The controversy around Mozilla's new CEO Brendan Eich continues. Eich made a personal $1000 donation to California's Yes on Proposition 8 campaign in 2008. Now, dating site OkCupid has started redirecting Firefox users to a page explaining Eich's views against marriage equality, and asking users to switch to IE, Chrome, or Opera. The page states: If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we've worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it's professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.Visitors are then provided links to alternative browsers, or they can continue to the site by clicking a hyperlink at the bottom of the page.
The controversy around Mozilla's new CEO Brendan Eich continues. Eich made a personal $1000 donation to California's Yes on Proposition 8 campaign in 2008. Now, dating site OkCupid has started redirecting Firefox users to a page explaining Eich's views against marriage equality, and asking users to switch to IE, Chrome, or Opera.
The page states:
If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we've worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it's professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.
Visitors are then provided links to alternative browsers, or they can continue to the site by clicking a hyperlink at the bottom of the page.
A couple of things. First, it's weird to think of gay marriage as being a right. The concept never even existed in the 6000 years of human civilization until about 15 years ago. Now it's a "right."
And it isn't even a "right" for straight people. The purpose of marriage licensing is to make divorces easier for the state to adjudicate, since 90% of contract law is arguing over whether or not a valid contract existed. The state gets dragged into divorce disputes because there's property involved. Marriage licensing is just a way to short circuit the process by making sure everybody is of legal age, not currently married to someone else, not being coerced, etc before they enter the contract so the courts don't have to decide these questions years later.
Marriage licensing is not a special right or benefit or reward for straight people. Congratulations, gays, you now have access to gay divorce.
Female voting wasn't a right for 6000 years of human civilization either, and only came about around 100 years ago or so. Then again, male voting wasn't a right either for most of 6000 years of human civilization except some brief periods such as in Athens, and then later with the advent of modern democratic governments. Are you going to argue now that people don't need these rights either? How about free speech? That doesn't exactly have a long history either, and still isn't a right in most places.
Women were denied their right to self-determination. Free speech rights are denied by oppressive governments. A "right" to marriage, gay or straight, is an invented thing. It's not a natural, unalienable right like speech.
That doesn't mean it shouldn't be allowed by law, although it wasn't always necessarily forbidden by law, either. It just didn't exist as a concept until 15 years ago. To call marriage a "right" is to invent a right. Can we do that? Can we start inventing rights?
Voting is a right, and it certainly isn't old, historically speaking. We invented it. If you want to say it's a necessary thing for self-determination, and that the self-determination is the fundamental right being protected, that's fine.
Similarly, marriage has been a privilege (perhaps not exactly a "right") for some time too, though again not that long if you're talking about voluntary marriages (as opposed to arranged marriages). It's just that this privilege has only been accorded to certain people, namely hetersexuals, for various reasons (religion, tradition, dealing with inheritance, etc.). But in modern times, we generally recognize that people have the right to equality, to equal treatment under the law, and this means not giving special privileges to groups of people without a very good reason. (And when we do give special privileges for a good reason, it's to a small minority to try to help them achieve equality, such as the ADA which tries to help disabled people. We don't, or at least shouldn't, give special privileges to a vast majority at the expense of a minority.) The existence of the privilege of marriage (and its various benefits as discussed earlier, both financial and social) and it being restricted from a group of people violates this right to equal treatment under the law.
So if we simply abolished legal marriage altogether, then yes, that would remove the inequality. However, not many people, even extreme libertarians, are in favor of abolishing at least some of the benefits of legal marriage (like inheritance). So unless we replace legal marriage with something else that treats everyone equally, we have to give marriage rights to gay people too. (And this isn't the end; group marriages are the next step after this. If two people can voluntarily enter into a union that provides various benefits, then three or four should be able to do the same or similar. Of course, there's some feasibility problems which would have to be worked out; obviously, we can't have a "marriage" of 100 people, and then expect the government to dole out Social Security or VA benefits for 99 indefinitely after one of them dies. Eliminating Social Security and many other government benefits in favor of a universal basic income would eliminate many of these problems however.)
This can lead to an endless debate on what human rights are. Under the Lockean view of rights, you have the right to do anything that is not against the law and that causes no direct financial harm to anyone else. In this perspective, gay marriage may not have existed but it was a human right until it was made illegal by the state government, at which point is was not a human right anymore. Rousseau was more explicit in saying that one gives up one set of human rights to become a member of civilization in exchange for the protection of a subset of human rights. Paine disagreed with Rousseau on this point and attempted to erase the distinction Rousseau made between natural and civil rights. The French Declaration of Rights went against Locke's idea of parliamentary supremacy and limited the authority of government to matters where one person causes harm to another, and then the French killed everyone who publicly disagreed with any policy of the Directory. Different viewpoints on the subject get more divergent and confusing from there.
If I'm not mistaken, it's only recently been a few states that ever made gay marriage illegal. For the rest of human civilization it wasn't "illegal," it just didn't exist as a thing to be legal or illegal.
But you're correct, this idea of a recently invented "right" opens a can of worms. What other rights do we have that we don't know about? Why don't we have a right to food, to shelter, to clothing? Should the government grant us those rights, too?