Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Governor Pence Handled Same Sex Marriage Debate Perfectly in State of the Union

Over at the Indy Democrat blog, my friend Jon Easter takes the Governor to task for wading into the same sex marriage debate currently dominating the newly-started legislative session.  Jon helpfully provides the Governor's remarks:
Now on the subject of marriage, we are in the midst of the debate over whether Indiana should join some 30 other states that have enshrined the definition of marriage in their state constitutions. Each of us has our own perspective on the matter. For my part, I believe in traditional marriage, and I have long held the view that the people, rather than unelected judges, should decide matters of such great consequence to the society. Reasonable people can differ, and there are good people on both sides of this debate. No one, on either side, deserves to be disparaged or maligned because of who they are or what they believe. 
So let’s have a debate worthy of our people with civility and respect. 
Let’s protect the rights of Hoosier employers to hire who they want and provide them with benefits that they earn. 
And let’s resolve this issue this year once and for all.
Jon correctly notes that the Governor does not play any role in constitutional amendments.  But  Jon's position that the Governor should remain silent on the biggest issue of the day is surprising. While I don't doubt Jon's sincerity, I think there are numerous people in his camp who would be sharply critical of the Governor if he didn't say anything about the debate. 

What the Governor said in his State of the State speech was magnanimous and points out that there are reasonable people on both sides of the debate.  Pence merely said that respect and civility should govern the debate.  I couldn't agree more. While I think the same sex marriage advocates have the stronger argument and are clearly winning the political battle, I am troubled by the language some of those advocates toss out at those on the other side.  There are many opponents of same sex marriage who aren't motivated by hatred of homosexuality, but because they strongly believe in the institution of marriage and think it will be damaged if same sex marriages are allowed.  Instead of denigrating those folks with personal insults, wouldn't it be better to work to persuade opponents that advocates too believe in the importance of marriage and simply want more people to be able to participate in the cherished institution?

Jon is right on one point.  The Governor is wrong when he suggests the issue can be resolved this year.  The political battle will rage on for years, if not decades. The amendment would actually prolong that political battle.

4 comments:

guy77money said...

Ahh finally the Pence I know and love! He is absolutely right lets have a civil discussion on this issue. There is a reason most people don't discuss religion around the dinner table with friends!
Lets grow up and let gays marry they cause way less problems then single family house holds with kids.

mstrinka said...

“I am troubled by the language some of those advocates toss out at those on the other side. There are many opponents of same sex marriage who aren't motivated by hatred of homosexuality, but because they strongly believe in the institution of marriage and think it will be damaged if same sex marriages are allowed. “
I’m sure you are right. Back about 60 years or so, when I was a kid, there were plenty of white people who were not motivated by hatred of Negroes, but who strongly believed that their children would be harmed if Negro children were allowed to attend the same schools and swim in the same pools. They may have been well-meaning and good hearted, but their fears were motivated by generations of harmful misinformation. It is not wrong to call this type of irrational fear a phobia.
The belief that allowing same-sex couples to participate in marriage will somehow “contaminate” a sacred institution has very similar roots. It is based on generations of religious and social brainwashing defining those with a same-sex preference as “other”. When a person has bought into the idea that a class of people do not deserve to be included in the honorable institutions of normal mainstream life, that person is a bigot by definition. Intentional malice is not required.
These words should not be tossed out unthinkingly or with intent to insult – but they do have a place in this conversation.

Septly said...

I don't think anyone has called for a violent debate about same-sex marriage, and I agree that the discussion should always be kept peaceful, but beyond that, the Governor and I part ways. "Civility" as it is commonly misused today is just a code word for tolerating (and thereby implicitly endorsing) the prejudices of others. But, an individual's prejudices do not deserve any special deference.

I have no doubt that many opponents of same-sex marriage are motivated by their sincere and heartfelt belief that the "sanctity of marriage" is protected by the prohibition against same-sex couples marrying. But, just because someone sincerely and deeply believes something doesn't make it right, nor does it mean anyone has to respect the views of others simply because they are sincere and he artful and allegedly not motivated by hatred. There still exists a substantial minority of people who sincerely and truly believe that interracial marriage is wrong. Many of these individuals strongly affirm that they hold no hatred in their hearts against people of different races/ethnicities and simply believe that individuals should marry "their own kind," but the rest of society takes a very dim view of such prejudiced views.

So, no, I will not be "civil" to anyone who advocates denying human rights to other individuals by opposing same-sex marriage. I will not be violent, nor will I engage in ad hominem attacks, but I will speak truthfully and call out their prejudiced views. And, if that makes them feel uncomfortable or bad, then I say good, they should feel bad for being prejudiced against gay people, and they should feel even worse that they believe they can use their prejudice as an excuse to deny legal rights to others.

If you don't agree with same-sex marriage, then there is a simple solution: Don't enter into a same-sex marriage--problem solved. And, yes, of course, your church/mosque/temple should be free to set any limits on entering into a religious marriage under your faith. But, don't tell other loving and consenting adults who they can and cannot marry under the law. The state is not your church/mosque/temple, and you have no business pushing your religious and/or moral views on others. My civility ends when you try to interfere with the rights of others.

Btownmoon said...

I don't think he handled this perfectly. His statement: "For my part, I believe in traditional marriage, and I have long held the view that the people, rather than unelected judges, should decide matters of such great consequence to the society."

He's simply playing on the public's distaste of "activist" judges. In reality, sometimes it takes unelected judges to ensure the majority of the "people" don't infringe upon the rights of a minority.