Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Response to Mr. Weigel; in what Logic can you Compare Gay Rights and Equality to Totalitarianism?

Instead of talking about the the debt limit debate happening (which I have choice words), I am instead going to respond to Mr. George Weigel's article posted on the National Review's website. Before reading my post, I encourage you to read his article, or you may not know what I am referring to.

In an article titled "No Homophobia", Mr. Weigel goes on to argue that the state changing the nature of marriage in order to include gay couples, since marriage existed before the state, is a characteristic of totalitarian government. He uses examples to demonstrate that couples in the Soviet Union had to have two ceremonies (one civil and one religious) in order to be married in the eyes of the state; thus giving the state leverage in one's personal life. He goes on to say that the state is redefining reality in order to accommodate new communist principles into social life. Lastly, he states that since the state has the power to change marriage, it can change other personal relationships as well; bringing totalitarianism into everyday life. The only reason his title was"No Homophobia" was to shield himself from being called homophobic. He wanted to show that he was making an argument on opposition to gay marriage on the basis of being homophobic (then why write an article in the first place?), but to show the state has too much power to change personal relationships and the meaning of marriage.

Mr. Weigel, in what bizarre logic can you compare the quest for equal rights under the law to totalitarianism? This is not a subject where relativity rules, its plain objective fact. The United States is a country of laws, where everyone should have equal rights under the law; regardless of who they are. This principle, folks, is in the Constitution and other founding documents. By not allowing citizens to get married based upon moral preference, not law, you have actully increasing the size of government in daily life; something conservatives and libertarians rally against. Rather, Mr. Weigel bypasses that fact and views states legalizing gay marriage as changing the essence of marriage itself. Ill get back to this point.

First of all, Weigel asserts that "a reality that existed before the state, for marriage as the union of a man and a woman ordered to mutual love and procreation is a human reality that existed before the state." Isn't that technically false? The Christian tradition of being married didn't start until the CE (common era). Marriage, of alternate kinds, were around in the BCE (before common era), where guess what - states - existed. Marriage happened pagan empires, and if we're going to go further, basic civilization - a state - needed to exist to create this union. If you count nomadic hunter-gatherers as deeming woman to be their property as marriage, then ok, have fun with that. If we're continuing on this point, if marriage really existed pre-state, then so did men loving men (and it most certainly did)! Thus, depending on the nature of state; they are allowed to deem what legitimate marriage is; for good or for bad. The United States, founded on equality and laws, does not have this same privilege. Therefore, the state does not have to "just" recognize a union between a man and a woman; they are free to define it between same sex couples too. Essentially, Mr. Weigel, your point has been proven false. With this point proven false, the logic of the state changing an institution that was pre-state (essentially the growing power of the state)  and having to recognize as pre-state, is null.

Moreover, I am still not completely sure what bringing in Soviet Union communism does to the validity or seriousness of his argument. He uses the examples of the Soviet state to show how the they stifled individual action and used totalitarianism to change the nature of marriage. However, with his previous point of marriage being a pre-state institution being false, these comparisons are just a reflection of Weigel's old view of the world. Mr. Weigel, as evident of using his comparisons to Soviet Union, still lives in a world where it is us vs. them. The bipolar world he grew up with is still in his head, and he has carried that over to draw a sharp line with same sex marriage. It begs the question, why would he bring up Soviet references at all? Does relating the Soviet Union with the state allowing same sex marriage (in his eyes totalitarianism) make gay marriage un-American? One can only guess using the old and outdated United States-is-opposite-and-morally-correcter-than-the-Soviet-Union anthesis is his way of saying gay marriage is un-American. If the Soviets did it a certain way, no way are we! Or rather, does he use the Soviet Union to illustrate to unfounded-in-fact possible dangers that go along with leftward ideology? Anything to scare people, right?? That view is not appropriate for the globalized world, and more importantly gay marriage. Obviously, these have no place in his article and just serves to further diminish the legitimacy of his argument.

Weigel states "moreover, marriage and the families that are built around marriage constitute one of the basic elements of civil society, that free space of free associations whose boundaries the just state must respect." So if a same sex couple wants to be marriage, then the state shouldn't be prohibiting it, right? Though Weigel is only seeing his view of pre-state-man-and-woman-only marriage, he consequentially argues against himself due to his narrow minded thinking. I can't really say more, he does it for me!

I would just like to point out, before my final points, that you can replace many of his examples and words and make it an argument against civil rights of all kinds. Just replace his title with "No Racism" and his examples illustrate things against inter-racial marriage, or civil rights for minorities. I am not calling Mr. Weigel a racist so please do not take my comments the wrong way, however, there is a major problem when your argument and logic pattern, with minor diction switches, mirror racist remarks used to go against inter-racial marriages and greater civil rights for minorities. I am just calling it how I see it.

In a concession, I do see his viewpoint in that states artificially making all reality equal is inherently more state intrusiveness in daily life and more totalitarian. However, we aren't talking about making the world "equal". We are talking about a right that should be entitled to a segment of the population but haven't because they have been discriminated against. I am not arguing to make the world equal, I am saying that gay marriage is a right gays should already have due to our legal system and founding documents.

My final points against Mr. Weigel is that he seems to forget that the United States is a nation of laws, where citizens get equality under the law no matter who they are. It is as simple as that. The further where I think his real argument lies is the state legitimizing marriage in general. In the modern world, one gets certain benefits from being recognized as 'married' by the state. Due to the United States recognizing marriage, we also must give all the same civil benefits and equality chance for everyone to get married to achieve those benefits. Thus, since the state gives these benefits to married couples, the cannot discriminate who can get marriages and thus this is where we get into the whole "totalitarian" view. Mr. Weigel, if you don't want the state 'changing' marriage at all then your real argument is that the United States shouldn't give benefits to married couples of any kind. Simple as that.

Mr. Weigel's article hints at a point he doesn't make. The arugement he does make is filled with inconsistencies and irrelevant support. The only way to get the state out of marriage is to stop entwining marriage and benefits together. Even then what you stop same sex marriage? Nothing. The claims of totalitarianism are vastly unfounded as with you examples of the Soviet Union.  I would really like to know if Mr. Weigel has any friends or family members that are gay, maybe then he would be more clear on his real point instead of embarrassing himself as an educator. The United States is a nation of equality under the law, and marriage should not be an exception.

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