There are only a handful of political blogs that I care to frequent. One of these is a site run by what I would call "movement libertarians." There was a discussion of secular opposition to gay marriage. Subsequently, the comment thread drew a lot of attention from supporters of gay marriage with the same old overblown hyper-emotional arguments. This post is something of a lengthy comment to that thread.
First, I don't believe that gay marriage is a good idea, and that supporting it would be, from a policy perspective, a very poor choice. And the reasoning behind this is strictly secular. On the other hand, I also believe that it's inevitable, that it's part of a broader shift in our culture, and it's bound to happen anyway at one point or another.
I am really turned off by the assertion that same-sex marriage is some sort of civil rights struggle. There was never a time when gays were obliged to sit at the back of a bus. There were never special water fountains set up for gays so they would stay away from the 'straights only' water. That sort of thing never happened.
Back in the days of the wagon trains, riding along in their wagon-- what was the status of gays at that time? Well, you have these two fellows who ride in this one conestoga by themselves-- they don't have any other family with them. They decorated their wagon a bit fancy, but it adds a bit of pizzazz to the whole wagon train-- and they haven't been attacked by Indians yet (maybe they haven't yet because they don't know what to think of that fancy wagon!). And that one fellow can cook pretty good-- mighty tasty, whatever it was.
Everything's good. As long as they circle up when it's time to circle up and head out when it's time to head out, everything is good.
But then, late one evening, sitting around the campfire, the one fellow decides he wants to hold the other fellow's hand just sitting right there. How's that going to go over?
Now, claims that one's own marriage is or is not stronger / better off / sprinkled with chocolate chips due to allowing / disallowing same-sex marriage amount to anecdotal evidence, and should be discounted wholesale. Individual results are rightfully expected to be many and diverse, and evidence of their diversity substantiates this.
The claims of the need for validation and against alienation are over-wrought inanities which amount to nothing more than narcissism, and should be easily discounted. Just because no one gave you a lollipop doesn't mean that you just got a spanking-- but they want to cry about it just the same.
What is at issue is the right of the state to administer administrative law, such as the professional requirements for architects, nurses, real estate agents and used car salesmen, training minimums for paramedics, etc. It's the same type of regulation.
My opposition is founded on the function of society as an organic construct. Because of this, there is no one 'right and wrong,' but many different 'rights and wrongs;' whether a particular thing is right or wrong depends as much on its place as anything else. And so, our inquiry is naturally limited in scope.
It is apparent to me, and I want the reader to realize at this point, that, although the Left would like to claim the mantle of strength in diversity and the champion of civil rights, it is truly the conservative view which values the diversity of society, and in more meaningful terms.
Each one of these arguments that they raise to support the idea of same-sex marriage-- equality of rights, emotional suffering / alienation, anecdotal outcomes-- adheres to one core set of values that does not allow for any other. At its base is the Europeanization of American culture as an ideal, and for all their railing against colonialism, this is simply another form of colonialism. Although they would like you to believe that they really care about immigrants and want them to maintain separation by language, they want even more for every one of these Asians or Latinos or Africans to relinquish their heritage, traditions, culture, and morality, and trade them in for the sanitized, approved, white-faced Western European ideals-- which at some point has degenerated from Enlightenment to Rationalization. For them, there is no room for any other standard, any other model, or belief. Once again, we are confronted by ideologues who adhere blindly, unfailingly, and unquestioningly to their ideal of the supremacy of late Western European rationalism. If you look at their arguments, you can check each one for positive materialism, and each one follows the standard.
I came to a realization the other day watching my kitten play with a grasshopper that she caught. She brought it into the living room and was sitting there playing with it. It occurred to me that this is one of the fundamental differences in the way that dogs & cats organize into societies. Cats are solitary hunters. They hunt alone, make the kill, and bring it back. Dogs hunt in a pack. They go out together to make the kill, and so there's no issue of bringing it back. Humans use both methods, though they tend to follow that cat method more closely. There is no one 'right' and one 'wrong,' but many different 'rights and wrongs.'
At the same time, their form of society is structured to accommodate this. Dogs have a very structured, strict hierarchal view. They're always looking to eat you. They always know who the top dog is, and they're always waiting for the power dynamics in the pack to shift to where they are the strongest one. Cats do not have this hierarchical structure, but assert themselves at various times. Again, humans follow both models, but tend to be more cat-like than dog-like in this regard.
This illustrates the competitive and the cooperative relationship, and the interplay between them. Cats are competitive (solitary hunting) toward a cooperative end (bringing back the catch), while dogs are cooperative (pack hunting) toward a competitive end (the pecking order of the pack). Again, humans follow both models, and it depends on how big of group of them you want to look at as to which model will be more prevalent.
From a conservative view, cats are more representative of a family, an estate, a household, in that the members exhibit various roles or functions toward a common end. Similarly, dogs are more representative of the manner in which business is conducted and the various entities engage in activities outside of their immediate family.
As I noted earlier, my opposition to same-sex marriage is based on the idea of society being organic in nature. That is, society is not strictly rational in its makeup or its activities. Yet these structures were formed to accommodate specific needs, and those needs remain valid. We know that those needs continue to be valid, because other aspects of society have altered or disappeared. An organic society is a vibrant, lively, ever-shifting place. Apart from the rationalized ideals of Western Europe and the dry, bland homogeneity that it engenders and hallows, an organic society is full of diversity and meaning.
This is running a bit long. I'm going to close this as Part One.