Yes to Equality, Yes to Marriage: No on Proposition 8

I woke up this weekend to the extremely welcome news that the State of Connecticut has legalized gay marriage, joining Massachusetts and California as the only three U.S. states with full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Although seven other states have civil unions or domestic partnership laws, as did Connecticut before this ruling, the state supreme court held that this was not enough.

I used to believe that civil unions were an acceptable compromise, but I don’t believe that anymore. The Connecticut ruling cited the same argument that persuaded me: drawing a legal distinction between civil unions and marriage is the same reasoning as the “separate but equal” argument that was once used to justify racial segregation. The concept of marriage has existed for millennia, but the concept of civil unions has not. By barring gay couples from the former, the state is advancing an unsubtle claim that they are somehow different, not worthy of the same recognition as straight couples. This is the same attitude and reasoning that perpetuates discrimination in the first place. With its enlightened ruling, the Connecticut Supreme Court has recognized the obvious truth that the partnerships of gay couples are no different from the partnerships of straight couples, and deserve nothing less when it comes to legal rights. Way to go, Connecticut!

The religious right must be aware that the tide is turning against them on this issue. Polls have found increasing tolerance and support for gay marriage, which ensures that rulings like these are just the leading edge of many more to come. It’s very plausible that America will have full marriage equality, at least in law, within a generation. Anti-gay bigots may be able to slow the tide of change, but they cannot stop it.

That said, one such effort is underway in California. Bigots of the religious right have successfully placed a measure, Proposition 8, on the ballot this fall. If it passes, this measure would overturn that state’s supreme court decision and make gay marriage illegal – an astonishing blast of raw hatred that would tear apart the thousands of marriages already obtained by gay couples in the state. For the sake of marriage equality, and for the rights of all Americans, not just gay Americans, to direct their lives free from religious tyranny, this measure must be defeated.

Although most polls have found that Californians are opposed to Prop 8 by a slim majority, recent polling has detected a worrying uptick in support. Much of this can be blamed on the Mormon church, whose members are pouring millions of dollars into the state to outlaw gay marriage. If their efforts help pass Prop 8, it wouldn’t be the first time the Mormons have successfully impeded moral progress. From Under the Banner of Heaven:

Over the years, the Mormon leadership has made numerous pronouncements about the “dangers” of the feminist movement and has excommunicated several outspoken feminists. But perhaps the greatest rift between Mormon general authorities and advocates for women’s rights occurred when the LDS Church actively and very effectively mobilized Mormons to vote as a bloc against ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment… Most political analysts believe that had the LDS Church not taken such an aggressive position against the ERA, it would have been easily ratified by the required thirty-eight states, and would now be part of the U.S. Constitution. (p.25)

Of course, more traditional Christians have joined the Mormons in their campaign of hate. A suitable example can be found at the Evangelical Outpost, which cites a video by the right-wing Family Research Council encouraging its members to vote for Proposition 8. The video purports to be documentation of the grave harm done in Massachusetts by the legalization of gay marriage. I was curious, since I’ve heard many religious right polemics against gay marriage, but never an explanation of what bad effects they fear would result if it were to be legalized.

The video features a Christian couple in Massachusetts who were upset that their elementary-school-age son was taught about gays and gay marriage. I watched the whole thing, waiting for them to explain how this would lead to greater harm, but there was no follow-up. In their eyes, that was the harm: that their son was merely made aware of the existence of gay couples. Evidently, they want to preserve their right to keep their children ignorant of ways of life other than their own. How dare the public schools teach our kids tolerance, was their message, when we want to teach them to fear and hate! Were there people who raised the same complaint after interracial marriage was legalized, that teaching about the existence of such a thing interferes with their parental right to teach their children racism?

Bigots like the Mormon leadership and the Family Research Council hide their hatred behind a smiling mask or dress it up with hollow slogans about “family values”. But disguise it however they will, they cannot conceal its fundamental ugliness. What they want is not the freedom to lead their own lives as they see fit, but the power to reach into the lives of others to oppress, tyrannize, and enforce their own narrow and archaic views.

Gay and lesbian couples are human beings and deserve the same rights as anyone else: the right to live in peace, to raise families, to pledge their devotion and spend their lives with the people they love. They deserve those rights, and it is up to us to protect them. If we win the vote in California – if marriage equality is affirmed not just by the courts, but by popular acclaim – this will be a crushing blow to the anti-gay bigots and will delegitimize their cause as no other development could. This November, much is at stake. Will you join in the fight to liberate human freedom from the prejudices of the past?

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Cerus

    Maybe instead of getting rid of proposition 8, we can just add heterosexual marriage to it as well?

    I’ve never liked the concept of a formal contract for what should be a relationship built on trust, the various technical benefits associated with marriage could just as easily be handled some other way, or done away with altogether.

  • Brad

    I understand that my comment is only going to touch on an orthogonal point, but I would highly appreciate it if someone could briefly respond or give me a link.

    The sophisticated conservative view against practiced homosexuality is that the relatively high incidence of substance abuse, psychiatric problems / pathology, domestic abuse, short life span, and promiscuity in gays, coupled with research indicating these negative facets do not differ with tolerant versus intolerant cultures, is proof that choosing to engage in the gay “lifestyle” always negatively feeds into a deep-seated mental issue. I had this stated to me once:

    … The absurdity of such an idea shows that homosexuality has a much more psychologically impactful aspect compared to other minority demarcations. I think this is because sexuality touches upon hard-wired psychological forces connected with reproducing the human race, … (Link)

    I have not personally seen legitimate science backing up anything in what I just wrote above, but neither have I found any major science going the other way, either. I have, of course, come across “statements” and “positions” made by organizations such as the APA, but I have been hard-pressed to find a major listing of hard research. So I’d like to echo what Matt R wrote in the comments of On the Morality of: Gay Marriage:

    I am interested in a frank exchange of ideas on the facts about homosexuality, specifically whether it actually does cause problems for homosexuals. I recognize this is peripheral to whether it should be legalized or not because there are many things which are demonstrably harmful to people which are nonetheless legal. I am just curious about getting some facts which do not have a slant either way. Any sources would be helpful.

    I am aware of comprehensive and professional sites like Talk.Origins and Internet Infidels that write about creationism, evolution, religion and atheism. Are there any such similarly expansive sites touching upon the topic of homosexuality that someone could recommend me?

  • Alex

    A boy in my class is son of a gay couple and they are better parents than the mayority of heterosexual couples. I just can`t stand people that judge others based on an ambiguous passage of a book.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    A boy in my class is son of a gay couple and they are better parents than the mayority of heterosexual couples.

    I wouldn’t be surprised. After all, unlike heterosexual couples, gay couples can’t have children by accident. This makes it all but certain that the only gay couples who will have children are the ones who want them and are prepared to care for them.

    Brad: Far be it from me to answer a tangent with a tangent. But I’m going to anyway.

    I don’t know offhand of studies like the ones you suggest, but I’m sure they’re out there, and I’ll see if I can find them (or perhaps some reader more prepared than I can chime in). However, there’s one thing I can say at the outset: I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there are studies which find that gay people suffer from higher rates of substance abuse, depression and other problems than the population as a whole.

    After all, gay people, to a degree unparalleled by any other group, are still targeted for abuse, discrimination and hatred by bigots, including not just coworkers or acquaintances, but often even their own families. Outside the relatively tolerant and liberal areas of the country, openly gay people still routinely suffer prejudice and violence; the alternative is trying to keep in the closet and hide their sexuality, but that a course of action is bound to cause problems of its own. And that’s not even to mention the self-loathing that many gay people will testify to experiencing, due to having been indoctrinated in youth with poisonous, judgmental fundamentalism. All the discrimination that gays are subjected to is bound to have an effect, and that can’t easily be untangled from the intrinsic psychological effects (if any) of actually being gay. Any statistical survey of the well-being of gay people would be bound to suffer from these confounding factors, and the anti-gay bigots who gleefully cite such findings are, in effect, using the harm done by their own prejudice to justify continued prejudice.

  • Alex Weaver

    Payday’s not until Friday.

    After that I’ll be contributing.

    And voting against 8.

  • Virginia

    Regarding the video, the Religious Right are simply sugar coat their hatred and bigotry with smile

    Brad’s comment is to sugar coat his hatred and bigotry with psuedo-intellectual claims such as “relatively high incidence of substance abuse, psychiatric problems / pathology, domestic abuse, short life span, and promiscuity in gays…” and other preidcaments.

    Brad somewhat hide an important fact behind those “sophisticated conservative view” — that is hatred, bigotry, causing homosexuals to feel immensely ashamed of themselves, deprive them of basic emotion needs (love, compassion etc.) because of their sexuality are the cause of all those predicaments — and the source of those causes ? Of course the conservative right!

    I would really want Brad and his like to be honest about all the causes of those predicaments, and not use the miseries of their victims as justifications for the conservative right’s further bigotry.

  • Alex Weaver

    While I think Brad can speak for himself, Virginia, I took his comment as describing the sales pitch that had been directed at him, rather than describing his personal position.

  • Brad

    Virginia, please avoid overreacting with friendly fire! In my defense:

    I am a liberal atheist, I support gay marriage in full, two of my best friends are gay, I do not believe they have psychological problems, and I only posed “the sophisticated conservative view …” so that someone could help me come to terms against such a view. Regarding my prejudice and bias, perhaps you should see the comments I myself posed against the person I quoted in my comment. Likewise, I’ve commented here on Daylight Atheism from a consistently liberal, atheistic viewpoint: I am definitely not from the religious right. I think I have demonstrated considerable effort in understanding what it’s like to be gay in our society and I have nothing but sincere concern in these matters.

  • Alex Weaver

    In other words, you don’t buy the argument you quoted, but you’re looking for something tangible to refute those who do?

  • John

    A homosexual lifestyle is abnormal by definition. Personally, I can accept homosexuals as people who have something wrong in their genetic make-up. Yes, the way some homo males talk makes me believe that they could be born that way. But to allow them to officially marry and adopt kids – NO WAY!!!! Homosexual behaviour is disgusting to most straights. The images conjured-up in my mind are revulting. The local forest preserves have a lot of cars parked with homo males in them. If the car is backed in, the guy is looking for oral, if the car is parked the other way, he is looking for anal. Nice place to bring your kids. And you want to make marriage OK among this group? I offer you this: if religion was totally behind this homosexual marriage thing, then you atheists would probably be against it – you hate religion that much. Oh wait, we haven’t even touched on beastiality, another disgusting behaviour. Will we have beastiality pride marches someday?

  • Alex Weaver

    Homosexual behaviour is disgusting to most straights.

    That’s funny, because gay relationships certainly don’t disgust me or most of the people I know.

