As far as I am concerned, the issue of whether or not a state can legislate marriage based on its own definition of social mores was settled in Loving v. Virginia, when the Supreme Court declared that it was an Equal Protection violation to have anti-miscegenation statutes. Sex is clearly as much of an immutable characteristic as race, and it seems illogical to prevent people from entering into a legal relationship, such as marriage, on the basis of an immutable characteristic. However, attitudes about homosexuality very rarely seem rational. Instead, they seem to come from another, irrational place, where homosexuality stands as a symbol for some type of greater evil.
For example, opponents of same-sex marriage often talk about the traditional definition of marriage. They discuss the fact that marriage has traditionally been limited to pairs of one-male and one-female. However, these arguments ignore much of human history. First, marriage, as a legal relationship, is a fairly recent component of human experience. People have been coupling off for much longer than marriage has been an institution. These couples have included a wide variety of male-female and homosexual relationships. For example, in Greece, adult males were expected to take female wives in order to have children, but were permitted, even encouraged, to have young male lovers. While I cannot encourage pederasty, romantic and sexual relationships were encouraged between young women and adult men at the same time; there is an evolving age of consent that has made sexual relationships between adults and children taboo in much of the world, which did not exist in ancient times. The salient point is that romantic and sexual relationships between homosexual couples have historically received recognition. More importantly, marriage has not traditionally been what it is in modern America. Modern American marriages reflect a conscious choice of partner, by two willing adults. Until approximately two hundred years ago, the notion of romantic marriage was almost unknown, and marriages were based upon alliances between families. Moreover, throughout most of the Judeo-Christian tradition, which has shaped American concepts of marriage, marriage was a polygamous institution. To suggest that God intended marriage to be a relationship between one-man and one-woman ignores the evidence of marriage that is presented in the Bible, as well as extra-Biblical historical sources.
In fact, I find it difficult to understand Biblical arguments against same-sex marriage. The First Amendment clearly demands separation of church and state. While religious officials can perform marriage ceremonies, a couple is not considered legally married unless or until that couple has complied with a state's legal requirements for marriage. The United States recognizes marriages between divorced people, despite the fact that, for the majority of its existence as a religion, Christianity did not recognize the rights of divorced people to remarry. In fact, the Catholic Church still frowns upon divorce and has restrictions upon the recognition of marriages between divorced persons. To allow any religion to dictate the requirements for a civil arrangement seems so un-American, that it is difficult for me to understand how people could even suggest such a proposition. Because of that, I can only surmise that opponents of gay marriage think it will be a gateway to other things that they perceive as deviant or against the norm. They suggest that gay marriage will threaten the sanctity of marriage, maybe concerned that the already high rates of divorce, domestic violence, and adultery, and marriage-less cohabitation have weakened the institution to such a degree that one more blow may signal the end of marriage.
The Importance of Doctor-Patient Communication
My last visit to a primary care physician lasted less than five minutes with the doctor, though I was in the office for almost two hours. I waited in the waiting room for only about fifteen minutes, and was then shown into an examination room. A nurse came into the exam room, took my vital statistics, and asked me about the reason for my visit. When I explained that I had a sore throat and wanted to rule out both the flu and strep throat, the nurse left the room to get two tests. I waited another ten to fifteen minutes for her to return, and then she swabbed my throat and my nostrils, and then left with the tests. About fifteen minutes later, she returned to the room to tell me that I had tested positive for strep, but negative for the flu, and that the doctor would be in to see me. Another ten minutes passed before the doctor came into the room, confirmed my strep diagnosis, told me that she would be prescribing an antibiotic, and left the room. The doctor did not even examine my throat or ask about symptoms; all of that had been taken care of with her medical staff. About ten minutes later, a nurse came back into my room with my chart, which had the prescription attached to it. I went to the front desk, paid for my visit, and left the doctor's office. That type of visit to my doctor, whom I consider a good physician, is typical. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to me that there is a problem with doctor-patient communication.
I have never once been to see any type of doctor when I did not feel that time was of the essence. Every doctor I have ever seen has diagnosed me correctly, I assume, because I am healthy today, but not one of them has taken any time to examine other issues. Yes, they may ask a cursory question about whether or not I am experiencing any problems other than the reason for my visit, but they do so while making notes, writing prescriptions, or literally walking out of the exam room. I have not ever experienced a problem that I have not discussed with my doctors, but I can easily see how that could be a problem.
One of my uncles is on over 30 different medications. Not all of these medications are medically necessary; in fact, many of these medications have probably been improperly prescribed. He is a CPA, and he takes medication for ADHD, so that he can stay awake during tax season. He also takes sleeping pills, because the ADHD medicine makes him unable to sleep. Those are only two examples of the unnecessary medication that he takes. He also has a chronic health issue, diabetes. Despite these red-flags in his health history, which he dutifully reports at each doctor's visit, not one doctor has discussed the issue of prescription medicine abuse with him. I find this omission startling. How a relatively young man can be on over 30 different prescription medications each day without a medical professional taking the time to investigate how many of these medications are necessary startles me. In fact, when he relocated and found a new local doctor, that doctor simply looked at his existing medications and re-prescribed them without investigating whether or not any of them were necessary. Though I am not a medical professional, I think it must be dangerous for a person to take 30 different medications each day, especially for conditions that he does not have. What I cannot understand is why his doctors would fail to address that issue.
I think that the case of Michael Jackson is very illustrative. Obviously, my uncle did not have the same influence as Michael Jackson. However, his doctors probably experience much of the same pressure as Jackson's doctors experienced. Doctors are expected to provide a quick fix for their patients, and are given very little time to actually discuss patient's health issues. A doctor who fails to treat a patient's reported symptoms is likely to lose that patient. Therefore, it is not surprising that doctors do not always communicate with their patients.
With all of the pharmaceutical advertising marketed towards people suffering from depression, I have to admit that I find it difficult to differentiate where normal mood ranges become mood disorders. The commercials and depression inventories asking about depression seem to name characteristics that are within the normal range, especially if people have experienced life stressors. As a result, I think that I find depression a difficult concept to understand. After all, if all people experience some range of depression, and, furthermore, a pretty significant subset of society can expect to experience at least one episode of a major depressive disorder during his or her lifetime, is it accurate to consider depression a disorder? Is what society thinks of as depressive disorder merely a normal part of the human condition?
Moreover, I have often wondered about depression and the context of modern America. In modern American life, it is acceptable to have depression. A large number of my peers have been diagnosed with depression and are either currently taking, or have taken in the past, medication to deal with that disorder. It has made me wonder how much of depression is linked…