Same-Sex Marriage Part III: All Men are Created Equal

Jefferson and such

If cliché phrases can be tools for the writers, let this be another instance of the rhetoric device:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”   -Thomas Jefferson

If you’re an American, you have been indoctrinated with these words and always keep them in the back of your mind.  These words, above all others in any of the founder’s literature, express America and American spirit, her hopes, her dreams, and her beliefs.  The meaning of these words seems to me to be as self-evident as the truths of which Thomas Jefferson is referring to.  All people, no matter the creed, belief, non-violent action, or speech act have the right to live a life in pursuit of happiness and life’s ventures.  However, there are some that would twist these words and their meaning to lessen the rights that they enjoy, simply because others are different.

These are some of the arguments for marriage equality:

In response to an argument against gay marriage, I mentioned an argument for the ‘naturalness’ of what we would call ‘gay sex acts.’  I seem to have upset some people, as they felt it was a weak argument.  However, it is a sound argument and I will present it again, in a way to define it more for those that may not have understood.

Homo sapiens have the luxury of the evolution adaptation of a rational mind.  A rational mind is a mind in which processes of the brain can help humans utilize logical speech acts to express a point or make a decision (whether it be to brush your teeth or stop at a stop-sign).

As far as human beings can understand, we are the only species on Earth that has the mental capacity to make these decisions.  No other animal has ever given scientists any indication of holding the capability to reason as humans do.

There can be no disputing the fact that occasionally, human beings act without utilizing the rational-part of the brain.  Whether that is positive or negative can be understood by the consequences of the action (if you are an ethical consequentialist).

An action can be considered ‘natural’ if a non-rationally capable animal commits the action because it does not take a rationally-evolved mind to complete the process and decide (for lack of a better word) to perform said action.

Therefore, because gay-sex acts are observed in non-human great apes and sea-dwelling mammals, and are somewhat commonplace in the animal kingdom, the act of gay-sex cannot be considered the ‘choice’ of a deviant lifestyle, as some religious folk may argue, but instead, a natural action performed by an animal (yes, human beings are animals).

I understand that it may sicken some of you to know that human beings are not anointed to be of a higher dominion than other animals. However, we are simply more-well adapted to our environment than many other animals, and coupled with the diet that our ancestors had that increased brain capacity over hundreds of thousands of generations, we are at a point in history in which our minds are the way we observe them to be, not out of a magic-man’s hands, but a natural process.  Homosexual acts are a natural action.  This argument alone is not enough to put to bed the argument that gays are somehow lesser beings than non-gays, but it is enough to put to be the pseudo-logical idea that homosexuality is ‘unnatural’.

Alive as well is the argument that homosexuals lead harmful lifestyles.  While ‘harmful’ can be subjective, the thought is that the transmission of AIDS is good enough to outlaw homosexual acts.  However, we now know that AIDS is not a disease that effects only gays, but everyone.  The transmission of AIDS is possible with any sexual contact.  The harmful lifestyle that is being referred to is now, no longer had exclusive to oppressed gays that are disallowed civil rights that all others have, but now with those non-gays that would choose to lead a promiscuous sexual lifestyles.

This argument is yet another piece of political propaganda used to put gays into a status of sub-human existence.  There is no evidence existing of a larger population per capita of gays leading a promiscuous lifestyle than there are of non-gays.  However, the number may also significantly drop if marriage equality is obtained.

Floating around in the comments from my last piece, as well as in the lungs in middle-America is the idea that marriage is purely a Judeo-Christian institution.  This is simply and easily laid to rest as there are many parts of the world in which love flourishes and Christianity has not tainted the air with its oppressive tyranny.  Civil union cannot be hijacked by American Christians and become something that is exclusive to a system of belief that holds no leverage in Politics.

If you are religious and wish to make exclusive the rights of your church, mosque, or synagogue to those that profess to feel exactly the same way that you do, you may do that.  However, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and many of the other founders warned future Americans that there would come a time in which religious oppression would attempt to take the rights away from citizens, and safeguarded the Constitution from special-interest groups with that aim.

Denying the rights of civil unions to people is a form of minority discrimination.  Those of us that are fortunate to have been born as white, male, or middle/upper class in a time of American history that is much kinder to minorities do not understand the pain, mental and physical that women, blacks, Hispanics, middle-easterners, and any person that we see as different than ‘us’ have endured.  This is the land of the free and is open to any that wish to hold the same rights that we find to be ‘self-evident’ among all people.

We are not different.  Whether you ‘believe’ that gays are leading a deviant lifestyle, or you think that those around you are going to a terrible place for not believing in the same God as you (and being rude to you in the line at Subway), or you just think that brown people are dumb, your opinion has no bearing in government and you cannot shatter the hopes and dreams of a nation and its people of holding rights that should be held.

We are not different.  I may not like the fact that I live in a country in which a belief structure that I find to be highly-harmful to liberty has flourished, but I support your right to follow it.  I hope only in time that rhetoric and logic may help those in shackles that would like to be released.  My distaste for such religious institutions is not grounds for legislation to prohibit those from peacefully worshiping the sky.

