I should reiterate this: Unless stated otherwise, the opinions expressed on this blog belong exclusively to me, Lamar White, Jr. I am writing this to prove my own inherent unelectability in the State of Louisiana.
Yesterday, I was informed on another website that Louisianans, outside of the New Orleans area, could never be elected to any office if they voiced their support for gay marriage and freedom of choice. Notwithstanding my criticisms of the construction of this argument, I opine the following:
1. I fully support the right of gay and lesbian couples to enter into legally-binding agreements ascribing the very same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples who become legally wedded as a testament to their commitment. I believe that the purely rhetorical debate over the word “marriage” is preposterous, but, at the same time, I also contend that the “sanctity” of marriage cannot and should not be proscribed by a government agency. Because of its nature, literal definitions, and hermeneutic interpretations, I believe the act of “holy matrimony” or “marriage” should be bestowed by a religious institution. Notably, both terms, in their naked religious context, carry absolutely no political application.
As a society, we run into conflict whenever we attempt to conflate religious sacraments or rituals with legally-defined rights. Certain religious faiths and denominations recognize homosexual marriage, while others do not. It is not and should never be the role of government to become an arbiter of the validity of a religious ceremony. The government’s refusal to recognize the inherent civil rights of gay and lesbian couples to enter into the same type of legal arrangement as heterosexual couples is demonstrably unjust and, in my opinion, should be considered unconstitutional, a violation of the separation between church and state. And, even from a strict constructionist perspective, such legal discrimination, which is religious in nature, violates the notion that the government cannot create or sponsor a certain religious faith.
2. I do not believe that anyone else should be required to accept my own metaphysical beliefs on the nature of life. I respect the diversity of opinion about this issue, which is probably the most vexing, painful, and complicated topic in human thought. As someone who appreciates history, I fully understand the terrors that can be inflicted in a nation unwilling to provide safe alternatives, but as a student of religion and a believer in the sanctity of human life, I can’t help but recognize the validity of the counterarguments. I believe that abortion should be the rarest procedure in the world, yet I understand that we all live in an imperfect world with imperfect people– and that, despite my own protestations and beliefs, it would be presumptuous and imperfect for me to demand that others live under a categorical imperative built on my own beliefs. I recognize the human experience is too complex and too burdensome to demand that.
I reject those who attempt to suggest that being pro-choice is analogous with being pro-abortion, and I find such an argumentative construction to be devoid of human empathy, understanding, and experience. I have never met, read, or listened to someone who is pro-abortion. Although I have encountered people who, perhaps due to their own emotional and intellectual immaturity, have allowed themselves to become devoid of empathy and compassion for a gestating fetus, I recognize that their immaturity and ignorance should not be understood as the backdrop of this incredibly difficult issue, as a way of essentializing the painful struggle that so many others must confront. And, again, I believe this is always a painful and gut-wrenching decision, as it should be, yet this freedom– the freedom to make this difficult decision– is provided and protected by the Constitution’s right to privacy.
There, I said it. I guess I can never run for office now.
C’mon Lamar. I would vote for you.
I agree with your points, and I think the key is to find a way to package these beliefs into a communications strategy that would not alienate voters who are somewhat reluctant to change.
I’m a friend of Ryan’s and look forward to meeting you in person sometime to talk at greater length about this and similar issues.
Hear, hear! Life is too complex and beautiful to subscribe to putting it in pretty, prepackaged boxes. Doing so denies the reality of that complexity.
I’d do away with the whole question of metaphysics, if I were you (or anyone else) for that matter. Throw epistemology out while you’re at it. They haven’t been good for anything in a really long time. My advice: don’t be cruel, and go read a good book, like Proust, for example, and look at the way he values life and self-creation. Don’t expect anything external to correspond to your descriptions, and accept the irony that your core beliefs cannot be held to a “Truth” that’s somehow “out there” in the world.
Now go get elected, Lamar.
Touche’…I hear ya. To be precise, I don’t hold any metaphysical certitudes on the nature of life (except that it exists). It’s too complex to be definitive.
I tried reading Swan’s Way when I was a freshman in college. Probably too heavy for me at the time.
What do you recommend?
I confess, I’ve never been able to finish Swann’s Way either. A friend of my brother’s said that the only way to read all 3,000 pages of Remembrance of Things Past was to contract mono. He also insisted that the run-on sentences throughout the books are totally worth it, especially for the last 400 or so pages. If my memory serves me well, and it usually does, my brother’s friend said that every word pops off the page for the last 400 pages. It’s his favorite book, but he wouldn’t have read the whole thing had he not had mono. I remember having a similar feeling reading the last 75 to 100 pages of Crime and Punishment. I hope to take up Proust again, soon. Probably not until I get to read The Brothers Karamazov first, though.
In the meantime, check out Richard Rorty’s Contingency, irony, and solidarity. It’s a brief book that stakes out a position of hope in the face of uncertainty.
Look on the Internet, or find a copy of the Orwell Reader. Read the essay by George Orwell, toward the end of that book, called “The Prevention of Literature.” I thought about LC, among a million other topics, as I just read it. Perhaps it’s more accessible than Swann’s Way?
Within 6 months of the first gay marriage will come the first gay divorce, followed by a gay property settlement, custody battles over bassett hounds, etc. There are starving lawyers all over this town who need the work. Why should they be deprived? Given the fact that over 50% of non-gay marriages end in divorce, it is difficult to argue over the sanctity of the union.