The 2nd Annual Above the Clouds Pride March was held in St. Cloud on Friday morning, followed by a Marriage Equality Rally in the evening. See the Saturday St. Cloud Times: Parade, rally support GLBT community.
That’s a familiar family face in photo #4 of the gallery, holding a sign that says “Straight, not narrow.”
Caption: Gilly Wigley, 25, St. Cloud, waits for the start of the Above the Clouds Pride March Friday.”
— St. Cloud Times photo by Kimm Anderson
In November 2012, Minnesota voters decide whether to approve an amendment to the constitution banning same-sex marriage. Those of us who are straight are especially needed to help defeat the amendment.
You and your wife raised a great daughter. You must be very proud.
Thanks, Marcia. Yes, indeed, we are.
It seems to me there’s not much anyone could do to prevent same-sex couples from being married; all a constitutional amendment can do is prevent them from getting legal recognition. Which seems a pretty petty thing to do, at best.
I strongly support voting no to the amendment as it is about homophobia, intolerance, and hate, and I think there’s enough of that already. Not to mention the message that it sends to all LGBTQ youth which is that they are wrong or bad. I hope we all think about the impact of such an amendment. In the meantime, I think a parade to celebrate our diversity is a grand idea!
Stacey- How is supporting this ammendment “about homophobia, intolerance, and hate?”
If memory serves me right doesn’t every amendment in same way protect the rights of someone for something. I fail to see any logic behind any amendment that restricts or takes away someone else’s rights. What happened to “The Land of the Free, Home of the Brave”?
Not all amendments to the Minnesota Constitution are about rights:
Section 5 of Article XIII, for example, outlaws lotteries not operated by the state. (Kinda pathetic, somehow, but that’s another conversation.)
Still, the larger point that amendments typically extend, not restrict, rights seems sound to me.
Leaving hatred, phobias, and other psychological conditions entirely aside, how can supporting this amendment not be intolerant? Isn’t it all about not tolerating something?
Paul Z.- A little depends on how you are applying the term “intolerant.” Let me suggest a comparison. Lets say you disagree with the conservative philosophy of limited government size and regulation of the private sector. Does this make you “intolerant” of conservative philosophies? If this is the meaning you are infering, then I would agree that supporting legislation that limits the definition of gay relationships as marriage would be intolerant of legislation establishing gay relationships as being the same as heterosexual marriage. It seems the great pariah of our current society is to be labeled “intolerant.” If being “tolerant” entails embracing every idea that comes along as having equal value, then I want no part of that, and I don’t think you do either.
We’ve discussed often on LGN the meanings of “tolerance” and “intolerance”. To repeat a point made often before: disagreement is not necessarily intolerance, and (of course!) “tolerant” does not imply equal acceptance of all ideas. We’re all properly intolerant of, say, slavery, and nearly everyone tolerates, without necessarily sharing, others’ religious convictions.
I find the proposed marriage amendment intolerant (among its other faults …) in the sense that it denies to one group a resource very broadly enjoyed by another, without offering any convincing rationale or public purpose for doing so.
The last clause is key: It’s not intolerant in any blameworthy sense, for example, to deny children the right to drive or to sign contracts, even though adults do these things all the time. Such a proscription is OK because reasonable arguments persuade (almost all of) us that such laws substantially protect both kids and the society at large.
Yes, there are some harder cases out there, like whether society should “tolerate” helmet-less motorcycle riding. But the proposed marriage amendment, IMO, is not a hard call.
Paul Z.- There is an aspect of the push for a Gay Marriage law that has me concerned. I have recently read in two articles over the last couple months (I cannot find the articles now to copy the direct quotes) how the desired end of this amendment is that acceptance of gay marriages (my own paraphrase)”…will be preached from every pulpit.” If you are not sensitive to this, then it is easy to miss in the midst of all the other politically correct verbage. If this is a concept unimportant to you, then you won’t care, anyway. I percieve this as a threat to my freedom to interpret the scriptures along the lines that they have been interpreted for a couple thousand years. Marriage has been embraced as a “religious” institution for a few centuries, and the civil aspect of it has been to give official state recognition of these unions. Christendom has fallen under attack over the last couple decades, and I see this as just another front in the battle. If there were written into any law governing the legalization of gay marriage an amendment allowing conservative churches to continue to embrace and preach their current doctrine, then I would not be against it. I have heard nothing of the kind, thought, so my interpretation is that this is a veiled attempt to force a new interpretation of Biblical references upon these churches. I see this as an attempt to circumvent the separation clause of the constitution, since opposition to gay marriage is collectively accused of “hate mongering,” “bigotry,” “homophobia,” and “denial of rights.” The attraction to each other of two people of the same gender is not a civil right in the same sense that Martin Luther King advocated for the blacks. Race cannot be changed. Same sex attraction can be and has been changed. If you want to ensure that gay couples who choose to live together have the same “privileges” as heterosexual couples, then I have no problem with that. But don’t do it in a way that forces me to regognize these relationships as “equal” to heterosexual marriage. Does this make sense? Can you allow me to embrace these ideas without being cast off as a second class citizen?
“Every idea that comes along” does not have equal value, and there is nothing to suggest that every idea should be embraced… but to deny a person equal rights to the pursuit of that person’s happiness, does certainly NOT impinge on anyone else’s state of being …
UNLESS the second person is threatened by the first person’s liberty.
Thanks for understanding my point.
Amendments to a Constitution typically recognize a freedom from government that needs to be explicitly recognized, or restrict a government power that needs curbing.
My understanding is that proponents of the marriage amendment want to curb the Legislative and/or Minnesota judges from recognizing a “right to marriage” when no such right presently exists in the law. I think the hope is that the man/woman relationship together with its natural bounty, children, will continue to enjoy a unique status in the law.
A couple of thoughts about 5.2.2.
Well, I’ve never heard of “amendments” being “written into” laws on any subject. But (if I understand your concern) I don’t think you need to worry unduly. Conservative (and liberal) churches are broadly free to “embrace and preach” pretty much any doctrines they like, and I see no reason that would change. Lots of religions limit or forbid birth control, drinking, dancing, graven images, eating certain foods, eating before sunset, etc. — whether or not civil law has anything to say about these things. Why should the case with gay marriage be any different?
Civil government has no business (and, as far as I can see, no motive or intention) “forcing” religious “interpretations” on anyone. Part of the same bargain is that religionists not “force” their views or “interpretations” on others through civil law.
Later you say:
Whether same sex attraction is innate or learned is not, to my knowledge, a settled scientific question in the sense that, say, the evolutionary principle is. But that scientific question, although interesting, is beside the point in this discussion.
Even if same sex attraction were changeable, so what? One’s religion is changeable, too, but I doubt you’d advocate outlawing any religion on that ground.
Paul Z.- Did you overlook my comment in the first part of my post?
“… (I cannot find the articles now to copy the direct quotes) how the desired end of this amendment is that acceptance of gay marriages (my own paraphrase)”…will be preached from every pulpit.”…
Sorry, but these sentiments, expressed by leaders of various GLBT organizations, make your assurances sound hollow.
I have no idea what “leaders of various GLBT organizations” may have said on this or other topics. Could you quote these “leaders” verbatim rather than in paraphrase? And argue convincingly that their “sentiments”, whatever they may be, are likely to be enacted into law?
Meanwhile, I stand by my view that conservative and other churches are in no immediate (or long-term, for that matter) danger of government pulpiteering. Does any existing gay marriage law seem to hew in that direction?
I did not agree with your point , John… I guess I didn’t write clearly enough…
I should have said “UNLESS the second person FEELS threatened by thye first person’s liberty”.
If I am to be totally honest, I have to say that marriage and the raising of families should not really be under the auspices of government. It is just another way for govt to collect fees, keep tract of and otherwise overstep its bounds.
If people of any kind want to join a religion and follow it’s rules, they should be free to do that, to start their own religion or whatever in a free nation. Govt should only step in when injuries of any intended sort become part of any organizational efforts.
Don’t tell us what to do with our lives, Big Brother…just keep us safe from outsiders who might try…that’s why I’m paying you.
s/b keep track of us.
The amendment, if enacted, would prevent the legislature (or the courts) from changing the current law to a law that would require the government to recognize new forms of civil marriage. Given that it doesn’t change the law, the amendment does not affect anyone’s liberty, pursuit of happiness, nor state of being.
I’ve been thinking about responding to your comments for several days, but haven’t yet for fear of “typing before I think” again. 🙂
While I understand your position, I strongly disagree. With all due respect, I do not believe that Christians are the victims in this debate. Despite any rhetoric from the LGBT community about gay marriage being “preached from every pulpit”, churches will never have to accept or embrace, in their doctrine, any civil right they don’t agree with, per Paul Z.’s comment above. Abortion is a right that many churches blatantly disagree with and preach to that effect. Does the State enforce otherwise? I think not! Besides, if you don’t like what’s being preached from your pulpit, you find another church. That’s why we have so many versions of Christianity and such diverse communities of believers. I am in support of gay marriage, but I think such a statement on the part of LGBT leaders is not meant to be taken SO literally. Again, per Paul Z.’s request, a citation may be helpful.
But, what has my stomach in a knot is this statement, which Paul Z. also picked out,
“Race cannot be changed. Same sex attraction can be and has been changed.”
Truly, this statement is very belittling to those who are struggling with sexual orientation. I do not understand how one can assume that people would choose to live a life of rejection by society, by their friends and even by their own families. I have seen the devastating HEARTBREAK endured by people who are gay and have been rejected by their own MOTHERS and FATHERS. Why, tell me, why, would one CHOOSE for that to be their path? A path where you either have to live a lie about WHO YOU ARE or face rejection from those that you most love and admire?
I feel that statements about “being changed” are supremely disrespectful to those who have walked and are walking this most difficult path. I understand that you may disagree, but sometimes such statements can be supremely offensive and hurtful, in my opinion. We all go through self-discovery and growth, and to be in that phase and realize that WHO YOU ARE is something that you desperately don’t want to be, is a struggle that I can’t begin to imagine. I’m particularly concerned about young people in this scenario, being told that WHO YOU ARE is NOT OK and therefore we need to CHANGE YOU… How devastating for those individuals!
Sure, some people have had both gay and straight relationships. To say that one can be “changed” also does disrespect to the nature of human sexuality. Sexuality, in my opinion, is not black and white. It can be very fluid and each person’s experience is unique. I have a very dear friend who was in gay relationships for much of his live but married a woman. Why? What it because he “changed”? HECK NO!!! It was because he met a HUMAN BEING whom he loved so deeply that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Does that mean he no longer finds men attractive? NO, of course not! Sexuality, in my opinion, is a very special and sacred part of human experience and can be found to range all over the place. I know plenty of “straight” people who find people of the same sex to be sexually attractive, and some act on that and some don’t. I guess the bottom line is, in my opinion, to assume that sexuality is any kind of a “choice” is shortsighted, at best.
And John G, like you, I also believe that we are of the Lord… I believe He made us and I don’t think He made any mistakes when he gave us sexuality that isn’t the same for everybody, nor do I believe He intended for us to ignore WHO WE ARE, despite what society deems “unnatural”. Yes, you can quote scripture to the contrary, but you can quote scripture to the contrary of most things (even scripture!).
