All Over A Word

Oh no, here we go again: gay marriage has come to the forefront of American politics, spurred by San Francisco mayor Gary Newsom’s recent decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Cue the delirious claims of the imminent downward spiral of family values and the collapse of society.

I really don’t get the opposition to same-sex marriages, much less the call for a constitutional amendment, for a number of reasons. The biggest annoyance is the lack of structured, logical arguments against same-sex marriage – if it’s so wrong/destructive/inappropriate, shouldn’t it be simple to demonstrate why?

Time for a quick tour of the arguments…

Let’s start with the claim that the traditional definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. These arguments are grounded in religious beliefs that God/Allah/your-deity’s-name-here says it’s wrong, according to an interpretation of the Bible/Quran/your-scroll-here. This viewpoint tends to ignore that said religious documents have been revised, tweaked, or changed wholesale at the whim of numerous rulers over time. I don’t mean to be sacriligious, but if I was The Almighty, I think I’d seek a better representation of my will on Earth than a document that’s seen more patches than a version of Microsoft Windows.

Another version of this argument attempts to dress up religious rhetoric in scholarly garb: gay marriage serves no purpose, as the purpose of marriage is to provide an environment for rearing children. I’ll be honest, there might be something to this – after all, if a gay couple can’t reproduce, aren’t they just taking up space, from a strictly evolutionary standpoint? But on the other hand, the same argument could be applied to couples who are incapable of producing offspring, either by choice or physiological incapability. I’m a stickler for consistency, so if we’re going to make propagation of the species a prerequisite to recognizing marriage, we’d better be prepared to apply the same rule across the board, right?

The final argument has less to do with whether or not same-sex marriage should be recognized, but the legal and legislative process by which it should or should not be recognized. Some groups claim that the Mayor has no place changing the law – I’ll agree with that. However, I won’t agree with the same groups’ claims that the courts are “out of control” and “rewriting the laws” without legislative oversight. Here’s a clue: that’s their job, to enforce consistency in the law. If one law says “we don’t recognize same sex marriages” and a higher law says “by the way, the federal government can’t discriminate”, then the courts have to apply the higher law. This isn’t something new; it’s the way it’s always worked. It’s the way it worked when equal rights for minorities were enforced, and when women won their right to vote, so why should we expect it to work any different now?

The most unsettling part of this debate is watching people trying to justify their own prejudices on screen, while trying to not come off like jerks. If you believe the soundbites, then nobody’s against same-sex marriage, they just don’t want to call it marriage, due to the traditional connotations of the word “marriage” as being a union between a man and a woman. It sounds to me like all the laws need to be re-written to replace “marriage” with “civil union” and make the separation of church and state definite. Of course, I’m not about to believe that this would actually solve the problem, but it’s nice to think it would. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure we have bigger problems that affect all of us that we should be solving instead of quibbling over a word.

Techno Nomads

The movers arrived last week, finally. Up to this point, we’d been living like primitive nomads, surviving on the bare essentials: a lumbar-incapacitating air mattress, a few pots and pans for cooking (or wearing as hats), and paper plates. Oh, and three laptops harnessing an unsecured intermittent wireless connection being made available by a network security illiterate neighbour. Ok, maybe “primitive nomads” isn’t the right description. How about “techno nomads”?

Did I mention that our 500-channel cable installation was available as soon as we moved into the apartment? Sure, we couldn’t make long distance phone calls, and Verizon was totally incapacitated by an east coast storm, but hey, we had all the “Gilligan’s Island” reruns a human could possibly withstand from the get-go.

Now that our stuff is here and kind of unpacked, life is finally starting to return to normal. Whoever said that technology is a bad thing never realized that a chair counts as technology, and sitting on the floor sucks. Seriously. Maybe it was cool when you were five, and you were more focused on assembling Lego villages than maintaining correct posture, but once your ass has experienced cushions, there’s no going back. Still, I’m shocked to find that the lack of padding pales in significance compared to the lack of reliable Internet access.

Over the past month, I have discovered that I am almost completely incapacitated without Internet access. Want to figure out where to go? Why not just look it up on Gooogl…oh, right. How about letting your family know you’re still alive, and that California hasn’t transformed you into a raging hippie? Sure, just send them an emai…oh, right. Even once Internet access was installed, I was still dealing with a lack of connectivity. Only 1.5 Mbps? Bandwidth limits? What the hell?

How is it that Silicon Valley dominated the Internet age when people only had 1.5 Mbps into their homes? It’s positively Neanderthal! I can only hope Verizon is purposefully withholding bandwidth from me, trying to stop me from going into some kind of connectivity induced shock, the kind that starving people go into when they suddenly have food to eat. They’re planning to jack up the speed to the 6 Mbps I’m used to, right? RIGHT?