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Friday, July 10, 2009

Equal Rights vs. Special Privileges

I find myself sympathizing much more with the gay rights movement these days than with the civil rights movement, simply because the former is mostly about equal rights and the latter about unequal rights.

All the gays want these days is what everyone else has, i.e., the right to marry. At one point in the not too distant past, ACT UP insisted that people not be tested for the HIV virus before applying for health or even life insurance, which was ridiculous -- that was essentially just demanding a license to steal. But that has faded, and these days, their big cause is the right to marry, which is merely something heterosexuals already have. They also want not to be harassed because of their sexuality, which is what everyone should expect (short of the hate crimes bill).

Civil rights, on the other hand, these days is all about political correctness, affirmative action, and "economic justice," i.e., wealth redistribution.

Who knows, the gay rights movement may "progress" to the point that they will demand that a certain percent of every workforce be gay.

Perhaps it will be overcome by political correctness, and it will become a thought crime to think of gay men as more effeminate than the average man, or lesbians as more masculine than the average woman.

Maybe movies like "Bruno" -- in which protagonist Sacha Baron Cohen flamboyantly traipses around the world acting like a narcissistic, pretentious, stupid gay man -- will be considered actionable discrimination.

If we get to that point, it will be unfortunate.

Until such time, I sympathize with the movement.


Anonymous said...

I see your point here but can't agree with gay marriage laws.

I am no marriage scholar. But it seems to me that marriage has one overriding purpose across many societies and people's: it is the socially sanctioned union between a man and a woman for the primary purpose of sexual reproduction and raising those children. By this definition, gay marriage is an oxymoron.

Western ideals of romantic love resulting in marriage are not held as such a high priority in some other cultures. For example, I was told by a few friends from India that families do a lot of the match making - and they circulate 'resumes' of a sort between families in an effort to make socially / culturally compatible matches.

I've gotten quick rebuttals to the 'forum for reproduction' argument: what about couples who marry beyond their reproductive age? infertile couples? single parent families? The fact that not all marriages produce children, and that not all families have a mother and father, does not change the basic premise for marriage, in my opinion.

John Craig said...

Anonymous -- thank you for your comment.

From a historical perspective, there's no question that marriage is an institution arranged for precisely the purpose that you say.

But the first of two crucial questions to me is, what harm does gay marriage do to anyone else? If two guys somewhere in CT decide to tie the knot, how does that hurt me? I can't see any way that it does. This makes it one of the few social issues with zero monetary cost attached. In fact, gay marriage would mean fewer gays on the dole (they turn to each other for support before turning to the state), which is better for the taxpayers.

The second question is, is it fair that we have it and they don't? Equal rights mean equal rights for everyone, and if two guys or two women feel strongly enough about each other to want to get married, why not let them?

It really strikes me as a victimless crime, so to speak. Actually, now that I think of it, there are two victims: the two guys getting married, who will probably get tired of each other and end up wishing they hadn't gotten married. But since they're the active participants, there are no real victims.

Virtually all of the major "progressive" social (and all of the economic) issues of the day come with a huge price tag. This one comes with a small cost benefit.

Anonymous said...

- is marriage a right to all people?  I don’t think so – it’s a social sanction, in this case with a very specific purpose – which gay marriage does not fit.  I think its like anything in society that has specific requirements – some people cannot meet those specific requirements, but their resulting exclusion is not a violation of their rights. 

- What is the affect of the gender roles of parents on the psychological development of children? For example, I've read that on average children from households with a mother and father fare a lot better than those missing a father. So, what is the psychological impact on the development of children raised by two gay men, or two gay women?

- Further gay marriage removes the traditionally accepted primary purpose for marriage from its place resulting in another blow to the male / female parent nuclear family, which is the strongest possible setting for raising the next generation. 

John Craig said...

Anonymous -- Thank you again. I wouldn't liken getting a marriage license to taking a test. A license is more of a right than a privilege. People who've already been married several times aren't disqualified from getting married again simply because they're obviously not good at it.

As far as a gay marriage hurting the children, that's a valid point but I'd say the main way it hurts them is because of the embarrassment factor. And if gay marriage becomes commonplace, that will fade.