Yes, the amendment aims to prevent government from doing something it’s not now doing anyway. But the result is not as benign as your words suggest. Many (I’m one) see the legal status quo as unjust, and the amendment as a block to addressing that injustice.
In any event, if the amendment would so little affect anybody’s liberty, happiness, or “state of being”, then why should we all bother with it? Or is that, perhaps, your larger point?
Look , David… no one wants to come right out and say it, But the fact that some people FEEL it is wrong to recognize same sex marriages, because then doing that gives those couples the same rights LEGALLY as op-sex marriages… and because some people FEEL that is a threat to their religious beliefs about the validity of same sex marriages… is no reason to deny same sex couples the legal rights that op- sex couples enjoy.
I’m saying that you cannot legalize what is a commitment that people make to each other, based on some peoples religious beliefs; that is just plain wrong.
Those who object to the legalizing of same sex marriages, based on their religious beliefs, will have to accept that they cannot control the basic rights of others who do not hold to that same belief system.
I must agree with virtually all of what Anne Sawyer said so well.
It is so offensive to tell people that their sexual self-identification is not acceptable and is offensive to some religiously held diagnosis.
Science controls fact… or what we accept as fact until further scientific research produces newer observable fact, provable by available repetitive testing, with the accepted technology of the time.
Current science, because of the Genome Project, tells us there is no such thing as our old concept of “race”, and indeed who has not been oppressed by that concept at some point and realizes how much better the world is without such labeling of human beings.. who… if we are indeed ALL “God’s children” should be equally so.
Current science also realizes that sexual determination is a continuum, as is expressed sexual behavior, and that here is another place where outdated labeling is not only hurtful, demeaning, but also just plain factually wrong.
We must get over the urge to label and value others according to our personal beliefs which may, or may not be based in religiously held values.
Are we to have a religiously based Civil War in this country of ours? Some of our recent politics would forecast an extreme version that might suggest that outcome.
I do not believe that anyone, even those who would impose their religious values on those of different belief systems, would actually want that. War, in the name of “God”, is something that went out of fashion in the Crusades.
I also agree with pretty much everything Anne had to say. It’s people like her and Paul that say many of the things I want to say, but much more eloquently.
I am opposed to the amendment on constitutional grounds. The right to marry whomever you want is already contained in the Bill of Rights, which provides for the right of free association. What the law seeks to do is limit the ability of the elected officials or the courts to change the law. That is not what the Constitution is supposed to do.
I agree that the current system is unjust. But, that isn’t because same-sex couples cannot get married; it is because opposite-sex couples enjoy an undefined favored status with the state. Allowing same-sex couples to marry doesn’t solve that problem – it just creates a larger favored status class without articulating why the State favors the relationship.
Anne- Thank you for your well thought and reasoned engagement. I have to work late the next three nights, so I may have to answer you in snippets. As far as my perceived threat to freedom of speach in the pulpit, I believe it is not without warrant. I don’t care what you folks may say, I have seen what is happening in Canada, since “preaching against homosexuality” has been outlawed as hate speech. I just do not trust the side you are defending to not try to have that definition enforced here in the U.S. Perhaps, with more reasoned discussion such as yours, I might be able to let down some of my walls, but the walls of suspicion are there right now.
As far as a person “choosing” a lifestyle, we all do that. What I want to offer in the Christianity I walk in is another way out of the condemnation and struggle. If a person does not want to go that direction, that is their choice. I certainly do not to force my convictions on anyone, nor do I even think that I could do that. There is a freedom in Christ that can be had, but it is up to the individual to choose that way. I feel there has been much bad press against Christianity in this respect. I just offer an invitation to anyone who would like to find out about it. I have my own experience from my youth, and I’ll post more on that later.
Anne- Another installment. I have shared this on this blog a couple years ago, but I don’t mind repeating it. Before I was born, my mother desparately wanted a girl. This was eons before the advent of ultrasound technology, so my mother purchased a larder of little girls clothes, supplies, ect. When I was born a boy, my mother dressed me in these clothes for over a year. All through my youth, I constantly heard about how she wanted a girl, but I was born instead. I struggled with this identity for much of my youth, yearning to be a girl rather than the boy I evidently was. I had a junior high teacher who was progressive enough to give me a sense of value in how I was made. I was not made a girl, I was made a boy, and that was not something to be ashamed of. How did he know I was a boy? Simply scientific observation.
I am going into some theology next, so be forewarned. When I became a Christian in my 20’s, all I had gone through began to make sense as I studied the Bible. You refer to an idea that sexuality is a continuum between two poles, one male, one female. According to scripture, God made “male” and “female.” I don’t think we have any idea how much was lost through the first disobedience to God (original sin). Not only did we lose or fellowhip with Him, I believe the whole creation was affected. What was originally intended to be a completion of the male through a relationship with the female to bring us into a more accurate example of the Godhead became perverted through the fall of man. This continuum you talk about is, I believe, evidence of this. It is no surprise to me that “science” discovered it. It has been there to observe since the fall.
The scripture asys that as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. I think we need to be careful how we apply this. Someone in one of the other threads said something about thinking yourself to be super-human, but at the end of the day, gravity still rules if you try to jump off a building. The same applies to how we are made. We men are not equiped to have babies, and the women are not equiped to impregnate another woman. I have read of men and women having surgery to change the physical characteristics of their bodies to become a member of the opposite sex. I think this is a tragedy and a great expense to endure just to get your body to align with how you “feel” inside. This is all based upon the observation that a person’s sexuality encompases their emotional side besides the physical. If the body can be changed in this way, then I ask, why can’t the emotions be changed? This is the offer in my Christian circles. Just as the physical changes are only cosmetic without hormone therapy for the indocrine system, so a change in a person’s behavior is only cosmetic without a change in a person’s heart. This is the offer of the Gospel, through the work of the Holy Spirit, that we become a new man in Christ Jesus.
I will add more later.
Anne- You made this comment, “…I know plenty of “straight” people who find people of the same sex to be sexually attractive, and some act on that and some don’t…” This is exactly what I am talking about, acting on temptations or not. This is what is at the base of our sin nature, as my circles understand the scriptures. We recognize that a person who is born again is endowed with a new nature. How well they are able to live this out this new nature depends on how well it is fed. The new nature is made to be strengthened by continued feeding on God’s word. Where we fall into failure is when we disbelieve what the scriptures say. The original temptation in the garden story in Genesis 3 is, “Indeed, has God said…?” Well, yes, God has indeed said some things about our condition. We need to learn those things and allow them to renew our minds (Rom.12:2). When we confess our sins, we are only agreeing with what God has already said about us. The promise from 1 John 1:8&9 is to be cleansed from this sin. This is not a one-time event, but a lifetime of sanctification. This promise is available to ALL who believe. Whole books have been written on this, so I’m not going to thoroughly exegete it here.
You also make this statement, “…I believe He made us and I don’t think He made any mistakes when he gave us sexuality that isn’t the same for everybody, nor do I believe He intended for us to ignore WHO WE ARE, despite what society deems ‘unnatural’…” I think you are refering to the continuum of sexuality when you say that he gave us sexuality that isn’t the same for everybody. I disagree with you on this point, in that I do not believe variances from the original plan are His creation. They are a result of the original fall. There is a scripture in Titus 2:11-13 that I think speaks into this. Nowhere is sin described as a part of this new nature.
You ended your discourse with this statement, “…but you can quote scripture to the contrary of most things (even scripture!).” This sounds like you are writing me off if I use what I hold as true to defend my positions. I hope you are not. I appreciate being able to discuss some ideas without being cast asside as “homophobe,” bigot,” etc. You and I can agree to disagree, which I think we probably do on some foundational issues, but I appreciate the way you are able to articulate your positions. Thank you for the discussion.
Kiffi- I wasn’t infering that you agreed with my position, only that you understood it. Understanding and agreeing are two different things. Seems the same arguments can be used for both sides.
You say above in 7.1.5:
First, while you have every right to your belief in such matters, it’s something else entirely to expect your religious belief, however sincerely held, to trump others’ beliefs in informing secular law.
Second, isn’t it a tad presumptuous to claim to know, let alone enforce, His “original plan”?
Here, BTW, are the verses (NIV translation) cited it in 7.1.5:
The general advice in verse 12 seems to me unimpeachable, and consistent with teachings of every religion I’ve heard of. But to infer from this any lesson against same-sex attraction is to assume something that’s properly at issue here: whether same sex attraction is indeed “ungodly”, “worldly”, etc., or part of “His original plan”.
Paul Z.- “Enforce His original plan?” Just because I lay this out as my personal belief, how does that make me an “enforcer?” As far as affecting secular law, there is such a strong fear in the secular world of the church not being separated from the state that I don’t believe I have a snowball’s chance in Sheoul of ever accomplishing that.
As far as the verses cited in Titus 2, this goes back to how a person applies about a half dozen verses in the scriptures refering to homosexuality. It is difficult in the Greek, since that language does not have a directly translatable term for homosexuality. My circles are not assuming anything here. We are choosing to interpret these scriptures to mean that homosexuality is part of the sin nature. We seek to be free from it, not to justify it.
Indeed, I can’t picture you as John the Enforcer, Sheol-bent on smiting the wicked. But doesn’t such legislation ask government to enforce a particular idea of “His original plan”?
Speaking of which, any thoughts on my other question: Are you sure you discern His plan correctly? Other discerners seem to disagree.
Great, another discussion of public law that has deteriorated into a freakin’ Bible Study.
Paul Z.- I’m not asking the legislature to do change anything. I’m just asking them to keep the legislation the way it has been for a couple hundred years. It is the gay marriage folks that want to change the law. As far as “His original plan” goes, what are you scientists going to do with gravity? Do you want to outlaw it because He might have set it in motion from the beginning? What do you say its source is? From what did it originate? Sorry, but the creation story in Genesis makes more sense to me from what I can observe in the world around me, but then mt eyes have probably been tainted with faith.
As far as my understanding of His plan from scripture, that is always something I am open to someone questioning. Some answers, though, will not be clear until that day I and you stand before Him. I am willing to trust my relationship with Him rather than hang onto someone else’s shirt tails. See 1 Cor. 13:12 and Phil. 3:12-16.
Phil- I’m so glad you are enjoying it. 😉
See thread 6.2 above. You are indeed asking for a change—you want to make it harder than it was before for “the gay marriage folks” to address an injustice.
Not sure where you’re going with this … is any legislation concerning gravity being considered? Or legislation on Genesis?
Perhaps they could join that legislation with something that rounds off Pi to 3? After all, 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679… is horribly inconvenient.
Paul Z- Affirming that “marriage” defines a relationship between a couple of opposite gender is not changing anything. As far as the gay community, having the same “privileges” as heterosexual couples, that can be attained without a redefinition of “marriage.” It could be called a civil union (I won’t even go down the path that some unions are uncivil no matter what the genders involved).
As far as the gravity analogy, I just use that to demonstrate something that was established in the original creation, and no one has sought to change it. I see both gravity and gender as set patterns of equal validity. You do not, and it is ok that we have two perspectives on that. Which one of us is “right” or “wrong” will not be clear until the day it is too late to change. I prefer to take my chances on my understanding of the scriptures. Scientific conclusions of observable phenomina are supposedly neutral. I say they are not, especially in certain areas of our basic make-up. There again, we each are basing our conclusions upon what we believe to be true. It makes for interesting discussions in this format, but, in the whole scheme of things, it probably has no eternal significance. How boring would life be if we all believed the same thing?
