Friday, June 20, 2008

Conservatives wrong to fight gay marriage |

now this conservative has the right perspective BRAVO!

Conservatives wrong to fight gay marriage |

By Terry L. Garlock
For the Journal-Constitution

Published on: 06/20/08

Conservatives in California are working furiously to stop the avalanche of same-sex marriages following the recent state Supreme Court ruling.

Personally, I am repulsed by public displays of romantic affection between two men, or two women. Those who would call me names like homophobe, as if I fear homosexuality, diminish themselves in my eyes. It's just that same-sex pairs are instinctively unnatural to me. The mental image of a wedding ceremony joining two men who seal the bargain with a deep kiss makes me squirm.

But here's where I think my fellow conservatives have it wrong.

That wedding ceremony wouldn't be about me or my personal discomfort. It would be about those two people who love each other and decided to publicly announce their permanent mutual commitment. Should my personal attitudes prevent them from doing that? Should my religious beliefs keep them legally unrelated even if they remain committed to each other for life?

While I am free to have my personal disquiet about homosexuality, am I also free to interfere with their desire to be recognized as a family unit? If they are a permanent couple, should my aversion withhold from a lifelong pair the same rights as family for hospital visitation, for consultation with doctors when one is ill and maybe even dying?

Is it right that we tell a committed lesbian couple they cannot marry, and at the same time tell them they cannot inherit from each other tax-free at the first death, like a married couple, because they are not married, that they must pay estate taxes that quickly climb to 50 percent and cannot take spousal advantage of income tax, Social Security and other benefits of a married couple?

I appreciate strong religious beliefs against same-sex marriage, and a church has every right to prohibit the practice for its members. Marriage is a legal status to which we are free to choose to add religious covenants, but those religious covenants should not govern the legal status of marriage, especially since we are free to choose our religion and even free to reject religion entirely. We shouldn't codify religious beliefs into law.

What about the extremes of the gay and lesbian lifestyle, in-your-face promiscuity, unsavory public displays of drag queens and preying on the young and vulnerable? I don't want my kids or yours exposed to any of that. But I don't want them exposed to extremes on the heterosexual side either, like pedophiles, strip bars, sex clubs or just promiscuous people.

I object to extreme or public sexual behavior, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Is it right to penalize a same-sex couple because we somehow presume them to be extreme and inappropriate in their public behavior when we make no such presumption about straight couples?

Would a married gay couple moving next door create some discomfort for me as I explain it to my children? Darn right it would. I would undoubtedly squirm in that discussion. But life doesn't guarantee my comfort, and whether they keep their yard looking nice is my business, whereas their personal relationship is not.

I've given this a lot of thought, and I think my prior stand against same-sex marriage was based on my personal thoughts about homosexuality rather than individual liberty. Those are two separate issues. My uneasiness may never go away, no matter how many names the enlightened ones call me, but the freedom of same-sex couples does not depend on my endorsement of their lifestyle.

As a conservative, I believe the state should stay out of the business of judging which unrelated adults may and may not make a marriage commitment to each other, that when a same-sex couple chooses to marry, we conservatives should value their liberty far more than any personal or religious disagreement with homosexuality. Conservatives should welcome the contribution of same-sex marriage to the virtues of commitment and family stability we hold so dear.

Please don't think me a liberal for these ideas. I can't help but think Democrats are out of their mind. I'll vote for Sen. John McCain because, unlike Sen. Barack Obama, he is only half out of his mind.

But I do believe my Republican Party is dead wrong on same-sex marriage and should re-examine it deeply and seriously through the lens of individual liberty and freedom rather than disagreement with homosexuality.

We citizens should judge each other on how we behave, not who we love.

> Terry L. Garlock lives in Peachtree City.

No comments: