Cameron Runyan’s reason for casting the sole vote against providing marriage benefits to same-sex partners of city employees is as old as the hills (”Why I cannot support redefining marriage,” Nov. 23). He uses the slippery logic of the slippery-slope argument: If you let them do this, before you know it, they’ll be doing that.
Years ago, “them” were African-Americans. If we let them vote, attend integrated schools and sit at lunch counters with whites, they’ll start acting white. They’ll get uppity. They’ll start dancing with our white daughters. One of them might even become president.
Next, the “them” were women. If we give them equal pay for equal work, let them play sports and allow them to become doctors, lawyers and ministers, they’ll start acting like men. They’ll start wearing pants. You won’t be able to hold the door for them. We’ll all have to use the same restrooms. One of them might even become president.
The latest “them” are gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. If we allow them to marry, adopt, have health benefits and visit their partners in the hospital, the moral sky will fall. To be more precise, according to Runyan, “absolute moral truth no longer exists” and “anything goes.” According to Runyan, polygamous and polyamorous marriages and incest are the inevitable consequences of sliding down the slippery slope of marriage equality. He failed to mention another unavoidable outcome of same-sex marriage usually touted by right-wing Chicken Littles: bestiality.
Slippery-slope arguments play upon our anxiety over change and our fear of the unknown, but they wither under the light of reason, experience and common sense.
If Mr. Runyan is truly concerned about morality, he might have considered these absolute moral principles before casting his no vote:
1. All peeople have value merely because they are human beings. Laws relegating a group of people to second-class citizenship insult their human dignity.
2. People may not be born with equal gifts and talents, but all people deserve to be treated equally by the law. Same-sex marriage is merely affording gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits that all people enjoy.
3. The social recognition and legal protections of marriage bring social stability to couples, families and society at large. With our high rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births, why wouldn’t we want to expand the stabilizing institution of marriage?
4. To allow only heterosexual marriage is to allow the government to sanction one religious definition of marriage over others. The fact is that people of faith disagree on the nature of marriage. Government has no business dictating a particular religious belief and practice.
5. The bottom line is the same for all marriages. Two people who love each other want to commit themselves to each other for a lifetime. Why would anyone want to deny the fulfillment of a loving relationship?
Moral truth does still exist for those with the eyes to see and the backbone to act.
Rev. Neal Jones
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia