Monday, December 25, 2006

Gay Chess

As someone who operates within the traditions of classical liberalism, this whole debate over gay rights has me scared to my very core. As a religious Jew, I really could not care less what the government decides. So what if the government decides that marriage can mean other things besides for a man and a woman. In my entire life, I have not lost a moments sleep over the government recognizing intermarried couples as being married even though Jewish law would never recognize such a marriage. The government can have its definition of marriage and hand out tax breaks and special privileges to whomever it wishes.
As a liberal though I am troubled because this whole issue of gay marriage is being argued in terms of gay rights and not in terms of libertarianism, that the government has no business getting involved with people's private lives and making value judgments about them. The concept of gay rights only makes sense if we view homosexuality in terms of being and not in terms of action. The argument being made for gay marriage (or against anti-sodomy laws for that matter) is that the state, by not giving it due recognition is not allowing homosexuals to fulfill a vital aspect of their being and hence is robbing them of their due humanity.
If we were to view homosexuality in terms of an action then this whole argument collapses. The state is not allowing heterosexuals to marry people of the same gender and it is not allowing homosexuals to marry people of the same gender; everyone is being treated, or mistreated, in complete equality. If a homosexual person wanted the tax breaks and special privileges so badly then that person could always get married to a person of the opposite gender.
I would give the example of chess. Let us say that the government would one day declare that, having recognized the value of having people play chess, it will now give tax breaks and other special privileges to all those who are active chess players. Now would doing this discriminate against all those who were active players of checkers? People who play checkers could make a very good argument that their game is just as good as chess and that therefore they should get the same benefits, but they could not claim that they had been discriminated against. If they wanted these privileges and tax breaks the could always start playing chess.
A major pillar of classical liberal thought is that the government should not treat sex differently than any other action and that the government has no business involving itself in the sex lives of consenting adults. This only makes sense if we treat sex as an action. Once sex becomes what defines a person then it is no longer just another action, like playing a game of chess or drinking a glass of water. If sex is what defines a person's being then the government has every right to take an interest in people's sex lives. Furthermore, the government would be justified in deciding that certain types of sexual beings were more useful to its interests than others. Hence it would be justified in encouraging certain types of sexual behavior over others.


Joshua T said...

I am sorry but I disagree with your argument on this one. Let us take out the fact of religion, belief, and even law. Let us look at your argument and logic.

Although sympathetic to some of your claims, they boil down to - if you want to get the benefits of everyone else, act like everyone else. Okay, let us use that exact logic.

The government made a law which says, "Only oppositely gendered people can be MARRIED". You say - get married to the opposite sex then you can have those benefits.

Now let us say the government decides to make a law which states, "All those who classify themselves as Nazis and Anti-Semites are allowed to immediately purchase weapons of their choice without background-checks, will receive free ammunition for life and may carry around said weapons concealed, anywhere and at any time or place. All others, including those who classify themselves as Jews, must wait the 30 day period and have strict background-checks performed."

Now, in order for a Jew or anyone else who feels they need some type of protection, can go, have the paperwork filled out, wait for the 30 days and hope the parking ticket they received 5 years ago doesn't deter their obtaining of a weapon.

Applying your logic, if a Jew or other person wants the benefits afforded the Nazis, all they have to do is act like one, declare themselves a Nazi and pick up the closest Israeli 9mm Uzi and go to the grocery story to get a box of Matzo and feel safe doing so.

In Jewish many have died because they chose to stick to their heritage rather than give in to their enemies and denounce who they were? Many. Were they right in doing so? Is Martyrdom heroic? In some cases - yes.

In my personal opinion, it is not right to ask a person to conform to the way of others, if it were - Jews would no longer be Jews. To ask a gay man or woman to marry someone else for benefits - to denounce who they are...well, it would be hypocritical would it not?

Izgad said...

There are two problems with your example. One, the government would be hard pressed to make the case that the purpose of making a law that gives nazis and anti-semites special privileges to by guns is not to violate the first amendment rights of Jews. Such a law would not even pass my very narrow reading of the first amendment let alone the reading which currently dominates legal thought, which places the burden of proof on the government. The second objection, and considering what I have written the more relevant one, is that being a nazi or an anti-semite is a belief not an action. Therefore it is related to being.
For homosexuals not have sex with people of the same gender would not take away their being it would simply be a matter of them not being able to engage in an action. Homosexuals have the same right to sleep with people of the same gender as I have to play chess. Any attempt by the government to ban either of these actions would make equal sense in my mind.

Joshua T said...

Let me refine my argument this way then. The government makes a law stating that they believe that chess playing is advantageous for society and gives tax breaks and the ilk for chess players. Good. The government then makes a law stating that they believe, that church going is advantageous for society and gives tax breaks and the ilk for church goers. They go on to further state that those who do not attend church, or attend any other type of religious centers, are disadvantageous for society and place higher taxes on them.

It is not discrimination. It is an action which is being either rewarded or reprimanded respectively for the betterment of society or what the government feels is "right". Gay marriage is not "right" - sodomy is not "right", the actions are illegal. Going to church is "right", going to shul is not "right" - the action should be illegal.

As an aside, I would pose the following question. A man and a woman fall in love with one another and choose to marry. Due to no fault of his own, a medical condition makes it impossible for them to have intercourse. Would you oppose this marriage?

In the same respect, replace the woman with another man; 2 men fall in love but one is unable to have intercourse due to a medical condition. Would you oppose this marriage? Just curious.