Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Abortion and gay marriage

The Stupak-Pitts amendment to the House of Representatives' health care bill, which prohibits federal funds from even indirectly paying for abortions, has caused a bit of a stir here in Massachusetts. The special election to replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate has four largely indistinguishable candidates, but the forerunner in that race made some news by saying she would vote against the bill if it contained the amendment. The second-place guy went on the attack by saying that it's wrong to vote against imperfect bills, before reversing and saying that he too would vote against the bill if its final version included Stupak-Pitts.

To those who say that the amendment is necessary to get more votes, I'd counter that voting against the bill solely because it doesn't include this amendment would be wrong. I understand that without the amendment, people would end up paying for something they feel is morally wrong; but that's the nature of democracy. I have moral qualms with the death penalty, but I wouldn't vote against a bill overhauling our judicial system just because of that.

Still, although I'm relatively pro-choice, I can understand the pro-life argument. If you consider a two-day-old embryo to be human life, then ending that life is murder. There's a long precedence that murder is a crime against society as a whole, not just against the victim; so that abortion affects you, and you have the right — the obligation, even — to outlaw it.

On the other hand, if you don't consider that embryo to be human, then it's nobody else's right to prohibit you from preventing it from becoming one by controlling your own reproductive system. It's a tough situation, and that's why it's a significant, perennial wedge issue.

But there's another wedge issue that shouldn't be one: gay marriage. Call me a crazy liberal, but it seems completely obvious to me that if we let straight couples marry, we should let gays marry, too. Unlike the case of abortion, a gay marriage doesn't affect anybody who's against it, except insofar as it makes them uncomfortable — which is not a justification to outlaw something.

If you don't like gay marriage, don't get gayly married. If you want to tell a gay married couple that they're going to Hell, well, I think you're a jerk, but you're within your rights. But until you can come up with a convincing, secular, consistent argument for why gays shouldn't be allowed to marry while straights should, the idea of banning gay marriage has zero legitimacy.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with the setimint here. Most social issues have a clear pro and con, but I have yet to hear anything resembling a legitimate argument against gay marriage. Still every time it has come to a vote it has been struck down leading me to agree with President Obama's "gaff" when he said that small town America bitterly clings to guns and religion.