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Live and let live

This is a video that I tried embedding here, but it didn't work.  Maybe you can only view it on YouTube.

I firmly believe in the policy, "live and let live".  The full quote from Thomas Jefferson that Glenn Beck quoted in the above video is:
The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
So, this is the question that I ask to all of those who oppose gay marriage: "Does gay marriage pick your pocket or break your leg?"  If not, then what business is it of yours whether gay couples marry?

Let us go through some of the reasons people might give for how it harms them.  Some people say "I don't want my children growing up learning that gay is ok."  I addressed this issue in a previous post, but I'd like to add one more rebuttal in light of this argument.   I'll address my Mormon reader base, since I am most familiar with their standards.  You don't want your children growing up being taught that coffee is okay either.  You believe that drinking coffee harms the body and the spirit, and that it is against God's will.  But, I don't see you pushing for any legislation or Constitutional amendments to outlaw coffee?  Why not?  Because it doesn't harm you to have it legal.  People who drink coffee don't affect you in any adverse way, other than possibly being cranky at you prior to their morning cup of coffee.  But, you're perfectly free to teach your own children that coffee is bad for them, and this is exactly what you do.  The fact that it's legal has zero effect on what you teach your children.  Yes, other sources (TV, school, etc) may show your children images of people drinking coffee and make it seem normal (which, it is outside of Mormonism), but numerous studies have shown time and again that a child is more likely to trust his/her parents than outside sources.  So, there's no fear of you raising a child who thinks coffee is okay, even though the "outside influences" teach them it is.

You may say that homosexuality is immoral and therefore gay marriage degrades the souls of those who participate in it.  The easy solution there is just to avoid gay marriage yourself.  There are lots of things that you consider to be sinful that are legal and even everyday practice in our society.  People drink alcohol and have premarital sex.  That doesn't affect you in any adverse way.  Yes, someone who decides to drive while intoxicated may cause injury to you, but that's different--driving while intoxicated is illegal. But, someone being intoxicated in their own home--which is perfectly legal--isn't harmful to you, and I don't see you attempting to outlaw it.  Nor do I see you attempting to outlaw premarital sex.  Your children see it on TV and in movies and other places, but you can teach them in your own home that it is best to wait until marriage before having sex.  You can teach them any standards you wish.  What is legal and what is illegal in this country has no effect on that.

You may say that homosexuality, because of its immoral nature, degenerates society and therefore damages you because society is falling apart.  In this case, the burden of proof lies on you to prove that this is the case.  I have as of yet seen no evidence that this is true.  I have seen plenty of evidence indicating that irresponsible sex with multiple partners and little or no protection has the adverse effect of increasing infection rates of STI's, but that's different--that's true for straight and gay sex alike.  If you want to point to statistics and say that gay (male) sex is more dangerous because of higher infection rates, then I will rebut with the fact that lesbian sex has the lowest rate of infection and therefore straight sex is more harmful than lesbian sex.  So, if you argue that gay sex should not be allowed because of its higher infection rate, then I would say for the same reason straight sex should also not be allowed and therefore the only people who can have sex are women who do so with other women.  Clearly, this is nonsense.  So, while there is evidence that unsafe sex with unknown partners can be shown to be risky or harmful, I have as of yet seen no real evidence that homosexuality somehow has an ill effect on society.

In the video, Glenn Beck alluded to some infringement of free speech that has happened in Canada, and Bill O'Reilly mentioned that the same thing has happened in Sweden.  I have to admit, I don't know what specific incidences they may be referring to, but I looked up a few allegations made to the effect of religious persecution in Canada and discovered that it was actually violation of hate speech laws.  A person--including a pastor or priest--can oppose homosexuality and gay marriage without doing so hatefully.  If they do, they are in no danger of citation of infringement upon this hate speech law.  If they do so hatefully, then they are responsible for their actions, including a possible intervention by the law.  Is this going too far?  Perhaps.  But, there is no religious persecution going on.  The cases I read about were exactly the opposite.  It wasn't a pastor who was preaching in his own congregation that was suddenly shut down by the government, it was a man who would put fliers in people's mailboxes with graphic images of dismembered fetuses (against abortion) and of illnesses that he claimed could be spread by gay sex.  This is persecution of gays and women who have had an abortion.  I think things like that should be stopped.  Yes, you have the right to believe what you want, but you don't have the right to violate people's privacy and place graphic images in their mailboxes.  That's going way too far.  My dad would always tell me that having the right to free speech doesn't mean that you can yell "FIRE" in a crowded theatre, and I agree.  Having freedom of religion, as I've said before, does not mean having immunity from the law--being able to do or say anything your religion teaches is okay.

So, again, I ask: "What is it to you if gay people marry each other?  Does it harm you?  Does it violate your right to believe as you wish?  Does it pick your pocket or break your leg?"  I am aware of no movement to ban religion.  Gay people are perfectly fine co-existing with religious people.  In fact, many gay people are themselves religious.  The fact that you belong to a religion does not harm me in any way, so I feel no need to push for legislation that would ban you from doing so.  I do not wish to be a member of any religion myself, but that doesn't mean that I have to make it illegal for other people to do so.  You may not want to marry someone of the same sex, and you may even believe that it is sinful for people to do that, but that doesn't mean that you have to make it illegal for those of us who don't see anything wrong with it.

This is my challenge: can you come up with any real reason why legalizing gay marriage will damage you or your family?  Can you come up with hard evidence to support your claims?  If so, please inform me of it so that I might be aware.  If not, then why not just live and let live?

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