Monday, September 6, 2010

Political opinion: gay marriage and marijuana

I don’t usually like to ponder politics much, but I cannot help this one. How could that California Proposition 8, about banning gay marriage, even get on a ballot? I do not understand how that could happen. Anything involving the basic rights of US citizens should not be decided by majority vote. This is why we have a republic, not a strict democracy. The rights of any minority group are protected from being violated by majority sentiments. The judge that ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional was definitely right.
I see in the various opinion forums and OpEd pages certain patterns in why some people oppose gay marriage.
The often used “slippery slope” argument, that allowing gay marriages opens the door to marriage among multiple individuals, to animals, to underage children, etc is ridiculous. Allowing gay marriage is better likened to repealing the laws against interracial marriage (some of which existed into the 1960’s I believe); that is, allowing individuals the freedom to pursue happiness and live and love the person of their choice.
People who counter that proposition 8 did allow civil unions between gay couples miss the point. There are financial advantages that are associated with the government recognizing the marriage relationship—to give just a single example, and probably far from the most important one in terms of the amount of money involved, the “married, filing jointly” option is an advantage in most cases in filing federal income taxes. And if such advantages are there for straight couples, it is wrong (discriminatory) to deny them to gay couples.
Further, anyone who can muster up much energy and enthusiasm for objecting to gay marriage is not only being wrongheaded, but also needs to “get a hobby”. There are real things out there to worry about, folks, and this is not one of them. One should “live and let live”.
One frequently hears or reads the argument that gay marriage will undermine the traditional marriage. Well, so what? The divorce rate associated with traditional marriage is very high, so I would say it has already been undermined, and in fact the institution of marriage is often hypocritical (a vow “Till death do us part” is now apparently uttered without conviction in many cases). But that said, I do not even see how gay marriage would even affect most married people. Are these people thinking that there will be some massive rush for heterosexuals to divorce, and marry members of their own sex?
I saw one letter to the editor in the local paper today that asserted that government should be concerned with stopping anything that “weakens the moral fiber of the nation”---or some such nonsense. Has this person never read anything about Nazi Germany? I have little doubt that that government would have considered that to be within its scope. No, worrying about something as nebulous as “the moral fiber of the nation” is most certainly not the role of the government. The State, according to the philosophy of the “founding fathers” and the US constitution, is limited to securing and protecting the rights of the individual. I have to add that there is something really revolting about denying an individual the right of an association with a loved one for some dubious and vague purpose such as the “moral fiber of the nation”.
Here is a practical reason why everyone should support gay marriage: given that males tend to be polygamous, whether heterosexual or homosexual, the institution of marriage has a tendency to minimize (not eliminate, of course) promiscuity. So, if marriage is available to gay male couples, the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases would be very likely to decrease in frequency.
Many of the letters to the editors of the media seem to confuse the strictures of their religious beliefs with what should be binding legally. But no!---remember the separation of church and state principle---you must differentiate between what you believe God approves of, and what the US government allows. This seems so obvious to me that I really do not have the energy to elaborate on it much.

And what’s up with this widespread stupidity in Colorado of trying to get the medical marijuana dispensaries shut down? What hypocrisy, since my suspicion is that many of these objectors use alcohol, tobacco, coffee, etc. I do not have the facts at my fingertips, but am certain that from a practical standpoint—which by the way is not the only, or even the main, consideration here---that liquor causes much more socially negative behavior and damage than marijuana does. It is odd---I would have thought that as the generation older than baby boomers begins to fade (I hate to say, “die off”), that people would come to their senses and stop the idiotic “war on drugs”. Of course, I believe the first order principle involved here is that it is not the business of the government to tell us what we can and what we cannot imbibe (of course, it should be a crime to drive on public roads while under the influence of alcohol or drugs).
Wouldn’t a great many of the human caused ills in the world be greatly mitigated if people would learn to just mind their own business, and to take a “live and let live” attitude. But, it seems that very hard for us humans to do.


alley said...

You should post more often.

I tend to be in agreement on Gay Marriage, if anything the government needs to get out of sanctioning what is essentially a religious institution. Civil unions for all I say.

As to the war on drugs, I have mixed feelings. As far as I can tell, Pot is about as harmful as smoking cigarettes while drinking beer. But many other recreational drugs are far more terrifying. Limiting their use is an attempt to limit their fallout - on families, kids, communities.

Tom said...

Thanks for your comments, much appreciated.

Yep, I agree, civil unions for all, straights and gays, would be the ideal approach. As you imply, this is partly a separation of church and state issue.

Regarding marijuana (or actually any drug), my main point is, whether or not it is harmful, it should not properly be the government's role to ban it. This is of course from my libertarian perspective, wherein the government's function is limited to protecting individual rights.

There are many activities and substances that may be harmful, or have negative impact on families, that are perfectly legal and no one would ever suggest should be made illegal.

Furthermore, criminilizing any substance that is highly desired by a significant number of people just creates a black market and more crime---e.g. what happened during prohibition. The "war on drugs" has likely caused most of the gang violence.

I would add that I suspect that all of the drugs that are "harder" than marijuana (heroin, cocaine, etc) are without a doubt harmful, but I do not think it is right to criminilize them for that reason.

Rufus Otis said...

Tom... not surprisingly, you and I agree on this issue -- mostly, in that it should NOT be an issue at all.

Most people want the rights of marriage... property rights, tax rights, etc. How would THAT undermine the fabric of society. Society has done of pretty good job of undermining itself -- it doesn't need help. The marriage part is NOT the business of the government -- it's between the supplicants and their church... or, according to my belief, simply between the two (or however many)persons. My own pledge to my wife has nothing to do with the gawds or the state.

And, of course, there should be no law regarding personal use of marijuana -- or growing. The fact that it's illegal to grow a weed for personal use provides a money trail to the real reason it's illegal. Someone is making a boat load of money from the illegal marijuana trade. Homegrown weed would put someone out of business.

Of course, I think ALL drugs should be "legal", even the scary ones. LIke you, I simply don't think it's the purpose of government to look after such things. "Dangerous" substances are self-governing... those that can't moderate don't live long enough to reproduce.

Tom said...

Thanks Rufus, your comments inspire me--it is great to realize that there are still rational people like yourself out there!

32oH2O said...

Regarding the post: It seems like someone forgot to take his glaucoma medicine today.

Regarding gay marriage: The state should quit sanctioning marriage of any and all kinds. If no church had to ask the state (they do) if it can perform a religious ceremony among consenting parties, then maybe fewer churches would worry about what rituals get sanctioned.

Regarding weed growing: Legislation which would have made growing small amounts of weed legal in California (fall 2011) were voted down by the outlying areas where illegal weed growing is an important part of the economy.