, for legal purpose, as legally joined through the civil union. Again, this would need to be applied across all of the States.

Blue Heron said...

I basically totally agree with you.

Ken Seals said...

Any definition of marriage based on religious belief/biblical phrase should be immediately excised from all federal and state laws. I believe equal protection and rights for all US citizens requires the elimination of all obstacles to marriage for anyone of legal age and mental soundness.

Isak said...

Amen, Brother, to yours and these comments as well. As a gay man, today I am singing: Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome someday. Civil rights belong to everybody! All civil rights; all people.

Thanks, Robert.