Phil- I hope no one tries to outlaw pi(e). I like just about any kind, but I really like blackberry!
If it were really true that
then the anti-gay-marriage folks would not be pushing for an amendment.
Concerning this …
Does this mean, as it seems, that you’d support state-sanctioned “civil unions”, legally identical to marriage but for the name? If so, is the purpose of the proposed amendment purely linguistic?
Thank you for your respectful and thoughtful response, too! I didn’t have internet access at my house all weekend so am just now reading your reply. I intend to respond at some point after I’ve done some actual work for my job (I’m at the office!), but for now I want to assure you that I am not writing you off for quoting scripture. I mean, heck, I’m a scientist, I appreciate citations! 🙂 I just meant that there is so much in scripture that is contradictory even to itself (e.g. “eye for an eye” vs. “turn the other cheek”), and a huge part of theology and Christianity is interpretation of the scripture (and the different versions/translations, e.g. King James vs. NIV), to determine what portions/verses are most important to any given faith/individual.
Could we just make this whole problem go away by simply retitling all “civil marriages” as “civil unions”?
Then every legally-joined couple could be treated equally under the law, and any organization (religious or otherwise) could decide for themselves how they want to define “marriage” within their own organization.
Personally, I don’t much care about the word. I care about equality under the law.
You raise two interesting points.
First, the push for the marriage amendment is an attempt to limit the government’s power to change the law, especially the highly questionable practice of judges declaring that gay couples can marry when the law clearly states that they cannot. Even if marriage laws are unconstitutional because of the equal protection arguments (a questionable, but plausible constitutional proposition), the only permissible constitutional remedy is to declare marriage laws unconstitutional.
What the judges have done is the exact thing that they are not permitted to do – write legislation.
To make matters worse, these judicial decisions leave the legislature (and the people) without any definition of marriage that would not be subject to an equal protection attack. (e.g. why not polygamy, familial relationships, sham marriages for immigration, federal aid, insurance coverage, etc.?)
Second, if you flip your last question around, the question could become, “What is the rationale for having a ‘marriage law’?”. If the desire is to create equality, or prevent injustice, the most simple, and fair way to achieve equality is to remove all marriage laws from the statutes.
It seems to me that we all recognize that there are certain relationships that society wants to promote, others that it wants to discourage, and some on which society is indifferent. If equality were the goal, injustice would be the result.
I think that it is important that we, as a society, try to figure out why we promote certain relationships and not others. Otherwise, we may soon end up with a law that is completely indifferent to marriage.
What do you think about abolishing civil marriage altogether? Wouldn’t that make everyone equal?
I like inheritance rights, visitation rights, shared property, and shared parenting. Civil marriage is a nice little package that goes a long way toward formalizing those legal relationships between two people who have committed to living a life together.
David & Patrick- The key to this conundrum is this statement “…legal relationships between two people who have committed to living a life together.” The legal documents provide for legal restitution when the commitment is broken. I don’t think the gender issue has any bearing on whether this will happen or not. Since Christianity places a moral obligation on keeping a commitment (covenant, if you will) I think Christians feel they have some say in the matter strictly from a moral standpoint. Otherwise, a civil union can provide for legal redress in a separation without the moral obligations placed upon “marriage” by the Church. In Russia, there are two functions to a marriage. One is before a magistrate of the state simply declaring the union before the state with its legal obligations. There is then a church ceremony, if the couple desires, declaring a moral commitment before God. Perhaps we are at the place in our society where we need to consider this arrangement. Whether this is a good thing or not is a point of debate.
Really? You think that the whole point of civil marriage is to provide a template for how to divide things up when people get separated?
I don’t know how you and your wife make your civil marriage work, but for Felicity and I, the point of our legally-formalized marriage is not to set guidelines for how to divide things up when a relationship fails. Rather, our legal union makes it feasible, and relatively painless, to get on with the ordinary financial and legal transactions that are a not-insignificant reality of life in a capitalist society.
The benefits of civil marriage, for me, include:
– The fact that both I and my wife are legal parents of our adopted child.
– The fact that I am able to get health insurance on my wife’s policy.
– The ability to swap money freely between the two of us, so that we can cover house payments, insurance, adoptions, groceries, etc., without having to report gifts to the state for tax purposes.
– The ability of either one of us to simply call up anyone from the phone company to the insurance company, to manage our accounts, without both of us having to get on the phone.
– The ability for me to pick up my wife’s car from Witt Brothers once it’s been fixed….
And the list would go on, and on, and on. Some of those may seem like trivial things, but, really, when taken in a whole, they aren’t. And that’s just in good times. In bad times, we may eventually need to fall back on the provisions for inheritance, for medical decision-making, for payment of life insurance, etc, etc, etc.
None of that defines our romantic relationship, or our commitment to spend our lives together, or our commitment to raise a family together. However, the legal relationship of marriage does make it a heck of a lot easier to be the family that we are.
Patrick and John,
Contrary to popular belief, civil marriage does not require spouses to be committed to living their life together, nor does it provide legal redress when the marriage contract is broken.
The concepts of loving and faithful commitments are religious concepts not legal requirements.
There’s nothing inherently religious about faithful, lifelong relationships with a mate.
Swans do it. Bald eagles do it. Even educated beavers do it.
Today’s civil marriage is a shadow of the religious ideal of a lifelong, committed, and faithful relationship. Unfortunately, all that is left is a temporary contract, which when broken often leaves the spouse (usually the woman) and children destitute and heart-broken.
The best thing about the “civil union” discussion is that it has restored some of the discussion about why the state would promote some relationships over others.
I think it’s a shame that you have such a despairing view of civil marriage.
Thus far in my extended family in my lifetime, every marriage – civil or religious – has been a lifelong union. And thus far, none of my close friends has been separated or divorced.
For those of us who wish to form such lifelong partnerships, civil marriage is an awfully convenient tool for getting along in the world, as I have described above.
Why do you think it’s a good to deny people like us the right to form such unions? Is it solely because so many people have failed at it in the past?
That makes about as much sense as denying the issuance of any business licenses, because so many businesses have failed in the past.
(That is to say, my close friends who I grew up with are all still (happily, I hope) married. Some of them for over 20 years, which is about as long as one can expect by 40 years of age.)
But even for those who join in marriages which don’t last forever, the institution seems to be quite useful.
Why do you wish to deny it to any couple who wants to make such a legal commitment?
I have been practicing divorce law for 22 years. The reality is that civil marriage doesn’t offer any protection for spouses who want to be married nor does it offer any protection for the children.
One idea that I have had is that the law could offer couples the opportunity to be married for life, rather than the “divorce on demand” marriages that we have under the law now.
I understand your job, which has clearly colored your opinion of marriage.
Nonetheless, the point of marriage is not to figure out how to divide things up when a marriage goes wrong. The point of marriage is to facilitate making a partnership between two people. Denying that contract to same sex couples, while allowing it for opposite sex couples, is discrimination.
The realities of broken marriages that I deal with are not opinions. The civil institution of marriage is in shambles.
I agree that the current marriage law is discriminatory, and that the current discrimination is without defined legal justification. But, allowing same-sex couples to marry does not end the discrimination, it compounds it. If we want to continue with the discrimination, with or without same-sex marriages, we should be clear about why the state is even involved in the marriage business.
There are a great number of marriages which are not in shambles. For those of us in such marriages, the institution provides a great number of legal conveniences which would be a royal pain in the heinie to reinvent through other mechanisms like forming “The Enders Family, LLC.”
Those legal conveniences should be available to same sex couples, as well as to mixed gender couples.
Why limit the “legal conveniences” to couples, or even limit the number of legal marriages at one time?
You and Jerry and I have already had that conversation. It’s on this site somewhere, and started about some other topic, but was eventually retitled something like “civil and religious views on marriage.”. A little googling should help you find it.
Unfortunately, these days I just don’t have time to rehash that all over again.
Patrick- First off, my wife of 43+ years and I have a very good relationship in which we both have equal standing before God and each other. We also recognize how each of us needs and are completed by the other. You make some very good points above. My basis of denying same sex couples the “right” to marry is religious. Judeo Christian teachings point to the same origin. The woman was created to give the man something that corresponded to him. If he had not needed that, then there would not have been a necessity for the woman to be created. Another man would have been sufficient for the relationship. The scripture does not say that the man was dissatisfied with just another man, so God gave in and created the woman. This definition only makes sense if you believe that the Torah and the Bible are God’s word. If you do not believe this, then there is no limit to the relationships you can justify. But, since so much contemporary culture denies that there is a God, and that He did establish some basic patterns, then there seems to be no reason to restrain any type of relationship. David L., is this what you are touching upon?
Take a look at Ezekiel 3:17-21. There is a responsibility for us who know the way of the Lord. If we do not speak it, then He will hold us accountable. My responsibility falls under the direction of this passage. The way our country is going right now, unless God moves sovereignly, we will probably end up legalizing gay marriage. (I don’t mean to be fatalistic or faithless, but I just know the bent of mankind.) If so, I don’t want to have to answer to God as to why I didn’t say anything.
Thank you for admitting that your basis for denying civil marriage to same sex couples is a religious one. That is why I have suggested that it might be best that we rebrand all “civil marriages” as “civil unions.”
Civil marriage is not a religious sacrament, it is merely a legal contract. It is quite unfortunate that the two are commonly conflated, by misfortune of having the same name.
If we were to rebrand all civil marriages (including the ones obtained by religiously-married couples) as “civil unions,” then we could have equal protection under the law for same sex couples, and you could still go on denying the Godly legitimacy of those relationships by denying such couples the right to be “married” under your particular church’s vision of What God Wants.
Or, we could leave the laws as they are until we figure out exactly what a “civil union” really is and why the government would want to promote civil unions. In the meantime, churches or other social organizations can develop their own concepts of marriage or civil unions free from government sanction or endorsement.
Patrick- I guess it is not so much “admitting” that my argument is religion based. I thought that was pretty evident. I just have never stated it in those specific terms. I was thinking the other day that outside of a religious argument, there is not a secular based argument for denying gay marriage, or at least that I can find. The interesting thing about marriage is that it has been around a few thousand years before our government. In just about every country in history, marriage is a relationship that has been recognized by the state but not necessarily established by the state. That our government has not gotten envolved in the thing in the past is truly a separation of church and state. Where you and I differ is saying gay marriage has a “Godly legitimacy.” For an atheist, or even an agnostic, to make this claim seems a little illogical, IMO. It flies in the face of good exegesis of ancient writings, no matter how contemporary theologians want to translate them.
At some point we have to deal with this god stuff and put it in its time and place. Looking back from 2200 (I’ll be 248) I see a time when God – be it Christian, Muslim, Buddhist – is curious, interesting, even nostalgic…yet most definitely of the past.. like the gods of Greece and Rome which in their time were absolutely believable: A Mythology.
John, you are talking of Zeus, Mars, leprechauns, Santa Claus, ghosts and ghoolies. Many of us outwardly believe in this (fascinating) superstition and the blather that follows from it. But I believe that most believe in the belief and far fewer believe.