We are not different. I live with the presupposition that people in love with members of the same sex as them are not actors simply pretending to piss you and your God off.  My position is based on our Constitution and scientific evidence as precedent for the way I live my life, which is one to support all people and their private actions.

The final part of the Same-Sex marriage piece will be posted later this week.  As always, leave comments and discuss among yourselves the arguments and formulate your opinions justly.

Twitter: @dustin_mcmahon

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12 thoughts on “Same-Sex Marriage Part III: All Men are Created Equal

  1. I am interested in the ‘reason coming from diet’ argument. I have not heard it before and am unaware of its formal name (I assuming it has one). Could you explain it to me as you understand it? I researched ‘origin of reason’, ‘evolution of reason’, and various other combinations with little benefit. I do not know how to portray this question as non-condescending without outright claiming that I am not attempting condescension, but such is that case. Is it as simple as our evolutionary predecessors chose a diet that allowed for cognitive functions to develop to the point at which they currently function, is it more complicated than that? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Do not fear, I do not read any condescension from your question.

      The theory of which I am referring to comes from anthropologists and paleontologists that studied the period in time in which Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals were inhabiting the same area around the same time (between 30,000-50,000 years ago). To understand why Homo Sapiens survived and Neanderthals did not (even though Neanderthals were more adept physically), they the two fields looked at the location in which the remains of the two human species (from 30,000 to 50,000 years old) were located. They found that Homo Sapiens were almost exclusively concentrated near waterways and on oceanfronts, while the Neanderthals were located inland. From this, it can be concluded that the diets of these two species would be vastly different, with the Homo Sapiens eating primarily fish and the Neanderthals still eating game animals. As any dietitian can tell you, the proteins found in fish are fantastic for brain development. Over 20,000-30,000 years of this diet, you can see how it would change and improve brain function. It was introduced by Dr. David Braun (among others) and he wrote a paper on it for the June 1st, 2010 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

      Thank you for the question. I have to remain a bit more vague than I’d like to some times because of the appropriate length of a blog. I feel that if it is too drawn out and long, people will lose interest.

      Here is a link to an abstract about the piece: http://www.pnas.org/content/107/22/10002

      Reply
  2. You present a clear argument, but I still disagree (i’m sure you aren’t surprised). I do believe we are anointed with divine potential by an all loving God. And as such he has given certain laws and rules to guide us. I don’t see that as hateful or any less valid of a belief structure than yours. I use faith and reasoning to draw my conclusions. I don’t understand why faith seems to be demeaned and viewed as an invalid path to understanding, generally speaking.

    I agree that people are the same. My belief in that comes from my concept of our origin and potential, which will likely differ from yours as my concept includes the so-called “magic man.” No sweat. Our differences lie in individual personality and understanding. You call him “magic man” and I call him God. Same person, different constructs. All of these topics boil down to our individual constructs. We discuss them for any number of reasons, but I think the primary two are to find like-minded people to associate with and to gain knowledge.

    Most people want to be accepted in a group. Within that group they want to feel secure and know that their opinions and beliefs are validated. I think this is a very real motivation in developing a personal construct of the world.

    People also want to increase in understanding, if not consciously then subconsciously. We can look around and (though you and I might disagree on who these people are) see folks who don’t look like they really do want to increase in understanding, but something drives them to keep living, and life is a process of increasing understanding.

    I think there are some who, after they find that first method, a like-minded group, stop seeking for understanding consciously because they are complacent. But these people can’t be defined in terms of race, culture, political ideology or religion. This happens everywhere with all people. Surely it may happen among a race, within a culture, within a political ideology, or within a religion, but it doesn’t mean that all American, white, conservative, male Christians are this way, as I sometimes get the feeling that some people want to present it as.

    I agree with the principle Thomas Jefferson was speaking to in saying that all men are created equal, but I have a hard time agreeing with the literal meaning. My youngest brother is autistic. He has not been created physically equal to me. His body does not work to the same level that mine does. He and I are not equal. The equality comes by origin and potential, eternally. The equality as far as the government is concerned comes in access to resources and inalienable rights. And that I do agree with, that regardless of all other factors there are equal rights at birth: life, liberty and the pursuit of property/happiness.

    Is marriage an inalienable right? Perhaps it is. Personally, I believe it is a religious covenant and the government should stay out of it entirely.

    Marriage should be left to the person performing the marriage. If that person doesn’t want to marry a couple, heterosexual or homosexual, then they should be free to say no. If the people of this country, who should equate to the government, decide they want to marry same sex couples, then that should happen. But given our system of government it will require a representative majority vote to make this happen. If the people at large do not wish to make this a reality then that is that. Either we embrace the democratic republic all of the time or we abolish it, we can’t choose when we want the voice of the people and when we don’t. But I don’t think it means homophobia if the people vote against allowing same-sex marriage. Feel free to disagree.

