On the heels of my post about entitlement and gratitude, I can't help but editorialize on polygamy, gay unions, and religion in the context of "civil rights".
Establishing something or other as a civil right is sort of the holy grail of public dialog. Hence, you get politicians using the term all the time, as well as lobbyists, pundits, and apologists all of whom slip it into their vernacular in places that are not widely agreed upon, but in so doing advance their own cause by degrees. It's the holy grail because once something is deemed a civil right, you can't argue with it anymore. It's a given. It's final. It's basic. Entitlement takes over.
You can define civil rights variously as those rights guaranteed by the constitution, rights guaranteed by citizenship, or just rights developed over time that may or may not be protected by the government. But this last definition is closer to human rights, and I think civil rights are more properly validated by the judiciary. The courts are the arbiters of social contract.
Which brings me to polygamy and gay unions. Marriage has long been a part of accepted societal practices. Polygamy and gay unions have not. Including specific departures from monogamous heterosexual marriage as marriage should involve public discourse and be legislated through representative government as a matter of community standards. Community standards. NOT civil rights. And, in my opinion, the burden of proof lies with those seeking to change long standing traditions.
In terms of my personal views, I’m for legal gay marriage. I think our communities ought to celebrate commitment and love in this way. I’ll have to post about how my view fits with the church’s position some time. I include this just to show that there is a (hopefully) sensible position that supports gays without caving to fallacious civil rights arguments.
For now, I just cringe whenever I hear “civil rights!” bandied about like it’s some sort of battering ram, forcing acquiescence rather than coherent public debate.