On Gay Marriage and “Sending a Message”

Brianne Bilyeu has a post on her blog today talking about why she is voting “no” on November 6th and in it, she mentions someone who is voting “yes” for the following reason:

I have an acquaintance who doesn’t believe the government should be involved in marriage at all. He says he’s going to vote yes because he thinks this will send a message that government shouldn’t have any say over marriage at all.

He’s wrong.  If the amendment passes, his message will not be sent.  Nobody who is campaigning in support of the amendment believe that government shouldn’t have any say over marriage.  They believe the opposite.  They believe it so strongly that they want to insert specific instructions on what legally constitutes marriage into the constitution.  

When he votes “yes,” they will come to the fairly logical conclusion that he believes the same thing.

The argument that government shouldn’t have any say over marriage seems logical on the face of it but it makes the assumption that if we define marriage a certain way in our constitution, we will eventually…do what exactly?  We’ll re-define it again and say “marriage is something that government doesn’t define?”

We’ll eliminate inheritance laws that favor spouses?  We’ll just let anybody visit folks in the hospital?

That stuff is not going to happen.  Ever.  You will never find enough politicians who are willing to eliminate those kinds of legal protections.

So if you vote to restrict the rights of one group because you don’t think those rights should be given to any group, nobody will get that message.


Gay people will get the message that you cared more about a bizarre principle than you did about their rights to be treated the same way as everyone else.

And yes, the principle is bizarre because if you really believe government has no place in marriage, the worst way to send that message is by voting for an amendment that defines marriage.

It’s like cleaning your house by throwing shit everywhere.  What message are you trying to send? That someone else should clean up your house?  Do you think anyone is going to understand that?

While I understand there are a lot of people who want government out of the business of running our lives, I fail to understand how voting yes on an amendment that rigidly defines marriage achieves that goal.  It seems to me like a dodge.  It seems to me that the real reason they are voting “yes” is because they have some other issue with gay people being legally married and they aren’t comfortable bringing it up.

Taking the argument at face value, though, shouldn’t they be voting “no” and lobbying for the repeal of all laws that protect spouses?  Wouldn’t that send the appropriate message?  If you did that, wouldn’t one of the laws you’d be lobbying to repeal be the law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman?

So why the hell would you vote to put it in the state constitution?  Aren’t you just making things harder on yourself?

If you are one of those people who is voting “yes” to send a message about government’s involvement in marriage, you should think very hard about the message you are sending.  Because nobody is going to get it.

Tags: , , ,

About Petsnakereggie

Geek, movie buff, dad, musician, comedian, atheist, liberal and writer. I also really like Taco flavored Doritos.

One response to “On Gay Marriage and “Sending a Message””

  1. Aaron says :

    I read pretty much all the comments on any local news story related to homosexuality and I’ve been seeing this concept pop up here and there. I thought it was completely illogical too. Thanks for elaborating on why it doesn’t make sense, I couldn’t put it into words!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: