Tam Truong was out promoting his reelection campaign at the Berryessa Art & Wine Festival. I bumped into him and said hi, and then another citizen came and was handed a flyer. She asked, “Do you support gay marriage?” Tam gave his response, and consequently, she handed the flyer back to him, and told her friends who came in afterwards to also hand back the flyers.
I have to admit my own passive stance on the matter really stemmed from my lack of investment in identifying and deconstructing the issue of gay marriage. But what does guide me are values and virtues. But it got me asking, “What values are we honoring by opposing or supporting gay marriage?”
Recently Obama stood in support of gay marriage and Romney took the conservative stance against it. Romney says marriage “is a relationship between one man and one woman.” But I found no values in the statement of what his definition of marriage is. He did say, however, that “the American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and, at the foundation, the pre-eminence of the family.” I highlighted the values in that statement and ask, “Would homosexual couples entering a committed relationship of marriage honor or dishonor those values that Romney mentioned?” And I think I would have to say that is up to the couples involved and what they value, but I can also say that is not just an issue with homosexual couples, but for heterosexual couples as well.
Obama speaks out on the matter, saying
This is something that, you know, we’ve talked about over the years and [Michelle], you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I’ll be as president.
Obama mentions the values imbued in the Golden Rule, which I think embody the notions of equality, fairness, reciprocity, and compassion. On how he approaches marriage among homosexual couples and heterosexual couples, he arrived at a conclusion that embodies the values of the Golden Rule.
At the end of the day, the values that both Romney and Obama trumpeted can merge and create an idealism of marriage, not defined by form, but by its virtues: responsibility, dignity, service, purpose, family, equality, reciprocity, compassion.
Does supporting gay marriage encourage the honoring of those values? It can, but not for all couples. Does denying gay couples the right to marriage honor those values? I don’t really see how denying them the right celebrates those values, because not only you limit gay couples who do not subscribe to that kind of marriage, but also ones who do. Unfortunately, if that was the criteria, far too many Americans would be branded guilty of eroding the values-driven marriage.
So for Tam Truong, I feel sympathy; if I was given that question, “Do you support gay marriage?” I would have tripped up on my answer if I didn’t give the issue some serious thought.
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