Posted by Charity on November 19th, 2008

One thing that I find especially irritating about political debate is the games people try to play with language.

The latest offender: gay marriage is a civil rights struggle.

Let’s get one thing clear, it‘s not. There is no one being denied the right to marry. The problem is that some people do not like the current definition of what a marriage is.

A marriage, as it has existed in the United States of America, is a union between one man and one woman.

No one is being prevented from entering a marriage based on any criteria. A gay person can get married. But, why would one want to enter a union between a man and a woman if one prefers the same sex? That is the problem.

The issue at hand here is whether or not we want to redefine marriage to include same sex unions.

This is not about denying a group of people their civil rights or treating them like second-class citizens. Claims that it is such belittle the real civil rights struggles that happened in this country.

Can gays vote? Do gays ride in the back of the bus? Do gays eat at separate lunch counters and have to use separate bathroom facilities? Are there “straight only” establishments?

I think the reason that people try to equate gay marriage with the civil rights movement is because that battle was already won and no one wants to go back there. We all know that it was wrong and no one wants to be labeled as someone who wants to deny civil rights or discriminate.

The fact is gays are not subject to a separate code of laws or set of conditions. They can get married! The problem is that “married” means “joined in a union with a member of the opposite sex,” and that is not what they want to do.

This is a discussion about changing the definition of marriage, nothing more, nothing less.

We can have that discussion, but let’s quit with the dramatics and stop pretending that this is a civil rights issue because it isn’t.

Added: It turns out, Dennis Prager makes a similar point, more powerfully than I.

One has to either be ignorant of segregation laws and the routine humiliations experienced by blacks during the era of Jim Crow, or one has to be callous to black suffering, to equate that to a person not being allowed to marry a person of the same sex.

One Response to “A Civil Rights Issue?”

  1. “There is no one being denied the right to marry”

    …except those nasty gay people.

    Personally, I’m in favor of civil unions to settle this debate, but, for some reason that’s not quite clear to me, gays & lesbians feel that they should have the right to marry outright. I am still not sure what rights (besides the obvious federal ones) they are not gaining access to through civil unions.