    The local forest preserves have a lot of cars parked with homo males in them. If the car is backed in, the guy is looking for oral, if the car is parked the other way, he is looking for anal.

    Not to imply anything, but for someone allegedly so disgusted with homosexuality in general and homosexual males in particular, you seem to be quite intimately familiar with the more promiscuous elements of gay male subculture….

    Nice place to bring your kids.

    In light of the above, I’m not touching this line.

    Oh wait, we haven’t even touched on beastiality, another disgusting behaviour. Will we have beastiality pride marches someday?

    Are you telling me that the only reason you can think of to prohibit sex between humans and animals is that, like “teh buttsecks,” you find it “icky?”

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    And you want to make marriage OK among this group?

    Since you’re so offended by gay people seeking casual sex, why are you opposed to the idea of giving homosexuals an incentive to monogamy? Don’t you think monogamy is a good thing?

    The images conjured-up in my mind are revulting.

    I think John has inadvertently summed up the real reason why religious bigots want to oppress and discriminate against gays.

  • John

    “That’s funny, because gay relationships certainly don’t disgust me or most of the people I know.”

    Of course not, for atheists morals are relative. Hey, what the heck, if evolution is at work, then homosexuals will eventually be weeded out. I mean, how can they genetically mutate to advantage if they cannot even mate. Now that I think about it, since we have had millions of years of evolution, why are they still here? Now that’s a point to ponder.

  • Justin

    John has brought up the slippery slope argument. If we allow gay marriage, what about bestiality? The difference is mutual consent. There is a difference between allowing two adult (sane) individuals to have a relationship considered equal, and having adult and child (who doesn’t really know what is going on) or an adult and animal (who wouldn’t have a clue) relationships considered equal. Polygamy, in case you’re wondering, has often led to abuse of women (and often coerced “consent”) and that is sufficient reason to ban it.

    We are not in favor of legal gay marriage because (some) religion is opposed to it. We have a sense of morality; our actions are not defined merely by their opposition to organized religion.

  • Alex Weaver

    Of course not, for atheists morals are relative.

    1. I notice that you didn’t respond to the rest of my post. Any particular reason?

    2. What you are describing is manifestly a visceral, not a moral, reaction. What exactly is immoral about two people in love happening to be of the same sex? Details, plzthx.

  • Alex Weaver

    We are not in favor of legal gay marriage because (some) religion is opposed to it. We have a sense of morality; our actions are not defined merely by their opposition to organized religion.

    If he’s actually confused about this point, then he’s so delusional no effort to reach him is likely to help. However, my experience and sense of pattern recognition suggest that, like most venom-spewing right-wing ideologues, he is more likely to be presently engaged neither in “picking a fight” nor in “masturbating in public” but a curious combination of the two.

  • Brad

    In other words, you don’t buy the argument you quoted, but you’re looking for something tangible to refute those who do?

    Yes, basically, although it’s not that I want to refute so much as I want to know what the actual science says on such matters and what we can reasonably infer from the data, so as to understand for myself.

    Now, I normally don’t do this, but I’m going to do a complete “fisking” of John’s comment.

    A homosexual lifestyle is abnormal by definition.

    Being red-haired or liking anime are also abnormal. This has zero weight towards any conclusion at all.

    Personally, I can accept homosexuals as people who have something wrong in their genetic make-up.

    Abnormal genotypes, or even “dysfunctional” perhaps, but not “wrong.” Plus, I am personally unsure of the nature vs. nurture debate of homosexuality, but I am certain it is not “chosen.”

    But to allow them to officially marry and adopt kids – NO WAY!!!! Homosexual behaviour is disgusting to most straights. The images conjured-up in my mind are revulting.

    Nothing here more than prejudice, bigotry, discrimination and inequality, hatred and homophobia. Why do you claim most straights find homosexual acts disgusting? I certainly don’t, and I am heterosexual. Just because you say something is disgusting and revulting does not (1) make it true or (2) mean other people have to abide by the implications of your thoughts. Just imagine if I thought Africans looked like feces and I was highly discomforted by their sight, and so I thought they had no right to raise kids! What would you say to me in their defense?

    The local forest preserves have a lot of cars parked with homo males in them. If the car is backed in, the guy is looking for oral, if the car is parked the other way, he is looking for anal. Nice place to bring your kids. And you want to make marriage OK among this group?

    Black and white are not the only shades! There are wife-beaters and abusers that are heterosexuals running rampant in society – so should we allow heterosexuals the right to marry?

    Do you really think those people at the park you mention are the ones that are going to wed and raise children? I’ll quote Ebonmuse from “On the Morality …”:

    Homosexual men and women are reported to be inordinately promiscuous involving serial sex partners, even within what are loosely-termed “committed relationships.”

    To which I simply reply, as I did in my previous article: Do you think the fact that homosexuals are legally prohibited from seeking a recognized monogamous relationship might have something to do with that?

    Moving on …

    I offer you this: if religion was totally behind this homosexual marriage thing, then you atheists would probably be against it – you hate religion that much.

    So basically you’re saying we atheists reflexively go against anything that religion says. It’s kind of hard to do that when believers themselves disagree on evolution and creationism, gay rights, abortion and birth control, et cetera. Your smears of mindless antitheistic hate are rendered invisible upon us. I’m not sure what possible purpose your fabricated dirt could serve here.

    Oh wait, we haven’t even touched on bestiality, another disgusting behaviuor. Will we have bestiality pride marches someday?

    Probably not, seeing as how bestiality is more of a joke than the disposition of a significant number of people. I personally do find the idea of bestiality disgusting, but I see no intrinsic issue with it just because of my subjective perspective. Furthermore, homosexuals are not animals, so the point is empty.

  • Alex Weaver

    Now, I normally don’t do this, but I’m going to do a complete “fisking” of John’s comment.

    Given his apparent familiarity with the promiscuous elements of gay male subculture and his habit of using the wrong letters in the middle of words, this should probably be rephrased. It’s cruel to get his hopes up like that.

    And, that’s the last bit of troll-baiting from me tonight. I swear affirm. O-:)

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Will you join in the fight to liberate human freedom from the prejudices of the past?

    I’ve seen so many inspiring calls with regard to Prop. 8 that I wish I wasn’t legally prohibited from contributing, myself.

    I offer you this: if religion was totally behind this homosexual marriage thing, then you atheists would probably be against it – you hate religion that much.

    Never.

    Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what would truly be good for the human race. Sometimes things aren’t as good as they’re made out to be. Sometimes good things only make you happy for a little while before you get used to them and go back to being no more happy than you were. Sometimes. But love is not one of those things. Love is a joy when it grows and a comfort when it remains, and it will always be worthwhile. To acknowledge people’s love and to allow them a formal method of showing it if they so choose is as clear a good deed as there is in this world.

  • Cerus

    Of course not, for atheists morals are relative. Hey, what the heck, if evolution is at work, then homosexuals will eventually be weeded out. I mean, how can they genetically mutate to advantage if they cannot even mate. Now that I think about it, since we have had millions of years of evolution, why are they still here? Now that’s a point to ponder.

    Wrong on the first count, not all atheists are moral relativists.

    On the second count, Sexual attraction is governed by a lot of complicated neurological processes that I’m not qualified to describe accurately, but from what I understand, sexual attraction isn’t a learned behavior (without cultural influence humans may be just as comfortable being bi-sexual), sexual preference may be, but that’s not definitive.

  • Brad

    Of course not, for atheists morals are relative. Hey, what the heck, if evolution is at work, then homosexuals will eventually be weeded out. I mean, how can they genetically mutate to advantage if they cannot even mate. Now that I think about it, since we have had millions of years of evolution, why are they still here? Now that’s a point to ponder.

    You have swiftly evaded any attempt to argue that homosexuality or its practice is immoral or should be discouraged, and instead made the insinuation that atheists are social Darwinists, as well as furthered your point that homosexuality is not the norm. Care to get back on topic and explain yourself?

  • John

    You want two “married” males to adopt a kid? When that kid goes to school he/she will be at a big disadvantage. Fortunately I have not seen this, but it would sadden me if I did. Kids at school can be brutal – that is reality.

    I am not really trying to argue morality with you. That would lead nowhere. Yes, I am a Christian, but I also know that homosexuals will join the Body of Christ. The Bible has defined marriage, society(in the past millenias) has defined marriage, and biological necessity has defined marriage.

  • Virginia

    John — can you elaborate more why a kid of a married gay couple (2 males or 2 females) will be at a big disadvantage at school ? You said the kids are brutal — isn’t that you and your Christian people should stop the brutality ? Do you think you and your Christian people have some responsibility over those violence, bigotry and brutality ?
    You are simply addressing the question in the wrong side — the brutality the kids face is the problem, not the kid with gay couples as parents.
    I will like to ask you, if you kids’ schoolmates brutally treat another kid because his/her parents is a gay couple, will you stop the brutality ? will you encourage your kid to protect the kid of the gay couple from being bullied ?

  • Virginia

    John said: “”That’s funny, because gay relationships certainly don’t disgust me or most of the people I know.”

    Of course not, for atheists morals are relative. Hey, what the heck, if evolution is at work, then homosexuals will eventually be weeded out. I mean, how can they genetically mutate to advantage if they cannot even mate. Now that I think about it, since we have had millions of years of evolution, why are they still here? Now that’s a point to ponder.”

    I do really have to remind you of your strawman tactics. Atheists morals are not relative — we do have a set of guiding principles that can be tested and verified by reason, evidences and logic. For me, Christians morals are rigid, tyrranical and arbituary — apart from “God forbids it”, Christians cannot produce convincing evidences and reasons as to how “wrong” or “immoral” homosexual is on a reality level — except that “you don’t like it” or “others may bully them” (a result of your bigotry/hate, again using the harm done by your own prejudice to justify continued prejudice)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Kids at school can be brutal – that is reality.

    Which is an excellent reason why we should teach kids about gay relationships so that they can learn to be tolerant. You ought to tell that to your compatriots at the Evangelical Outpost.

  • Alex Weaver

    You want two “married” males to adopt a kid? When that kid goes to school he/she will be at a big disadvantage. Fortunately I have not seen this, but it would sadden me if I did. Kids at school can be brutal – that is reality.

    Like kids with no parents aren’t given a hard time about it?

    Beyond that, kids are indeed brutal, and I know this well enough to feel, intuitively, despite philosophical and ethical problems with the idea, that advocating or practicing “blame/punish the victim” responses to bullying ought to be an imprisonable felony. At the very least, people who knowingly take this approach are beneath contempt.

  • Samuel Skinner

    Ah yes, prop 8. The anti campaign has adopted “keep the government out” because “What the hell is wrong with you bigots?” came off as too confrontational.

