The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Civil unions and gay marriage

In the state of Maryland, where I live, both the Governor, Martin O'Malley, and the speaker of the House of Delegates, Michael Busch, have come out in favor of civil unions, so I think that Maryland will join Vermont and Connecticut. And though I generally do not like anything associated with O'Malley, I think he is probably right. Civil unions are the best compromise between the religious right (who want to preserve "traditional marriage") and the gay friendly part of the public (who want equal rights).

Frankly, I see no harm in gay marriage. I cannot see how it even affects the people who are so opposed to it; if same-sex couples can get married, it certainly doesn't prevent opposite-sex couples from doing so. But if some people object to it being called a "marriage," then certainly giving them all the rights of a married couple without the word seems a good compromise.

Of course, the problem is that some people are (based on religious background) simply opposed to homosexuality. You can't show me anything that is not based on religion, and in fact on a specific religious belief, that makes homosexuality per se undesirable. And because we have a Constitution that forbids an "establishment of religion," no religious argument can hold water as a basis for our law.

So for once, I think O'Malley is right.


Jack Rudd said...

Same-sex civil unions, equivalent to marriage in all but name (and really so - all the relevant laws got amended to make this the case), have been around in the UK for a few years now.

What's happened as a result is that a lot of gay people in established relationships have formed civil unions. What has not happened is any sort of controversy - the few who did protest against it were viewed as religious nutters by most of the rest of the UK. Seems the general population really aren't all that bothered.

(Incidentally, have you ever seen the Political Compass? I'd be interested to know what you make of it - I'd expect you to end up in the bottom right quadrant, judging by your posts. I'm in the bottom left, at (-6.12, -5.79).)

Opinionator said...

It's unusual to se a comment so much later than the original post, but thanks for posting it. Of course, in this country this is a state-by-state process, and we have some states (like Connecticut and New Jersey) voluntarily adopting civil unions (Vermont, the first one, was forced to by the court decision), while others, like Virginia, taking a hard-line anti-civil-union position.

Has it really been "a few years" in the UK? I thought it was only last year that they came about. Of course, in the UK (and most of Europe) there are very few people as seriously into religion as many of the people we have here. (Not to say that everyone who is religious is anti-civil-union, but most people who are anti-civil-union tend to be really strongly religious.)

Opinionator said...

I just took the Political Compass test and while I am in the bottom right, I'm fairly close to the x-axis. I came out at (5.62, -1.54) on their scale. Interestingly, that seems to be a part of the scale where nobody among the world leaders fits.

Jack Rudd said...

We've got our share of strong religious beliefs in Europe as well, and on a number of recent occasions they've caused wars (Northern Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina being the cases I can think of).

In the UK, there seems to be a feeling that it's Not Done to express religious opinions too strongly; part of the problem many Brits had with Tony Blair was that he was more overtly religious than we like our political figures.

We do, funnily enough, have a state religion here, which the monarch is required to be the defender of. But over the years it has become a very mild and unthreatening denomination, and it's rare for senior clergy to make public pronouncements about anything.