Saturday, October 11, 2008

Proposition 8: Moral Freedom, or Agency Buster?

Before I begin my comments, I would like to express that I am not a traditional Conservative, nor a "liberal Democrat," as they tend to be branded. And, to be quite frank, I have no idea where I stand on this issue. But there are some things in the "Proposition 8 debate" that bother me.

Proposition 8, to the few who haven't heard, is a proposed amendment to the California state constitution that would legally and lawfully define marriage to be between a Man and a Woman, only. Similar measures are also being undertaken in other states (Prop 120, or something like that, in Arizona), but the California debate is particularly engaging.

As an active Latter-day Saint, my senses have been flooded with talk about "preserving the sanctity of marriage." In fact, on Wednesday, Oct. 8, Elders M. Russell Ballard and Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presented a nation-wide fireside, urging members to support the California initiative and actively campaign for the agenda.

The argument is always the same: marriage has been defined by "history and tradition," and therefore, it shouldn't be changed. Also, religious believers argue that "since God ordained marriage between a man and a woman, man shouldn't ordain it any other way." I am in full agreement with the second point, but my mind always wanders to those who have rejected the counsels of God to such an extent. It's difficult, but I really do try hard not to offend or judge those beliefs.

However, the opposition also makes some valid arguments. They contend that marriage should not be left to the discretion of state or federal governments, but to the individuals involved in a marriage themselves. Therefore, they argue, if a man wants to marry a woman, man, dog, cow, or chicken, it should be their decision (although, I must admit, I have yet to meet a pro-bestiality Prop 8 rejecter). They argue that such a decision will only affect those marriages in which same-gender attraction is the norm.

However, the other side claims, that is not the case. For once same-gender marriage is constitutionally legal, it is assumed that there will be no time wasted before it is taught in schools, universities and community centers, as a way of "preventing discrimination." While the validity of such an assumption is question, this may be true. Once Title IX was passed by the federal government, it took little time for most college campuses to adopt policies in which equal viewpoints from male and female scholars would be taught and implemented.

But the question also goes back to the "history and tradition" argument made by the (principally) Religious Right Wing. They argue that, since marriage has "traditionally" been between a man and a woman, it ought to change that way. But how would life in the USA be if all of our 'history-darling' philosophers, lawmakers and generals had been under the same train of thought? Were the British Colonies "keeping with tradition" when the colonists took up arms against their sovereign nation across the bay? Was Abraham Lincoln "following history" when he 'prevented' a number of states from seceding from the Union? Was Joseph Smith, Jr., merely "keeping with tradition" when he prayed to God the Father on the Spring morning of 1820?

My point is not to convince anybody to vote a certain way on Proposition 9; I'm not a California resident, and hence cannot vote, so my opinion on the subject doesn't mean much. But it should be time that we began bring logical and well-thought arguments to defend what we see as "the sanctity of life."

Tradition vs Progressivism. It's an omnipresent battle.