Not wishing to offend of course and I sincerely apologize if I have…just trying to sort it out. An anti-theist looking forward to a post-theist culture, society, and political system.
Norman- No offense taken, but my God has nothing to do with “…Zeus, Mars, leprechauns, Santa Claus, ghosts and ghoolies…” These are superstitions of men. My God is personal and dwells within me by His Holy Spirit. There is no superstition, just supernatural. It is interesting that as the apostle Paul went through Athens in Acts 17:16-22, he found an altar to “The Unknown God,” which they erected out of fear of offending a God they were not aware of. Pantheism is such a bother. It’s an interesting read if you have not done so. All of man’s striving in the past to try to figure out God has resulted in the vast variety of “religions.” And all along, God has been revealing Himself to the aflicted and humble. He has not revealed Himself to men of great learning through their intellectual studies. I will stick with the relationship I have with my Heavenly Father. It has served me well for about 40 years. This is also available to you, if you want it.
Norman- I forgot to mention that this “god stuff” has been around before time and will still be there after time ceases to esist. Have you ever thought about the Name God told to Moses to tell Pharoah who sent him? It is “I AM.” God is always the God of right now.
Nietzsche has already provided us a vision of the post-theist world, and it is not pretty, although it is admittedly less grim than the Christian vision.
However, on the topic of same sex marriages, the attempt to extend marriages to couples of the same sex is clearly the extension of a religious concept beyond its traditional moral and legal bounds. In that sense, it is an “invasion” of the religious left into the secular world. I don’t hear many people objecting to religious leaders interjecting their religious beliefs into the secular conversation as long as the leaders are supportive of this extension. But, when religious leaders are not supportive, I hear all kinds of claims of intolerance, hate, blah, blah, blah being proclaimed.
David- Excellent rephraisal of something that has been said many times before.
So far as I can tell, marriage is a political thing, an economic thing, a social thing, and also sometimes a religious thing. They tend to get conflated, but… As I recall, the early Christians mostly didn’t view marriage as a religious thing, because it was the rich Romans who had enough property to bother with such formalities. You don’t see formalized religious “marriage ceremonies” until centuries later in Christianity.
I don’t think it’s true that extending our understanding of marriage is taking a *religious* concept beyond its traditional bounds. Our modern notion that, when a man and a woman marry, the woman continues to have a legal identity and can own property of her own is, indeed, a big change from what we all thought the word meant two hundred years ago, but so what? We learn all sorts of stuff.
I doubt religions will ever go away. I do imagine they’ll change a lot over time, and for the most part I regard this as a good thing. It’s either that or imagine that we got it all right the first time, and that seems silly.
Some thoughts on 13.1.2, now some distance above (I tried to post them earlier but they seemed to have vanished into the ether … hope that isn’t some type of signal. You wrote:
I agree with a lot of this. Yes, we’d do well to think more carefully what forms of relationship government should endorse or encourage, and why. And churches should stay free to define and “sanctify” whatever forms of extra-governmental marriage they want without asking government’s permission.
Where I disagree is with the suggestion that everyone just do nothing until such time—very remote, I’d bet—as we can all “figure out exactly” the hard questions you pose. Such a course would, if not literally perpetuate, substantially extend, an unjust situation as regards those who would like to enjoy legally sanctioned same-sex marriage. A remedy so delayed verges on a remedy denied.
Peter- Re. Christian marriage ceremonies, when Christianity first arose at Ephesus (it was originally a derrogatory term), the pattern these people knew was the Jewish tradition. This goes back to Genesis 2:24, even before the fall of man. This relationship was established at creation by God, not man. In fact, God has a few things to say about divorce. See Malachi 2:16 and Matt. 5:31-32 and 19:7-9. If people were divorcing, then they were evidently married. The ceremony is simply a public declaration of what the couple intend to do. It was originally set up so there would be witnesses of the commitment. I don’t think your reference to “Christin ceremonies” is completely accurate.
Sheesh! I sure didn’t have my punctuation correct in that post! Christianity actually began in Jerusalem. It was first known as “The Way.” The term “Christian” was first used at Ephesus, and it was considered derrogatory. Hope that clarifies it.
I agree. However, let’s not forget that the law is unjust to everyone who isn’t married. It is the unjust law that needs to be remedied, not the injustice for this one particular class of unmarried people. There are only two “equal” remedies with the current definition – let everyone be married or let no one be married.
On the other hand, there is nothing “unfair” about the government providing for different kinds of marital privileges depending upon the reason put forth by the government for promoting one type of relationship over another.
David… what legitimate reason would the government have for “promoting one type of relationship over another”, in marriage ?
I’m having a hard time immediately coming up with a parallel situation where the government would “promote” a specific personal relationship… excluding of course those which would involve some sort of acknowledged illegality…
Kiffi- You bring up a good point as far as “acknowledged illegality.” It is interesting how this varies throughout the world. Here is a link showing recognized age of consent throughout most of the world. The newest info is about 9 years old.
It is very interesting how many countries recognize 12-14 years of age for heterosexual relationships. It is also interesting how few countries have 18 years as the threshold. In the US, depending upon the state, same sex relationships are in limbo- they have neither legal nor illegal status. Many of the countries on the chart actually outlaw same sex relationships. Of those countries, I have not found a chart showing whether the illegality is religious based. I’m not drawing any conclusions from this chart. I just think the variety is interesting.
Here are some of the legitimate reasons, which I think would be constitutional, without regard to legality:
1. Whether the parties have children together. (Studies indicate that the marital relationship of the parents is one of the best predictors of childhood poverty.)
2. Whether the parties agree to make the relationship lifelong. (There is generally less likelihood of a need for government assistance if the parties are married.)
3. Whether the relationship is a couple or a multi-person relationship. (Multi-person relationships tend to be less stable.)
4. Whether the parties are biologically related.
5. Whether the parties are of opposite-sex and of child bearing age. (To give assurances to the less powerful spouse in the event of children.)
6. Whether the parties are of legal age.
7. Whether the parties have consented.
One of the issues that has been lost in this marriage debate is that marriage should be an institution which provides substantial benefits for children. Government has a legitimate interest in recognizing that unions between men and women are unique unions in that these unions produce children. Couples (including opposite couples)who enter into adoptive relationship also deserve special consideration because of the presence of children.
David… Your #’s 2 and 5 seem to be things that should especially be of no concern to government… and I must say that your whole list and stated rationale seem to be slanted toward marriage just as a reproductive event.
What about people who cannot have children, or seniors wishing to be committed to each other, on and on… should marriage not be available to those? And if there are NOT children involved , should government be less interested?
Your ‘government’ list sounds very Catholic to me; sorry don’t mean to be offensive… what about something more small”c” catholic, i.e.universal?
We have a civil, catholic definition of marriage; it is contained in the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. However, that definition is being challenged, in a significant number of states, through judicial, legislative, and populist methods.
The left’s approach to challenging the definition of marriage has been to focus upon the unfairness of allowing some couples to marry and not allowing others. The right’s approach has been to try to preserve the traditional definition for fear that “marriage” will soon be meaningless. Both sides are correct.
Neither side has made a serious effort to analyze human and governmental interests in marriage. My list was an attempt to provide some framework for discrimination in who gets marriage benefits.
David… IMO, the Defense of Marriage Act is neither civil, nor small c “catholic”… but of course, that is exactly the current debate. Obviously, throughout our history there have been many laws which were thought to be correct at a time in history, but are now recognized as not being legal, or just.
A legal definition of marriage is of course meaningless… given all the different versions of marriage in the broadest public arena … and given the value placed on the legal benefits of marriage there needs to be a way to serve all parties that believe they are ‘married’.
I think we agree on the difficulties of the government defining ‘marriage’ and I would actually agree that as much as I deplore the often exploitive nature of polygamy, there is a sound argument there for non-exploitive arrangements of that nature, also having equal treatment.
So, as I see it there are many reasons why the government should not get into what IS a ‘marriage’ ; so many that are considered “legal” fail anyway; it rather makes a pointless argument of trying to define the only acceptable model.
Perhaps we could also agree that the constitutional amendment is not about hate, intolerance, and the other adjectives that are thrown around to malign supporters. It is an honest attempt to maintain some definition to “marriage” before it becomes hopelessly muddled by judges and politicians.
While it may be unequal to deny same-sex couples the opportunity to enjoy the state-sanctioned contract of marriage, it is imprudent to open up the institution of civil marriage without having a solid definition.
David… TOTALLY agree that a solid, conclusive, and inclusive definition is needed.
Do you have that definition? Does anyone? The one that we have now has good form; it just doesn’t have any substance.
The amendment is indeed “about” marriage law; in this sense it’s not “about” hate, love, intolerance, tolerance, grammatical correctness, political correctness, or any other possible motives that might drive its supporters. And it’s unproductive (and a standard logical fallacy) to debate a proposition based on disputants’ motives.
So much said, it’s quite reasonable for opponents and the open-minded to ask proponents why they support (and, by extension, why others should support) the proposed amendment. If the reasons offered strike the questioner as unpersuasive — or as founded on some unacceptable or parochial motive or principle — then it’s reasonable to say so.
Fair enough, but (as I thought we agreed above) coming up with and institutionalizing “solid definitions” is a long-term proposition. What do you propose we do in the meantime?
It is also quite reasonable for the proponents and the open-minded to ask why someone would not support the proposed constitutional amendment. All the amendment does is codify the current law.
A significant reason to codify the current law into a constitutional provision is that the judicial branch has been making new law regarding marriage, and has been imposing significant costs upon the states (i.e. taxpayers) without the consent of the people or the legislatures. The constitutional amendment would ensure that we maintain the status quo until we (the people) decide what we want to do.
While I agree that the current law is unequal and unfair, we need to keep in mind that the law is only unfair because it doesn’t treat everyone equally, not because it denies same-sex couples something that they have a right to receive (the bogus “civil rights” argument).
It seems to me that the burden should be on the opponents of the amendment to explain why the government should grant them the same privileges that have been traditionally reserved for opposite-sexed (or more accurately, opposite-gendered) couples. That burden carries with it the unfortunate task of explaining why polygamists or other non-traditional relationships should be excluded from the benefits of civil marriage.
I am of the opinion that if same-sex marriage proponents were pushed to explain their rationale for excluding others from marriage while same-sex couples are included, they would be forced to admit their arguments for exclusion of others has the exact same form as the arguments being made by the constitutional amendment proponents.
Thus, in the short term, I would propose that nothing be done. The constitutional amendment will probably fail. If it does pass, it will be declared unconstitutional, and as soon as the Democrats return to power, they will soon pass a law making same-sex marriage the law.
David: re : 16.1.8 well frankly, it is approaching ‘late’, and I am not up to spending the necessary amount of time to provide you with a perfect definition; I will leave that challenge up to my good neighbor, Paul Zorn…
Just remember, David… all those adages about ‘form following function’, and ‘faith without works’… etc etc.
Maybe something like: ” Government shall make no law which precludes the legal rights or shared benefits of any two persons who declare, before witnesses, their commitment to a shared life…”
We don’t need a perfect definition. All we really need for this discussion is a definition that would justify opening up the civil marriage to same-sex couples – while still excluding other personal relationships that “we” don’t want.
