This started because, to my surprise, I kept seeing my Facebook friends "liking" Mitt Romney. Well, not totally to my surprise-I knew there would be a few-but some of them were a surprise. If you came here from Facebook, I know you (at least a little), I like you, and we probably have a lot of shared experiences in one way or another, so how are we seeing this thing so differently? I want to ask "What are you thinking???" but that tone generally doesn't engender useful conversation, and I'm tired of all the comments (on both sides) along the lines of "If you support [the other guy] you're an idiot! Sorry if you don't like my opinions, but it's a free country and I can say all the vitriolic, non-constructive, name-calling things that I want to. Don't forget to go to the polls on Nov. 6th! (Unless you're voting for the other guy-LOL!) (Also, my football team RULES!!! And yours SUCKS!!!)" (That last part doesn't have anything to do with the other--I just think it's annoying).
So, I wanted to take the time to explain why I feel the way that I feel. I don't really expect to change anybody's mind, but if there's anybody out there who's still on the fence, or who isn't interested in voting for their own sake, I do hope that I can help convince you to vote on behalf of me, your fellow American. Even if I don't, even if you know right here and now that there is NO WAY that is going to happen, I hope you'll still read, so that you at least understand where I'm coming from. And I do hope you'll comment to explain your side of things or to ask me questions. I just ask that if you're going to comment, you read all the way through to the end before doing so and keep everything civil, relevant, and thoughtful.
I plan on voting Democrat this election cycle, not because I am staunchly pro-Democrat or because my family has always voted Democrat (honestly, I don't even know if my family ever voted). The fact of the matter is, I like Barack Obama, but more than that, I can't stomach the things that I keep hearing from the Republican party. According to GOP.com, the Republican party was all about things like abolition, free speech, and women's suffrage back in the day, and those are all things I can get behind. They say that, "With a core belief in the primacy of individuals, the Republican Party, since its inception, has been at the forefront of the fight for individuals' rights in opposition to a large, intrusive government." So, what happened?
I can't think of anything more intrusive than a government telling you that you cannot marry the person of your choice or telling you that you must have a child against your wishes. I'm going to tackle that first one here and the second one in a separate post.
There has been a lot of headway made toward marriage equality; I'm happy to see that, but there are a lot of people who are going to continue to fight hard to keep gay people from having the same rights, under the law, that straight people have, and I just don't get it.
In terms of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, isn't being able to commit yourself to the person you love one of the biggest pieces of that pursuit? The Renewing American Values section of the Republican Platform opens by saying that Republicans are "the party of independent individuals and the institutions they create...to advance their ideals and make real their dreams." Unless you happen to be gay and your dream is to raise a family with the person that you love. The very first item listed as a goal for Renewing American Values is "Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage". It states:
The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation. It has been proven by both experience and endless social science studies that traditional marriage is best for children. Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, engage in crime, or get pregnant outside of marriage. The success of marriage directly impacts the economic well-being of individuals. Furthermore, the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also to more government control over the lives of its citizens in all aspects. We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting alone, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage. We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.OK, let's take this apart. First of all, I don't know what proof they're citing--there are no references given. They just say that "Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, [etc.]..." More likely than what? I assume they mean than children raised by same-sex couples, but I doubt that the "experience and endless social science studies" that they reference have been comparing children from traditional intact families with children from same-sex intact families.
Secondly, "[t]he success of marriage directly impacts the econimic well-being of individuals." I agree. When there is only one parent in a house, straight or gay, there is often more financial hardship which often means less opportunity for parents to be involved with school and extracurricular activities and more opportunity for the child to be left unsupervised.
Next, "[t]the lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also to more government control over the lives of its citizens in all aspects. OK...I don't even know what that means, but gay people are trying to form families, families that would be made up of two loving parents. Medical complications aside, any straight couple can get together and have a baby. There doesn't have to be any commitment there at all. A gay couple is going to have to work hard and spend a lot of money to make that happen either through surrogacy or adoption. Any child raised by a gay couple is going to be a child that was expected, wanted, and planned for, which is more than can be said for a lot of other children.
And finally, "we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage." What was that thing the Republicans said earlier about being "at the forefront of the fight for individuals' rights" and non-intrusive government? Oh yeah, I guess they just meant for straight individuals. Look, I'm all for strengthening the union of marriage--a broken home is a broken home, and it stinks no matter who your parents are. There's nothing worse than feeling like you weren't worth sticking around for. Divorce rates amongst one-man, one-woman marriages are already high enough in this country; I don't think a lack of focus on male/female match-ups has been the problem. In fact, I think it has probably forced a lot of people into marriages that they knew were right for society but wrong for them as individuals. How does stigmatizing a homosexual into a heterosexual marriage make that marriage more likely to work?
When it comes to having your chioce of life partner recognized under the law, shouldn't every couple have equal rights in this regard? I think so. Does that mean that every church should be forced to recognize those marriages? Absolutely not. What the church recognizes as a marriage and what the law recognizes as a marriage are two separate things. How two people pay taxes, are covered under insurance, and make decisions for each other regarding medical care and end-of-life decisions should have no bearing on any church's view of their relationship. If that were the case, how would ANY unions outside of a church be considered valid by the governent? Wouldn't ALL marriages need to be sanctioned by a church. The IRS doesn't care whether two people filing jointly were married by the Justice of the Peace or the Pope, and when it comes to making medical or end-of-life decisions for someone you love would having opposing genitalia make you a better judge of what would be better for that person?
Before you go, I'd like to ask you if you know any gay people. If you answered no, I'd like to rephrase my question. If you did know any gay people, would they tell you? I'm not talking about in the workplace or casual acquaintances, but I mean people you know and love, your nephew, your daughter, your brother-in-law, your great-aunt Margaret and her "friend" that have been living together for the last 50 years and helped raise you and all of your cousins. Would you tell any of these people that you don't think they are worthy of as much happiness as you because of who they love?