“THE GOATMILK DEBATES” will be an ongoing series featuring two debaters tackling an interesting or controversial question in a unique, irreverent manner.
Each debater makes their opening argument. They can elect to post a rebuttal.
The winner will be decided by the online audience and judged according to the strength of their argument.
The motion: “”Muslim Americans Should Not Oppose Legalization Of Same Sex Marriage””
For the motion: Sabir Ibrahim and Michael Muhammad Knight [Read MMK’s post here]
SABIR IBRAHIM FOR THE MOTION
The legality of same-sex marriage is emerging as the next hot-button issue in America today. The recent landmark ruling in the Northern District of California overturning Proposition 8—which amended the Constitution of the State of California to limit marriage to a man and a woman—has sparked renewed discussion and debate of same-sex marriage, family values, and the government’s rightful role in regulating social institutions. Like any issue of importance in society, Muslim-Americans should educate themselves and take an informed stance on this question.
In her article in favor of the position that Muslim-Americans should oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, Sister A asserts that heterosexual marriage complements the human fitrah by serving as a means for procreation, whereas same-sex marriage is “founded on the modern conceptualization of marriage as an individualistic love relationship rather than a practicality” and thus “makes a mockery of God’s dualities”. In so arguing, Sister A is essentially advocating that Muslims should oppose same sex marriage because heterosexual marriage is the only natural and acceptable means by which humans may procreate and co-habitate.
On this point, I agree with her 100%. Indeed, homosexual relationships are absolutely forbidden in Islam, and traditional juristic methodologies leave little doubt that a heterosexual union between a man and a woman is the only valid type of marriage in Islam. Thus, from a moral perspective, Muslims should oppose same sex marriage.
As a religious minority, Muslim-Americans subscribe to a set of social values and cultural norms that differ in a number of respects from those of the Christian majority. Thus, it is in the interests of Muslims to oppose efforts to enshrine the values of any religious group as law, even in instances where those values may not differ from our own. In a secular, pluralistic society such as the United States, Muslims are best served by advocating for the principle that the government ought not to involve itself in personal matters such as marriage, particularly on the basis of (from a secular perspective) arbitrary religious criteria.
It is this principled approach to the question of same-sex marriage that preserves Muslims’ standing to argue that our own customs and norms should not be subject to government scrutiny simply because they differ from those of the majority. For instance, if Muslims are to support a government ban on same-sex marriage, then on what basis would we oppose a government ban on marriage between cousins? Or laws regulating what Muslims may teach in their mosques and religious schools?
Furthermore, before supporting a movement, we must scrutinize the agenda of its organizers. The campaign to ban same-sex marriage has been driven mostly by right-wing Christian organizations and finds its strongest support on the Right. Though many Muslims in America may find the possibility of political convergence with Christians on family values appealing, a cursory overview of the Christian Right’s positions on issues involving Islam and Muslims should pre-empt that notion.
The recent spate of campaigns against the construction of new mosques around the country has been led by churches and Christian groups. Prominent right-wing Christian pastors such as Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson regularly insult the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and denounce Islam as a tool of the devil. A church in Gainesville, FL announced that it would be commemorating the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by publicly burning copies of the Quran.
The Christian Right has strongly advocated for destructive and imperialistic American foreign policies in the Muslim World. And the rise in xenophobic, extremist rhetoric from evangelical leaders on not just homosexuality, but issues ranging from immigration to affirmative action indicates that the politics of the Christian Right are governed by fear and intolerance, not morality. Though I am not suggesting that Muslims should support the legalization of same-sex marriage simply because Christians oppose it, we must be wary of lending our support to the efforts of a constituency whose opposition to gay rights is derived from the same hatred and intolerance that gives rise to its campaigns against Islam and Muslims.
On this and other issues, Muslims must avoid knee-jerk reactions that are driven more by emotion than preserving our community’s best interests. If we are to argue for equal rights as Americans, we must uphold equal rights even for those Americans with whom we might otherwise disagree.
The current environment in which mainstream political figures openly label Muslims as a deviant people intent on destroying America should give us pause before we join a movement to deny equal rights to another besieged minority battered with the same accusations.
Sabir Ibrahim is an attorney in San Jose, CA