|Who is Lord of the Marriage Rings?
Middle Ground Needed in Kalifornia Same Sex Marriage Issue to Preserve Democracy
by Wayne Lusvardi 7/10/08
he California Supreme Court’s recent reckless ruling validating same-sex marriage is like a fictional battle in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy story The Lord of the Rings – only in this case the battle is over who is the lord of the marriage rings.
Tolkien’s fantasy stories and movies chronicle the struggle to control the continent of Middle Earth. The players in Tolkien's drama are the angelic Valar and his Elves on one side and the demonic Morgoth and his minions the Orcs and dragons and enslaved men on the other side. Onlookers involved in the struggle are the Dwarves, Ents, and the famous Hobbits (Halflings or hole-dwellers).
Gauging by letters to editors of most of the local newspapers in California on the topic of same-sex marriage, most of the public cannot conceive of any middle ground (Middle Earth) in this contentious issue. And apparently neither can the courts. But democracy requires a middle ground on marriage between the relativists ("everything goes in marriage") and the fundamentalists ("same sex partners should be discriminated against").
Wayne Lusvardi worked for 20 years for the Metro Water District of So. Cal. and is an independent real estate appraiser in Pasadena. The views expressed are his own. Wayne receives e-mail at email@example.com blogs at http://www.pasadenapundit.com
Contrary to prevailing public opinion, our form of democracy and the Constitution does not require a strict separation, but a compromise, between church and state, especially on the same-sex marriage issue. In a democracy neither a Stalinist-like secular totalitarianism nor an Islamic-like religious fundamentalism shall solely rule the day. Secular Stalinist Russia forbade clergy to perform certain marriage rites while fundamentalist Islam sanctions only arranged marriages. A middle ground on marriage in a modern democracy respects both church and state and individual choice. Withdrawal from a middle position would result in a pull out from democracy and modernity and a temptation toward totalitarian backlash.
The necessity of a political middle ground on same-sex marriage, and a host of other issues in order to preserve democracy, originates from a recent project called the Relativism-Fundamentalism Study by the eminent sociologist of religion, Dr. Peter Berger, at the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs, together with the Pew Research Center . The major finding of the project is that both relativism and fundamentalism are two sides of the same coin that threaten the basic social order and liberal democracy. Relativism makes the social order a capricious game, and fundamentalism Balkanizes and dehumanizes society into mutually hostile camps that cannot communicate with each other.
A paradoxical finding of their research is that it is secular Relativists who are the most fanatic and absolutist about same-sex marriage and it is so-called Fundamentalist (i.e., evangelical) religionists who are the more tolerant, as long as they are given the option of sectarian enclaves from same-sex marriage. The California Supreme Court decision dangerously signals the likely end of sectarian withdrawal and pluralism and the rise of totalitarianism in public schools, eventually extending into even private institutions.
As soon as the California Supreme Court reached its decision, the fundamentalist same-sex marriage advocates launched incursions into the courts to train police and prosecutors about insensitivity to same-sex domestic violence. They have protested in front of private businesses whose owners or employees have contributed large sums to battle against same-sex marriage. Last year even before the California Supreme Court's ruling, the online dating service eharmony California was sued for excluding gays. Today it is the Relativists, not the religious Fundamentalists, who are fanatically intolerant, militant, and litigious. And the courts and pandering politicians are giving them sway.
Prior to the recent poorly judged decision of the State Supreme Court we had a widely accepted democratic middle ground for marriage -- majority rule, minority rights. This meant marriage between a man and woman was the norm but civil unions and property-sharing between same sex partners were respected.
Now fanatic same-sex marriage activists dangerously want to created a void where this successful middle ground on marriage existed. Metaphorically, they want to marry a fanatic Islamic female suicide bomber with an atheistic Happy Hooker. This will not be a marriage made in heaven. It will eventually gravitate to a society organized on the basis of fanaticism, or what we call totalitarianism. We can deal with religious sectarians and traditionalists; not with secular totalitarians (although religiously liberal churches oddly are now also giving legitimacy to the same-sex marriage cause).
In the past we had both secular and religious fundamentalist activists who carved out a stable middle ground on civil rights and marriage (e.g., Susan B. Anthony, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, etc). Today, both secular and religious fundamentalists wish to destroy a middle ground on marriage for political opportunism all in the name of eliminating discrimination. It all seems part of the manufactured zeitgeist of progressive “change.”
Today's fundamentalist same-sex marriage activists are militant relativists who would risk destroying democracy and inciting a dangerous totalitarian-like backlash that would likely result in the flight of many affluent "bourgeouise" families and religious families from our public schools.
The militant same-sex marriage advocates unintentionally would incite discrimination against gays. Parents who are presently laid-back about same-sex marriage will become more persuasive against the same-sex option with their children once it is mandated in public and private institutions. This is probably why most major newspapers in California are opposed to the recent reckless Supreme Court ruling.
Religious traditionalists and Fundamentalists are prone to see the same-sex marriage issue in moral terms; while Relativists are more prone to frame it as a civil rights discrimination issue. Both frame the issue in an attempt to win the moral high ground. Both suffer from misleading perceptions of the situation at hand.
Moderates of all political persuasions need to unite against judicial and secular fundamentalist extremism. It is not discrimination against same sex marriage or sexual immorality per se that is at stake, but democracy and freedom.
For the metaphorical Elves, Dwarves, Ents, and Hobbits of the public who are onlookers into this culture war over marriage and may vote on a California election proposition to enshrine traditional marriage in the state constitution, it is necessary to keep in mind that democracy is what hangs in the balance of finding a middle ground on the same-sex marriage issue. Without a middle ground, the Middle Earth may eventually succumb to a giant sink hole of fanaticism and totalitarianism. CRO
2007 Wayne Lusvardi