Thursday, May 10, 2012

Do No Harm

"Do no harm." It's the Hippocratic oath, taken by doctors upon their graduation from medical school. It should also be the goal of every law our government passes. It should be the mantra congressmen recite every time they enter the Capitol Building. Our government's job is to keep us safe... not to punish us.

Punishment is how totalitarian governments keep their people in line. The United States, since its inception, has believed punishment should only be reserved for those who harm others (even if administrations throughout our history have sometimes forgotten that.) That's why we call it justice.

But punishment is what banning gay marriage is all about. Plain and simple. You can't call it justice.

Gay marriage is not a thing that harms others. A law against gay marriage is not a law that protects people. It's a law that protects the moral beliefs of one subset of citizens, around 50% of Americans (most living outside major population centers) and thinning out by the day.

When a man marries a man, or a woman marries a woman, NOBODY IS HARMED. Nobody dies, no one suffers financial loss or bodily injury. Why make a law against it? Who is harmed?

-The Children! Oh, Think of the Children!!!!
-Themselves! Their immortal soul!
-Marriage!! Marriage is harmed!!!!

Let's take these one by one.

The Children! First of all, there's no law against single parents adopting children, there's no law against shitty parents, and there's no law against Octomom. Kids are screwed up everyday by heterosexual couples and other unorthodox unions. On the flip side, we see kids who turn out perfectly fine after being raised by single parents, unmarried parents, divorced parents, etc. Just because two people are of the same sex does not disqualify them from being good parents. No scientific study has ever shown same-sex parenting results in universal harm to children. In fact, the few examples we have are doing pretty well. To address another issue-- no kid has ever decided to become gay because they thought it was cool. People don't decide to become gay any more than they decide to breathe. It just happens. It's happened as long as there have been human beings. Somehow, our species lives on. If parents are truly horrific--abusive, neglectful--we already have laws to punish them.

Their Immortal Soul!!! Evangelicals are not evil people (most of them, anyway). As part of the evangelical belief system, it's a given that anyone who has not accepted Jesus will go to hell--eternal damnation alongside Hitler, Osama, and the guys who wrote the Macarena. Evangelicals don't want people to go to hell... because they CARE. So it is with love that they want to make gay people suffer. Because suffering a little in this mortal world will save them an eternity of suffering in the afterlife.

Well, that's sure nice of them... but not everyone has that belief system. In fact, Christianity itself is divided on the issue. The Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin... but is it a sin greater than any other? The Bible has a whole list of sins that people tend to do on a regular basis. Turning on the TV on the Sabbath is a sin. Yelling at your mom for nagging you is a sin. Not marrying your dead husband's brother is a sin. The list goes on. Christianity says that Jesus died on the cross so our sins may be forgiven. Judaism teaches that repentance can remove the severity of God's decree. I don't know what Muslim views are, but I'm pretty sure there's room to wiggle out of hell there too. Just because someone sins doesn't mean their soul is damned. A homosexual can do a great number of things to help the world and make it a better place-- surely the weight of a man's deeds can make up for a man's failings. That's what modern religion teaches us. In Ancient Greece, people used to be damned for the sins of their fathers!

God! Once again, not everybody believes in this guy (or, according to the movie Dogma, Alanis Morissette). And in America, we have separation of church and state, so the government should not be looking to protect God's feelings. All world religions believe God gave us free will-- the ability to rise, or the ability to fall. Why would he do that if he wanted us to force everybody to do his will? God gave us the ability to make our own moral choices because he wanted us to learn the wisdom of making those choices. If we proscribe morality--personal morality that doesn't affect the lives of other people--then we short circuit free will. We take away the meaning behind making a moral choice. If there is no choice, then what can we learn? We're not people, but walking reactions to stimuli. God only knows that we lived our lives afraid of punishment, not that we were wise enough to make the right choices.

Plus, he's a big guy. There are way worse things humanity does to hurt his feelings.

Marriage! Is a word, a concept. At the very most, an "institution." It is not a person. Gay people getting married does not harm people in heterosexual marriages. Heterosexuals have done enough damage on their own. Look at the divorce rates, episodes of Teen Mom on MTV, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. Are we really saying that the institution of marriage is under threat because MORE PEOPLE WANT TO GET MARRIED?? That's ridiculous. If anything, the fight for gay marriage has shown just how important a loving, official If a group of people are fighting this hard for the right to be married, then it must be something worth fighting for. Why exclude them? Because they don't look like you? Because they can't have kids? Does a sterile, interracial punk rock pierced-to-the-nines couple threaten other people's marriages? In the 1950s, a lot of people may have thought so. Only bigots and cranky old people do now.

Are you going to say, "Well, I guess I won't get married, because if the gays do, its not special anymore"? What are you, three years old? You wanted the toy truck when you were the only kid who had one, but now that Jimmy and Sarah and Maxwell got one--screw that, its not cool anymore? Are you going to say, "I'm going to get divorced because Sam and Dave are getting hitched"? Why? So you can be available for a little gay union of your own?

Will gay marriage open the door to polygamy? Incest? Beastiality? Well, only if you believe love between two consenting adults is the same as those things. Which it is not. Power imbalances, issues of consent, potential for abuse and coercion is just not as present in a union between two equals.

President Obama is right to support Gay Marriage. Now he's got to follow through. It's time for America to grow up and stop acting like children. We're at war overseas. The economy sucks. Cadbury Creme Eggs are smaller than ever. THERE ARE BIGGER PROBLEMS WE SHOULD BE DEALING WITH.

Do no harm. We follow that oath, and America stays alive. We break it, and the patient dies on the table.

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