Friday, November 06, 2009

Gay Marriage fails another Popular vote

Well. There it is. Maine’s election this past Tuesday was yet another instance where gay marriage failed to pass. Every single popular vote on Gay marriage in America has failed. Literally from California to Maine. Including my home state of Michigan.


The obviously correct answer is that Gay marriage is not the popular majority position amongst voters. We must recognize this simple fact. We who support gay marriage need to take the next step and question how we convince enough of the majority to change their position, and we become the majority.

There are quite a number we simply won’t. To them it is a matter of principle. Whether for religious reasons or long-held opinions as to what is “traditional” they will never, ever vote for gay marriage. Yes, there are instances where people can change. But deconversions are the exceptions—not the norms—and getting a swing this large will not come in that manner.

I find it hard to believe (perhaps it is true) the entire majority position is comprised of such individuals. Therefore the only hope is to focus on those who are not entrenched in principle, but still do not desire gay marriage to be allowed.

How do we motive these people? What can we say to open their minds to the possibility of allowing gay marriage even though they personally do not want it?

Motivating people is hard, due to the individuality of humans. Some people are enamored by automobiles, and would be motivated by a chance of owning a rare car. To me, cars are unavoidable means by which we get from Point A to Point B. While I appreciate a Corvette, I wouldn’t spend the money on one. (Yet I am the person who couldn’t live with surround sound, and cannot understand people satisfied with listening to Pirates of the Caribbean through…gasp!...TV speakers.)

Those opposing gay marriage use a powerful motivation—fear. They claim gay marriage will lead to school children being taught a certain way. They claim gay marriage will lead to polygamy. To people marrying pets. To your children becoming gay. They understand the power of threats: “If gay marriage is allowed, then _______” and fill in that blank with something--anything--people could possibly be scared by.

You can’t talk people out of fear. You can’t reason fear away. Ever have a child wake up in the night, terrified about the monster under the bed? You know there is no monster. You can show them how empty it is under the bed. You can argue, point out and explain how there are no such things as monsters. Did your cadre of reason diminish their fear? Not even a bit.

Instead you hold them, let them know it is alright. We fear the unknown. We fear the dark because we cannot see. We fear the interview or introduction because we don’t know the person’s reaction. By reassuring the child that what is known—you—is there, you calm them down.

We are not going to argue these people out of these fears. The only way to reassure them is to generate familiarity with homosexuals. To meet gay couples. To gain understanding into their lifestyle—which unsurprisingly consists of “who is making dinner?” and soccer games, and watching TV, and enjoying a glass of wine.

See…familiarity is fear’s nemesis. Remember how scared you were driving a car the first time? How you carefully checked your mirrors again and again? How you didn’t want to parallel park? After driving for years, you think nothing of it. You hop in the car, turn the key, and your mind isn’t even focused on the automatic driving process.

I admit I am uncertain how to implement this idea—I just know it is the way to counter fear.

Besides reducing the opponents’ motivation of fear, we must equally propose our own motivation—selfless support for a minority.

To make many of the current majority position sit back and truly think, what harm does it do to them to allow gays to marry? Does it really reduce the value of heterosexual marriage? Think long and hard about that.

Britney Spears’ marriage lasted 55 hours. Zsa Zsa Gabor has had 9 husbands. We have a television show where producers interview potential females to marry a bachelor; the courtship taking place before camera crews. There are wedding chapels next to casinos. You can be licensed to practice marriages over the internet.

Every one of those marriages is legal. Allowed. Sanctioned.

This is the institution we are protecting? We find so sacred, no homosexual need apply? In reviewing such examples, I am uncertain how it is possible to tarnish heterosexual marriage any more than it has done to itself!

Does it really diminish your own marriage? Did the fact Britney Spears was only married 55 hours on a lark make no difference, but the fact Bob and Ted (who you will never meet) are married in Portland make your marriage just that little bit less?

Where were you on July 21, 2005? What happened on that day? Did you wake up and (if you were married) all of a sudden feel as if your marriage just didn’t mean as much? As if you and your spouse were just not as meaningful as before? If you were not married, did you wake up to the realization that your eventual heterosexual marriage would be less significant? Less wonderful? Less passionate?

Do you forever remember July 21, 2005 as a day--marked in infamy--when marriage lost its sanctity and become an unholy, impure travesty?

“What happened?” you are thinking, “What terrible tragedy could possibly have occurred to bring this about?” Simple…the day before, on July 20, 2005, Canada legalized same-sex marriage.

That’s right (remember, marriage is NOT an exclusively American idea)—our neighbor to the north allowed gay marriage. And not a single American felt their current or future marriage was reduced in any way.

