Posts Tagged ‘current events’

Wah, Don’t Move My Cheese: The Rick Warren Edition

December 29, 2008

The Rick Warren controversy (President-elect Obama wants him to deliver the opening prayer at the inauguration) has had me thinking about this for a while. Also, the chance of getting a few hits on my blog on the coat-tails of this kerfuffle is one that cannot be passed up on. (Thanks for clicking!)

Rick Warren’s stance on gay marriage is: for five thousand years, marriage has been between a man and a woman, so I can’t support changing it. Also, because we can’t allow marriages between brothers and sisters, and between “old guys” and “young girls,” we can’t allow one between two men (or two women.)

Warren’s logic itself is terrible, not to account for his rather hidebound stance over tradition. Then there’s the issue of whether marriage indeed has been this unchanging institution for “five thousand years,” the magic figure that he likes to roll off his tongue. Much shorter ago than that, marriage involved the virtual sale of the woman to the man (or rather to the man’s family), and I don’t see Warren, or any one interested in staying in the mainstream of social debate, advocating a return to the glory days of feminine chattel.

But. Warren’s got a point that a heck of a lot of Americans do think that this definition needs defending. There’s a line between defending it socially and defending it legally — now-President Bush tried getting a constitutional Kevlar vest for marriage a few years ago, and his efforts were met with a resounding “No” from public opinion. However, this doesn’t mean that a lot of people aren’t feeling very threatened by the potential sea-change in what will constitute marriage, and to my mind, what President-elect Obama is looking to do is offer this constituency a voice.

I think they should get a voice. I think gay rights organizations should ensure in each state that sexual orientation is not a bar for any rights granted by the state, including the right to adopt, the right to civil unions and everything else that a loving couple would like to do when they are married (including no-fault divorces, a fascinating idea, about which more another time.) I think any measure that restricts these rights should be challenged as unconstitutional, as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The social debate on marriage has to be allowed to run its course, and to imagine that we can completely exclude people who are on the traditionalist side of the debate from the public sphere is preposterous. As to the allegations that Warren compares gay relationships to child abuse, it’s important to note that “old guys” marrying “young girls” is not considered child abuse in some cultures — so if it sounds repugnant to those of us who are offended at Warren’s equivalences, we have to wonder if his aversion isn’t the same as our aversion at what to some cultures is a perfectly reasonable matrimonial arrangement.