    As for John…

    “You want two “married” males to adopt a kid? When that kid goes to school he/she will be at a big disadvantage. Fortunately I have not seen this, but it would sadden me if I did. Kids at school can be brutal – that is reality. ”

    The same is true for kids who have parents of two differant races. By the way this was actually an argument used… 38 years ago.

    The flaw in your idea is that it is institutionalizing bigotry.

    “I am not really trying to argue morality with you. That would lead nowhere. ”

    That is because you are evil.

    “Yes, I am a Christian, but I also know that homosexuals will join the Body of Christ.”

    Right, and there is going to be a world socialist revolution.

    “The Bible has defined marriage, society(in the past millenias) has defined marriage, and biological necessity has defined marriage.”

    Which is why we let women divorce and infertile people marry, right?

  • Brad

    John, suppose I follow your argument. Now should we discourage obese couples, or any other couples with other “abnormal” or looked-down-upon features, from raising kids? If you knew your kids were going to be laughed at because their parents were ecstatically Christian parents, would you still desire and decide to have kids? Do you really wish to appease harsh reality, and even give vocal support to the bigotry and intolerance of it, rather than work to change it? Perhaps you are right: you shouldn’t argue morality here. As for the definition of marriage, I think we can overthrow the conventional definition from the tenets of specific religions, from the tradition of past societies, and from the simplistic views of relationships as solely biologically reproductive ones. I know others would further argue that the whole concept of “marriage” should be dismantled and totally taken apart, but for now I am content with just arguing against the traditional type of marriage.

    And Virginia, I think you are once again being unfair. You paint all Christians in the same light of John’s comments. No, not all the anti-gay bullies at a public school are going to be religious people. The negative views of homosexuality are not just religiously rooted in society, and Christians are not all anti-gay. I happen to attend an all-male Jesuit high school, and this place is relatively tolerant of gay people. (Despite its history.)

    Provided that Proposition 8 is struck down, it should mean good news for gay marriage in the rest of the country. California, Massachusetts, and now Connecticut should serve as excellent political experiments that conservatives can see the results of.

  • Samuel Skinner

    I need to post faster- writting on this subject tends to lead to dogpiles. Here Chris:
    http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=127347

    It is a bunch of people slowly and painfully disecting and mocking your position.

  • Virginia

    Brad, bullying in the broard daylight is one form of anti-gay. The other form of bullying gay is those “conservative and sophoisticated” view that religious people tends to use to place gay lifestyles negatively. Without necessarily to look to science, we can see clearly that if a person is mistreated by family, rejected, and emotionally traumatized, those problems described in those “conservative and sophoisticated” view will appear, only that it happens to be for homosexual, and suddenly it is the problem with the homosexual, not those person that inflict the hurst and traumas.
    Unfortunately, religious people do too little to help, and often more fanned the flame towards homosexuality.
    You may say that I am not fair to you, but may I ask, despite relative tolerance, do that Jesuit school allow gay teachers, teaching of gay couples/lifestyles ?
    If that schools’ teaching deliberately edited **out** realities of gay in the society, you cannot say that is not anti-gay, it is simply a measure to sugarcoat the prejudice

  • Brad

    Virginia, two points. Firstly, my impression is that most school bullying against gays is done out of secular bigotry and intolerance in public schools, not the religious flavor that is prevalent in the “sophisticated conservative” sphere. (The bullying in that sphere is manifested in politics and law.) Secondly, I am still uncertain as to whether your anti-gay paintbrush for Christians is too wide or not. I can’t say I know the majority of Christians, so I suppose I shall reserve judgment there.

    And yes, gay people are allowed to teach at my school. In fact, I know we had a lesbian Spanish teacher a couple years ago. My history teacher last year is the brother of the author of the article I linked to last comment, and he will openly take on any student who makes fun of homosexuality or uses the word “gay” when they mean “dumb” around him. My CST teacher also brought up the issue of homosexuality and whether Christians in general are being tolerant of it.

    So to answer your question, the school doesn’t so much teach of gay “lifestyle,” but rather leaves it fairly open for honest discussion.

  • Christopher

    John,

    Of course not, for atheists morals are relative.

    You may not have noticed this, but we Atheists run the philosophical spectrum – from the “moral” absolutist to the Machiavellian pragmatist to the cultural relativist to the nihilist! While I do find fault with the concept of “morality” and personally find those who embrace the concept to be misguided, in no way do I paint them up as something they’re not.

    Familiarize yourself with your opponent’s philosophy before trying to attack it.

    Hey, what the heck, if evolution is at work, then homosexuals will eventually be weeded out.

    Eventually, natural selection will weed out every living thing on this planet – from the most simple of cells to the most complex of organisms, everything on this planet will one day die out and this planet itself will just be melded back into he star from the dust of which it coelested from! I’m not concerned about certain life dying out in the future, I’m concerned about living here and now!

    So long as I can live my own life, I see no reason why homosexuals can’t do the same.

    I mean, how can they genetically mutate to advantage if they cannot even mate.

    And why does that even matter? How one lives life is what matters to me, not whether descendents are produced or not.

    Now that I think about it, since we have had millions of years of evolution, why are they still here? Now that’s a point to ponder.

    They are here because a proper combination of genetic and psychological factors predisposed them to existence. And what does it matter whether or not they wed or not? Aside from their sex life I don’t see how they will be that much different than other families.

    Personally, I’d rather see this arcane institution of marraige be done away with completely. But, in the meantime, I don’t see what harm allowing non-traditional families can do that “traditional” ones can’t inflict on each other just as well. As far as I’m concerned my real enemy is the collective mentallity and its institutions – not a bunch of homosexuals seeking acceptence.

  • http://lllemondrops.blogspot.com/ li lee

    Defining marriage as between one man and one woman is not taking away anyone’s rights. The definition simply distinguishes a union that is biologically capable of producing its own children. Whether a married couple has children or not, I feel like this deserves a separate name–even the potential is kind of a miracle.

    Actually this definition can be seen as the ultimate expression of equality our society has to offer: it takes one man and one woman. One could see a lesbian union as a marginalization of men, or a homosexual union as a marginalization of women.

    Equality is especially important when it comes to raising children. Children deserve/need a father and a mother. Neither parent should be marginalized.

    Yes, many children are already growing up in single-parent homes. Prop 8 should be a reminder to everyone that as a society we need to assist and strengthen families as much as possible. Really, as a society we should be most concerned with the success and health of our families.

    http://emiliadelmar.blogspot.com/2008/10/legislation-and-social-issues.html

    peace out.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    I’ve been participating in the discussion of Proposition 8 on the Mormon blogs, and the situation has gone from tragic to horrific.

    Up until the last few months, the official policy has been the “proclamation” that marriage is between one man and one woman (with the irony of that stance being constantly pointed out since the early Mormon prophets preached about the evils of monogamous marriage). Yet, there was always some leeway for individual families to say to themselves “I’m going to stand by my gay son/daughter/brother/etc. and pray for God to soften our leaders’ hearts.”

    Not anymore.

    They’ve turned it into a real no fence-sitters issues, forcing many families to choose between their faith and a beloved family member.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    p.s. as a supplement to some of the news stories you have linked here, in my Sunday around Outer Blogness, I’ve provided links to corresponding personal accounts written by people on my blogroll.

  • bassmanpete

    Furthermore, homosexuals are not animals

    Homo, hetero or bi, we’re all animals. Please don’t perpetuate the myth that humans are somehow separate from the rest of nature.

  • Brad

    Homo, hetero or bi, we’re all animals. Please don’t perpetuate the myth that humans are somehow separate from the rest of nature.

    You’re right. I should have said humans have a completely different set of rights than other animals under the law, and that homosexuality was much different than bestiality.

  • velkyn

    I find it so hilarious that the LDS is being joined by evangelicals, the bulk of which are sure that the LDS are in league with Satan. Ah, hypocrisy, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done…. just as long as they can spread their hate. When Christians like this “work” together, they’ll soon run out of people to demonize and then start attacking each other.

  • Serenegoose

    Ebonmuse: Not wanting to be picky, because it’s not -totally- relevant to the post made, but gay people are not the most targetted minority. Transpeople suffer far more horrible abuse (we still get targetted for ‘reperative therapy’ (look up ken zucker in canada for evidence of horrific, state sanctioned child abuse)!) and frequently not just lose our family, but our friends and jobs and sometimes our lives, for trying to be who we are. I don’t want to really talk further about this because as I’ve conceded, this is tangential at best, and I don’t want to derail an important issue being discussed.

  • David D.G.

    John spewed thus:

    Homosexual behaviour is disgusting to most straights. The images conjured-up in my mind are revulting.

    John,

    1. Don’t arrogate to yourself the right to speak for “most straights.” I am straight, and you sure as heck do not speak for me. I doubt if you can even be said to have the right to speak for ANYONE other than yourself. But even if it were the case that “homosexual behavior is disgusting to most straights,” that doesn’t mean that gays should not have all the civil rights enjoyed by straights. Fundamentalist Christian behavior such as that practiced by the Phelps clan is disgusting to me, but that doesn’t mean that they — and you — don’t have the right to practice it. Read about the concept of the “tyranny of the majority” sometime; you evidently missed that lesson in high school civics class.

    2. The images conjured up in your own mind are YOUR OWN problem. The proper course of action would be for you to seek counseling from a qualified psychiatrist to treat, and hopefully overcome, your bigotry and revulsion. I’ll wager that it’s your homophobia that causes the revulsion, not the other way around. It certainly isn’t the gays themselves, any more than spiders are the reason for my arachnophobia; such revulsion is just a faulty mental/emotional response out of all proportion to the stimulus in question.

    ~David D.G.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Ebon. thank you so much. This is a really scary situation here in California, and we need all the help we can get.

    I’d like to point out that, while the intense work being done by the Mormon church is a big part of why we’re losing support, it’s not the only reason. One of the big reasons has been that the Yes on 8 campaign has gotten huge influxes of money from all over the country, from many different religious- right movements as well as just conservative movements.

    And they’ve been running a large TV ad campaign that’s full of outright lies — saying that, among other things, if same-sex marriage is allowed to stand, churches who refuse to perform them will lose their tax- exempt status. (Flatly untrue.) The No on 8 campaign needs funding to run ads countering and correcting these lies.

    Please help if you can, y’all. Even small donations add up.

  • Christopher

    li lee,

    Defining marriage as between one man and one woman is not taking away anyone’s rights. The definition simply distinguishes a union that is biologically capable of producing its own children. Whether a married couple has children or not, I feel like this deserves a separate name–even the potential is kind of a miracle.

