Gay Marriage and the Definition of Words

Gay marriage is an issue most Americans simply don’t care about. We have opinions on it, but it simply doesn’t register, especially at a time of high unemployment. But President Obama shoehorned it into the forefront this week because he can’t talk about the economy, jobs, his record, the massive debt he racked up or anything he’s done since assuming office except ordering the raid against bin Laden. And that party was last week, so a new distraction from reality was needed.

To be clear, what the president said means nothing. It won’t change any law anywhere. And the fact that he said it the dayafter: North Carolina voted overwhelmingly to amend its constitution to affirm the definition of “marriage” — and not before when it could have made a difference in at least the size of the margin — exposes this as a political move above all else.

But there was no real ambiguity about where the president stood on this issue. He was for same-sex marriage before he was against it — i.e., before he ran for office. Once he did run, he flip-flopped to opposing it because he sensed this was popular. Now that his fundraising needs aren’t being met, he saw gays as an opportunity and moved. But nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed.

President Obama came out in favor of “states’ rights” on the matter. It seems same-sex marriage is the only issue on which he supports the concept, but that’s because it’s the only way he could come out in “support” of it without having to try to do anything about it. It’s called politics, and his campaign volunteers in the media fell all over themselves to portray it as something ground-breaking. They somehow failed to note former Vice-President Dick Cheney did this three years ago, when it actually was politically dis-advantageous to him.

But since the issue is back in the news, I thought I’d dust off a column I wrote about eight years ago on the subject, updated for today. It was never published (no one would let me publish anything back then), but the concepts in it are the same. It’s why I oppose same-sex marriage, and it has nothing to do with homosexuals. I don’t care what people do with their genitals as long as who they do it with is of age and willing — or if I’m sitting in their lap. And I’m 6-foot-5, so I’m not sitting in many laps these days.

Here it is:

I have gay family members, and my oldest friend is gay. I love them all, wish nothing but happiness for them, but I oppose gay marriage. Not for religious reasons or anything to do with it being a “threat to traditional marriage” (my fellow heterosexuals have done enough damage to that already). I oppose it because words cannot be allowed to have their meanings changed for political convenience. Words must have meaning. This is the perfect illustration of the difference between liberals and conservatives.

For centuries, marriage has been a union between a man and a woman. Until recently, the thought of it meaning a same-sex union would have been met with the same confusion you would get by pointing to a tree and saying “look at that fish.” But thanks to a liberal courts and legislatures around the country, the word — and thereby the institution — has a new meaning.

But if word meanings can be changed to fit the times, what would we be left with? Skilled lawyers could invalidate any contract on technicalities because their client has a different interpretation of the meaning of the terms. Or someone could argue they didn’t commit perjury because the word “is” means something entirely different to them than everyone else who hears it.

Conservatives read the Constitution, see the words and recognize their meanings. We accept the “original intent” of the Founding Fathers when it comes to those words and, when those words are deemed inadequate or wrong, as was the case with slavery and the treatment of women, we change them through the channels the Founding Fathers set up for us to correct them.

Liberals view the Constitution as a “living document” — open to interpretation. What the Founding Fathers meant when they wrote it is not as important as what liberals’ political agenda demand they mean at any given time. If the politically correct winds of the day don’t agree with the Constitution, they simply re-interpret the Constitution to fit their agenda.

That logic has brought gay marriage to a few states. The word had a meaning, but that meaning no longer fit the liberal agenda. So they redefined it.

This liberal logic applied to many people’s lives would mean they could find a judge who was an animal rights activist and get them to change the meaning of the word dependent.

Dependent, in terms of taxes, always has meant children. But I, like many people, don’t have any children. We have pets. Those pets are like our children. We love them, teach them right from wrong, give them food, shelter, and affection — just as if they were children.

All someone would have to do is get someone in power to redefine “dependent” based on a political agenda (be it vegetarianism or anti-fur) and take a $1,000-per-pet tax credit. But we can’t do that because dependent has a meaning, and that meaning must stay the same. Just like marriage.

Liberals argue gay marriage is needed because of issues dealing with inheritance and hospital visitation. It’s sad some families never accept their child’s homosexuality and fight their partners when it comes to such things. But those issues could be easily solved through a living-will and a regular will. Planning is the best medicine for this and most issues — not government.

They also argue for the same benefits as married couples when it comes to healthcare. That is not a government issue either. Companies themselves choose whether to offer families health coverage or just the individual, and many companies already offer same-sex partner benefits with more adding them all the time.

The final argument they make is the most egregious one. They equate the battle for same-sex marriage with the civil rights struggle. But that misses the whole point of the civil rights struggle.

It was a discrimination based upon what color someone was born. Blacks were denied full citizenship rights for nothing more than having different pigment in their skin than whites.

Gays argue their plight is the same, but I’ve never heard of anyone “experimenting” with being black in college, or having decided later in life they were black. Some homosexuals may have been born that way, but many enter and leave that lifestyle and are/have been in marriages. Equating gay marriage with civil rights cheapens the struggle blacks went through to obtain equality.

The fact is homosexuals have the same “marriage rights” as heterosexuals — they can marry anyone of the opposite sex they want because that’s the definition of the word. Civil unions, on the other hand, can have the same benefits of marriage without redefining the word. But many gays have married and divorced later once they either “realized they were gay” or decided to stop living a lie. Good for them, I hope everyone is comfortable enough to be who they are. But society shouldn’t have to change the meaning of words that have stood throughout the course of human history to accommodate them.

I love my gay friends and family members just as much as I love my straight ones, I want them to be happy, but words have to have meaning. If they don’t, then nothing really does.

Derek Hunter is Washington, DC based writer, radio host and political strategist.

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