David L. et al.,
Too many digits in the thread above …
In 16.1.10 you say:
Sure, it’s reasonable for anybody to ask anybody why they support or oppose any opinion. I brought up reasonable-ness in response to your suggestion that amendment opponents wrongly attribute “hate” and “intolerance” to supporters.
As a non-lawyer myself I’m surprised to see a lawyer downplay the legal significance of a constitutional amendment, especially one that would make it much harder to change laws that you yourself describe as “unequal and unfair”.
There’s nothing “bogus” about some citizens wanting benefits (some of which cost public money) that other citizens now receive. If you see the benefit itself (civil marriage in this case) as bogus then why not argue for its general repeal rather than to “codify” the differential treatment of a favored group?
Not so. Amending the constitution is a big deal; those who support such a step properly bear the burden of argument.
I hope that amendment proponents will heed your counsel that “in the short term … nothing be done”. But it’s a lot to ask opponents to wait … and wait … for fairer treatment.
David: Who is “we”?
“We” are the people who want to broaden the definition of marriage, but still want to exclude people from marriage.
In this case, I don’t think amending the constitution is a big deal. It’s only real function is to remove power from government officials.
I am of the opinion that proponents have met their burden of showing that something needs to be done to limit the power. Government officials have shown a tendency to try to remedy the current inequity by creating a broader inequity when the will of the people in every state where the issue has come up has indicated that the people are not in favor of providing government benefits to same-sex couples.
There is little doubt in my mind that we will soon have same-sex couple marriages or unions in every state in the nation (except possibly Utah). When that happens, I have no doubt that same-sex couples will make the same arguments for excluding other relationships that are now being made against them.
Precisely why the DOMA must be repealed and a new federal law, or better yet NO law (defining what is marriage between two people who have stated their commitment. and lived in a committed situation) must be declared.
Let’s face it; with divorce rates what they are, ‘married’ couples are using the right to make this decision continually. Doesn’t the fluidity of that situation make a mockery of any requirement to define commitment in one way?
This basic right cannot be left to the whim of states to decide. It either is, or is not. the right of any two people to decide who they wish to share their life with.
It must be decided on a Federal basis, therefor providing equality all over the country.
For those who would enjoy a little humor on the marriage subject, the Bizarro cartoon in the Pioneer Press today is quite good. Here is a link for it-
Be sure to click on the August 27, 2011 date.
The “basic right” is the right of free association (First Amendment) not the “civil right” to have the government sanction the relationship. There is a huge difference.
The argument that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry because they are in a loving, committed relationship is a religious argument that, for good reason, has not been adopted by any court. Rather, when courts have ruled “for” gay marriage, they have ruled that gay couples are being denied equal protection under the law.
It would be a tragedy if the law no longer recognized the institution of marriage, and all of the societal benefits that come from marriage. But, that is the direction the law is heading, and I see nothing to stop civil marriage’s demise.
If the federal law is changed so that same-sex couples can marry, lawyers, like myself, will soon be setting up all kinds of personal contracts to take advantage of government benefits. For example, if the law changes on the federal level, the first thing every college student should consider is whether it makes financial sense to marry so that they can be considered independent of their parents, and thus eligible for federal grants. While opposite-sexed couples can do so now under the federal law, the societal customs and taboos are simply too great.
Making my point for me , David… yes, the free association right is the most basic.
And judging one couple’s free association rights to be more legally legitimate than those of another, is discriminatory.
Kiffi- I don’t see how the current marriage laws prohibit ANYONE from free association with anyone else. We are talking abut a label, not regulation of interpersonal relationships.
It seems to me that “… amending the constitution … to remove power from government officials” is a big deal, both in the practical sense of making change more difficult and in the philosophical sense that “removing power from government officials” is not always or self-evidently a good thing to do. The (considerable) burden of proof should be on those who want to prevent “government officials” from carrying out what they see as they’re governmental offices.
How do you square this —
with this —
<blockquote … we will soon have same-sex couple marriages or unions in every state in the nation (except possibly Utah).
Will “government officials” simply force these changes? And do you expect them to be for the better or for the worse?
It’s too early to know how same-sex marriage advocates will feel about governmental recognition of other relationships. FWIW, I’d guess that same-sex couples will feel pretty much like anyone else about, say, animal-human marriage or multiple spouses. Would you expect them to feel differently?
Ordinarily changing the Constitution is a big deal. However, this amendment does not change any existing law, so it has little practical effect. What the amendment would do is prevent government officials from acting without the will of the people.
I would agree that the proposed amendment is a big deal in constitutional terms, especially as presented. Clearly, the people have the ability to restrict the reach and control of government. But, I am not sure that it can be done using this method. On the other hand, how can the people control government officials who see it as their duty change laws that do not reflect the will of the people?
Nevertheless, the tide of public opinion is changing rapidly. Soon the will of the people will be that same-sex marriages are no different than opposite-sex marriages, and therefore “deserve” the same special privileges under the law that married people “deserve”.
I doubt that we will ever take the time to pause and ask ourselves what it is about marriage that “deserves” government benefits and protections. If we did we would realize that the reason religions have traditionally assigned a special place for opposite-sex unions is that they merit a special place, and that other unions are not their equal, even when they approximate or mirror opposite-sex unions.
This strikes me as circular reasoning: opposite sex unions are special because they’re … special. Isn’t the live question what makes opposite-sex unions special?
True, same-sex and opposite-sex unions are not identical, just as (say) men and women are not identical. The hard questions, in both cases, concern how and (if ever) why differences between one thing and another should be built into the law.
Historically, opposite-sexed unions were special because marriage provided the best environment for women and children. The modern version of marriage and family leaves children and less powerful mates (usually low income women) to fend for themselves. Adultery, while still a crime, is rarely prosecuted. And, no-fault divorce has removed any stability for women and children.
The post-modern version of marriage leaves children completely out of its definition. It is the formation of a personal corporation where its participants are bound only in contract, and for their personal convenience.
The live question for me is not what makes opposite sex unions special. The live question is whether it it possible for the law to create a class or multiple classes for marriage that recognize different relationships and their differences.
Given the present tone of the argument, I think the answer is, “No. It is not possible.”
Given the general disarray of ‘traditional’ marriage given relevant statistics, i see no benefit to having a governmentally decreed definition which sanctifies one union over another, but only a legal definition of who has shared benefits, rights of visitation, etc.
Why is it not each person’s right to determine that for theirself?
Anyone should be able to share their ‘benefits’ with whoever they please; for goodness’ sake, people leave their money to their pets… why not to their domestic partner? that’s none of the insurance companies or courts, business.
And who is allowed to visit a person in intensive care is certainly no business of anyone’s except the ill person.
The legal positions which benefit a male /female marriage are, IMO, based on a lot of outdated prejudice and presumed sanctity of that arrangement.
One could make a convincing argument that the only people who think “traditional” marriage is in disarray are those who think it is in disarray.
Granted, the legal institution of marriage is in disarray. But, that may be the result of government eroding the “traditional” definition so that fidelity, monogamy, commitment, and a special focus upon children are no longer part of the civil definition. If same-sex marriages are permitted, the only pillar of traditional marriage remaining in the civil sphere will be the “couples only” requirement.
But, if you view traditional marriage from a human perspective, there can be little doubt that the relationship between a man and a woman dedicated to raising children has no equal amongst human relationships. It is not an outdated prejudice nor a presumed sanctity. It is a real human condition. That is not to the discredit of other relationships, including committed same-sex relationships. The trick is not to make all relationships equal, but how to make them fair under the law.
Could you please provide evidence supporting your assertion that
Is this self-evident to you? Personally, I see no reason to think that a man and a woman would be inherently better at raising children, when compared to a similar pairing between two women, or between two men.
Indeed, IIRC, there are studies which show no measurable difference in child-rearing outcomes between parents of the various gender combinations.
A quick link to research on parenting outcomes can be found here:
Paul Z. & Anne S.- A couple weeks ago, you both assked me to document evidence where Gay Rights advocates were acting to stifle expression of opposite opinions. There is an interesting column in the Strib today by Thomas Vinciguerra. The link is below:
This seems like a childish way to go about protesting. When I read it, the only goal I could see in this method is to stifle anyone who expresses opposition to Gay Rights. I point your attention to this quote in the next to the last paragraph:
“Anyone who is deemed insufficiently supportive of the LGBT agenda, Republican or Democrat, is fair game.”
So, if a person doesn’t have a reasonably supported argument to support their position in a debate, then they can resort to throwing glitter on someone?
I asked you earlier (7.1.1) to document evidence for this assertion:
I’ve hated glitter ever since a traumatic incident in 1987 involving a Halloween princess crown and a microwave oven (don’t ask …) so would be seriously annoyed to be its target. But this is a far cry from forcing anything to be “preached from every pulpit”.
Certainly, John, you cannot possibly equate the effect of throwing glitter on someone with the act of a sniper shooting , let’s say, shooting an abortion provider, or even telling them that they’re going to Hell… the glitter thing is just an embarrassment and a nuisance to deal with.
My point, of course, that the glitter throwing is far less of an aggressive attack.
Why is it so impossible to see that those who favor gay rights are not actually hurting anyone else (ones who do NOT favor gay rights) by trying to prevent them by living their lives as they see fit; but those who oppose gay rights seem to feel that the very existence of those gay rights proponents is a threat to the ‘Christian’ existence.
Do you prefer this: “There can be little doubt that fathers and mothers have a special duty to raise their children.”? And this: “There can be little doubt that children receive the most benefits from their parents when their parents cooperate together in a loving, stable, committed relationship to each other.”?
On quite another marriage-related subject …
Here is a recent piece from the Economist about declining marriage rates among women in Asia. This is a bad thing for many reasons, says the Economist. Here’s my favorite (their words, not mine …): “Marriage socialises men: it is associated with lower levels of testosterone and less criminal behaviour. Less marriage might mean more crime.”
Two take-away messages: (i) Thanks, ladies, for keeping us married guys out of the clink; (ii) Marriage really does benefit individuals, children, families, and societies; same-sex marriage spreads those benefits even further around.
Yes, I would agree with those. However, your new statments do not assert any special significance to opposite-sex couples, so they don’t seem to support your overall assertion.
How about this: “Therefore, on behalf of children, government should encourage and provide support to parents to raise their children in marriage.”?
I’d love the government to offer more support to parents raising children. (Assuming, of course, that there is evidence that the support being offered will have measurable positive benefits.)
I’d also love for the government to make marriage available to any couple – same-gendered, or opposite-gendered.
As for whether or not people “should” get married, I’d prefer to leave that decision to the individuals involved.
What I would love to see is parents raising their children in a committed relationship that has the support of the government. In other words, I would like to see us start focusing upon marriage as it relates to children.
All of this focus upon marriage as being an institution for two consenting adults completely neglects the children.
That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t provide any rationale for the desire to amend the constitution to prevent parents of the same gender from joining in such a partnership.
The amendment to the Constitution is designed to prevent legislators and judges from changing the law to include same-sex marriages in the definition. Nothing prevents legislators from making changes to the law so that the definition of marriage encompasses children.
If the goal is to help people in parenting children… why the preoccupation with excluding same sex couples from civil marriage?
The two issues really don’t seem to have any direct, clear relationship.
