I'll Let You Ban Gay Marriage If You Let Me Ban Your Cheeseburger

So, lately I've been following the Marriage Equality trials at the Supreme Court. If you're not familiar with what's going on, here's a helpful summary. Basically, two general groups have camped out in front of the Supreme Court. One of the groups would like people to be able to get married regardless of their gender. The other wants marriage to be restricted to one man and one woman. 

I'll be perfectly honest here, dear reader. I certainly have a side. I am for marriage equality. I also find the fact that we have to fight for marriage equality in this day and age absolutely absurd. To me, it's obvious that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is a fundamentally discriminatory act. Beyond the fact that prohibiting same-sex marriage would show that same-sex couples are not seen as legitimate, there are a whole bevy of rights and benefits that those couples would be denied if they were not allowed to get married. Just a few: insurance benefits, medical decision-making and hospital visitation, joint adoption and custody rights, as well as social security and pension survivor benefits. Important stuff, stuff that any couple who have made a commitment to one another should be able to access.

What really strikes me as absurd (and infuriating) is that it seems like the majority of the folks camped out in Washington to oppose gay marriage seem to be doing it for a very specific reason: namely, a religious reason. 

Take some of these guys for example (a la Buzzfeed):



In all honesty, with the exception of a few folks who were just plain-old homophobic, I have yet to see an argument against same-sex marriage that is not somehow based in religious belief. Let us for a moment give the benefit of the doubt to the religious crowd and assume their religious opposition to same-sex marriage is based on what they believe God wants rather than just straight-up homophobia (though the two often converge.) The influence religion is having over a life-altering legal decision is incredibly troubling and problematic in a country that alleges to separate church and state.

The logic employed by people voting against same-sex marriage because they believe their religion says same-sex marriages are bad is deeply flawed. Specifically, it's deeply flawed because it assumes that people have the right to dictate what happens in other peoples' lives based on their religious imperatives.

In some cases, there is overlap between a societally good law and a religious imperative. Murder, for instance, is generally considered bad by both parties (though apparently murder is totally cool in certain contexts by both parties...i.e. war and the death penalty...but I digress). When it comes to things like marriage, things that have no real ramifications for other people and have enormous ramifications for the couple in question, that logic becomes dangerous and oppressive. 

Let me give you an example. First off, it should be noted that Christianity is the religion of the majority of people in the United States, as well as the vast majority of people protesting same-sex marriage for religious reasons. Personally, I'm not a Christian. I am a Jew. We make up around 2% of the U.S. population. You might know of us: we're pretty cool.

                                                                Pictured: The Epitome of Cool

                                                               Pictured: The Epitome of Cool

Judaism and Christianity happen to have a series of holy books in common: the "Old" Testament (or, as we like to call it, the Tanach.) The Old Testament contains a whole bunch of the stuff that informs Christian opponents of same-sex marriage. One quote in particular becomes very popular whenever the issue is brought up. In case you haven't heard it yet, I'll quote it for you here:

"Thou shall not lie with mankind as with womankind: It is an abomination." (Leviticus 18:22). 

That statement is pretty cut-and-dry (though the way individual Jews, Christians, and Muslims interpret it in their own lives varies.) Though I don't believe it or adhere to it, and though I feel that lots of harm can result from believing it, it is the right of any religious person to believe that two men sleeping together is "an abomination." It is absolutely not the right of any religious person to impose that belief on anyone else. This becomes obvious when you move on to the rest of Leviticus (and the Old Testament in general) and consider the lives of Orthodox Jews. 

The Old Testament states that it is forbidden to eat any land animal that doesn't chew it's cud and have a cloven hoof, any seafood without fins and scales, and any animal cooked in its mother's milk. It is forbidden to mix fabrics in clothing, to cut the hair on the side of your head or the edges of your beard, and to work on the Sabbath. Accordingly, observant Jews have developed an extremely strict and intricate dietary code. They do not mix wool and linen in their clothing, they grow out their beards and sidelocks, and they abstain from forty two categories of things which might be considered work on the Sabbath, including the use of automobiles and electricity. 

The logical fallacy of Christians demanding that same-sex marriages should be banned based on their own religious beliefs becomes apparent when you consider what would happen if Orthodox Jews did similarly. If the Supreme Court was currently being bombarded with protesters demanding that they ban cheeseburgers because God demands it, the absurdity of that demand would be immediately obvious to all non-Orthodox Jewish people. 

                                                              Pictured: abomination. 

                                                             Pictured: abomination. 

It would be absurd for Orthodox Jews to demand that cheeseburgers be banned for everyone, because cheeseburger consumption does not effect them. They are absolutely entitled to their Bible-based belief that eating cheeseburgers is sinful, and they are therefore absolutely entitled to not-eat them. If they can't stand the thought of someone down the street eating a cheeseburger, or if they can't be bothered to explain to their kids that some people in the world eat cheeseburgers, then that's their problem. 

Although this example illustrates my point, it is, of course, a crazy understatement. If someone were theoretically denied the right to eat a cheeseburger, they might be annoyed, but it's not going to be that big of a deal. These marriages absolutely define hundreds of thousands of peoples' lives, and, often, the lives of their children. It is terrifying and completely unacceptable that the religious beliefs--and, let's be honest, the abject homophobia--of some can threaten the fundamental rights of others. If this democracy has a leg to stand on, the Supreme Court will vote accordingly.

And they'd better, or my Jewish ass is coming for their Big Macs.