I spent the first days of this Passover with my parents at a hotel at the Dead Sea. These religious holiday getaways are generally pretty boring, but it was nice spending the time with my family. Saturday afternoon at the hotel, a rabbi was giving a class on "religious coercion and Jewish law". Knowing my extreme disdain for religion and especially for religious coercion, my parents thought it would be interesting if I went to the lecture with them.
To be honest, the lecture was surprisingly good. The Rabbi was as opened minded as Orthodox Judaism can allow. His overall point was "if people want to live in sin, forcing them to live according to Jewish law won't make them love god and want to live according to the Torah". The interesting part came after the lecture when my mom wanted to discuss what I thought about the matter.
The discussion started out as a debate on morality. My mom thinks religion, specifically Judaism is the proper moral way of life. I explained why I felt it was immoral in general and specifically not a life style for me. She responded by saying that my dislike for religion is simply because of "my life situation", which translates to "because I am gay". And at that point, the conversation became about gay marriage.
I tried to explain to my mom that she can be against gay marriage and hate it all she wants. But that still doesn't mean she has to expect others to agree with her or live by those same rules. I explained that she already recognizes civil, Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc marriages which according to her belief system are not real marriages. But she said that gay marriage would "destroy the moral fabric of society".
Its funny how many people use that line, but no one really seems to know what it means. How would gay marriage destroy the moral fabric of society? Would it create more killers, more thieves? Would 2 gay men living together and being able to file taxes jointly create more rapists?
My mothers final line was "just don't call it marriage". But again, why not? What is marriage? The way I see there are basically 3 major kinds of marriage. The first is the religious kind. The "holy union" declared in some ceremony, by some form of clergy. In this kind of marriage, each religion and each clergy gets to decide their own rules. I really don't expect Orthodox Judaism or the Catholic Church to start performing gay marriages (and I really don't care if they ever do).
While gay religious marriage might be more complicated, the next 2 types of marriage are perfectly suitable for 2 men or 2 women - social and intra-couple. Marriage is a social took to create families. I can think of no good reason why 2 people of the same gender cannot be a family. Even without marriage, brothers, sisters, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters are all family. Of course some people make it an issue of offspring, but infertile couple can marry, so that can't really be an issue. The intra-couple form of marriage is simply when a couple wants to publicly declare their love and commitment to one another publicly. This is completely personal and no one outside of the couple really gets to have a say in the matter.
But of course all the logic in the world will not convince the extremely religious/conservative to tolerate (let's not even talk about accepting) someone else's values. But being anti-marriage equality is not going to make there be less homosexuals. It is just going to continue to treat homosexuals as second class citizens. And in the end, having a country which does not treat all its citizens equally, really is the destruction of the moral fiber of society.