And, conversely, the preoccupation with including same sex couples in the definition of marriage does not seem to have a clear, direct relationship to helping raise children. When the single greatest predictor of childhood poverty is whether the father lives with the child, shouldn’t we be focusing more on the children, and how to strengthen the biological bonds that keep children out of poverty?
The point of extending marriage to same sex couples is: 1) same sex couples want to get married, and 2) there is no compelling reason to deny them this privilege.
Your idea creating some kind of new legal pairing system might (or might not) be interesting in its own right, but it seems irrelevant to the question of whether or not same sex couples should be prohibited from marrying.
Same-sex couples aren’t prohibited from “marrying”; they may do so in their own faith tradition. Rather, they don’t receive legal recognition under Minnesota or federal law. The philosophical and legal question is who should be recognized by the law, and why they should receive that recognition.
Same sex couples are not allowed access to the legal contract of civil marriage in the state of Minnesota, while otherwise-comparable mixed-sex couples are allowedto freely enter such contracts, and receive all the benefits that come with that recognized association. This is discrimination, and no compelling interest has been shown for this exclusion. Do you know of a compelling legal reason for doing so?
Under the current law, I can see no compelling reason for not allowing brothers to marry sisters, or men to marry multiple women, or men to marry men, or women to marry women.
That may or may not be true, but at this point, I’m not aware of anyone who is proposing such marriages – except you. Anyway, you and Jerry have already discussed such things in the ‘Civil and Religious Views on Marriage” discussion on this site. I’d suggest reviewing that discussion, if you are really interested in such proposals.
In the meantime, there are quite a few upstanding citizens requesting that they be allowed access to civil marriage contracts, and the privileges that go with that contract.
Why do you think they are fundamentally different from same sex couples – and why do you think that we have a compelling interest in denying them the privileges of marriage?
As I mentioned above,
A longer, but still partial list of state marriage benefits within the United States also includes:
What is it about same sex couples that makes you want to deny them the legal recognition of their relationship, and in turn also deny them these basic privileges that facilitate a life together?
Your question doesn’t address the core issue. The core issue is not whether same-sexed couples should have the benefits of marriage. The core question is, “How do we define marriage in the future so that the definition can be uniformly applied?”.
Do you have any suggestions? What would be your basis?
A simple starting point would be: Civil marriage (or if you prefer, civil union) is a contract between two competent, consenting adults, which confers certain privileges, and certain responsibilities.
Exclusions from eligibility for such a contract would be in situations in which it could be shown that the state has a compelling interest to discourage such pairings. (For examples of relationships which might be deemed generally to be discouraged, see the previous discussion.)
In what situations would the state have a compelling interest in not allowing marriage? And, what compelling reason requires the state to limit marriage to two people?
In 18.1.8 (now far above and hard to find … ) you say:
The “core question” you cite is good and important. But let’s not forget that what’s at stake in the proposed amendment—our original point of discussion, if I remember right—has everything to do with “whether same-sexed couples should have the benefits of marriage.” If the amendment passes and survives legal scrutiny (as you say it won’t, but should we bet the farm?) it will become harder for these couples to secure rights now unfairly denied them.
As for your “core question”, perhaps a starting (not ending) point would be to look at laws elsewhere that address comparable situations. For instance, here is information about Denmark’s “registered partnership” law, which apparently pays no attention to the participants’ gender(s). One practical implication of the Danish law is that adoption of children is available only to people in registered partnerships.
Do you have any suggestions? What would be your basis?
If the amendment passes, it is possible, but unlikely that the focus will shift to the “core question” presented above. If I thought that discussion would happen, I could hold my nose and vote for the amendment despite my legal and political misgivings.
Legally, I think the Danish approach makes a lot of sense. It gets the law away from the quasi-religious concept of a loving, committed relationship as being the foundation for marriage. Instead it establishes objective measures that the law can recognize.
If the law took this approach, I think it would be easy to recognize why marriage has played such a central role in our society.
David, I’d point you towards Jerry’s various comments, on this page:
These are not compelling arguments for exclusion.
Kiffi- You are certainly correct about equating glitter-throwing with sniper attacks on abortion providers. Of course, I did not claim either, nor have I condoned or tried to justify sniper attacks on abortion providers. Somehow, this appears to be a straw man.
Also, I have not tried “… to prevent them by (sic) living their lives as they see fit…” They are certainly living their lives as they see fit. What they want to claim is equality of definition in their relationships, not equality of rights. As I have quoted Charles Colson in my previous arguments, “…They (the Gay community) do not want my permission. They can do what they please. What they want is my blessing, and they will never recieve that.” I don’t care what certain religious appologists say, I will not call evil good, or good evil. I stand on Biblical interpretation that is a few thousand years old, not some recent idea. I base that on 2 Tim. 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,…” This is pretty discriptive of the way certain Biblical passages are being “revised” in support of the Gay lifestyle.
You’re certainly entitled to your interpretation of sacred texts, and to your view of what constitutes good and evil in the religious sense. (Other Christian religionists would offer differing interpretations, but that’s fine.)
The live question in this discussion, though, is whether “the Gay lifestyle” (whatever you may mean by that) should be suppressed or opposed governmentally.
It’s all very well to describe religious doctrine, and to congratulate yourself for adhering to it. But to be persuasive on legal/governmental matters one should adduce arguments that go beyond religious orthodoxy. Why, for instance, should an atheist oppose “the Gay lifestyle”?
Paul Z.- Sorry, but I don’t agree with your evaluation of the issue about Gay marriage. There has been some discussion on this thread about “…whether “…the Gay lifestyle” (whatever you may mean by that) should be suppressed or opposed governmentally.” But I believe that is a distraction from the main issue. That issue is whether same sex unions should be called “marriage.” That is what the Gay community is clammoring for. The issue of government authorized “rights” (or priveleges, if you may) can be settled without calling Gay unions marriage. Their quest is for gay unions to have the approval of society as a whole to be called “marriage.” This is what flies in the face of many Christians.
Way back when (12.1.1. and 13.1.1), I asked,
If your issue is simply with gay “marriage,” then this should solve the problem, yes?
I, too, would like to know your (and others’) answer to Patrick’s question in 20.2.4. As Patrick says, the question has been raised several times above, and here’s one more (from 11.2):
Paul and Patrick- Yes. What I hear over and over is the difference in the “legal priveleges” afforded heterosexual “marriages.” If the desire in the Gay community is just to have these, then call it a “civil union.” I have suggested this in discussions before, and the argument I hear back is that they want to be considered “married.” This would be a real good issue to sort out their true motivations. My motivation is religious. According to the Bible I follow, these unions are not to be considered “marriage.”
As I understand it, the goal of same sex couples to be civilly married is a goal that they do not remain relegated to a second-class, supposedly “separate but equal” status in civil unions.
That’s why I propose granting civil unions to same sex partners – and also retitling all civil marriages as civil unions. It has the triple advantages of 1) granting same sex unions the same rights as opposite sex ones, 2) avoiding the potential for “second class citizen” status, and all the risks that that entails, and 3) making our language accurately reflect the marked, real distinction between civil unions/marriages and the religious ceremonies/sacraments of marriage.
Because really, as I see it, the core opposition to legal rights for same sex couples seems to be the very proprietary relationship which many religious people hold toward the word “marriage.” And in the end, it’s just a word.
Patrick- That is where you and I differ, and where the Gay community is at odds with those who adhere to a more literal interpretation of the Bible regarding homosexuality. When it comes down to it, I don’t believe God really cares a whit about individual rights. What He cares about is we believers conforming to His image of holiness. My understanding of scripture is that holiness is opposite of sinfulness, and homosexuality falls under sin. So, I will oppose those who believe that homosexuality is part of the new nature we receive in Christ. What they do with there relationships is beside the point.
What does that have to do with granting civil contracts between same sex partners?
Patrick- You still do not get my point. You say in 20.2.7 that the difference between my position and yours is just a term. It is not. You, and from what I read in GLBT based writings, the Gay community want me to say that same sex marriage is the same as heterosexual marriage, and that this is the only way for the two to have “equal rights.” It is not. Civil unions can be set up to give equal “rights” under the law without it being a societal stamp of approvasl on same sex marriages. That either side “looks down” on the other superiorly will continue, because that is the core issue here, not equal rights. You don’t want my permission, you want my praise.
I do not seek your praise. I also don’t have much interest in how you feel about same sex couples. I just want them to receive equal treatment under the law.
Patrick- They can have the same legal rights without calling their relationship the same as heterosexuals.
It has been proven, legally, by the highest courts, that separate is NOT equal.
Kiffi- Does that mean that the only way to resolve this issue is for those who believe as I do to be forced by law to say that same sex marriage is the same as opposite sex marriage?
Of course not. No law “forces” you to “say” (or think) anything. Churches are now and will always be free to define and celebrate “marriage” (or reasonable facsimiles thereof) in any ways they want, or to decline to do so.
How, if at all, the law should be involved in all this is a better question. If Adam and Eve get hitched at the Church of XY, should government somehow recognize or reward their union? What if Adam and Steve center-aisle it at the Church of XX? If the former but not the latter, what *public* purpose is served?
Legalizing same-sex marriage would not imply (let alone force anyone to say …) that same- and opposite-sex marriages are “the same”. Similarly, First Amendment protections for religious practice don’t imply that, say, Christianity and Hinduism are “the same”. What matters in both cases is that whatever differences may exist between one thing and another are not relevant to government’s interest in these matters. Freedom to practice religion, says the Amendment, is a Good Thing irrespective of which religion is practiced. Freedom to marry, say I, is a Good Thing irrespective of who does it.
As for “marriage” vs “civil union” vs “civil marriage” vs “registered partnership” vs … : I don’t care a lot about this, but understand that others, on both sides of the issue, differ. Churches, of course, should be free to use any language they want, but, FWIW, I think government should use the same moniker for everybody.
Oops, typo. At the risk of sledgehammering an already fragile attempt at humor:
Paul Z.- I have no problem with your reasoning, but how does that align with the legal ruling that separate is not equal?
“Separate but equal” has a pretty bad track record in the U.S.. For over 50 years, it was systematically used to effectively deny the “separate” people the basic rights to which they were supposedly entitled.
Patrick- Are you saying that the reasoning in 20.2.15 will not work?
I’m saying that I don’t care what term is used for civil marriage/unions/whatever, but I agree with Paul when he said
Patrick- So, is this what I have to do?
Blasted blockquote process! I can’t get that to workk for me. This is my question to you, patrick-
“…Does that mean that the only way to resolve this issue is for those who believe as I do to be forced by law to say that same sex marriage is the same as opposite sex marriage?”
No. You are, as always, allowed to say/think whatever you want about same-sex couples, atheists, or whomever.
However, the government would not be allowed to discriminate against couples based on their gender.
There are lots of things that are legal, but which many of us disapprove. For example, I disapprove of smoking. And despitethe fact that tobacco is legal, I am still allowed to express my disapproval of it.
Similarly, Griff seems to disapprove of prayer gatherings in school parking lots. Despite the fact that such gatherings are apparently legal, he is still free to complain about them.
Patrick- I’m sorry that I am just dense, but it seems I am hearing two different things. One is your quote from Paul Z.’s post, “…I think government should use the same moniker for everybody.” Then you say this, “…No. You are, as always, allowed to say/think whatever you want about same-sex couples, atheists, or whomever.
However, the government would not be allowed to discriminate against couples based on their gender.”
