Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Texas, Our Texas

So at 9:38 pm, the count statewide is 75.66% for Proposition 2 and 24.34% against. I can't believe there are so many people in that state who feel so threatened by homosexual marriage that they would amend its constitution to outlaw something which is already fucking illegal. Seriously, how does the civil partnership of Susan and Sally threaten the wedding of Sam and Sarah? If your marriage is on such shaky ground that you need to keep truly loving couples who happen to be homosexual from getting married, then perhaps you should take advantage of the state's no-fault divorce laws. At least I have faith in Austin: as of now, 60.11% voted against Prop 2 in Travis County.

Dammit. Since when is a constitution in our country a vehicle for religion?

A friend brought up an interesting point tonight, one which I had considered at the time of the presidential election in 2004. Our country is currently divided almost on 50/50 lines, Democrat vs. Republican, conservative vs. liberal. The bitter feelings surrounding the 2004 election (and the 2000 election as well) point out how a bare majority is taking a "mandate" to trample the rights of the bare minority. Our system is supposed to be designed to present that, but at the moment it is failing. My friend pointed out that the first Civil War began this way, and that perhaps we are on the brink of a war. I had wondered the same thing myself watching the "red state, blue state" maps: What if the "metro" and "retro" groups divided? Instead of being a simple difference of North vs. South, we now have cities vs. suburbs and rural areas. Urban areas have different values. Austin was 60% against Prop 2; Ector County, in West Texas, was 89% for Prop 2.

It goes beyond a simple "urban" vs. "country" way of life, or conservative vs. liberal. I consider myself somewhat of an independent, reluctant to call myself liberal because of economic policies and conservative because of social/religious policies. I know people who fall into the classic camps, but I know many more people who identify with one side or the other to back a particular issue. I know an awful lot of people in the middle, people who try to be fair and see both sides of even the most heated topics. None of us can divorce ourselves from our beliefs. Once we have those beliefs, in order to keep our faith we must believe the opposing belief is wrong. If I am anti-abortion, I must see the pro-choice activist as wrong in order to be right. Trying to see both sides often just gives us headaches.

These are issues with no definitive right/wrong answer. I can't pull out Webster's or the PDR to look up the definition of "the right answer to the question of abortion". It doesn't exist. These are questions where science cannot provide an answer: science can tell me that the heart beats at 22 days post-conception, or that a fetus does not feel pain before 29-30 weeks, but it cannot tell me whether it is right to terminate that pregnancy. We look to religion, or feelings, or what other people tell us, to determine our beliefs in this arena. I personally choose to straddle the fence, so to speak: I know I could not have an abortion if I got pregnant tomorrow from my premarital "sins" with my fiance, as I would feel attached to the child-to-be from the instant the stick showed a "+". However, I am now in a position where I could *roughly* support a child if I got pregnant; had I gotten pregnant 2 years ago, with no money, I might have made a different decision. I realize that other people have different circumstances, and so I believe that the right to choose is very important. Therefore, I am anti-abortion but pro-choice, and an official fence-straddler. If I am to counsel a patient on her rights, I must present her true facts: I would not lie about the 22 days' heart beat or the 29 weeks' pain. I must try to keep my personal beliefs out of my advice, whether my patient wants an abortion or refuses to terminate an unviable pregnancy (for instance, anencephaly).

So in considering the attitudes in our country now, it's now easy to see how the South felt when they seceded. Their needs weren't being met. If a large percentage of our country feels disenfranchised, and can't do anything about it, perhaps these thoughts will become more than a rambling idea in a blog. Or perhaps not. God help us if this leads to more war. One of the biggest splits we have is in the feelings about Iraq, the last thing we need is more needless death, more waste of our young men and women. Because I believe that this war needs to end, I find myself looking down on those who are still fervent about it (few though they may be). I'm okay with people disagreeing with homosexuality on religious reasons, but I find myself despising people who voted for Prop 2 simply because of the tradition of marriage, or because someone told them to, or who would look a gay couple in the eyes and look down on them.

