In the flurry of discussion which appeared on Facebook following the publication a couple weeks back of Homosexual marriage: NAMBLA, it was suggested that anyone who opposed homosexual marriage opposed homosexual rights. The issue is not one of whether homosexuals should be denied rights that are available to other people; it is whether a marriage license is such a right. We might compare it to the question of whether blind people have a right to possess drivers licenses, but that may be too prejudicial an example. Instead, let's talk about another topic we have discussed here at length, gun control.
We certainly agree that there is a Constitutional right for citizens to possess guns. Let us, though, list possible rights that this might or might not include:
- A right to own standard firearms such as hunting rifles and pistols, in locked cases on your own property.
- A right for on-duty law enforcement officers (as distinct from military personnel) to carry firearms openly while on duty.
- A right of said law enforcement officers to carry firearms openly when off duty.
- Either of those rights, but with a right to carry said weapons concealed.
- A right of private security personnel to carry firearms on duty,
- or off duty, particularly in transit to work.
- A right of ordinary citizens to carry such weapons, openly,
- or concealed.
- A right to use such weapons to shoot animals for food, regulated by separate hunting licenses,
- or for sport,
- or without such regulatory licenses.
- A right to use them against pests, such as predators raiding livestock,
- or against wild animals in local areas, such as shooting squirrels or rabbits for sport.
- A right to shoot pets that stray onto your property,
- or are on public grounds unattended.
- A right to own a functional cannon, such as a decoration in a private garden,
- or a tank, if you are wealthy enough to afford one,
- and to move such artillery through public areas for display.
- A right to shoot a home invader who intends only robbery,
- or who intends bodily harm such as battery, rape, or murder,
- or to shoot an attacker in a public place.
- The right to shoot someone in a duel when challenged
- or to shoot someone who accepted a challenge to a duel.
- A right to shoot those who have harmed you physically in the past, such as a rapist or mugger who escaped.
- A right to shoot those who have harmed you non-physically in the past, such as an employer who fired you or a rival who insulted and embarrassed you.
- A right to shoot members of religious or ethnic groups whom you believe pose a threat to society.
- A right to shoot random people for sport.
- A right to shoot children in a school.
I doubt anyone would wish to eliminate all these rights--we at least want our active duty police to have guns to deal with dangerous criminals. Nor would anyone claim that all these are indeed protected rights. But in the latter case, we are not saying that we are denying a right to someone, but rather that such a right does not exist, or does not exist for that person.
The point is that I certainly fully support the rights of homosexuals in all areas in which their homosexuality is not relevant. I even have voiced support for ordaining homosexual clergy. I do not believe there is a right for anyone to define my faith as other than I believe it is defined historically--we may progress in our understanding of truth, but truth does not itself change. Nor do I believe that there is a basic human right to be recognized by the state (or the church) as married. The state recognizes "marriages" within the scope of its regulatory authority and the needs of public policy, and cannot do so outside those parameters. (The church recognizes marriages in accordance with its understanding of the tenets of the faith and God's design for society.) You cannot marry your dog to get the tax breaks, and claim her puppies as dependent minors for the deductions, because those tax standards exist to promote families that produce children, not families that produce canines. The "legal right" to marry only exists because of government interests in children, and in their care and in inheritance law. It therefore does not exist for anyone who is definitively unable to have children. It would be unconstitutional for the state to regulate homosexual relationships that way, because there is no government interest to protect.
So let us be clear that there is a distinction between opposing the rights of homosexuals and opposing the claim that homosexual marriage is such a right. To do otherwise is make an emotional accusation that borders on defamation.