Right now, the government cannot discriminate based on gender, and neither can just about anyone else in the private sector. Included are employers, landlords, insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, and the like. The only institutions allowed to “discriminate” along gender attraction lines right now are churches in their requirements for marriage. They cannot legally discriminate along these lines even in terms of church employment. What is left? Just church definitions of marriage. I don’t trust this direction you are proposing will allow the freedoms you proclaim.
Private groups are in fact allowed to discriminate, under some circumstances.
The Girl Scouts are allowed to exclude boys. The Boy Scouts are allowed to exclude homosexuals. Christian Churches are allowed to exclude Jews.
See, among other rulings, Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale:
“Christian Churches are allowed to exclude Jews.”
Well, except for one… 😉
Interestingly, if you start to type in “was j”… into Google, the first 3 suggestions are:
was jesus black
was jesus a jew
was james dean gay
So I guess in the popular mind, Jesus’s Jewishness is not necessarily a given. That almost makes sense; Christ is not a particularly common Jewish surname. 🙂
Dang!! How about a little warning next time! That last line almost made me shoot iced tea out my nose… ;-P LOL
Jesus is the name; Christ is a title meaning the Anointed One.
Patrick – The first response I got was “was jesse venture a navy seal”, then those three in order, and finally, “was jesus real” So, apparently his existence is not even a given. Jesus, that is… not Jesse Ventura.
A smiley face is a symbol meaning A Joke.
See the first thing I got was “was jesus married”, then Patrick’s three, then “was jesus real”. I’m somewhat amused that people still care about James Dean, and I’m still not convinced that Jesse Ventura was real…
Griff- I tried posting a comment with some web kinks in it that I think got caught in your spam filter. Could you release it, please?
Yep, “web KINKS” will do it every time. Try “LINKS.” Sheeesh!
Griff- Welcome back from the North Shore. Glad you enjoyed Split Rock. Have you had a chance to check your spam filter for my comment I tried to post on this thread last Wednesday night? I don’t think I can reconstruct it. Thanks.
There is an interesting Counterpoint in today’s Strib by James Livingston. Here is the link.
The Catholic Church is still sponsoring “a prochastity ministry for men and women with same-sex attraction”? How quaint.
James Livingston says, in this opinion piece: “History is not and never will be on the side of gay marriage”.
If that is so, why is there a predominance of 20-40 year olds who do not even consider this to be an issue, because they are so accepting of the concept of ‘gay’ marriage?
Many , many young people simply can’t conceive of why any person’s choice of a committed relationship partner would be of any interest to a person outside the specific persons involved.
I think a generation from now, this will no longer be an issue of the magnitude it is today.
What is “quaint” about supporting men and women who choose to be chaste? Shouldn’t men and women have the option of chastity if they so choose?
I read the piece you link to when it appeared in the Strib. I found it poorly reasoned. For instance, the author says:
This is not really argument at all; the author simply asserts that “universal moral law” supports his view. He’s not accurate, either: nobody proposes that traditional marriage should be “scolded or legislated away.”
I’m underwhelmed. “History” is full of both good and bad ideas, the former often painfully replacing the latter after long, long struggles. Think Galileo. Think Darwin.
As for history “never” being on one side or the other, how could the author know? Who does he think he is?
Paul- I’m sure Livingsdton’s intent was not to whelm you either over or under. He is simply demonstrating a different viewpoint. As far a your reference to Galeleo and Darwin, Galeleo’s theories have been easily demonstrated. Darwin? I thought evolution was still a theory? According to Richard Dawkins, it has somehow attained facthood. Sorry, but the emporer has no clothes. There is no fossil evidence of trans-species evolution. In fact, there was keratin found in fossilized lizard skin from the Green River Formation,supposedly 40-70 million years old, whose DNA matches that of live lizards today. Two things stand out here. 1) Protien molecules were preserved this long? Oh, really? Most skin I have ever seen die has rotted away within a few months. For it to remain at all, it would have to have been protected from aerobic bacteria almost immediately. 2) There is no difference in the DNA’s. Seems like evolution would have left some evidence of change after 40-70 million years. If you want to believe the conclusions of Dawkins and the like, then go ahead. I think they are twisting the interpretation of observable evidence to fit their forgone conclusions.
Tell you what, you name me one culture in history that embraced homosexuality as a norm and remained a viable world power. Do you think maybe your attitude is condescending?
Patrick- Quaint, huh? So, are we to believe that we humans must be driven by every instinctual appetite within us like animals? Even a dog can be taught self-control. Do you think maybe people could learn this trait?
I thought that the power of Livingston’s article was his experience. He notes that some gays are seeking chastity as an alternative to sexual active lives. He also notes that some same-sex sexual activity is not the result of deep-seated attractions. We can, and perhaps should, discuss the implications of this empirical data.
Perhaps his theory is flawed. But, don’t you agree that we should be supportive of gays who don’t want to live sexual active lives, or individuals who may be confused about their sexual orientation?
Is Livingston right to suggest that a person can support traditional marriage and still be supportive of the gay community?
Livingston may not have been out to -whelm either way, but the whole point of an editorial is to persuade. I was un-persuaded.
This is probably not the thread for a substantive discussion of evolution. (Yes, it’s a theory; so is the theory of gravitation.) If we get to (or return to) that sometime, see here for one of many pointers to the wealth of “transitional fossil” evidence that’s out there.
My point about Galileo and about Darwin, in any event, was that they illustrate the long-term (and continuing) battle between good and bad ideas in history, as opposed to Livingston’s apparent view that historical persistence of a view makes it true.
I’m not sure what you’re getting at as regards homosexuality and “world power”. Seems to me that “world power”-hood comes and goes for reasons much more complicated than attitudes toward gays and straights.
Sure, I think we should affirm gays’ (and straights’) rights to make various choices—including but not restricted to chastity—about their sexual lives. And I think we’re all entitled to plenty of confusion about life matters — sex, religion, vocation, area of professional interest, life vs. work issues … — and we all deserve each others’ support and forbearance as we try to sort things out.
Of course. Does anyone not support traditional marriage?
Can a person who wants to restrict the benefits of traditional marriage to straights fairly be described as “supportive of the gay community”? Since I’m in neither camp, and “supportive” is relative, I really can’t say.
I think Livingston’s point was to educate people about a segment of the “gay community” that receives very little attention. As he notes, you can be supportive of traditional marriage and supportive of gays and gay rights. It isn’t an either/or proposition.
Paul & Patrick- Back to the discussion about whether to redefine marriage to encompass Gays, what is the reason for lumping them all together? Why can’t there be a homosexual marriage definition and a heterosexual marriage definition? It is not necessary for government operation to have only one definition. There are already various definitions of corporations with regulations governing each. There are various kinds of non-profit organizations. I don’t see any practical purpose to have them all lumped together. It seems the only purpose is one of coercing those opposed to the measure to have to view homosexual relationships the same as heterosexual by legal caveate.
I think Livingston was talking about “supporting” traditional marriage in the sense of believing that a union of a man and a woman holds a special or sacred place in society. In that sense, I think there are many people who do not “support” traditional marriage.
Interestingly, Livingston points us to same-sex individuals who are “supportive” of traditional marriage, and yet seek to fulfill themselves in their relationships without throwing history and biology aside in what often appears to be a one-dimensional quest to have a governmental pronouncement of equality.
I recently read a book that I think is really interesting, thoughtfully written, very readable, and relevant to this discussion and thought I’d put it out there as recommended reading. It’s titled “Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage”. Written by Stephanie Coontz. My thought is that it’s difficult to think very usefully about the constitutional amendment issue–no matter which way you are inclined to think about it–without first learning more about the history of marriage itself.
Yes, if one takes “supporting traditional marriage” to mean believing that a union of a man and a woman holds a special or sacred place in society” [my italics], then I think you’re right that many people would disagree.
The issue would turn, I’m guessing, on how people understand the italicized words. “Special” is … uh … especially problematic. It could be understood as “good, useful, valuable to society, …” (in which case I’d agree). Or—as the constitutional amenders would have it—“special” could mean “deserves unique legal treatment” (in which case I’d disagree).
What “sacred” means would probably also be at issue — and probably not least within churches. But IMO this should be less of an issue legally and politically, since laws are not there to reward (or punish) sacred-ness.
I haven’t read the book. Is granting gay-marriage rights repeating history or making history?
1. You worry that the
Not so. Laws don’t “coerce” anyone to “view” anything one way or the other. Die Gedanken sind frei, as Pete Seeger sang. By the same token, the existing marriage law, which discriminates in ways I find unacceptable, doesn’t force me to think anything.
2. David L’s our (pro bono) legal counselor, but FWIW it seems to me that there are good practical reasons for the law not to distinguish between one thing and another unless the two things differ in ways that are legally important. Whether this is so or not is precisely the point at issue.
Paul Z.- You are not a spokesman for the Gay community, so I will not hold you to your opinion, which you are free to have. I see it as only an opinion with no bearing on what the future entails. Sorry, but I just don’t believe your scenario. I have this quote from post #4
which seems to be the opening statement of about every pro-Gay marriage debate I have read. This attack on my opposition for religious reasons does not seem to foster open debate, but seems more a tactic to shame me into acceptance or silence. David L. best described it in his post 14.3
If the gay community wants to silence my opposition, then say so. I have openly stated that my opposition is religious based.
Whether opposite sex unions should have special legal treatment is a different question from whether the constitutional amendment is the correct form of providing that treatment, and it is a different question from whether the law currently discriminates in a fair way.
In my opinion, the law currently does not discriminate in a fair way, and the constitutional amendment is the wrong way to discriminate. But, it would not be unfair (or wrong) for the law to recognize the uniqueness (sacredness or specialness) of the man/woman relationship, if it is done in the right way. Child/father is a unique legal relationship; child/mother is a unique legal relationship; child/father/mother could also be a special kind of legal relationship.
Paul Z.- You challenged me earlier to provide any links about Gay activists trying to silence churches who preach that homosexuality is a sin. Here are links to a couple articles reporting what is being done by some GLBT activists. Please note, I said some, not all. This just happened in August of this year.
This is a link to the original on-line petition which precipitated Howard Schultz’s cancellation at the conference
You and others keep telling me that I have nothing to worry about how a law equating same sex marriages with opp sex mariages could affect me. With this type of coersion going on without a law, do you really think I would believe you that it will somehow fade when a law is added to the arsenal? Sorry. Your assurances just don’t boost my confidence that it will not happen.
It seems to me that the gay marriage issue is about what kinds of sex acts are, or should be, acceptable to the state. No one seems opposed to civil unions in which legal rights are extended to GLBT partnerships. Many conservatives and evangelicals will embrace members of the GLBT community as long as they remain celibate. No one doubts that a man can love a man, and a woman can love a woman. All and all, the religious opponents of gay marriage, seem to be mainly in the ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ camp. The sin being certain kinds of sex.
But state sanctioned marriage is not denied to heterosexual folks who engage in the same sex acts. Marriage is not denied to the ‘one woman and one man’ who engage in the very same sex acts that are at root of opposition to gay marriage. But homosexuals can’t get married because they engage in those same acts. That is unfair
William- There is an interesting contribution by David Brooks in the St. Paul PP today that I think sheds some light on part of our dilemma. Here is the link:
I think that your analysis fairly summarizes the proponents’ claimed understanding of what they perceive to be the opposition to gay marriage. But, it is far from a complete analysis of the opposition’s arguments. Further, a critical analysis of both the opponents’ and the proponents’ arguments yields a conclusion that the best governmental approach is far from clear.
