Friday, August 10, 2012

For Marriage Equality Part 2

Since the last post I made on marriage equality was focussed on an argument someone made that tried to rely on evidence (it failed though), I thought I would address some more subjective elements. I may not mirror this post on my politics blog because a lot of the content of this one will be religious in nature.

Recently I had a conversation with someone about various churches positions on homosexuality. Their church they said was welcoming of LGBTQIA people and that it is sad that Christianity has a bad reputation in this respect. What I tried to communicate to them was that the reason Christianity has a bad rep is because even most of the churches that are 'welcoming' of LGBTQIA people, most of these churches are not accepting and their church fell under this category. What I mean by welcoming and accepting is quite simple. A church that welcomes LGBTQIA people will not shun them or be nasty to them, but what they won't do is accept them as they are. Instead, there is an underlying belief that being LGBTQ (not sure about church positions on intersex and asexual people..) is immoral and sinful, and in order to not be continually living in sin, you either have to turn straight or remain celibate forever.

Arguably, this position is worse than simply being hateful, though those who hold to it are generally well intentioned. It reminds me of all those "I'm not racist, but...", "I'm not sexist, but..." kind of things. This one would be "I'm not homophobic, but LGBTQ people were born the wrong way and should change who they are to suit my beliefs." I don't know about everyone, but I certainly wouldn't choose to be friends with people who thought that part of who I am (not something that I do, or believe in) is immoral.

So how does this relate to marriage equality? Because many of these kinds of Christians who welcome but don't accept LGBTQIA people are opposed to marriage equality, because they feel like supporting it would mean they tacitly endorse homosexuality, which they believe is inherently sinful. I'm sorry, but it doesn't work that way. We do not live in a conservative theocracy where people's personal lives are subjected to the moral code of a particular subset of a religion. You may also believe that pre-marital sex is sinful, and depending on how conservative you are, you may also think piercings and tattoos are sinful too. I don't see you out there trying to petition the government to make them illegal, so why in this particular instance do you think that allowing consenting adults of the same gender to marry all of a sudden becomes your business?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Three Years On

As of this month, it has been 3 years since I first 'came out' as an atheist. That was a big step for me then and my views and attitudes towards things have changed even more since then than they did in the 3 years leading up to my deconversion. A friend of mine recently used the term 'action-potential' (a neuroscience term) to describe the way I explained my shifts in views. I think this is quite accurate, as my views were quite extreme as a teenager, and swung back well past the 'zero' point before leveling off to a stable state. For quite some time after deconversion I was quite militant, always up for a debate and very confrontational (at least on the internet) about my opinions. I still have a few hot-button topics but in general I've become much less combative over religion.

These days I tend to shy away from identifying myself as an atheist, though the term definitely still applies to me, since I personally do not think any gods exist. I changed my religious beliefs on facebook from 'Atheist', to 'Metaphysical Naturalism' and recently to a simple 'none'. This is for several reasons. First and foremost because I no longer see atheism as a defining characteristic of what constitutes 'me'. I much prefer to identify with terms that actually reflect the things I do believe in rather than those that I don't. Some terms that I currently identify myself with are things like Feminist, Liberal and Socialist.

Perhaps one of the biggest contributors behind no longer identifying myself as an atheist has been the company that I keep. When I first deconverted a large portion of the people that I frequently interacted with were Christians. Over time however that number has dwindled, and Christians now make up less than 10% of the people I converse with. Among my closest friends I think you'd be hard pressed to require two hands to count those who identify as Christian, and I suspect the number is actually zero. Bearing that in mind, it seems rather trite to use 'atheist' as a label that I actively place on myself.

I'm not going to bother trying to explain how my views on religion, life and politics have changed over the course of these three years. I will however say that it has been an adventurous three years of self discovery and personal evolution. The journey through the intellectual, emotional and spiritual (whichever way you interpret that) maze of my life is far from over, I just hope that at each point like this when I look back at where I've been I can say that I've become a better person as a result.

Monday, August 6, 2012

For Marriage Equality

I was recently linked to this blog post titled 'Against Gay Marriage'. The author is a gay man who opposes legalising same-sex marriage. What are his reasons for holding such a position? Because same-sex relationships don’t ‘tend towards’ raising children. He admits in the post that not all heterosexual couples raise children, but he doesn’t flesh out the implications of this, for obvious reasons, as it would leave his argument sorely wanting.

What implications can I see that naturally lead from suggesting the function of a marriage is to raise children? Marriages should then not be allowed to people who are past the age of conception, to people with chromosomal abnormalities, to people with reproductive disorders and the list goes on. I recognise that this is somewhat of a slippery slope but I do not see how this can be avoided when such a limited definition of what defines marriage is offered.

On top of this, what of same-sex couples who do wish to raise children? Should they be forced to call their partnership by a different name simply because they cannot conceive by ‘natural’ means? If you extend that logic like the prior situation whereby marriage is denied to infertile people, should those who cannot conceive naturally or who adopt children then be forced to annul their marriage and get a civil partnership/union instead?

The author of this post also suggests that research indicates that children do better with straight parents. Rubbish, I say. There is plenty of modern research that suggests the opposite (, that there is either no noticeable difference or in some studies, the children of same-sex parents performed better than their straight-parented counterparts. Even if all the research strongly indicated that children of same-sex parents outperformed those of straight parents solidly on every metric, would I offer an argument to ban straight people from raising children and getting married? Of course not! Rather, I would argue for more integrated and comprehensive parental support systems through local/national governmental programmes, to try to normalise outcomes so that all children regardless of their parentage receive a fair shot. That seems to be the obvious solution to me, but apparently others seem content on relying on flawed or outdated research and holding to a system that is inherently unequal in terms of the distribution of rights.

Obviously the author of the article is not some kind of gay-hating bigot, but he has bought into the bigoted belief that straight people make better parents, which is unfortunate.

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