Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A superiority problem and thoughtful debate

In a discussion of homosexuality at Ezra Klein's blog I was accused of being a lesser person by a man whom I have debated before - Fred. He explained that he is in fact better than I am because he believes he has a stronger belief in democracy than I do. Debate under such circumstances becomes impossible. When one decides that they are so very right and the other person is so very wrong that they are actually better than the other - there is no point in further discussion.

The reason I have enjoyed debating Fred in the past is that I truly do not understand the line of reasoning some people use to promote many conservative agendas. In this case a belief that it is just fine for people to discriminate against other people due to their sexual preference. I honestly do not understand why some folks can think that is ok. So I talk to him, question, try to figure out where he is coming from. I have not always been smiling and kind in my responses to the few arguments he will actually try to answer but I apologised the one time I made a personal attack, made when I was angry, tired and stressed out. Not a valid excuse for bad behaviour - but I did apologise. And subsaquently we have had reasonable if heated arguments.

Then he attacks me. I was neither rude nor condescending and I made no assumptions about his motives. Yet he turned around and presumed I believe something I do not - then judged me to be less than he.

Let me be clear. I believe in a democratic process to vote for equality for all people regardless of sexual preference or any other minority - including those involved in any single religion. And while the right to religious expression is specificly written into our constitution, the right to be free from discrimination in employment, housing or public business is not. Our courts decided that we have an inherent right to be free of discrimination due to many things - including religious preference, because of our constitution. Some courts have even said that homosexuals have inherent rights to be protected from discrimination - even while our politicians played catch up writing laws prohibiting discrimination in a variety of arenas, for a variety of reasons.

It is not a huge stretch to afford homosexuals those same protections. The problem from a certain conservative point of view is that this is inevetable. Within decades gay marriage will be looked at the same as inter-racial marriages are in most circles. We will wonder how ignorant we were as a society to actualy buy into that crap. I still hope that we will abolish the legal status afforded marriage and put the legal standard on civil unions. I honestly believe that that is the only way to truly restore sanctity to marriage. But it is clear that this is inevitable. Within decades the voting public will contain a much higher percentage of young people who grow up seeing that gays living together as life partners and even raising families has not led to the destruction of the family. Indeed they will be seeing in many places an emboldening and strengthening of the family unit as more gays grow up knowing they can have longterm relationships and don't have to run around having loose sex.

This is why they are half heartedly trying to strike this bigotry into the constitution. To say that marriage and legal benifits thereof are only available to opposite sex couples. It would take much longer to re-amend the constitution to remove it. Even now a firm majority of Americans believe in legislating anti-discrimination laws and allowing civil unions. Many conservatives like to throw marriage into the fray because there it becomes a little more polarized. But the tide is turning and already supports much of what I advocate.

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