Wednesday, November 12, 2008

8 x 2

The Common Man is still up in arms over this country's continued refusal to provide equal rights for its gay citizens. Today, in the comments of The Common Man's Prop. 8 entry, a new commenter, Erasmus, asks an important question, the answer to which is essential to defusing the Pro Prop 8 propoganda. While The Common Man sought to answer him in the comments section, the response ended up being far too long. So, The Common Man reprints Erasmus's question here, and offers his reply.

Sorry for the lateness of the response. I don't read the Common Man as often as I should. Without comment on either, it occurs to me that the argument in favor of gay marriage is identical to the argument in favor of polygamy. Does the Common Man draw the line anywhere on the consenting adults union continuum? Yes I appreciate the irony that most polygamists are against gay marriage. :)

Your tardiness is excused, Erasmus, provided you are dutiful in checking in in the future. Dissent here is welcome, and The Common Man appreciates your input.

That said, you're comparing apples to oranges. Indeed, the argument for polygamy is typically a numbers-based dispute, while the gay marriage issue is simply one of fairness and equal opportunity. Even if you believe in polygamy, you can be married to the person you choose (just not to more than one person). If you are gay, however, you cannot.

Also, Erasmus, Prop 8 was an action of the state and people of California. This is significant because when a state hands out rights, it cannot (or at least should not) selectively deny them for specific subgroups of people. It's not "Congress shall establish no law prohibiting the freedom of speech except for left-handed people, who should just shut the Hell up and be grateful that they get scissors and notebooks that cater to their backwards ways." The promise of America is that everyone should have the same basic opportunities, and that what they do with those opportunities is up to them. California, and those who oppose gay marriage deny opportunity to a category of humanity, and that's not right.

The Common Man does draw the line on the consenting adults continuity, Erasmus. Be clear, the problem with polygamy in this country (and around the world) is that it has led to an exploitive and predatory patriarchy that has abused and neglected women and kept them in perpetual servitude. And it has, in its insane and out of control need for more brides, resorted to preying on young girls to fill that need. So it is in the government's interest, and the public's, to make sure that half of its citizens aren't subjected to the lunacy of the Warren Jeffs compounds.

In general, however, The Common Man believes that legality should have little to do with spirituality. If, a la Big Love, three women want to live with one man who is committed to supporting them all and raising their kids, that's ultimately not The Common Man's business (so long as the women aren't being exploited; there's a difference between being a polygamist and being an asshole), anymore than it's The Common Man's business that a young boy lives at home with his mother, father, sister, Uncle Fester, Grandpa Munster, Aunt Clara, and mom's best friend from high school who just left her husband and needs a place to stay for a while.

In fact, The Common Man knows some de facto polygamists (though not actually married, as far as he knows), who he finds intelligent, self-assured, and generally pleasant (and who did not have, nor want, any children). Weird people, very very weird, but kind. The Common Man may not like it, may not agree with it, and may generally find it perplexing (The Common Man has enough trouble catering to the whims of one wife, thank you), but it's ultimately not his place to get angry about it. They are all happy and their arrangement in no way interferes with the sanctity and efficacy of his own marriage. In the same way that allowing gay people to marry one another has absolutely no effect on The Common Man's marriage to The Uncommon Wife.


Erasmus said...

Cool. First time poster and I got a whole blog post. :)

Just to clear the air, I am neither for nor against gay marriage. (Or polygamy for that matter) I'm more of a live and let live sort.

That said...

The state does not provide marriage as a right to anyone. So no rights are being taken away as there were none to begin with. The problem is that the state is involved with marriage in the first place. The state has a legal definition of marriage. In a business sense, it is an unlimited liability partnership. Simple marriage has a state defined default partnership agreement. Sadly, most don't ever read or even have access to that agreement before they "sign" it.

But I digress. Since the state defines what the legal ramifications of marriage are, it is in the states purview to define what marriage itself is.

Again, personally I think the state has no place in marriage at all. It should be between you, your partner(s) and your god(s) who you "marry". As far as the state goes, draw up a partnership agreement however you please and submit it.

But that's just me.

Thanks again for the response.

The Common Man said...

It was no problem, Erasmus, The Common Man was itching for a chance to rant against this ridiculous vote and your comment provided perfect impetus. The Common Man (and presumably his readers) made no assumptions regarding your personal beliefs.

The Common Man contends that the state's only business is to protect the rights of its citizens, and that any interaction with those citizens is and should be in the interest of that goal. Perhaps it's more accurate for The Common Man to say that he sees marriage as a right, one that is covered under Americans' freedom to assemble and associate with whomever they choose. Perhaps that is a generous interpretation of the first amendment.

Otherwise, you and The Common Man are in agreement that the government has no business in the marriage game. Domestic partnerships for all! Let God handle marriage.