Saturday, November 8, 2008

Commentary Commentary

The following post is in response to a comment posted by Boymystere on my West Coast GayKK blog posted earlier this week. His comment was so respectful and well-thought out, I felt it deserved an equally respectful and well thought out response. But since this is me we are talking about here, you are pretty much stuck with whatever comes out.

Boymystere- First, thank you for your open and honest response. This is the type of dialogue that is so greatly needed to maintain the free market of ideas our democracy is based on. Dissenting opinions are always welcome and I appreciate you taking the time. I hope you will indulge a response on my part.

Allow me to offer you a metaphor that I think will help explain why I support Proposition 8. I consider myself a well educated man. I have a Master's Degree from one of the nation's best schools. However, there are a large number of people who are not able to get a Master's Degree; some because they don't want it, others because they simply lack the ability. Sadly enough, there are far more people who want a Master's Degree than can actually get one.

Now, imagine if my school, in order to correct this perceived inequality, started handing out Master's Degrees to anyone who wanted one. A Master's Degree, at the end of the day, is only a slip of paper. Its value comes from what it represents: education, intelligence and hard work. When it no longer takes education, intelligence and hard work to obtain a Master's Degree, than its value becomes less then the piece of paper it is printed on. Handing out degrees based on desire, not achievement, does nothing to help those who want one and everything to hurt those who earned one. When everyone can have a Master's Degree, no one can. (Side note: This reminds me of Hank's response to a Christian Rock Band on King of the Hill: "They are not making Christianity better; they are just making rock and roll worse".)

Gay Marriage will never disrupt the relationship I have with my wife and the loving home we have tried to create for our children just like handing out Master's Degrees like party favors will never rob me of the education I achieved in earning one. What it will do is rob from my marriage the meaning that makes it so valuable. Marriage is the institution created by society to give children the best possible chance at success. When marriage loses meaning, it will be abandoned all together. When this happens, we rob from our children the commitment between a Mother and Father they need to have the best chance at success.

You may call this paranoia on my part, but sadly I have seen the consequences of the devaluation of marriage with my own eyes. I lived for an extended period of time in a country where marriage was virtually non-existent. This was due to the draconian laws of that country which made marriage virtually impossible. The result of this marriage-less society was family after family of fatherless children. With no social pressure or reward for fathers to stick around, very few of them did. Now, a whole generation of fatherless children is almost ensured a lifetime of poverty, crime and ignorance. Don't believe me? In this country I once met a single mom who became a grandmother at the ripe old age of 28. That is three generations right there suffering from a marriage deficient society. Even in our own country, we see that demographic groups which do not value marriage suffer from the same or similar problems I saw across the pond. No government, religious or academic program has ever been able to duplicate even a portion of the success that we see when Mom and Dad are married.

Even if California law were changed and homosexuals were allowed to marry, they would never have a marriage in the true sense of the word. When two men are allowed to obtain a marriage certificate, in that moment, all they and anyone else will really be getting is a piece of paper.


Christa Jeanne said...

Great post, Joel!!! Amor recommended your blog to me, and I can see why. Keep up the good work!

You might appreciate this Prop. 8 blog my friends and I are doing:

Shane and Loni said...

I agree Joel that marriage is really for the children. Yes, my husband and I's relationship is better for being married to each other, but the necessity of our marriage is to give our children stability.

A homosexual couple may argue that with two parents in the home, they could provide the same structure as a heterosexual couple. However, I have a B.S. in marriage/family studies and I believe children need the stability of both a mother and a father. Not only is it a need, but I believe children are entitled to be raised by the man and woman who brought them into this world. Yes, there may be studies showing homosexual couples 'do no harm', but I think it is impossible for them to 'do as much good' as a highly functioning and loving mother and father. I have two children and they need both my husband and I--neither of us could be replaced and maintain their optimal development.

This is one reason I support preserving marriage between a man and a woman.

Lewis Family said...


boymystere said...

Man, I have been waiting to respond to this commentary for 48 hours and it has been killing me!!! Luckily though, I had the AMAZING opportunity to go up to Sacramento yesterday and protest for my civil rights at the Capital building. This cause means so much to me, that I went to work on Saturday night, got off around 12:30AM, went home, and then drove with a buddy of mine from 2AM to 7AM non-stop to Sacramento. We then slept 4 hours at a friend's house, and then proceeded to our very peaceful but very passionate march at the Capital. The Capital, by the way, and I think you'd agree, is one of the more appropriate places to protest, and perhaps NOT a mormon temple. Though I do believe that we got the message across that many mormon voters have angered us, I don't think its the best place to win you over, and I do very deeply want you to understand where I am coming from. Also, I want to thank you Joel for being thoughtful and quick responding to my last comment. Of course, I'm sure you have guessed it, I think your argument is flawed, and here is why.

