Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gay Marriage and Buddhism

Wash. lawmakers send gay marriage bill to governor

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, left, and his partner Michael Shiosaka wave at spectators in the upper gallery as Rep. Joe McDermott looks on after the Washington state Senate voted for a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage Wednesday evening, Feb. 1, 2012, in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo)
OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington state lawmakers voted to approve gay marriage Wednesday, setting the stage for the state to become the seventh in the nation to allow same-sex couples to wed.
The action comes a day after a federal appeals court declared California's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, saying it was a violation of the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples.
"The court addressed the question of why marriage matters directly," one lawmaker said, and read a section from the ruling that stated "marriage is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults."
The Practical Buddhist Responds
Did you know that monks don't generally officiate at weddings?  It's something about their big role at funerals. Besides, Buddhists think marriage is secular affair, not a sacramental one, though they like to get blessed by the monks after the civil wedding.

Because Buddhists don't get very excited about homosexuality or about marriage, they don't make a big fuss about gay marriage.  They are also pretty reluctant to exclude, reject, or judge people.

Some Buddhist teachers (including the Dalai Lama, who represents about 3% of the world's Buddhists), when questioned, may see gay marriage as a "negative," (like drinking wine or buying more car than you need), but are likely to switch the subject to compassion or something.

What you will never see is a Buddhist leader trying to build a power base by appealing to followers' fear of the different or sense of superiority.  

Today crowds roared with delighted indignation when Rick Santorum claimed that liberals were claiming that his followers were bigots if they opposed gay marriage.  They're not bigots, they just know what's best for everyone, and who is acceptable and who is not, because God told them so. I guess.

Buddhists have had comprehensive moral teaching for a thousand generations, but they've never claimed to have the final answer nor do they let adults off the hook: you have to form your own conscience and do what's right. If you're a grown-up, study, pray, meditate, and consult wise teachers and holy scriptures, but make up your own mind.