    So, you admit that, when all is said and done, this institution is all about producing the nest crop of humans to populate the nation – and it’s because of this I want the institution to be destroyed! I see no reason to give the social order any influence over the seed of the individual: the last thing I want is a society that tells me who I can have carnal relations with and when, and the institution of marraige is a tool to preform just that function.

  • Alex Weaver

    Defining marriage as between one man and one woman is not taking away anyone’s rights.

    The definition simply distinguishes a union that is biologically capable of producing its own children.

    Would then also support denying marriage rights to infertile couples? You’re not getting off the hook on this one, so don’t dodge answering this for the next half dozen responses like some posters I could name.

    Whether a married couple has children or not, I feel like this deserves a separate name–even the potential is kind of a miracle.

    Why is that?

    Actually this definition can be seen as the ultimate expression of equality our society has to offer: it takes one man and one woman. One could see a lesbian union as a marginalization of men, or a homosexual union as a marginalization of women.

    You’ve got to be kidding me. By that tortured “logic,” marriage of two people of the same race, religion, or economic background should also be prohibited.

  • Alex Weaver

    Gah.

    Defining marriage as between one man and one woman is not taking away anyone’s rights.

    See Brown v. Board of Education. Separate institutions are inherently unequal.

  • Alex Weaver

    Equality is especially important when it comes to raising children.

    Then you support formal second-class-citizenhood for a substantial number of Americans why?

    Children deserve/need a father and a mother.

    Children need both male and female role models and do better with two parents to share the burden of parenting. This is not the same thing.

    Neither parent should be marginalized.

    I agree. So why do you, in some cases, support marginalizing both parents?

    Prop 8 should be a reminder to everyone that as a society we need to assist and strengthen families as much as possible. Really, as a society we should be most concerned with the success and health of our families.

    So, you reason that preventing some people who love each other and want to form families from doing so – or at least ensuring that they’re marginalized and face needless barriers of discrimination – is the best way to strengthen families and contribute to their success and health.

    …have you taken any sharp blows to the head recently?

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Defining marriage as between one man and one woman is not taking away anyone’s rights. The definition simply distinguishes a union that is biologically capable of producing its own children

    It does nothing of the kind, li lee. Many male/ female couples are biologically incapable of producing children: couples where one or both partners is sterile, where the woman has had a hysterectomy, elderly couples. If you’re going to ban same- sex marriage because same- sex couples can’t have biological children together, are you also going to ban opposite- sex marriage between couples who are incapable of having children? Or who simply choose not to?

    Actually this definition can be seen as the ultimate expression of equality our society has to offer: it takes one man and one woman.

    This exact same line was used in the fight against interracial marriage. “This isn’t inequality. Blacks and whites have an equal right to enter into a non- mixed marriage.” It’s a transparently obvious, 1984-ish attempt to make inequality look like equality.

    One could see a lesbian union as a marginalization of men, or a homosexual union as a marginalization of women.

    That literally makes no sense. How, exactly, does it do that? Legalizing same- sex marriage does nothing whatsoever to marginalize opposite- sex marriage. I don’t want to interfere with your right to marry someone of the opposite sex. You are the one who is trying to make my marriage illegal. Where is the marginalization here?

    Children deserve/need a father and a mother.

    Children deserve/ need loving parents. There is no evidence whatsoever that children raised by same- sex parents have any less of a happy and healthy childhood, or grow up to be any less happy, healthy, functional adults, than children raised by opposite- sex parents.

    Prop 8 should be a reminder to everyone that as a society we need to assist and strengthen families as much as possible. Really, as a society we should be most concerned with the success and health of our families.

    How does same- sex marriage weaken families? How does my same- sex marriage make your family any weaker, any less successful, any less healthy?

    And more to the point: How does Prop 8 strengthen families? How does weakening the legal rights of millions of same- sex families across the state somehow strengthen families? Prop 8 actively weakens the existing families of same-sex couples, especially couples with children. It gives us less legal rights, less social recognition. How on earth do you twist that around and call it “strengthening the family”?

    Prop 8 is anti-gay bigotry — nothing less. Don’t try to dress it up as “strengthening the family”; don’t twist reality around and present inequality as equality. You’re trying to pretend your position is not bigoted, so apparently you know bigotry is wrong. But on this issue, you are being a bigot. If you know that bigotry is wrong, don’t try to rationalize your bigotry and pretend that it’s something it’s not. If you know that bigotry is wrong, then let it go.

  • Ingersoll’s Revenge

    There was an episode of “The Simpsons” wherein Springfield legalized gay marriage (episode GABF04, “There’s Something About Marrying.” Yes, I’m that much of a geek). Gay and lesbian couples therefore flock to Springfield to get married.

    That, of course, begs the question of how Springfield has the authority to pass such a law, as it’s just a city and not a state. So maybe it’s in a state that legalized gay marriage. Or is it? We may never know…

    Anyway, Homer decides to cash in on the deal after he learns that gay marriage ceremonies rake in $200 a pop, becoming an ordained minister.

    When I saw that episode, I thought of states like Massachusetts who have legalized gay marriage and how much money must be pouring into their coffers as a result. Since there are currently only three states in the Union that permit homosexual marriages, I would imagine that any gay couples who greatly desire to get married are seriously considering moving to those states. And as a result, they’d be taking their disposable income with them to pay wedding bills.

    Practical economic arguments are often viewed as the basest form of pandering – that is, if we don’t count religious ones ;) – but the fact remains that the best way to influence someone is by altering the size of their wallet. When politicians realize that homosexual relationships are often socially and economically sound, I would think that they would make an effort to reign them in as constituents.

    This, to me, is the only way to reach someone otherwise blinded by anti-gay religious dogma. I don’t consider there to be anything “wrong” about homosexual relationships. What I do consider wrong is depriving a specific group of something that everyone else has access to based solely on conjecture. I agree with Ebon in that my generation will see the gay marriage debate settled for the better, and it’s why I keep a hopeful eye on states such as Connecticut and California. If they can prove that gay marriages are an integral part of forming a stable social and economic structure, then everyone else will realize how stupid it is for the religious right to shoot themselves in the foot over an arbitrary Bible passage.

    A fundamentalist’s worst enemy has always been time.

  • Fengie

    For anyone interested, I think there was a study published in Nature last year, around summer, in which some researchers found positive correlation between the existence of gay males in a family and the fertility of their sisters, so while the males would be unable to pass their genes unto the next generation, their sisters, sharing 50% of their genetic make-up, would be doing so and very efficiently. Don’t choke on that, John.

  • Christopher

    Greta Christina,

    This exact same line was used in the fight against interracial marriage. “This isn’t inequality. Blacks and whites have an equal right to enter into a non- mixed marriage.” It’s a transparently obvious, 1984-ish attempt to make inequality look like equality.

    In other news, the chocolate rations have risen to 20 grams, up is down, black is white, war is peace, freedom is slavery, 2+2=5 and it’s all Emmanuel Goldstein’s fault!

  • J Myers

    The images conjured up in your own mind are YOUR OWN problem. The proper course of action would be for you to seek counseling from a qualified psychiatrist to treat, and hopefully overcome, your bigotry and revulsion.

    Whoa, now… it should come as no surprise to anyone that the thought of homosexual relations is disgusting to many straight people, including many whom adamantly support gay rights. Thinking people understand that a personal aversion in no way constitutes a justification for discrimination. It’s hardly remarkable that the contemplation of certain propositions elicits a visceral reaction in some, and it’s a bit much to suggest that such a reaction indicates the presence of a psychological defect. I suspect that widespread antipathy is the reason that discrimination against homosexuals is so prevalent–many people interpret their personal aversion to homosexuality as evidence of its “wrongness.” That such people are incorrect in their conclusion does not mean that they do not actually experience this aversion, nor does it mean that there is something inherently “wrong” with them if they do; to argue the latter is no different than to argue that there is something inherently “wrong” with homosexuals.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    It’s hardly remarkable that the contemplation of certain propositions elicits a visceral reaction in some, and it’s a bit much to suggest that such a reaction indicates the presence of a psychological defect.

    True.

    The pathological part isn’t the visceral reaction, it’s responding to the revulsion by obsessing over the upsetting image.

  • Alex Weaver

    I think there is merit in considering an adverse visceral reaction to things that harm no one, when one is not personally being involved in them, as at least mildly pathological.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    I think there is merit in considering an adverse visceral reaction to things that harm no one, when one is not personally being involved in them, as at least mildly pathological.

    I can see considering the possibility, but I’m not sure it’s correct. It is my impression (from observing people, I don’t have hard data), that human males in particular tend to have feelings of hostility towards any expression of male sexuality that they can’t identify with.

    It may be irrational and yet still be more normal than pathological.

  • Samuel Skinner

    It could fit under both contexts:

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pathological
    being such to a degree that is extreme, excessive, or markedly abnormal

    It is common (and hence not abnormal), but it is extreme and excessive.

    [QUOTE]
    In other news, the chocolate rations have risen to 20 grams, up is down, black is white, war is peace, freedom is slavery, 2+2=5 and it’s all Emmanuel Goldstein’s fault!
    [/QUOTE]

    Sadly, the Republicans lacks a sense of irony:
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_08/014416.php

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    I wonder if John doth protest too much.

  • heliobates

    Definitely doth he protest too much.

  • valhar2000

    John wrote:

    Prop 8 should be a reminder to everyone that as a society we need to assist and strengthen families as much as possible. Really, as a society we should be most concerned with the success and health of our families.

    I agree with you entirely, we should promote families headed by parents who do not abuse their children in order to instill in them some bizarre sense of the importance of “obedience” and “tradition”, who do not pollute their minds with lies, dogma and idiocy, and who do not so warp their children’s sense of empathy that they can form violent mobs against people entirely innocent of crimes against their fellow human beings (the only crimes there can be).

    Oh, wait, were you arguing for something else?

  • Jay

    May I ask what is the definition of ‘morality’?

    How is my loving, communicative, and extremely healthy relationship with my same-sex partner ‘immoral’? Does it hurt anyone?

    ‘Homosexual behavior’…does it just come down to anal sex? Is that immoral? Well how come so many heterosexual men desire to penetrate a woman’s rear-end, and why does so much heterosexual pornography portray this?

    Any child I know from same-sex parents is incredibly more wise and tolerant and accepting of people’s differences than anyone Ive heard of who was raised in a conservative religious household. If my partner and I decide to have a child, how is that hurting the child? As the human race evolves, isnt it MORE helpful to raise a child who is wise and loving and understanding of the infinite number of differences among the human race?

    How are a few sentences written in a book by HUMANS a few thousand years ago relevant to the laws of today?

  • Alex Weaver

    John thinks its icky, of course.