    Regardless of whether or not individuals agree with Christians using their faith to govern their lives and influence their voting practices, we are all free to do so. You use your philosophical logic and I use my faith based reason. We all have different constructs of life and it is our differences that, when coupled with humility, forgiveness and love, make us strong. I don’t hate anyone. I think certain thoughts and behaviors can hurt us, but I don’t hate people for doing them. I’m not perfect, no one is. Disagreeing with someone over moral codes does not mean that the two hate each other. To think so is a sign of an angry mind, in my opinion, hate begets hate and love begets love.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the time you spend replying to my posts.

      I agree with most of what you said in this comment and the parts I don’t agree with are based mostly in religion so I don’t feel the need to write a drawn out response to try and make another point that this post doesn’t need to make. I do not think that we are all that different in the way in which we want to lead our lives, or the in which way we actually do. It is intriguing to me, however, the difference we have in social concepts and practices. I’d like to figure out where this difference comes from.

      Also, I have not replied to your post on the second part of my quartet because your arguement is based in faith and as Sam Harris would say “When someone pulls the faith card, there isn’t much you can say in response.” That is not a demeaning comment, I am just relaying my thoughts about how I presented arguments and your faith has trumped them.

      One final point: You have a lot of great things to say about the side of this topic that I am not on. “If a man could marry a man, then what’s to stop a man from marrying a horse” is a slippery-slope fallacy and you should laugh at it as much as I do!!!

      Thank you again for taking the time. Hopefully we will have some topics in the future that are not dominated by religion so opposing viewpoints can be met again.

      Reply
      • Right on. I agree; you and I have a lot of similar goals for society and life, we just go about them differently. I don’t need any response from you on my comment. You made your case very well, I’m not looking to change your mind, I’m just looking to share another perspective. That’s my goal, even if my manner of writing doesn’t convey that as clearly as I’d like.

        I too am interested in figuring out where our differences come from. I’m trying to think about how we can do that. Aside from each of us telling our life story and then trying to apply meaning to all of it, this might be a difficult task. But the fact that we’ve been able to disagree and still keep a conversation going means that there is a healthy level of shared interests between us, and as we continue to discuss the topics that involve such emotional reactions (at least for me) then I think we’ll continue to learn what the origins of our differences are.

        I understand the opinion that mentioning faith prevents further discussion. I attended a religious university run by my church. Anyone can go, but they do need to agree to live by the school’s honor code. Anyway, even though nearly every student there was the same faith as me, I often heard the kind of statement that amounts to someone pulling “the faith card.” I find it extremely annoying. I agree with the statement you quoted, if someone says “thus saith the Lord” well, that’s about as final as you can get. When I say I believe something because I believe that God has said it, I recognize that it is based on my personal experiences and that others won’t necessarily agree, or will outright disagree. That’s fine. Again, I don’t want to change minds, I want to offer a different perspective. I’m not saying I want you to reply to everything I say, I’m happy for the conversation, but if you feel I’m being obstinate or not open to discussion then by all means leave it alone. However, please don’t feel I’m not interested in discussion simply because I say I believe God has given counsel on a certain topic and I embrace it. I question and study the things I believe, even when I’m told that God said it. I believe that if God says something and he wants me to know it then he’ll make sure I know this is the case when I ask. So I ask.

        Maybe that sheds a little bit of light onto the origins of the differences between how you and I construct life. At any rate, I’m open to conversation. I want to hear other perspectives, even if I believe God has said otherwise. I want to know what other people think and why they think it.

        Finally, I do think the progress of thought from “a man marrying a man to a man marrying a horse” is a ridiculous extreme. That’s why I don’t follow that argument or many of the other popular opposing arguments. My only argument is that marriage is a religious institution and should be left to religious institutions to marry who they will, without any government participation, with exception for protection of vulnerable adults and children. But that goes even further from your post’s topic than I’ve already gone.

        Dustin, as always, I appreciate the conversation. Thank you!

  3. So when it comes to same sex marriage you can put me in the Bernard Lewis category, goddamn lazy. I imagine few on either side have taken as complete and extensive a look at the issue let alone put that into writing in THREE, no soon to be FOUR PARTS.
    As far as I’m concerned, the gay is ok.
    But I’m still afraid of sodomy.

    Reply
  4. In response to this post I’d like to gesture to and draw your attention to my own post on the subject (http://alongthepenumbra.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/a-thought-on-marriage-equality/). It is pithy and I believe it to be appropriate given that we must first start from a foundational standpoint. If we cannot speak with a common lexicon and share a common foundation we cannot begin to argue appropriately. We can argue about that common foundation and lexicon, sure, but going any further without agreement is dangerous.

    Reply
  5. A well presented piece. I just read I, II and III. I like the way you present both sides of an argument as well as your own thoughts – it’s good that you’re provoking responses both good and bad – in the world of writing, that just means that your stuff is being read, and that’s the ultimate goal of a writer – especially if it’s a hot topic like this one. You’re going to be a great journalist.

    Reply
  6. “…your opinion has no bearing in government and you cannot shatter the hopes and dreams of a nation and its people of holding rights that should be held.”

    Amen! 🙂 Either we are one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice FOR ALL, or we are not. Our Constitution entitles us to equal treatment before the law.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: Same-Sex Marriage Part III: All Men are Created Equal | Scotties Toy Box

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