I support gay marriage, but it’s not a human rights issue.

Posted by tobymuresianu on Mar 26, 2013 in Politics, Thoughts |

I support gay marriage. I think it should be legal, and I hope the supreme court rules in favor of it. But people have taken to calling it a human rights issue, and it’s not.

Human rights are fundamental rights we all deserve simply for being human. Timeless, fundamental freedoms like the ability to speak your mind, worship whatever god you choose, or have children. Let’s not forget that gay marriage only became an issue after Bush made it one. Is it really a human right if nobody even thought about it until 15 years ago?

But isn’t being able to marry the person you love a fundamental human right? Sure. But gay people can already get married, and have for decades. Here’s how: by saying they were married. Nobody will stop you. That’s all it takes to be married in the eyes of your god or if you’re an athiest like me, in the eyes of each other – which is the most important thing.

What we’re talking about is the right to have your state use the word “marriage” to describe your partnership, and in some cases (though not California’s) having the commensurate tax advantages and benefits like visitation rights in the hospital. Which, again, I completely support. I just don’t think it’s a human rights issue.

But isn’t equality a human right? Shouldn’t the state treat everyone equally?

If I were disabled, I would get money from the state. There are many ways in which it treats people unequally.

Most directly, I’m single and while I’d love to have a long term relationship, I don’t believe in marriage. If I have a 15 year relationship with a girlfriend, we don’t get the rights of a married couple. Doesn’t it make me unequal in the eyes of the state because religiously based legislation deems our lifestyle less valid? Sure, I could see it that way. But to say I felt my human rights are being violated would trivialize the term by equating it to violent religious persecution in Syria or detentions in Tiananmen Square. It would be part of a broader trend where people claim things like anti-Semitism, racism or class warfare at slight provocations because they feel it lends legitimacy to their argument. But really they just water down the terms and fan the flames of passion that have caused our political debates to become so divisive.

This isn’t a post about terminology. It’s about how to have a productive conversation. If our conversation becomes not about “human rights” but instead a conversation about the merits of tax benefits for married couples regardless of sexual orientation, maybe we would end with a superior and fairer solution for everyone. For example, abolishing tax benefits for all married couples because they don’t actually make sense. And rather than have visitation rights be restricted to a spouse of any gender, simply allowing me to specify which people who can visit me in the hospital, be they my gay spouse, girlfriend, lawyer or golfing buddy. And when benefits are equalized, we might see that whatever word a bunch of silly voters decide your state should use to call your partnership has zero effect on your life or what word you use, so it isn’t worth wasting your breath on when there are so many larger challenges to confront.

If you want to disagree with me about this being the best way to run things, sure, we can have that conversation. I just promise not to say it’s one about human rights.

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