    Obviously his right to not worry about seeing anything that disgusts him if he sneaks over to your house and peers into your bedroom through the curtains trumps your rights to life (that can be called “living”), liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    It’s only natural, you understand.

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    Actually, the Scandinavian experience shows that as gay marriage is allowed, straight marriage rates go up and divorce rates go down. Seriously. That’s what it showed:

    A decade after Denmark, Norway and Sweden passed their respective partnership laws, heterosexual marriage rates had risen 10.7% in Denmark; 12.7% in Norway; and a whopping 28.8% in Sweden. In Denmark over the last few years, marriage rates are the highest they’ve been since the early 1970s. Divorce rates among heterosexual couples, on the other hand, have fallen. A decade after each country passed its partnership law, divorce rates had dropped 13.9% in Denmark; 6% in Norway; and 13.7% in Sweden. On average, divorce rates among heterosexuals remain lower now than in the years before same-sex partnerships were legalized.

    In addition, out-of-wedlock birthrates in each of these countries contradict the suggestion by social conservatives that gay marriage will lead to great increases in out-of-wedlock births and therefore less family stability for children. In Denmark, the percentage of out-of-wedlock births was 46% in 1989; now it is 45%. In Norway, out-of-wedlock births jumped from 14% in 1980 to 45% right before partnerships were adopted in 1993; now they stand at 51%, a much lower rate of increase than in the decade before same-sex unions. The Swedish trend mirrors that of Norway, with much lower rates of increase post-partnership than pre-partnership.

    In other words, encouraging any marriage helps all marriage. D’oh!

  • Kaltrosomos

    I’m not religious by any means. I have no problems with gays/lesbians having relationships either.

    That said, it seems as though there is an economic reason for restricting marriage, at least when viewed from the State’s point of view.

    The state sanctions things beneficial to the general good. Acknowledging marriages and giving them tax breaks and such is the state’s method of promoting children, the next generation of taxpayers, citizens, businesspeople, etc. The state is making an investment in its future by promoting traditional marriages.

    What is the benefit to the state in giving economic breaks to couples that never have children? If the couple is receiving the benefit of the state merely as a handout, we start getting a ‘bread and circuses’ sort of culture like in the late Roman Empire, where the populace lives off the state and doesn’t really contribute much in return.

    This ruined the Roman Empire, and it very well could ruin ours as well. Yes, I do call America a sort of empire. We have military forces across the world, and our military spending dwarfs that of every other country.

    That said, if gay couples do raise families, then that changes the equation. This is something that deserves further research and discussion, I think.

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    @Kaitrosomos: Once again, the old “it’s the kids!” argument. I notice you don’t address childless straight couples, especially those who can’t have kids because of infertility, chosen or otherwise. Does allowing them to get married “deserve further research and discussion”?

  • Polly

    To John or anyone else,

    A society dominated by singles is inherently less stable than one that can be denominated in family-units. More men and women getting hitched and adopting kids creates MORE families, and maybe gets kids out of foster care as an added bonus. So, I fail to see how gay marriage weakens the family.

    I’m married. I don’t feel the least bit threatened by another couple getting married who happen to be of the same gender. If anything, I feel that my demogrpahic is being strengthened by the swelling of the ranks (although who knows how many will actually get married and then stay). Please explain the danger to me and my marriage. Surely, it must be something awful and likely to occur, in order for it to be worth discriminating against millions of people.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    What is the benefit to the state in giving economic breaks to couples that never have children? If the couple is receiving the benefit of the state merely as a handout, we start getting a ‘bread and circuses’ sort of culture like in the late Roman Empire, where the populace lives off the state and doesn’t really contribute much in return.

    If that’s the problem, then the state has already let the horse out of the barn by granting marriage licenses to straight couples who have no intention or ability to procreate. I can pretty much guarantee that there are many more childless straight couples than there will be gay weddings any time in the foreseeable future, and that’s even if you don’t take into account the many gay couples who do raise children.

  • Brad

    Responding to Kaltrosomos: The direct economic effect of gay marriage to the state is so negligible that the premise of societal stability is practically irrelevant. Even if we do assume this premise, however, it still supports gay marriage in that there would be both more heterosexual and homosexual parents (via generalizing The Ridger’s logic) to raise children for the future of the nation. Not to mention the fact that the state gives all sorts of benefits to individuals and groups that do not directly promote security. Another angle to look at here is that society could indirectly ensure long-term stability by being a more open society. Lastly, the slippery slope argument presented is unfounded, and thus is dismissible.

  • http://thereligiousatheist.com plonkee @ the religious atheist

    It’s posts like these that make me want to apologise repeatedly for the fact that the UK instituted *separate but equal* civil partnerships for same sex couples. It’s considered likely that the reason is that otherwise the legislation wouldn’t have got through the Parliament, but it still sucks.

    Oh, and reorganising marriage legislation in the UK does raise other questions that no one can be bothered to address, like whether we should (finally) separate church and state.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Kaltrosomos:

    “If” gay couples do raise families? What on Earth do you mean, “If”? What “research” do you need? Lots and lots of gay couples raise children: through adoption, fostering, and artificial insemination. And plenty of research has been done on those families… all of it showing that the children of same- sex couples are every bit as happy and healthy as those raised by opposite- sex couples.

    And in any case, there are benefits of marriage to society (and the state) other than children. Marriage is a stabilizing influence, regardless of whether children are produced.

    I actually think this is a bogus argument anyway. Even if same-sex marriage didn’t provide any positive benefit to society as a whole in the form of supporting families and stabilizing couples — even if it were entirely neutral as far as society is concerned — I’d still be arguing for it. Marriage is a right, and unless the State can show a compelling reason to withhold that right, it should not be doing so. But the fact remains that all of the benefits that opposite- sex marriage offers to society are offered by same- sex marriage as well.

  • Skeptric

    This is my first post.

    I’ve never been anti-gay, but last year I was in a local production of The Laramie Project, and it really opened my eyes. I’ve been openly supportive of gay rights issues ever since.

    I live all the way across the country from Proposition 8, but I felt compelled to do what little I could to shoot it down. One line from the play was spoken by a Mormon preacher who claimed that “the family is one man, one woman, and children — that’s it” and the actor who delivered it (himself gay) made this doctrine sound so twisted and evil that my skin crawled.

    It has been almost exactly ten years since Matthew Shepard died. We still have far to go as a society to erase the hate that killed him. Sometimes I wonder if we can.

    Rick

  • Kaltrosomos

    @Ridger and others:

    I suppose that gay marriage isn’t that big of a problem compared to the rest of the populace, considering that heterosexual couples are having fewer kids in many cases, or even none.

    So I guess the problem is one that affects our whole society. But this has happened before. Read the history. This is the usual pattern, a native culture that grows rich and complacent and stops breeding, only to be invaded and replaced by a more virile culture. Then the new culture grows wealthy and complacent like the first, and on we go again.

    Gay marriage is just a sign of a larger problem, since people are having so few children that they have trouble telling the difference between heterosexuals and homosexuals now.

    @Greta:

    “Marriage is a right, and unless the State can show a compelling reason to withhold that right, it should not be doing so.”

    But rights are secured by states, or in other cases by the gods for those who are religious. Without the stability of the state, how can anyone have any rights? In an anarchy, your rights are merely what you can obtain either through your own power(or the power of a group you are in) or the goodwill of your masters if you are enslaved by stronger persons.

    For that matter, how can a state survive without fertile families? The larger issue here is how a secular culture can survive if it doesn’t reproduce. Secular folk like us are losing the population game to the religious of all stripes. That is why McCain and the Republicans are even still in the presidential race. It could, possibly, still go in their favor. Don’t underestimate the religious. Sarah ‘I can see Russia From my house!’ Palin is a perfect example. She both has a large family and a political career. What does it matter that she seems terribly uninformed on important matters? She strikes a chord with the religious, and the religious have better population numbers than we do. Thanks to religious fertility, expect many more Sarah Palins in the future. No doubt one day we may see her, or someone else like her, say Sam Brownback, in office. Biology is destiny, they say.

    Yet another question would be: how do you define marriage? Is it just consent between a loving couple? What kind of love? Is it restricted to sexual love, or can it be other kinds? If marriage is just consenting love between two people, is it a marriage for two brothers to share a house though not a bed, or two sisters, or a mother and daughter, or any other mixture? Is it a marriage if it is a loving group of three or more people? How do you define marriage?

  • ThatOtherGuy

    I’ve been looking over the wikipedia entry about the Book of Mormon, and all its anachronisms. It’s clearly and very obviously WRONG numerous times, saying there were horses where there weren’t, or wheat where there wasn’t, or goats where there weren’t. And the Mormon apologist answer – EVERY SINGLE TIME – is that the word “horse” doesn’t actually MEAN horse, that “wheat” doesn’t actually MEAN wheat, that “goat” doesn’t actually MEAN goat. It’s beyond ridiculous, and I’m shocked that anyone could utter words like that without cognitive dissonance tearing their brain apart.

  • Adele

    I have nothing to say other than that the fight by the Christian right in America to prohibit same-sex marriage parallels nothing more than the efforts by the same Christian right to prohibit interracial marriage before the Civil Rights Movement. Ah, such is the progression of the Zeitgeist – I hope with all my heart that the generation of my sister’s children will be the one that ends such bigotry.

    It is a wonderful thing to hear of Connecticut’s new law – let’s hope it continues across the country!

    - Adele Tabuteau

  • Brad

    Gay marriage is just a sign of a larger problem,

    If gay marriage is just a sign, and by itself is positive or neutral, then you are not providing any argument either way on the subject at hand. This is not to say, however, that I accept your deterministic view that gay marriage is historically and presently coincident with the fall of nations. (If you’re talking about the fall of mere “culture,” on the other hand, then I have no problem with this small trip in the social sphere.)

    The larger issue here is how a secular culture can survive if it doesn’t reproduce. Secular folk like us are losing the population game to the religious of all stripes.

    This is wrong; this is not an issue at all. Nor is it relevant to the topic.

    How do you define marriage?

    This is obviously the larger issue behind all of this. There are a wide range of moral, social, cultural, religious, personal, and legal contexts in which this can be purposefully done, and it may never capture all of people’s desires for it nor may it stay consistent with everyone’s ideas about it, but suffice it to say for the sake of the argument: if heterosexuals can marry, then it is only fair that homosexuals can marry.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Gay marriage is just a sign of a larger problem, since people are having so few children that they have trouble telling the difference between heterosexuals and homosexuals now.

    I know the words you are using, but I can’t for the life of me tell what you are actually trying to say. Are you saying that people can’t tell gays from straights because they aren’t having children? Huh?

  • Polly

    @Kaltrosomos,

    I don’t follow your train of thought. Are you saying that the USA (or wherever) will be invaded by the brown hordes if we don’t populate the country?

