Yesterday I saw someone walking around wearing a "Protect Marraige - Vote Yes on 1" t-shirt. It's refering to a measure we had on our ballot LAST election. The Yes'ers lost. As you have probably guessed, it was a vote on gay rights. Our legislature passed a bill that added sexual preference to the anti-descrimination legislation we already had (i.e. race, gender, religion and whatnot). It didn't specify which sexual preference would be protected (unlike the last bill they passed which the voters rejected) just that sexual preference couldn't be used as a determining characteristic in many transactions (banks, housing, whatnot). I see this as going two ways, with one direction getting protected more often (because unfortunately there are all too many acts of discrimination going that direction).
I'm pretty conservative, and I like laws at least as little as the next guy, but I voted not to repeal the law. Usually laws like this create lots of problems...but this wasn't a new kind of law, it just expanded an existing one. So I had some hope that it wouldn't be too dificult to implement. I don't see it as being extremely effective, but the anti-discrimination laws did have at least some effect on the other types of discrimination, so I'm willing to give this try a chance. I have certain personal and religious thoughts about the actions in question, but my own ideas about what other people should do in a given situation are usually ignored anyway, and I try not to give everyone too much grief about the 'stupid' (in my opinion) stuff that they do. I don't see why this issue should be any different. I don't want people to be treated badly, regardless of how I view their actions.
So, thats where I stood on the issue. I was dissappointed by the Yes crowd for a couple reasons last year. One was that I had trouble finding someone who dissagreed with me who was also willing to 'debate' the issue instead of fight about it. The other is that they framed the debate as one about the sanctity of marraige. That isn't what the bill was about - descrimination is bad, and treating people badly is never a good idea, and trying to stop that (however ineffectively) is a good thing. They may be right that this bill will make it easier to legalize gay marraiges later, but that wasn't the debate on this bill. So, most of the people opposing this bill were actually opposing the next bill. I don't think that's the right way to fight a political battle.
Anyway, now that you have some backgroud (hehe, I know I'm long winded, but please bear with me), what seeing that t-shirt made me think about was this. Since I'm conservative and I don't really like government intervention, and most people who oppose gay marraige because they want to protect marraige, what do those people want to do about protecting marraige? What if the government decided to 'protect' gay marraige by deciding who could get married in heterosexual marraiges? Because, obviously, the institution is in danger. Divorces are on the rise, and most people don't seem to take their marraige vows seriously anymore. 'Protecting' the institution would try to stop that practice as well, wouldn't it? So, do we really want the government to tell us who can and can't get married? I certainly don't; I see way too many ways the government would just get in the way of legitimate relationships even if it was trying to be good, and way too many opportunities to play favorites with a big beurocracy that was supposed to determine good couples to allow for marraige.
I think that someone should pay attention to the value of a marraige vow, and do their best to not marry people who won't respect it - but that's a job for the Church, not the government. I would rather see the government not discriminate between it's citizens and allow anyone two people to combine for tax purposes, hospital visitation, and inheritance rights (basically the extent of a legal marraige) than to allow the government a hand in controlling marraige - a vital part of my religion. Allowing the government to control one aspect of my religion allows and all too dangerous precedent for controling other parts of my (and other religions). I don't need to go into the specifics of why it's important for government to remain separate from religion, you all already understand that stuff.
I'm also of the opinion that ideas are strongest when they get tested, and, (unfortunately, like Mills) I think that new ideas shouldn't be repressed so that they can be validly tested by the population. If my ideas (religion) are right and work the best, then people will eventually come around to the truth. If they're not, then it would be wrong to force them on everyone. And I'm pretty arrogant, so I do think you'll all come around to agreeing with me eventually (it just might take longer for some people).
So, the government should stay out of the way and not try to "protect" marraige on anything else that should really be protected by our churches. And people should stop trying to get the government to do the Church's job. (that goes for other things (not just the issue of gay marraige) as well, things like teaching creationism in school and whatnot.) It's a bad idea to get the government to try and fix anything (cause the usually just screw it up), so we should leave the important things to the important and generally good institutions. (which is why the UN should never be trusted with anything.)
P.S. - Isn't it great how I worked international politics into this? Unfortunately, the UN is busy proving me correct as I type - they're still nowhere near a settlement between Hezbollah and Israel, and they probably won't do a good job at it. Fortunately, the Israeli's aren't done destroying Hezbollah's infrastructure, so we have time to wait for a cease-fire anyway.