First, while I agree that a master's degree is something diligently earned and indeed loses its value if you hand them out to whomever, you cannot accurately compare them to inequality, UNLESS you say perhaps that you are ONLY giving out master's degree's to white people, and EVERYONE else simply cannot have one. Otherwise what you are saying is that my committed relationship, or union as you'd like to call it, doesn't DESERVE or hasn't EARNED one. By that statement alone, you are saying that what I have is LESS than what you have. You are saying that your family values are more important than mine. You simply cannot say that your marriage warrants more achievement than mine just because it is between a man and a woman. And if you're thinking it, its probably because you don't really know many gay people on a personal level, or maybe you're thinking that being gay is some sort of a choice. It is not. I don't CHOOSE to be with a man. I HAVE to be with a man. It is embedded deep into my DNA. And believe it or not, I love who I am, and that love that I share with the RIGHT person one day, WILL WARRANT ACHIEVEMENT, because just like you, I know that it takes hard work, and trust, and passion, and commitment to keep a relationship alive. What you might not understand is, that deep deep down, I am just like you. I AM JUST LIKE YOU. :) We are all the same. I hope and dream just like you. I probably drive to work just like you. I get mad when people cut me off just like you. I love my family. I think about my family just like you. We all have problems here and there just like you. I've cried in my boyfriend's arms as I'm sure you and your wife have. We've held hands and laughed out loud together like you, and we've had deep conversations well into the night just like you. In the pursuit of happiness we are all the same.

Now, as to children. I want to be a dad. Man do I want to be a dad! I LOVE kids. I think I'd be a great father, I really do. But the thing with gay parenting is this, I will never just accidentally have a kid. It will never be a surprise, it will probably never JUST HAPPEN. As gay parents, we have to be very active decision makers. Clearly we have to WANT a child. Unlike straight couples, we usually don't have the "equipment" to just pop them out. We can't just pick one up at Safeway. We HAVE to think it through and make sure we are ready, which I believe is ultimately better for the children. However, I know that's not always the case. Straight people can pop them out left and right, and STILL be good parents. What defines a good parent is not how good you are at baby-making. What defines a good parent is love, understanding, TEACHING love and understanding, TEACHING children that they are born perfectly just the way they are, showing them love instead of fear. There are so many different aspects of good parenting that it's nearly impossible to list. You CANNOT sit here and tell me that the only way to raise a family is by having a man and a woman raising them. I was raised by a single mom. I think I'm a pretty decent human being. My father died when I was 6. Things happen, but life makes you no better or worse for it, you just move on and become the person you were meant to be. Mother Teresa was raised by a single parent. Her father died when she was 8. I think you'd agree she became a pretty amazing person. You just need a loving family as a child, it doesn't matter how many you have, or what the gender of those raising you are. All you need is love. If you say anything different, I'm sorry, but its an opinion. And to be honest, a rather ego-centric opinion to think that ONLY what you have is right. In fact, you make a VERY GOOD argument FOR gay marriage in your second to last paragraph. If you deny gays the right to marry, YOU are going to create a lot of children that don't have families that are married. YOU are denying children that right. We want to marry. It will show a commitment to each other AND to our children. I want to grow old with my husband and have Christmas' with my grandchildren. I want them to love me and not feel ANY shame about who I am, or how they were raised. As a family unit, we will teach them that.

Now you can tell me that even if I could eventually marry another man, (and it will happen mind you), that it will never be true in the sense of the word. That's fine, that's YOUR belief, your RELIGIOUS belief, you can believe whatever you want, but you cannot tell met that I won't love my husband in the same way, or my children in the same way because THAT is just incredibly narrow-minded and wrong. Your beliefs are an opinion.

I know you're a good person Joel. I've had many a good conversations with you back in the day. You yourself just said, "Gay Marriage will never disrupt the relationship I have with my wife and the loving home we have tried to create for our children." You're absolutely right. But if you continue to vote and stand against our equality, you are disrupting my possibility of family, my friend at work who just got married, his family; my best friend who moved all the way across the ocean to be with her partner of 7 years, her family; YOU are disrupting families. Stand for religious freedom, mine and yours. Stand for families, mine and yours. Stand for us. Please, we can't do it without you. I'm serious. We need people like you on our side.

boymystere said...

Some really thoughtful commentary on Prop 8 by Keith Olbermann for those of you who are interested.

For any of you who have the courage to listen to us.