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Tag: human rights

The argument against gay marriage

… and what is wrong with it.

Gay marriage is such a hot issue right now. Those that are for it scream for equality and justice. They want to be seen as equals in a society where they are expected to contribute equally in taxes and laws. Those that are against it fear for the end of civilization as we know it. I hear so many arguments against gay marriage. Here are my problems with some of them.

1. “It’s unnatural”– If you mean that there are no examples in nature then you should look at penguins, dolphins, albatross etc. Animals have all kinds of same sex relationships. In fact, over 450 species practice some sort of same sex activity. (NY Times)

If you mean they can’t reproduce then you are correct. However, we don’t outlaw marriage for the elderly and infertile. We also have not outlawed birth control. Natural procreation is only one of hundreds of  possible valid reasons to get married. There is nothing unnatural about desiring marriage for the sake of love, commitment and companionship.

2. “It goes against my religion” – That may very well be true. No one is asking you to change your religious beliefs. The beautiful thing about this country is that we have freedom to practice any belief system we see fit. We do not have a State church. Anyone, religious or non-religious, should be very appreciative of that. Christianity alone has so many denominations and there are extreme differences even between them. You are free to choose, not only your specific religion, but how when and where you practice it. The minute the government starts making laws based on one religion it puts all religious freedoms at risk.

3. “But… but… Sodom and Gomorrah!”– First of all, this is again, based on a specific religion and so shouldn’t have an influence on legislation. If however you’re afraid that our country will be destroyed in fire and brimstone or that you’ll be turned into a pillar of salt as a result then you’ll have to get in line. Spain, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal, Netherlands, Iceland, Canada and South Africa all have laws allowing gay marriage or domestic partnerships. If these countries start getting systematically destroyed by bizarre acts of nature we’ll have plenty of time to reevaluate our stance on things.

And if you really want to get theological about it, the perverts in Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to rape the angels that came to visit Lot.* Rape is a disgusting and abhorrent act. It could be argued that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, not for being cities full of people in loving, monogamous, same sex relationships, but rather because they were cities full of murderers and rapists. Plus, when God wanted to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah He said that if there were even 10 righteous men He would spare it. I certainly hope we could muster up that many righteous people in the event of imminent destruction. (Genesis 18 and 19)

4. “Marriage has always been this way.”- Marriage has actually changed drastically and often throughout history. Marriages used to be a simple property exchange. The man owned the women in order for her to produce heirs and do household tasks. Marriage used to involve one man and as many women as he could afford to keep. This was again to ensure he had as many heirs as physically possible. We have since changed the laws and marriage is now only recognized in most areas of the US as between two people.

Another very recent change to marriage is legalization of interracial marriage. As few as 45 years ago, interracial marriage was as illegal and feared as gay marriage is today. Opponents used the same arguments, that is was not biblical and that it was unnatural. They were afraid that it would produce mentally handicapped and damaged offspring. As a proud aunt of beautiful and brilliant interracial children the very idea that 50 years ago they wouldn’t have been allowed to see their mom and dad married sickens me. As a proud daughter-in-law of a highly intelligent and loving gay man I feel the same way for him. Sick.

Until relatively recently in history women and black people were seen as property. Should we go back to that because it’s the way it’s always been? Of course not! History is not the standard by which we set our values, attempting to mirror it as closely as possible. Instead, history is something we should examine carefully and learn from. We should be taking the good and rejecting the bad so that we can grow into a more ideal society.

I think it’s time to take a hard, honest look at the motivation behind these and any other arguments. They are all based on fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of loss of power. We have many examples of healthy, normal societies where gay marriage is nothing more than another normal relationship. These societies have yet to fall apart as a result.

Put yourself in their place. Would you not be devastated if your marriage was illegal? Would you not fight with every breath to see that changed? I know I would. I would also fight with every breath if my sister and brother-in-law could not be married just like I am fighting now for my father-in-law to be able to marry someone he loves.

Gay people aren’t looking to make your life harder. They’re not looking to affect your personal life at all.  All they want are the same rights and privileges that you enjoy. They don’t want any special treatment, they just want equal treatment. Isn’t that what the United States is all about?

*Yeah I know my Biblical characters. What?

The one where I run the risk of coming off as a huge bitch

How fat is too fat to fly?

Recently I read a really great blog post by Backpacking Dad that sparked some really interesting conversations via the comments section of the article. He said that asking the question: How fat is too fat to fly? is asking the wrong question. He says:

“The real question (the one that needs to be asked of the airlines) is ‘What is it about your profit-policy that makes it different enough from… other cases of unacceptable discrimination-for-profit… that you can consider dollars ahead of dignity and exclude the overweight segment of the population from your customer base by not equipping airliners with some bigger seats?'”

His basic point is that airlines are discriminating against obese people by not providing seats they can fit in. It’s a great article, well thought out, and humorous. Unfortunately, I completely disagree.