    Even if this is a real concern, gays will not reproduce, married or not. So, acknowledging their right to marry isn’t going to deduct from the next generation. It may even add to the number of children through “artificial” conceptions.

    What is the benefit to the state in giving economic breaks to couples that never have children? If the couple is receiving the benefit of the state merely as a handout, we start getting a ‘bread and circuses’ sort of culture like in the late Roman Empire, where the populace lives off the state and doesn’t really contribute much in return.

    What benefit? Until recently, you got a tax break for being single.
    In what sense is keeping more of my own money a “handout”? This system of taxation is regressive and is rigged in favor of those for whom we, sheeple, all work. The real parasitic class? It ain’t infertile couples and it has nothing to do with having children.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Kaltrosomos, I’m astonished by this. You’ve always seemed like a reasonable person.

    This is the usual pattern, a native culture that grows rich and complacent and stops breeding, only to be invaded and replaced by a more virile culture… Gay marriage is just a sign of a larger problem, since people are having so few children that they have trouble telling the difference between heterosexuals and homosexuals now.

    Are you serious? Gay marriage is a “sign” of a “larger problem”? If anything, gay marriage is a positive development to be applauded: another formerly oppressed group of society is entering the mainstream and fighting for equal rights and against discrimination and bigotry. It’s no different from the abolitionist, feminist or anti-segregation movements, and it’s a sign that our society is moving still closer to the ideals of true equality. Why on earth would you consider this to be a problem?

    A culture as a whole cannot be “complacent” or “virile”. That’s fallacious anthropomorphizing. The growth and decline of populations is not mysterious, and has nothing to do with gays; it’s the result of basic and well-understood demographic factors. If anything, the slowing of population growth is a hopeful development, considering that our human population is likely to be unsustainably large as it is. We need to level off, and soon, if we’re not going to leave this planet in a ravaged and barren state.

    For that matter, how can a state survive without fertile families? The larger issue here is how a secular culture can survive if it doesn’t reproduce. Secular folk like us are losing the population game to the religious of all stripes.

    No, no, no! We’re not out to start a secular version of Quiverfull, nor should we be. The grinding poverty, abuse and deprivation that are so common to those families should show all by itself that this is not a tactic that’s sustainable in the long run. If we have children, let’s make sure it’s because we want them for their own sake, not because we want to use them as weapons in the culture war. In any case, studies have repeatedly shown that poor, low-education societies are the perfect breeding ground for the kind of anti-intellectualism you worry about.

    What you don’t seem to grasp is that the battle against religious fundamentalism isn’t a war of genes, it’s a war of ideas. People’s beliefs are not predestined by the religion of their parents. If we can get our message out and compete on fair terms in the marketplace of ideas, without the obstacles of censorship and distortion, it won’t matter how many children religious families have, because we can bring them all over to our side anyway. We have a stronger case, and people do respond to that; the dramatic growth of nonbelief over the last few decades is ample evidence for that proposition. That growth isn’t because of an atheist baby boom, it’s because we’re organizing to make our case and people are listening! The battlefield of ideas is where this contest is ultimately going to be settled, and that couldn’t be better news for us. We don’t need to mimic the foolish and short-sighted fundamentalist strategy of trying to outbreed our opponents, nor should we try.

  • karatemack

    As the right-wing evangelical Bible-thumping white male stereotype… I do not oppose Gay Rights. I am not in favor of state or federal laws in support or denial of the marriage of any two (or three or four) people. I really don’t know that I like the idea of government defining or enforcing moral practices. I’m suprised by the large number of people on this site (of all places) who seem to be suggesting that we grant the power to define proper moral practice to our government. I would no more want our government to enforce christian practices than I would want them to enforce muslim or buddhist practices. The very suggestion that the government could handle that amount of power without corruption makes me shudder.

    I suppose I should mention that I feel there is a large difference between moral practices and moral principles. For example, there is a difference between telling someone they cannot murder (principle being the sacredness of life) and telling someone they must attend church every Sunday (an expected practice of christians). I believe there are certain principles which we can and must expect each other to respect and live by (if we are to succeed as a people). There are also, however, certain practices which should only affect those who choose to practice a particular religion.

    So then, I guess the real question is whether or not marriage (gay marriage included) is an issue of moral principle or practice. For me it is a matter of practice. It seems that (historically at least) marriage is the creation of religious groups. Each religion has it’s own requirements and expectations in marriage and certain penalties within the context of the religion if these expectations are not met. Let the religions who institute marriage, not the government, regulate themselves and choose for themselves who they will or will not marry. If Muslims decide they want to allow homosexual marriage, who am I or who is the US Government to tell them they cannot? If Christians decide they will never allow homosexual marriage, do you think the government should have the power to force them to do it?

    I love homosexual people. I don’t agree with their lifestyle. I don’t think that they should be stripped of their rights as human beings. I also don’t think the government should try to affect or enforce any moral practice.

  • Leum

    I really don’t know that I like the idea of government defining or enforcing moral practices. I’m suprised by the large number of people on this site (of all places) who seem to be suggesting that we grant the power to define proper moral practice to our government.

    But…we don’t recognize marriage because we think it’s some tremendously moral thing. We recognize it for two reasons: tradition and convenience.

    Legal recognition of marriage is traditional. It goes back millennia. It has served in that time as a foundation for government, to ensure the birth of (legitimate) children, to perpetuate the patriarchy, and endorsement of certain sexual practices. Not all at once, and not by all societies, of course. The point is that when we adopted English common law in the US, marriage was as much a part of the law as anything else.

    Because of this, we have given a number of rights to people who have entered into marriage. Married people can, for a nominal fee, gain the right to visit their loved ones while in hospital, to refuse to testify against their loved ones, to inherit their property without its being contested in court (as can happen when the family of the deceased hates the survivor), etc. At this point, removing marriage from the law means stripping millions of people of rights that are very expensive (or impossible) to acquire otherwise.

    We allow marriage because we recognize that people want to live their lives with people they love. As long as enough people are either in or expect to be in such a relationship, they are going to want it protected. Not out of the belief that marriage is some morally superior state, but because they want the benefits that have been given to those in such relationships for centuries.

    If Christians decide they will never allow homosexual marriage, do you think the government should have the power to force them to do it?

    There is not now, nor do I imagine there ever will be, any proposal to force any church to recognize a marriage it doesn’t approve of. Or have divorced Catholics been getting their second weddings in the Catholic Church lately? I’d have thought I would see something about Bill Donahue condemning it if there had.

  • Kaltrosomos

    @Ebon:

    “Why on earth would you consider this to be a problem?”

    Because I don’t think it can last. It’s all well and good to think our culture is enlightened and great. But our current culture is a fragile thing. If we don’t raise new generations to promote it, other cultures will crowd us out. If we try to spread it primarily through the spread of ideas, I think religion can last longer than we imagine. How many times have people said God is dead only to be proven wrong? Even if the old gods die, we can’t seem to stop ourselves from making new ones. It’s ingrained in our species.

    Your view of enlightenment seems to consist in the loosening of cultural restraints. Where marriage was before limited to one man and one woman, you see it as enlightened to expand the freedom of marriage to homosexual couples. Enlightenment, then, is the removal of restrictions.

    But I don’t think most people can handle the endless freedom entailed by a lack of restraints. Most people seem to need a religious tradition which binds them to certain rules of conduct and provides them certain mythic narratives. Most people probably can’t handle the immense burden of trying to make up their own meaning without any external help. They don’t like feeling like a stranded individual in the sea of time. Enlightenment may free them, but they don’t want that freedom. Too much freedom, too much enlightenment, is paralyzing and depressing.

    Gay marriage seems to be a sign of this wider loosening of restraints in our culture. And even if some people can handle the great freedom that comes with creating your own meaning, I think the majority can’t handle it. Thus, the majority will sooner or later turn to some religion, and they will re-impose the restrictions the enlightened culture removed as a matter of security and comfort.

    “The battlefield of ideas is where this contest is ultimately going to be settled, and that couldn’t be better news for us. We don’t need to mimic the foolish and short-sighted fundamentalist strategy of trying to outbreed our opponents, nor should we try.”

    You underestimate the power of emotion. Reason is too easily trumped by raw feeling. Evolutionarily speaking, reasonableness is the newcomer while emotion is the entrenched and more ancient impulse.

    If you think the fundamentalist strategy is foolish and short-sighted, why has religion defeated Epicureanism, the ancient Greek Atomists like Democritus and Lucretius, the disciples of Carvaka in ancient India, and who knows how many others who were erased from history?

    Evolution doesn’t reward justice and fairness. It rewards survival. Religion has lasted because it has an evolutionary advantage for survival. It allows people to set aside the monumental uncertainty that comes with an intrinsically meaningless world and live their lives. It gives them purpose. Apparently it doesn’t matter that religion isn’t strictly true. It promotes survival, and that’s all evolution needs.

  • Brad

    Just a small quibble, Kaltrosomos -

    If we don’t raise new generations to promote it, other cultures will crowd us out.

    Evolutionarily speaking, reasonableness is the newcomer while emotion is the entrenched and more ancient impulse.

    Do you think it is possible to overthrow religions, or no?

  • Leum

    Gay marriage seems to be a sign of this wider loosening of restraints in our culture. And even if some people can handle the great freedom that comes with creating your own meaning, I think the majority can’t handle it. Thus, the majority will sooner or later turn to some religion, and they will re-impose the restrictions the enlightened culture removed as a matter of security and comfort.

    So in order to preserve the human rights you enjoy we should keep other people from receiving their rights?

  • Alex Weaver

    Kaltrosomos, I don’t see how the conclusions you’ve presented follow from the evidence you’ve presented or the substantiated portion of the reasoning you outlined.

  • karatemack

    To Leum:

    “Married people can, for a nominal fee, gain the right to visit their loved ones while in hospital, to refuse to testify against their loved ones, to inherit their property without its being contested in court (as can happen when the family of the deceased hates the survivor), etc. At this point, removing marriage from the law means stripping millions of people of rights that are very expensive (or impossible) to acquire otherwise.”

    I view this as a real problem (that these rights are not aquirable outside of marriage). I am not in favor of these rights being maintained for people only within the confines of marriage. People deserve rights as people, not because they are MARRIED people.

    If two men, who are not in a marriage relationship, buy a house together and invest in property and choose to ‘take care of one another’, but never see their relationship as anything more than a friendship… these men too deserve certain rights don’t they? Or do they have to elevate their friendship love to a marital love to deserve certain rights? Shouldn’t they too have the right to visit one another in the hospital and to inherit the property they’ve both invested in without fear of unjust litigation from the blood relatives of the deceased? (I bring this example as many elderly people DO choose to live together just like this to care for one another even though they are not homosexual)

    To say people deserve special rights as married people makes me shudder (even though I am married). To say people deserve something because they’re homosexual or heterosexual makes me shudder. These choices are side-issues to the real question of human rights.

