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The Declining Society: Tolerating the Intolerable

Nothing has stirred the emotions of Vermonters quite like the civil union debate. It is an issue with views formed by deep seated core values in all of us. For those in favor of affirming civil unions, it is a logical progression of a changed view of society, an exercise in tolerance, and is seen as a question of Civil Rights. For those opposed, to recognize same sex unions is to abandon an important tradition which predated our constitution, and which has been the basis for strong families and a stable society.

One needs merely to review the letters to the editor since the Vermont Supreme Court's ruling to see that emotions have ruled over logic and fact. Anger, frustration, and bitterness leap out from the pages. Though the arguments are emotional, common themes can be distilled. It is the intent of this article to take a look at the arguments in favor of civil unions drawn from the letters to the editor, and show that by applying the same reasoning, society is powerless to prevent any regulation on sexual behavior.

Below are ten arguments in favor of civil unions taken from the myriad of letters to the editor since the Supreme Court's decision regarding same sex couples. Though each of these reasons can be proven false, it is not the focus of this article to prove them false, but to investigate philosophically their further application.

1) This is a Civil Rights issue, and society cannot deny Civil Rights.

2) Homosexuality is genetic, and there is no choice in the matter.  Why would homosexuals choose to be homosexual when society frowns on this behavior?

3) Society has no right to tell someone who to love and who not to love.

4) Homosexuals are in long-term committed relationships, just like heterosexuals.

5) People who oppose civil unions are bigots or homophobes.

6) Homosexuality has always been a part of society, and always will be.

7) Society should be more tolerant and loving of people.

8) "Common Benefit(s)" should apply to all, and not one particular group.

9) Religion, morality, and the Bible have no say in lawmaking.

10) Religion is the main opposition to homosexuality, and many bad things have been done in the name of religion.

Lets propose that five years from now, a long term committed trio of women decided that the state should recognize their relationship, and sued to get all the benefits of marriage through some sort of civil "multi-union". What should society's response be? Once again, society is at the mercy of the Supreme Court. If the court ruled in favor of the union of more than two partners in a civil "multi-union", the legislature would find itself in the exact position it was when in lightning fashion it created civil unions. People against "multi-unions" could be viewed as bigoted, and using religion to foster hate. Polygamy has been around forever, and there have been societies that have embraced it wholeheartedly. Note that if we examine any of the above reasons, we immediately see that philosophically there is no difference between society trying to limit relationships to two people, versus limiting relationships to one man and one woman.

Now suppose two brothers above the age of 18 apply to receive a civil union license, and are denied the license because they violate the consanguinity clauses. They could then bring a law suit against the state for creating civil unions with consanguinity clauses. Again, if we are to apply our 10 reasons above we see that that philosophically we cannot deny this couple a civil union. As an example, the Bible clearly prohibits this type of relationship having a sexual nature, but we see that those in favor of incest can use arguments 9 and 10 conveniently to counter. "Incestophobes abound" they would say.

The same basic idea can be used to remove the consanguinity clauses from the marriage statutes. However, in this case there would be the additional hurdle of inbreeding. Note that it is impossible for there to be an inbreeding issue with civil unions, because reproduction must occur by surrogate parenting, artificial insemination or adoption. In any case, even if there are some negative attributes to an incestuous relationship, we are talking about "tolerance", "love", and basic "civil rights" here, so there should be no reason for bigots to have their way on incest. By argument number three, what right does society have to tell someone who to love and who not to love?

Bestiality has been around since the dawn of time just like homosexuality. To the average person this concept is quite repulsive. Proponents could argue that more neutral terms would help out. Instead of bestiality, we could call it interspecies sex. Note that with rules nine and ten eliminated, it is merely a societal tradition to keep sexuality within ones species. Religion plays a big role in condemning this action, and could be responsible for many suicides of people with interspecies sexual tendencies. We can apply the rest of our 10 rules, and see society has no right to condemn this behavior. In fact, using the same formula that homosexuality has used, it could be argued that equal treatment within sexuality classes in public school systems would be warrented..

Enter the NAMBLA crowd. (North American Man Boy Love Association) NAMBLA is an organization that promotes sexual relationships between adults and children. Their basic tenants are that society merely views children as not being able to make sexual decisions. They stress the innocence of sex, and say it should be an educational experience for children, just like other forms of social interaction. They are working to eliminate all age of consent laws. NAMBLA has some friends in the American Psychological Association. A 1995 decision by this board declared that pedophilia was not a disorder anymore, and was only treatable if it caused an issue of guilt on the part of the pedophile. This really paves the way for society to de-criminalize pedophilia.

NAMBLA was jilted by the homosexual community, primarily because they did not have the image needed to foster the "human rights" advances that homosexual activists were looking for. This, after NAMBLA was involved in all of the marches on Washington, and has been a charter member of the homosexual movement. It has caused much bitterness in the NAMBLA crowd because this crowd sees the same basic philosophical reasoning behind allowing pedophilia as homosexuality itself. They see the current homosexual movement as being hypocritical. Recall reason number two above, that this orientation is something genetic, and thus beyond any control. By this same reasoning, society should not be able to make decisions on who pedophiles should love. Pedophilia does have the added complication that it does not have two "consenting adults," but instead one adult and a child. NAMBLA sees this type of "inter-generational sex" as more of a learning experience, and rather than harmful, they feel it is educational. They feel that children should be given more power to make their own sexual decisions. Why deprive children from such a natural process in life?

In conclusion, using the basic reasoning that is being used in the pro-civil union arguments, we are powerless as a society to regulate any type of sexual behavior, regardless of the will of the people. We will eventually be forced to embrace all the above parade of horribles. This may take a substantial amount of time, but society will eventually take on the least common denominator of morals, which turns out to be just an empty version of "tolerance" and "love." This form of tolerance says "I accept everything that you stand for, even if that leads you to self destruct." How could someone hate another person more than to see them headed in the wrong direction, and not to point this out? The courts and psyche of the liberal political establishment won't allow us to govern ourselves. As G.K. Chesterton puts it "What good is it to tell a society that it has every liberty except that of making laws?" What a contradiction to the philosophy and ideas of the constitutional framers.

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