Most proponents’ arguments fall into the category of, “they should be allowed to marry because they are in a loving and committed relationship”. When examined in detail, that argument is really a modified version of the opponents’ religious argument. The only point that is different is that the proponents’ argument holds that sexual preference is an irrelevant religious consideration.
It seems to me that neither the proponents nor the opponents have seriously attempted to differentiate the religious act of marrying from the legal act of marrying.
Devid. I thought the whole civil union concept was an attempt to differentiate the religious act from the legal act. Personally, I think that religious sects should be free to define marriage pretty much as they wish, for reasons similar to why I support the three-downs rules of Canadian football over the four-downs rules of American football (which is to say, it seems to be an arbitrary definition). If a group wants to claim that their religious writings tell them to do marriage a particular way, who am I, or acting for me, the Courts, to tell them otherwise? That said, I certainly don’t want to see the Constitution weighing in on this issue.
As for the legal concept of civil unions, well, I don’t see why the state should favor couples of any stripe over single people (why should we tolerate a system that gives extra protection to couples, over singles or n-tuples?).
Your last observation is the part that I find most fascinating in this discussion.
Those in favor of the constitutional amendment want to limit marriage/civil unions to only man and woman. Those against the amendment are not arguing that opposite sex couples shouldn’t have special protection; they are arguing that this special protection should be extended to other couples.
What is not clear from either sides’ arguments is: (in your words),
I can think of a number of significant reasons why the government should favor couples, and should favor particular kinds of couples over others. But, I don’t see any of those reasons articulated in the law.
The articles you reference in 29.1.2 question the tactics some gay rights advocates have employed. I’m know nothing about the events in question, but don’t doubt or deny that advocates of any position on any matter often act or speak in ways that are objectionable, and sometimes counterproductive to their own causes. No law or amendment will change that for the better or for the worse.
But recall that our earlier discussion on the matter was prompted by your view that
and my reply that
I asked that you (my emphasis)
The links you cite don’t address the key question: Would gay marriage laws somehow legally enforce the situation you properly want to avoid: that anything would have to be “preached from every pulpit”?
I think the answer is clear: no.
Paul Z.- You keep telling me this-
Can you provide me with some documentation, either from the Gay community or the propose same sex marriage legislation, that specifically delineates this? This issue has been brought to the Gay community for a number of years, and I have not found anyone who has made this promise. What I see in print is this-
It is not that I don’t trust you, personally, but I would like to see your promises substatiated.
Thanks for not mistrusting me personally, but I’m really not asking you to trust any personal “promises” or assurances. By no means would (or could) I promise you anything about the content or vitriol-level of what anyone might say for or against gay marriage. Indeed, I expect this level to rise even higher on both sides as the proposed amendment is debated.
What I keep trying to say (here’s another try) is this: Legalization of gay marriage, if it occurs, will not carry with it any legal requirement to preach anything “from every pulpit”. Nor, for that matter, will the proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment, if it passes, require left-wing ministers to preach anything from their pulpits. Trying to legislate any such thing would (right, David L?) be judicial suicide.
If this is unclear
Paul Z.- I guess you have more faith in the legal system than I have. My lack of faith is based primarily on two things. 1) The general depravity of man under which we are all born. 2) The refusal to acknowledge that that depravity can overtake any of us if we are not alert. All I have to look at is the spin twisted into so much political rhetoric. This is made by both sides of the aisle, and we have elected these people to represent us. Another example is all the legal manuvering of Bob & Amy Senser’s lawyer in the investigation of the tragic death of a young man on the 94 entrance ramp. Very few people have the character to stand up and say ,”I was wrong,” until it is too late. We hopefully have closed the loopholes that would permit facist policies like Hitler’s from getting a foothold in US laws, but time will tell.
The best evidence that the eventual legalization of gay marriage will not compel your minister to say nice things about gays from the pulpit is this: There are already an awful lot of laws on the books, and none of them compel ministers to take (or speak) a particular position on anything. If your minister were to get up to the pulpit and talk about how much he hated some group or another, or what he thought their fate might be in the afterlife, the government simply wouldn’t care one way, or the other.
The only exceptions to this guarantee of free speech are the same ones for your minister as for everyone else. Those few restrictions are: “obscenity, defamation, incitement to riot, and fighting words.” (“Fighting words” was news to me.) Indeed, even incitement to violence is somewhat protected:
John, you can worry speculatively about some future depraved fascist police state which might come into being, and which might subsequently compel your minister to say one thing or another about same sex marriage. However, in the constitutional American democracy in which we actually live today, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that supports this as a reasonable possibility.
Patrick- While you have your Google law book up, what about “hate speech?”
What about hate speech?
…Quoting from my previous source:
Patrick- Take a look at this discussion on NPR-
Also, take a look at this article-
It deals mainly with economic policies, but it belies an underlying philosophy in European government which the current administration wants to adopt in the US. This paragraph specifically addresses that.
It is this type of direction our government seems to be pursuing that has me concerned.
The articles you cite do not support your assertion that:
I know that ‘Obama wants to turn the United States into a European-style state’ is a popular talking point on the right, but that doesn’t mean that it has any basis in reality. The WSJ opinion piece that you cite, however, simply assumes that talking point is true, and proceeds to make some remarkably speculative speculations on what Obama really wants to do, and why he wants to do it. None of it seems to be substantiated by any actual, you know, facts.
By contrast, the NPR piece (not suprisingly) does give a nod to reality. It mentions that there are a lot of countries with anti-hate-speech laws. It also notes:
1) The US has the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech, and prevents the institution of anti-hate-speech laws in the US.
2) The administration is not making any efforts to repeal the First Amendment, and you have not presented any evidence that the President or anyone else in his administration or Congress is trying to circumvent or bypass these protections – or even that they have any desire or interest in trying to do so.
3) You have presented no plausible path by which these constitutional protections will be changed in the forseeable future.
Therefore, your minister can continue to say pretty much anything he wants to say about gay people and same sex marriage – even once we have achieved the legal recognition of same sex civil marriages.
Patrick- I’m holding you to that promise.
Do remember, though, that even if free speech is guaranteed under the First Amendment, it does not mean that the content of that speech is protected from criticism by others.
The price of free speech is that others are equally free to speak up and criticize (or even denounce) whatever one chooses to say.
Patrock- Free speech does not protect us from criticism of our content. That is what goes on on this blog every day. What I am talking about is the physical removal of persons for speaking their mind, which does happen in many other countrues. This is something that our constitution has protected us from so far. My hope is that that protection will continue.
Shees- Why they put that “i” and “o” next to one another is beyond me. Sorry Patr”i”ck.
Yesterday’s Strib: Some Republicans take strong stand against gay marriage ban
Facebook page: Republicans Against the Minnesota Marriage Amendment
Facebook page: Log Cabin Republicans of Minnesota
Republicans Against the Minnesota Marriage Amendment: 212 ‘likes.’
Log Cabin Republicans of Minnesota: 55 ‘likes.’
Sounds like they have some recruiting work to do.
Patrick- This is just my opinion, but I think this article demonstrates how difficult it is to give a political face to what many people view as a moral issue. It is not surprising, to me at least, that there are pro-GLBT and pro-choice Republicans, just as there are pro-traditional marriage and pro-life Democrats.
I would like to think that Republicans are coming around on this issue. Unfortunately, Republican legislators voted for the proposed gay-marriage-banning amendment by a combined 105 to 4.
By comparison, Democratic legislators opposed it 85 to 3.
Patrick- I would like to think that Republicans are holding the line, and the Democrats might be coming around. But, then, that is just indicative of from where we each are coming.
All data I’ve seen suggest that essentially *nobody* is “coming around” to the view of opposing gay marriage.
On the contrary, this Pew Foundation study shows support for gay marriage increasing among virtually all groups polled. See especially the table entitled Religion and Views of Gay Marriage (scroll down to find it), which shows support rising among many, many groups, including “White Evangelicals”. The only group in which support is said to have diminished even slightly is “Atheist/Agnostic” … go figure!
Granted, increasing support of an idea doesn’t guarantee the idea is right. But it suggests that the political tide has already turned.
Paul, How do you account for the vote in CA ?
Which California vote do you mean?
In any case, the fact that support for gay marriage appears to be increasing pretty much across the board doesn’t imply much either way about a particular election. The Pew study suggests that support for gay marriage is increasing — not necessarily that such support is in the majority.
The shift in public opinion toward supporting recignition of same sex marriage has been steady over many years, and if anything it seems to be accelerating:
I account for the vote in CA by the influence of the 22-23 MILLION $$ spent by the Mormon church to influence the CA vote; a number they have rather proudly admitted is correct.
I’m not going to bother to go back to look for the stories to link to, but you will find them if you look…
Kiffi- When Maine voted on the Gay Marriage amendment, the pro GLBT side had a financial advantage of over $5 million, but they lost. It would be interesting to see what Colorado financier Tim Gill has contributed to GLBT issues in other states.
Rats- First, I lose a whole post with my links that I cannot seem to duplicate. Now, I lost my point in the last post. It appears that money contributed to these ideology issues may not have that much effect on the outcome.
Paul Z.- Re your Pew Foundation Study, if this is accurate, then it is unfortunate for our country, IMO. Just because God has not struck down the promoters of same sex attraction does not mean He has changed His mind about it. We will reap what we sow.
Griff- I think I have a couple posts caught in your spam filter.
Alas, I see nothing in the spam bucket from your email or IP address, John. But you do have 3 new comments added after 11 pm last night.
In 35.2.6 you say:
A bit over the top, perhaps, but I’m fine with that. Still, a couple of questions:
First, how literally do you mean the part about striking down? Should some of us duck inside if it thunders later today? More generally, does God really intervene in things like this?
Second, do you see “promoters of same-sex attraction“? or “promoters of same-sex marriage” as the main culprits here? Or are they the same thing?
Cool, Old Testament-variety smiting!! Is that going to be on pay-per-view? ;-P
More likely on Fox News.
How will we know when (or if) God has smitten anyone down? After all, everyone dies eventually. More importantly, if God does strike someone down, how are we supposed to know _why_ he smote them down?
Looking back on the disaster of Hurricane Katrina (as an example), I find that Christian experts are split as to the particular cause of God’s Wrath: Is it The Gays? The abortions? The inadequate support for Israel?*
Paul, et al- Fortunately for all of us, God is still in His dispensation of mercy. This verse from Malachi gives us that promise-
There is a judgement coming at the end of this age, but we have some time right now to accept God’s provision in Jesus Christ.
I see no difference between same sex attraction and same sex marriage. The first is used to support the need for the second.
Kiffi, blaming the “Mormons” mirrors other socialist scapegoating when the population cannot be bent to a particular ideology. Mormons had very little or nothing to do with the current and customary laws regarding marriage. The known fact in CA, by all sides, is that the African American population turned out in record numbers for Obama and voted overwhelmingly to “not” change the definition of marriage. $20 million in CA does even buy a top end condo much less defeat a ballet initiative all by itself.
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