    I guess one could argue that while it would be ideal for human rights to exist on it’s own merits… that’s not the way things are. I wonder though if you really feel we should reshape a flawed system, or wouldn’t it be better for the entire system to be rebuilt?

    A last set of questions. If ‘Civil Unions’ provided ALL of the same LEGAL rights to homosexual couples as ‘Marriages’ do, would that serve as a ‘good’ compromise? Why or why not? Is it important that we call homosexual couples “married”? Why? Are you really advocating the civil rights of this group, or do you want to stop at nothing short of the social approval (as normal) for this group?

  • lpetrich

    Kaltrosomos, are you claiming that a tendency to practice some religion is some difficult-to-eradicate vice?

    Or are you claiming that it’s necessary for society’s leaders to promote some religion that you consider false in order to make people virtuous? Yes, false.

    I think that we have to admire Plato for being honest enough to call his Republic’s religion a “royal lie”; he did not adopt a pretense of agnosticism or make excuses for his society’s religion. Yes, he considered Hellenic-pagan mythology full of bad examples.

  • heliobates

    @karatemack

    To say people deserve something because they’re homosexual or heterosexual makes me shudder.

    That’s what your understanding of this issue boils down to? Way to get it exactly bass-ackwards.

    Gays and lesbians don’t want access to these rights because of their sexual orientations. They want these rights despite their sexual orientations. Yanno, because there’s no way for them to currently stand on equal footing with heterosexual married couples. It’s not just a touchy-feely “we want equality for our lifestyle”. It’s everything from health benefits, inheritance, property rights, custody and access and preferential tax treatment.

    Despite a vocal but minority opposition, here in Canada, it was a slam dunk the minute the Supreme Court ruled that common law relationships were not on equal footing with married relationships for property and certain other rights. Marriage has the weight of precedent and statute and history. This ruling pulled the rug out from under the “separate but equal” crowd and federal recognition of same sex relationships was inevitable.

    I’ve said it before: it’s funny how much more secular Canada (with no explicit separation of religion and state) is than the U.S. in these matters.

  • Brad

    To say people deserve something because they’re homosexual or heterosexual makes me shudder. These choices are side-issues to the real question of human rights.

    Correct; sexuality and genders are, ideally, irrelevant to marriage rights. The bigger questions would focus on “marriage” and “rights.”

    Are you really advocating the civil rights of this group, or do you want to stop at nothing short of the social approval (as normal) for this group?

    Both. I want the “social status” of unions to be totally independent of the two sexes involved.

  • Kaltrosomos

    @Brad:

    “Do you think it is possible to overthrow religions, or no?”

    Possible, but not likely in the near future. We would need thousands of years, if not hundreds of thousands, to alter the evolutionary advantage religion seems to enjoy. This is not a change you can expect in our era. Assuming, of course, that secular humanism can prove itself more useful in the struggle for survival.

    @Leum
    “So in order to preserve the human rights you enjoy we should keep other people from receiving their rights?”

    Let me be clear. I think a homosexual should have every right to visit his/her loved one in the hospital, and to enjoy the other legal rights they don’t currently enjoy concerning property rights, inheritance, and so on. I’m just not sure we should be calling that marriage.

    @Alex Weaver,

    Could you be more specific?

  • karatemack

    To Heliobates:

    “Gays and lesbians don’t want access to these rights because of their sexual orientations. They want these rights despite their sexual orientations. Yanno, because there’s no way for them to currently stand on equal footing with heterosexual married couples. It’s not just a touchy-feely “we want equality for our lifestyle”. It’s everything from health benefits, inheritance, property rights, custody and access and preferential tax treatment.”

    So then answer my question. If we afforded homosexual couples the same RIGHTS but called it a “Civil Union” rather than a marriage, would you be alright with that? Yes or No?

    If marriage is a religious term (historically speaking) then you can no more redefine ‘marriage’ than you can ‘sanctifycation’ or ‘justifycation’. Marriage is what it is. If you feel that marriage is unjust because it excludes rights that homosexuals should have, then why not dismantle the system which created this problem in the first place? Why not seperate civil rights from marriage completely?

    From the responses I’m getting it would seem that many here are attached not only to the idea of human rights, but are advocating homosexuality itself as a MORAL practice. So, which is it? Do you want equal rights? Or do you want to define morality? If it is the latter then I would say that many here are hypocrites (judging from their input in other places on this site).

  • Leum

    So then answer my question. If we afforded homosexual couples the same RIGHTS but called it a “Civil Union” rather than a marriage, would you be alright with that? Yes or No?

    No. Greta Christina has an excellent post on this:

    Legalizing same-sex marriage isn’t just about the legal and practical recognition of our love and our partnership. It’s about social recognition. It’s about being seen as a full member of society.

    As for the suggestion that inevitably crops up that we remove “marriage” from the law completely, there are many practical problems with that, and it would be a tacit agreement with the claim that gay marriages damage or taint the institution of marriage. There are also many problems with getting civil unions the same status as marriage in the United States. Purely form a practical perspective it would be easier to get nationwide gay marriage than nationwide civil unions.

    In any case, can you please stop claiming that marriage is purely a moral institution? It has served as a a basic legal and societal framework for time out of mind (as Greta Christina says in her post).

    From the responses I’m getting it would seem that many here are attached not only to the idea of human rights, but are advocating homosexuality itself as a MORAL practice. So, which is it? Do you want equal rights? Or do you want to define morality?

    Is there some sort of distinction between defining human rights and defining morality? Human rights are moral. Look, we aren’t asking anyone to think homosexuality is great, just to give members of the GLB* community the same rights that are given to straights; doing so includes the legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

    *The full initialism is usually GLBTQI, but I don’t know of any serious attempts to keep transgendered or intersexed people from getting married.

  • karatemack

    To Leum:

    “In any case, can you please stop claiming that marriage is purely a moral institution? It has served as a a basic legal and societal framework for time out of mind (as Greta Christina says in her post).”

    Sure. To make your point valid we can ignore truth and history. Either way, marriage is what marriage is and will never (in truth) apply to homosexuals. Does that mean that homosexuals do not have rights as human beings? No. But all who try to mix these issues in a web which cannot be untangled have a clear agenda in mind. Again, if it were merely about giving people RIGHTS, then I’m all for them getting the rights (and respect) they deserve. They don’t deserve to be declared moral. As their actions simply aren’t.

  • Mrnaglfar

    karatemack,

    Again, if it were merely about giving people RIGHTS, then I’m all for them getting the rights (and respect) they deserve.

    Here’s a simple solution for you then; get rid of state sanctions of marriage or any benefits that come to it; everyone gets a civil union. Then if you want to get your union recognized by your personal religion more power to you, but it will confirm absolutely no extra benefits. Good for you? Yes/no?

    They don’t deserve to be declared moral. As their actions simply aren’t.

    By what standard of morality are you judging these actions as wrong? Extra points for showing your work.

  • http://badnewsbible.blogspot.com XanderG
  • karatemack

    To Mrnaglfar:

    “Here’s a simple solution for you then; get rid of state sanctions of marriage or any benefits that come to it; everyone gets a civil union. Then if you want to get your union recognized by your personal religion more power to you, but it will confirm absolutely no extra benefits. Good for you? Yes/no? ”

    YES! This is exactly what I’ve been suggesting the entire time. Thank you for perhaps stating it better than I have. Again, simply granting equal rights to homosexuals in marriage does nothing to benefit single people who live together as close friends outside of ‘civil union’ or ‘marriage’. Let’s give EVERYONE the same rights.

    And again YES! If a religion decides to marry homosexuals… I would be alright with that. To me the actions of an independent religous organization are much different than the actions of the governing body of our country. Heck, I would be alright if a certain religous group ONLY married homosexual couples. More power to them. It’s their religion after all. As I stated previously, I don’t think it’s fair for the government to enforce any moral practice, whether it is sympathetic towards my religion or another.

    “By what standard of morality are you judging these actions as wrong? Extra points for showing your work.”

    I didn’t think the morality of it was being challenged. I thought it was all about human rights, which we seem to agree on. Of course, you won’t agree with my definition of morality within marraige. But then, I won’t agree with your moral definition in marriage either. My point is that we don’t have to agree. You keep your opinion, I’ll keep mine, and we’ll leave the government out of it entirely.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,
    Whether you like it or not, the government is entangled in marriage. That’s because marriage is a legally binding contract that is administered by the state. Religions don’t confer marriage status on couples, states do. States give out the marriage licenses. It’s not about any moral standing of marriage, it’s about equal rights for those who wish to enter into the specific contract that is outlined by the term, “Marriage.”

  • karatemack

    OMGF:

    That’s the problem. The solution is not to further convolute this improper practice by creating more complex laws. Thomas Jefferson once wrote that there is a tyranny in a multitude of laws. And even if homosexuals are granted proper rights through marriage, it still does nothing to address the rights of single people who also share property and investments. It is lamentable that not even atheists want civil rights apart from religious rites.

  • heliobates

    @karatemack

    YES! This is exactly what I’ve been suggesting the entire time. Thank you for perhaps stating it better than I have. Again, simply granting equal rights to homosexuals in marriage does nothing to benefit single people who live together as close friends outside of ‘civil union’ or ‘marriage’. Let’s give EVERYONE the same rights.

    Well, I didn’t understand that as your point. My bad, I guess. But you need to do a better job of not conflating marriage/morality with marriage/legality.

    To answer your follow-on question: this idea was discussed at length in Canada and ultimately the legal definition of marriage was changed for pragmatic reasons. Marriage has always been either a one or two-step process in Canada. A religious ceremony does not make a couple married in the eyes of the law. Instead the couple have to obtain a marriage license and the officiant has to register the couple as married. Or the couple can get a license and opt for a “civil ceremony” and be married by a Justice of the Peace.

    Parliament voted on the issue 3 times. The Supreme Court of Canada’s 2004 ruling made it absolutely clear that the legal definition of marriage was within federal jurisdiction and that no one would have to perform same-sex religious ceremonies in contradiction to their respective faiths. Steven Harper tried to reopen the issue in December of 2006. It was defeated 175 to 123 and that’s the end of that.

    As to why marriage and not some kind of civil union structure like you propose?
    1. No one was proposing it at the time.
    2. Creating a true “separate but equal” designation would require extensive modification of some 160 statutes, acts and regulations versus a simple one-paragraph revision to about 20 pieces of legislation.
    3. “Separate but equal” would probably not survive a Charter of Rights and Freedom challenge (c.f. S.C.R. 698, 2004 SCC 79).
    4. The feds had jurisdiction and the mandate to do something about this, so they did it.

