Reply to Cynthia Tucker
by Bob Wheeler
Cynthia Tucker is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist. The editorial to which I responded appeared in the October 21, 2014 edition of the Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette. Here is my response:
Dear Ms. Tucker,
I find that I must take sharp exception to your recent editorial “Despite polls, GOP still quietly opposes marriage equality,” in which you characterize socially conservative Republican voters as “Bible-thumpers,” “aging, narrow-minded,” “bigots,” and “backward-looking.” Has it never occurred to you that a fundamental moral principle might be involved, one that does not change over time?
Your moral confusion might be understandable, and perhaps even excusable, had it not been for the fact that you also made the astonishing assertion that Georgia’s ban on same-sex marriage is “a law denying a basic human right to a portion of the population.”
Where did you ever get the notion that gay men have “a basic human right” to engage in oral and anal sex with each other? (That is, after all, what we are talking about when we legalize “gay marriage.”) But more to the point, where do “basic human rights” come from? Who says we have a “right” to do anything?
There are several possible answers to the question. One is that our rights are God-given. But this presupposes the very thing that the proponents of gay marriage wish to deny: that there is a transcendent moral law that is eternal and unchanging. It presupposes that we live in a rationally ordered universe created by an intelligent Supreme Being, and that everything in life has a meaning and purpose. And what is the purpose of sex? Obviously to perpetuate the species through heterosexual reproduction. By this standard homosexuality is a bizarre anomaly, if not an outright perversion. How, then, can it be a “basic human right”?
Another possible approach would be to argue that Judeo-Christian morality is based on ancient myths and legends, and that we came into existence through a blind, purposeless process of evolution. But that would mean that there is no “moral law”; we simply exist in an impersonal and amoral universe. On the one hand it would mean that we are free to do as we please. But on the other hand what happens to “basic human rights”? Does the tree have a “right” not to be cut down? Neither do you – you are simply another organism sharing the same ecosystem. No one has a “right” to anything.
Yet another possible approach would be to argue that rights are man-made – we agree with each other to recognize certain rights for our mutual benefit. But nothing less than the United States Supreme Court once declared that black people have no rights which white people are bound to respect (the Dred Scott decision), and on another occasion declared that racial segregation was perfectly constitutional (Plessy v. Ferguson). Can it really be true that we have only such rights as the majority is willing to cede? No wonder Dr. King appealed to a higher law!
Our rights, then, come from God. But our Creator did not give us a “right” to use our sexual organs for purposes other than what He intended. And what He intended is that a man and a woman would enter into a permanent committed relationship with each other and raise their own biological children together. Sexual license, on the other hand, inevitably leads to social chaos. Have we not already seen this in our society? Perhaps the Democrats should rethink their position.
Robert W. Wheeler