See the reality is we each find the meaning in marriage through our own marriage. Whether Zsa Zsa picks up another husband, a celebrity marries or the Gosselins divorce does not affect the depth or value I have with my wife. Nor would allowing gay marriage impact my marriage. My wife and I make our own course—we don’t measure our marriage by the marriage of others.

The motivation we need to impart is protection of a minority position. There are less homosexuals than heterosexuals. There always will be. If we voted down hetero/homo lines, the homosexual will always lose. Yet so would males. And African-Americans. And every other minority.

The reason America can be great is NOT that we can implement majority rule. 1000’s of governments before America understood the simple concept of “might makes right.” We can be great because we use majority rule to protect minority positions. We can look beyond “who has the most votes gets the say” to understanding and granting rights to those who will never have the most votes.

This is where we have gone awry. We have become a nation of bipartisanship, where the only important question is who can get the most votes to support ME. We will do anything to get those votes. We have stopped looking out for the little person. To wonder how we can do better. To push and prod to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

America is failing. Not because of the economy, but because we have lost all empathy with minority positions. We want to win, and win at all costs. Voting is no longer a civic duty; it has become a video game where the final question is “Do I have the highest score?”


  1. That's the one thing I'll never understand or tolerate in politics: that people are convinced that they need to change each other's views. I'm sorry, but if I don't approve of gay marriage I'm not going to vote in favor of gay marriage and why is my opinion less valid than yours?
    Even if it is not based on solid facts, religion, or whatever "valid... Read More" arguments exist- why does my opinion have to be changed while yours doesn't?
    Talk to people, yes. Try to understand their view points, yes. But make it a national goal to conform mindsets to whatever you want them to believe or support? Not on your life! I am free to think what I want to think and to vote how I want to vote.

    p.s. Just because you don't fear the dog doesn't mean the dog won't bite you. And just because you do fear the dog doesn't mean he will.

  2. I don't approve of racists marrying one another, but I can still support their right to do so.

  3. Just wanted to thank you for your insight into this issue. My sister is gay, and I referred her to your blog. She said she felt encouraged that there are smart people out there.
    It's to America's credit to stand up for minority rights.

  4. Two comments. First, it looks like we in Washington State have indeed passed the "Everything But Marriage" ballot initiative, so all is not lost.

    Second, I'm not too concerned about the recent losses on this issue. Numerous surveys indicate that younger Americans are far more open to the concept and so, in another generation or two, I think these votes will consistently go the other way and, in time, it will no longer be considered an "issue" at all.

  5. Poet of No Consequence,

    I wish Gay Marriage was merely a matter of opinion—akin to Pepsi as compared to Coke or what color for the living room carpet.

    It is not. It is already within the Political Arena where opinions translate into votes. Votes that affect other people’s rights. And the Political arena is inexorably infused with people attempting to change other people’s mind. Advertisements by one side either advocating their own position, or arguing against their opponents.

    To “wish” it away—as if it didn’t have to be this way—is a whimsical dream we can discuss at leisure. But in the mean time it IS here, and it IS being voted upon within the Political process. And while it is—while rights of others are being repressed—I will use the tools within that system to effectuate change toward my position.

    You are quite correct that you may think what you want to think and vote what you want to vote. You can vote for/against a position by what signs you see on the street, or by throwing darts at the wall. I realize there is a high percentage against gay marriage that I will never, ever, ever change their mind.

    But for those open to other’s positions; for those who are willing to listen to both sides and draw different conclusions, even against their own desires, I will attempt to persuade.

    P.S. Your point about fearing dogs only reinforces what I was saying. The way to get around such a fear is to familiarize oneself with the actions and instincts of various dogs. Learn which ones are more likely to bite, when and why. Familiarity will reduce the fear.

  6. Lynn, you (and your sister) are welcome. I sustain hope the tide is turning. It seems such a slow shift, and we cannot make it quite over that last hump. Look forward to reading your blog.

  7. The Rambling Taoist,

    Like you, I am encouraged by the younger generation. I saw a number (can’t find it now, of course!) where the percentage of voters at the University of Maine was somewhere around 86% support Gay Marriage, 14% against. With those types of numbers, it will be interesting to see what similar votes will be like in a few decades.

  8. "That's the one thing I'll never understand or tolerate in politics: that people are convinced that they need to change each other's views."

    Except Poet of No Consequence is trying to change DagoodS's view that he should change others' views. Holy paradox, Batman!

  9. Yes, The Nerd, I noticed that too.

    We only object to people attempting to change other’s minds when that change is counter to our own thinking. If they are trying to win people to our side, we don’t see the problem.

    I considered highlighting it, but the point is extremely moot, considering how much effort was placed on anti-gay marriage trying to “change the mind” of the pro-gay marriage or neutral to gay marriage. The process is already in play. We are deep in the third-quarter of the game, and to start talking about how the rules aren’t right when there are numerous points on the board is a bit late.