Monday, September 25, 2006

Boundary Issues
I was commenting today on someone else’s blog, and it got me to thinking about boundaries. I refer to boundaries in the sense of where one thing starts and another begins and how we decide what the thing is in the first place. For instance, we were discussing religion, and someone else brought in a race analogy. Though the two do not have to overlap, they sometimes do, and when they do, are the distinctions even more important? Is a person who is visibly of a particular race and religion more obligated to support or denounce the behaviors of others within his religion (or race) because he is a visible representative of the group? Where does personal responsibility and social responsibility fit in?

Let’s move this away from religion, because truthfully, it’s not one of my favorite topics. Let’s say a person has self-identified and is visibly homosexual. He has a shirt on that says, “I’m Gay.” As long as he is wearing that shirt, or even after the fact given that many people may have seen him, does he have a moral obligation to represent all gay people in a positive light? No, of course not, but….let’s be completely honest here, all of us gay folk,….don’t we kind of hope he turns out to be an upstanding citizen and not do anything really stupid? If he does something stupid, how do we react? Do I have an obligation to educate those around me that “we aren’t all that way’? Where’s the boundary between “me” and “we”?

Closer to home for some, what about areas of the country where gang violence among a particular race is common? What is the obligation of the same-race college student or lawyer or stay-at-home mom to denounce the gang behavior, and serve as a call to their city that it is time for a change? Maybe there is no obligation whatsoever, but as I've been indirectly arguing against on this other blog, maybe there should be. The thing is, we as outsiders, can't create the obligation or define the boundary issue. I think that is an individual choice.

I’m working on a paper analyzing various arguments that states have used to either uphold or deny same-sex couples the right to marry. Some argue that all citizens have a fundamental right to marry. Others argue that is not a fundamental right. Some say, yes, we all have the right to marry, as long as it is a person of the opposite sex. They say there is no discrimination there because men and women equally have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex. Same-sex couples and opposite sex couples are both given equal opportunity to marry someone of the opposite sex. Interesting boundary issues there. Some have drawn a boundary around – what? – a behavior, a biological trait, a preference? – and then proceeded to say that the boundary doesn’t really exist because a person can just walk right over the border and have full equal rights. Does any of this sound like the race discrimination arguments this country heard no so very long ago? Aren’t most of those “boundaries that aren’t boundaries” still boundaries?


Hadas Aguilar said...

As you are wont to do on my blog - let me play devil's advocate.

What about a slippery slope? You feel (and I have not finished developing a firm opinion) that gay marriage is OK and a right you should have. Arguments supporting this theory include that gay couples have long lasting relationships, have commitment, have families and that there is little difference then not allowing interracial marriages.

So slippery slope time...

Would you condone brother and sister marriages? first cousin? there is enough medical technology and adoption availability to assist with biological proginy issues.

OK, what about mom and son marriage?

To me the idea is anathema. Although the gay lifestyle is not. But it used to be just as interracial relationships used to be (and sometimes still are). So, what is the line where is the difference? Both interracial relationships and gay relationships have been brought to the fore. People hae insisted that they are as wholesome and good as any other acceptable relationship. Where does that stop, and how do you know it is stopped...that is, if you say well marriages within a relationship are anathema and are different, then different to whom?

So, let's say that "no one would ever allow brother and sister to marry" what about adopted brother and sister (or sister and sister for parallel).

Again, I am playing devil's advocate and looking at this from all sides to figure out where I stand on the issue (but you and I have talked about that).

I know that one of the things we addressed was for "the people" to have a choice of what there laws can be. But you don't agree with the people opposed to your opinion and they do not agree with you. Does that invalidate their argument?


Hadas Aguilar said...

sorry for all the typos - but you know what I mean. Maybe next time I will even use some punctuation...