Airlines have a simple formula when they decide how much each seat costs: It costs x to fly from point a to point b. They divide x by the number of seats on the plane and that is the price per seat. If the all the seats are larger then less fit, therefore the price per seat is more. Airlines barely break even as it is because fares are so low. The problem is not whether or not airlines provide seats to accommodate larger travelers. Almost all major airlines do provide larger seats. It’s called first class. First class seats are expensive because they take up a lot of room. The problem is whether or not people are willing/able to pay for the bigger seats. The success of low cost carriers like Southwest have proven that people are not willing to pay more for their seats. While all airlines don’t offer first class, they all offer the option of purchasing a second seat if a person won’t fit in just one seat.

Backpacking Dad’s assertion is that making a profit is less important than doing the “right thing”. According to him the “right thing” is accommodating obese travelers by replacing current seats with bigger ones on all aircraft. He paints it as a human rights issue, akin to segregation. While I agree that human rights are always more important than any company’s bottom line, my question is, is it really a human rights issue? Is it discriminatory to not reconfigure a product to fit a specialized group?

Personally I don’t think airlines should have to reconfigure all their fleets to conform to America’s growing waistlines. They sell a product. Their product is a seat that gets from point a to b. Sometimes that includes a drink, sometimes a meal and sometimes a lot more depending on how much you paid. When airlines design the inside of the their aircraft they take safety, cost and comfort into consideration, in that order. Their goal is to transport people as safely as possible while making a profit so they can, ya know, stay in business.

If airlines did decide (out of some of some sense of ethical responsibility) that they were going to make all or even some of their economy class seats bigger somebody would have to pay for it. Who would that have to be? The obese person? If so then wouldn’t that still be discrimination? Should they divide it between all of the passengers? That wouldn’t really be fair to the average sized person if all fares were more expensive because of a select few. Should the government subsidize the airlines? That would require some sort of tax which is ultimately passed onto not only average sized fliers but all tax paying Americans, some of whom have never been on an airplane in their lives. That certainly wouldn’t be right either.

I believe all human rights should be fought for no matter what it costs. I just don’t agree that obese people are being discriminated against in general. Extreme cases, like that of Kevin Smith and others, are a different story. He met the guidelines laid out by the airline so there was no reason he should have been pulled off that flight. Of course, there are two sides to every story and it’s unclear why exactly he was singled out. No matter what, I believe the way he was treated was unacceptable. However, I’m not talking about those who fit in the seats.

Businesses should have to make reasonable accommodations. Handicapped ramps and stalls for example. These cost a minimal amount up front and don’t hurt their business. In my opinion, reasonable accommodations are already being made for obese people. Obese people who don’t fit in one seat have several options: lose weight, buy a first class seat, buy two economy class seats or find a different way to get where they’d like to go. I believe airlines could do more by providing clearer information about the maximum size that can fit in each seat in the same place they list luggage limitations. Until they make those changes though seat information can be found on Seat Guru.

What it comes down to is being obese isn’t something that is completely uncontrollable like the color of your skin or sexual preference. People make life decisions. In other countries this may not be the case but in America every person has the choice to purchase and consume healthy or unhealthy food every day. They choose whether or not they consume liters of soda pop or pounds of sweets. Every person has the choice to exercise daily or to sit on their butt and do nothing. Yes, being healthy is hard work. Yes, choosing to put down that doughnut or bag of chips takes self control. Yes, it sucks to have to go to the gym or for a walk after a long day at work. There are all kinds of things that get in the way. But ultimately it comes down to what is important to each individual person.

I hope that all I’m saying does not paint me as a hateful person. I don’t expect everyone to look the same and I don’t have a problem with big people. I have a problem with people blaming the airline for the fact that they can’t fit in a seat. People come in all shapes and sizes and curvy people are as beautiful as thin people. However, those that choose to be extremely overweight are hurting themselves. It doesn’t mean they’re not wonderful people, it means they’ve made bad choices about their health. To say it’s not a choice demeans all the hard work that people like FaintStarLite, JewliaGoulia, ExHotGirl, LosingWaist and countless others have put in. I’ve followed their journeys and watched them have awesome victories and frustrating defeats. But they keep going. Day after day they put in the hard work that is necessary to achieve their goals. I’m betting every one of them would tell you it’s totally worth it. And I’ll be here cheering them on.

The choices that got someone to the point of being obese may or may not have been theirs. They may have been fed fattening, processed foods growing up. They may not have had all the information or been taught how to make healthy choices. But today is a new day. Every single day each individual gets up and make a choice whether they are going to live in a way that is good for them and brings them closer to their goals or if they’re going to make choices that keep them where they are or push them further away from their goals. I make choices every day, I know that everyone else can too.

In a perfect world everyone would be able to travel the world in their own emission free private jet whenever they wanted. We would all have whatever our idea was of a perfect body. We wouldn’t have to worry about money, everyone would get along and things would be all sunshine and rainbows. Unfortunately the world is not perfect. Those that cannot afford their own private jets have to find other ways to travel and for some that means buying more than one seat.

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