Tuesday, November 3, 2009
The culture wars continue
The vote has been tallied here in the middle of nowhere, Maine. In my small rural town, the vote "to reject same sex marriage" (as the Bangor Daily News calls it) has won by 20 votes. 178 people voted yes. 158 people voted no. As far as rural hamlets go, it was pretty close. Curious about the entire state? Click on the paper's link, above. It's pretty interesting, though quite predictable. The more rural the location, the more votes for "yes." Also, here in Maine, more liberal views thrive (if you can call it that) on the coast. My town is only 20 minutes from the ocean, so even though I tend to think of it as totally redneck, well, it's a pretty even split as far as voting goes.
And so, the culture wars continue. The ballot counting is not over, but I suspect that the yes votes will win, as the uncounted ballots are coming from the more rural areas. I voted on a paper ballot and stuffed it into a locked wooden box. It takes some time counting ballots. Some of that time is spent reading the notes people write on them.
Here's my take on marriage, gay or otherwise: I don't think the government should be in the business of marrying anyone. As far as I'm concerned, marriage is a religious institution. If one goes to a court to get "married", it should be a civil union for everyone. This civil union is a legal contract between two people, one that religious beliefs have nothing to do with.
The government can't force a church to marry gay couples and I respect that. We (supposedly) have separation of church and state. If this were truly so, then no religious views would interfere with the right of a gay couple to have a judge perform a civil union.
Sure, this idea strips the romance out of marriage, but it's fair and sensible. People who want to get married can still do so, and this would include gay people, but for legal purposes, not religious ones, civil unions would be the norm. If people want to have celebratory parties (often called weddings) where they declare their vows, well, nobody can stop them.
I don't mean to sound flip or callous. I'll be sad when I learn tomorrow morning that Maine showed the rest of the nation that it is composed of a lot of ignorant people who think allowing gay people to marry will somehow corrupt children and undermine conventional marriage. I'll also be sad for all the gay people who will, once again, come face to face with the fact that they are still not granted the same rights as other Americans.
I know my viewpoint is not popular. I've explained it to many people and they are almost offended by it. It poses a problem to non-religious straight folks. It strips them of their right to get married without a religious ceremony and that forces them to think about just what marriage is.
I can't help thinking about how the membership of the Unitarian Church would skyrocket if my idea went through.