Since we will see the Supreme Court weigh in on the constitutionality of Prop 8 and DOMA at the end of next month, I feel I need to speak on the matter. Although I am glad about the advances that have been made recently regarding marriage equality, a lot of me feels like screaming, “Come on! This is really that difficult?” To me, marriage equality should be a no-brainer. In an ideal world, this issue would be resolved in 5 minutes and then we can talk about something else. But, we don’t live in an ideal world, hence why I am writing this post, and will be writing subsequent posts. This post will focus on how I believe supporters of marriage equality are not presenting the argument for marriage equality in the most effective way they can, and how to make the argument more effective. Subsequent posts will focus on how the anti-marriage equality side of this debate doesn’t have a real argument, and how (you guessed it!) they misuse words.
So this post: How proponents of marriage equality could present their argument in a more effective way.
I have watched entire too many “debates” on this issue on different television networks. They all say the same thing: Pro: Marriage is about two people loving each other coming together. Anti: Marriage is about procreation. Pro: Gay couples have children. Anti: Children need a mom and dad, churches, blah, blah blah…. Nothing ever gets resolved and no one’s minds are ever changed. I supposed this is done for the ratings, and not for advancing anything, but that’s another issue in itself.
So, let’s put this issue in it’s proper focus. Let’s take all emotion out of both sides of the issue. After we do that, we are left with the central issue at hand: Whether or not same-sex couples should have access to a civil marriage license. Now, we start by explaining what a marriage license is: a contract which affords couples certain rights, many in the form of tax reductions and other benefits. A couple can have access to a marriage license by going into city hall with two witnesses, going up to the clerk, asking for the license, and paying the fee (of course, there are probably differences with this process depending on jurisdiction). That’s it.
This is why I don’t like the argument that has arisen over this issue. Most of the topics both sides bring up are irrelevant. Churches are irrelevant. The “public understanding of marriage” is irrelevant. Children are irrelevant. Hell, even love is irrelevant. It’s completely legal for two people who just met to get a marriage license and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. It doesn’t matter if they even see each other after getting the license. I realize most people don’t do that, but nothing is stopping anyone from doing so.
In short, the marriage equality issue is somewhat like an onion. Both have many soft layers that can easily be pulled off and thrown away, leaving a small core. Looking at the small core, the issue is incredibly simple and clear. One type of couple has access to a contract that another type of couple does not have access to. The reason why I support marriage equality is just as simple: I don’t see any legal reason against it.
My final point: if supporters of marriage equality framed the issue in terms of the marriage license, they win. When groups like the National Organization for Marriage talk about Catholic charities closing down because they lost their tax exempt status, they should ask “How does denying same sex couples access to a marriage license do anything to stop this issue from happening?” They won’t have an answer, because there is no substance to their argument, and because that issue concerns anti-discrimination laws, not marriage licenses.
I will have much more on the fallacies of the arguments people make against marriage equality in future posts. Until then, folks, “If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”