I try to control these feelings, because I'm afraid of arguing with people. I try my very hardest to see both sides, to play devil's advocate whenever possible. I tried to avoid politics as much as possible for a long time, because to believe is to get hurt. To believe is to be disappointed when a staunchly "blue" state votes firmly for a discriminatory proposition that never stood a chance of being voted down. To believe is to feel disenfranchised when no one in the government stands a chance of listening to you because "your representative" is too busy listening to the majority, or the $$, or the PAC's. Our "democracy", our "republic", doesn't work when no one is there to listen to a lone voice, or to 49% of the population. When 73% says yes, who cares what the 27% says? If 73% vote to kill the 27%, do we listen?

Bah. Politics. Apathy was so much less painful.


Emily Cook (now Craig) Bass Clarinet... remember? said...

Forgive me for intruding on your journal, but I would like to read what you think about this question.

(to me,) If the goverment is going to be promoting relationships, I would prefer that they promote monogamous relationships, no matter who they are between (man/man, man/woman, etc). So I am in favor of gay marriage. At the root of this is my belief that children have the best chances and opportunities when they are raised in a stable household. Also, women who are pregnant need protection from the law so that their children can be raised without their husband running off. Same for lesbian/gay couples who decide to have children - each memeber needs to be held accountable for their upbringing, monetarily or otherwise.

But there are probably a lot of people who do not believe in monogamy. Those people are a minority as well. Shouldn't their rights be protected? I can't come up with a good reason why a polygamist who is in love with two women shouldn't be able to marry them. Sure, we could say "between two consenting adults," but later, when the polygamist lobby (and they are out there) wants equal protection under the law as well, then what basis is there to say no? Wouldn't three or four incomes be better for a family than just two? Four people sharing one bed would cut down on the cost of a one-bedroom apartmennt, right? If you have two wives at home, shouldn't your company provide healthcare for them both? Why shouldn't the state sanction their marriage as well?

Maybe to you that's a ridiculous question. That's why I'm asking. I'd like to hear what you think.

Jenn said...

I don't think that is a ridiculous question, and it's one I don't have an answer to. If the government's job is to protect its citizens from harm, then it should create a protective state for gay couples like you said. There are no rights of child custody if that couple breaks up, or one dies, etc.

However, the argument for polygamy could be very similar. "Consenting adults" doesn't necessarily have to mean just 2. Would legal polygamy hurt anyone? I don't know. Would all parties have to be aware of the polygamy, or could a person "in the middle" marry two unknowing individuals? I hope not the latter. Would children do better having multiple adults in the home as parents? I don't know, and it doesn't seem to be the government's job to decide how I raise my children. If they want to raise a stink about my 3 adult household "corrupting" my children, perhaps they should cut down on mothers smoking crack while pregnant first.

So, like you, I can't come up with a good reason why polygamy should be illegal, so long as all parties concerned are well-informed. In my opinion, it doesn't seem right, but that's not a logical conclusion, simply my *feelings*.

Obviously polygamy is a totally different issue from the ones raised by the religious right in their anti-gay marriage quest, with the "people will marry their pets" argument. I wonder why polygamy was first outlawed, and why. Who would be more likely to have multiple partners, men or women? And if one or the other prevailed, would our society become paternal or maternal in turn, with the dominant sex "ruling" (even more so than men do today)?

Wow, that was a great question. It was very nice to hear from you. I hope you are doing well, Ms. Craig (married to whom? when?). Ttyl!

mle said...

I married Cody Craig, otherwise known as www.livejournal.com/users/cochy_cralig.

We met as music majors at SHSU. Shortley thereafter, he changed to a chemistry major, and is now in the process of getting his PhD in biophysical chemistry at Yale. We got married 1 year ago. He plays saxophone, and is very nice. His LJ name comes from a credit card app. that was mailed to him at the age of 15, addressed to "Mr. Cochy Cralig."

Now what about you? I hear there's a "Justin" in your life! But don't worry, I won't harass you about your wedding plans :)

PS Med school... awesome!!