Fearful Symmetries

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18 December, 2006

Do Unto Others, Ms. Ridley

The November 10-16 issue of The Madison Times featured an editorial by Joi C. Ridley which I found irksome and irritating. It was entitled "On gay marriage" and that Ms. Ridley constantly deferred to the Vatican, the Bible, and whatever group of bishops she could find should give you an indication of her purpose.

Ms. Riley's main problem is that she takes the Janus-like institution of marriage and conflates the two faces.

Many of us know homosexual couples or have homosexual friends. But this doesn't mean that the church – or the law for that matter – should redefine the most basic of human relationships because of every new situation that arises.

She then proceeds to quote the Vatican or Catholic officials ad nauseam.

I agree with Vatican (and now government) officials that warn "marriage is not just any relationship between human beings."

As stated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop…

The Bible says that marriage comes from the loving hand of God, who fashioned both male and female in the divine image…

My feelings are best summarized with a statement, yet again, from the Vatican…

First of all, advocates of gay marriage, at least generally, are not out to tell the Catholic or any other church whom they can join in marriage. The fight is about what a government by, for, and of the people will or will not recognize. If homosexuals want to revolutionize whatever churches they belong to, that's between them and their church. The government and people who are not members of a particular church should stay out of it. But, Ms. Ridley, your deity and your holy book need to stay out of our government. Two people of opposite genders may have a civil marriage quite outside of any church. I attended a civil marriage several years ago and the happy couple quite purposely omitted your deity and deferred to a judge. Marriage as an institution has a life outside of religion.

Ms. Ridley proposes an analogy for us. She says that gays wanting to marry are the equivalent of a smoker wanting to light up in the home of someone who does not allow smoking inside. The analogy fails because marriage is not equivalent to someone's home. Being treated fairly and equally under the law which is common to us all is not the same as someone's private property. Even if it were, the law in this case does not say that the homeowner gets to decide whether or not the guest can smoke at all. Their ban on smoking extends as far as their property line in the analogy whereas, when it comes to gay marriage, the homeowner gets to dictate policy for everyone in the country at all times and everywhere. Although the analogy fails, it is still instructive. It tells us that Ms. Ridley views marriage as belonging to her and her ilk and is for them to define alone. Gay people cannot share in it because God gave it to them! If God fashioned male and female in the divine image, then the divine image is multi-sexual because Yahweh fashioned gay people in the divine image as well. So why not extend marriage to them? Ms. Ridley quotes the Vatican: "Marriage is a gift to be cherished and protected." How does gay marriage attack straight marriage, Ms. Ridley? What's your answer, Pope I-protect-child-molesters? What can homosexuals do to the institution of marriage that heterosexuals haven't already done?

Another thing that irritates me about Ms. Ridley is her intellectual dishonesty. She says:

I have homosexual friends, and I empathize with the immense pressure that society places on them. I am not criticizing anyone's lifestyle or decisions. However, I also understand that these same friends, while they should not be violated or harmed in any way because of their lifestyle, cannot be extended certain liberties under the covenant of "marriage."

Firstly, homosexuality is not merely a lifestyle. You were born straight and your gay friends gay in Yahweh's image all. Secondly, if you're going to use the Bible as your defense of discrimination (just like, say, slave owners in the 19th century), then be consistent about it.

Ms. Ridley writes:

As stated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, "Marriage, as instituted by God, is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in intimate community of life and love." Although gay couples may meet part of the requirements, I was under the impression that we are not allowed to pick and choose what parts of marriage we want.

"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." That's what your petty, vengeful deity said. If gay couples can't pick and choose what parts of marriage they want, then you can't pick and choose what parts of the Bible you want. Stop cherry picking passages you like from the Bible and following them and at the same time ignore the ones you don't like. And stop promoting treatment of homosexuals that you wouldn't want for yourself. Didn't your deity promote a Golden Rule of some kind? Stop telling gays that they're second class citizens and undeserving of equality under the law when you wouldn't want that for yourself.

EDIT: Just after having posted this, I found a wonderful column by Leonard Pitts, Jr. called "Why defense of gays matters". He writes:

I believe in moral coherence. And Rule No. 1 is, you cannot assert your own humanity, then turn right around and deny someone else's.
|| Palmer, 8:02 PM


I read Pitts' column online the other day and had the same positive feelings about it. It makes me so sick to see how much support there is for discrimination against gays in the black community. Blah. Anyone who starts a sentence with "I have plenty of [insert minority group here] friends" is sure to have something bad to say about the same group.

That's Ray Allen's Madison Times for you.

It boggles the mind, why people feel the need to discriminate in these ways.

The D.
Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:06 PM  

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