    Now this is Canada and I think you’re writing about the situation in the United States so YMMV. But you should also realize that talking about a complete revision of inheritance laws, tax legislation, property rights, etc. to create a new civil definition, is very different from addressing the issue at hand: same sex couples are being denied legal rights and protections. So really, if you’re opposing legal recognition of same sex marriages because granting this doesn’t address other concerns that you have, then you’re either missing the point or avoiding it on purpose.

  • karatemack

    To Heliobates:

    “So really, if you’re opposing legal recognition of same sex marriages because granting this doesn’t address other concerns that you have, then you’re either missing the point or avoiding it on purpose.”

    No, I’m saying that even if homosexual couples are granted the right to be joined in ‘marriage’ that still doesn’t solve the REAL civil rights issue which needs to be addressed for EVERYONE not just for homosexual couples. I keep raising the single people who live together and share property and investments and yet no one is willing to champion their cause… why? Will this civil rights issue be solved if/when homosexuals are granted equal rights? I don’t think so. What percentage of our population is homosexual? Wouldn’t it make sense to reshape the laws (no matter how large a process that might be) so that EVERYONE gets the same civil rights rather than write a “single paragraph” which exands these rights to only a small portion of our population? Seriously… look at the entire issue. The issue is not about the homosexual movement. It is about human rights which EVERYONE should be entitled to.

  • karatemack

    To Everyone:

    Let’s imagine we lived in a country where we didn’t have the freedom of speech. And then I start a group whose goal is to bring the right of the freedom of speech to CHRISTIANS. When asked why I am only seeking to bring freedom of speech to Christians I respond that it would be far too complex to re-write the current laws to include proper rights for everyone. Also, if we gain this right for Christians it may set a precedent which will lead to other groups gaining their freedom of speech. Would any of you back my efforts? Or would you demand that I include ALL citizens? Does it makes sense to grant civil rights to ONE group of people only? Or, when we discover our laws do not grant civil rights equally, should we seek to grant those rights to EVERYONE?

  • heliobates

    No, I’m saying that even if homosexual couples are granted the right to be joined in ‘marriage’ that still doesn’t solve the REAL civil rights issue which needs to be addressed for EVERYONE not just for homosexual couples.

    Which is avoiding the issue at hand—thanks for clearing that up. Seriously, would you tell a black woman to continue using the “Coloreds” entrance while you work out the question of whether or not a wheelchair ramp should also be installed? “It’s about HUMAN RIGHTS&reg, after all!”

  • heliobates

    Or, when we discover our laws do not grant civil rights equally, should we seek to grant those rights to EVERYONE?

    Yes! Let’s put an indefinite hold on a several-decades movement to get access to equality and legal protections for a group currently experiencing egregious discrimination, while we consider all of the possible ramifications of our actions yea, verily unto the seventh generation of the seventh generation. Never mind that people right now are being denied their rights. It’s more important to never get anything done in the name of principle than it is to accomplish what’s right in front of us.

    Spot on.

  • Serenegoose

    Leum: the rights of transpeople to get married is variable depending on what country you are in. Generally most countries treat us as our birth, rather than identified gender, so transwomen can marry women, and transmen can marry men. Unless there’s a form of gender recognition (another example of state oppression, you don’t need a gender recognition certificate if you’re not trans, but then we’re still ‘mentally ill’, and will be even into the new DSM) certificate involved, in which case the government then legally recognises you as your identified gender and you then become disallowed from marrying people of the now legal same sex as you.

    Ack, sorry if that’s difficult to understand.

    tl;dr.
    transpeople are governed by the same laws as straight people. we can marry legally opposite sex (rubbish term I know) people but not legally same sex people.

  • heliobates

    @karatemack

    When asked why I am only seeking to bring freedom of speech to Christians I respond that it would be far too complex to re-write the current laws to include proper rights for everyone.

    If your analogy was to be even remotely apt, you’d need to start from a situation in which a majority of the population already had the right to free speech, and Christians were being specifically denied those rights because they were Christians. Instead, the straw-analogy you propose is more evidence of your intention to use misdirection to avoid dealing with the issue at hand.

    Where is the social movement to promote civil unions of the kind you propose? The kind of change you want is divisive, expensive and time consuming, just like the fight to get equal rights for same sex couples. So it is necessary when there’s an obvious, identifiable need for it ([cough]“Stonewall”[cough]). But what you have instead, is a solution in search of a problem.

  • Brad

    You keep your opinion, I’ll keep mine, and we’ll leave the government out of it entirely.

    Well, this government claims to work for its people (social contract theory), so under our system of representation we can institute marriage as a form of social approval in addition to other civil/legal features, as long as enough of the right people support such an action. Personally, I think allowing same-sex couples into the definition is better than the current one, but I’m a fence-sitter on whether marriage is better than no marriage at all.

    Marriage or wedlock is an interpersonal relationship (usually intimate and sexual) with governmental, social, or religious recognition. It is often created by a contract or through civil processes. Civil marriage is the legal concept of marriage as a governmental institution.

    (Taken from Wikipedia.) It would seem that the only thing barring marriage from including cohabitants and other such couples is the type of relationship, voluntarily chosen by couples, that is endorsed by the state. If such endorsed types means two people are “lovers” (whatever that means), and also are specific to only two-person relationships (for whatever reason), then I think the class of “EVERYONE!!!” would be mutually exhausted by homosexual couples plus heterosexual couples.

    Or, when we discover our laws do not grant civil rights equally, should we seek to grant those rights to EVERYONE?

    No, I think we should seek some reasonable basis on which to apply said civil rights – which may mean everyone gets the right or it may not.

  • Leum

    transpeople are governed by the same laws as straight people. we can marry legally opposite sex (rubbish term I know) people but not legally same sex people.

    Thanks for the information, Serenegoose. I apologize for my ignorance.

    karatemack, I think some sort of civil unions for any two individuals (same sex or different, related or not) living together could be a good idea, but it would be much harder to implement and, if it were being used to replace marriage, would be attacked as devaluation of marriage. Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  • karatemack

    “Yes! Let’s put an indefinite hold on a several-decades movement to get access to equality and legal protections for a group currently experiencing egregious discrimination, while we consider all of the possible ramifications of our actions yea, verily unto the seventh generation of the seventh generation. Never mind that people right now are being denied their rights. It’s more important to never get anything done in the name of principle than it is to accomplish what’s right in front of us.”

    “karatemack, I think some sort of civil unions for any two individuals (same sex or different, related or not) living together could be a good idea, but it would be much harder to implement and, if it were being used to replace marriage, would be attacked as devaluation of marriage. Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

    So what if I sponsored the rights of the elderly who live together in ‘friendship unions’ and did not at all support your cause of homosexual marriages. Let’s say that I use your logic of “only wanting to affect a small amount of change so change actually occurs”. Am I a homophobe? Am I any less about civil rights than you? Why should homosexuals get the first crack at ‘equal’ rights?

    When slavery was abolished… did they only abolish it for one group of people? Or did the abolision of slavery secure at once the right to freedom from slavery for ALL PEOPLE?

    This is why it’s so hard to reach across the isle. I don’t think our difference of opinion here has anything to do with me being a christian. And yet there are those who will resent my logic because that is the demographic I represent. To me it is pointless to pursue equality in the name of civil rights unless you are going to actually follow through and pursue it for everyone.

    Think what you will. I’ve said my peace on this one.

  • Leum

    So what if I sponsored the rights of the elderly who live together in ‘friendship unions’ and did not at all support your cause of homosexual marriages.

    I would have no objection to this. In fact, I would support it. I suggest, however, that if your attempt to create “friendship unions” included an attempt to remove the legal status of marriage that it would fail miserably.

    Why should homosexuals get the first crack at ‘equal’ rights?

    Because, right now, we have a type of civil union that exists for two people of the opposite sex who wish to enter into a lifelong sexual and emotional relationship. It’s called “marriage.” Extending it to two people of the same sex simply recognizes that people of the same sex can also wish to enter into lifelong sexual and emotional relationships. This is a much smaller change to our laws than the eradication of marriage and its replacement with civil unions. I do not oppose “friendship unions” at all; in my ideal world there would be several types of civil unions, one of which would be lifelong marriage.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    karatemack,

    And yet there are those who will resent my logic because that is the demographic I represent.

    Cut the crap.

  • heliobates

    Why should homosexuals get the first crack at ‘equal’ rights?

    This has nothing to do with your “Christian” viewpoint and everything to do with a complete internal misrepresentation of what’s going on around you.

    You’re telling a person of color (in your best Bill Lumbergh voice): “So we should think about all the people in wheelchairs. So I’m gonna need you to just go ahead and keep using the ‘Coloreds’ entrance until we figure out whether or not we should build a wheelchair ramp out front. So if you could just go ahead and do that, that would be greaaaat! Mmkay?”

    Yeah yeah, the civil rights movement was a fight for Human Rights[TM]. No one is arguing otherwise. But they got Human Rights[TM] by going after Black Human Rights[TM], because that was the problem that needed solving at the time and that’s how social change works.

    If there is a nationwide movement of elderly people who want an alternative “friendship union arrangement”, where are they? Let them come forward, state their case and be heard. But gays and lesbians are fighting for their rights right fucking now! They get “third or fourth or fifth crack” (not first, or even second)at human rights because they’re identifiable, they’ve been organized for almost 3 decades, they’re demanding them and they are under threat right fucking now!

    If there ever is a “friendship union” it will come about partly because the ground has been prepared by the eventual success of same-sex marriage recognition. It will stand on the shoulders of gay rights, which stands on the shoulders of the opposition to anti-miscegenation laws, which stands on the shoulders of the womens’ rights, which stands on the shoulders of… How else do you think the Zeitgeist shifts?

    Since it’s that important to you, start the damn movement yourself. Become a “friendship unionist”. Do the spade work. Fight the fight for your cause. And when you get up to the door, realize that it’s wedged open just a little bit more because the “same-sex unionists” got there before you. Try to remember to say “thanks” on your way through. They not only made it easier for you, they might just have made it possible.

  • Alex Weaver

    I’m trying to donate, but for some reason neither the Human Rights Campaign nor the local No On 8 sites will accept my credit card information even though it works everywhere else I try. Anyone else have this problem?

  • http://waronsavings.blogspot.com/ Robert

    Fellow Christians!

    BEWARE OF MORMONS BEARING GIFTS! Vote *NO* on 8!

    This is an attempt from the Mormon “Church” to gain credibility among evangelicals. Don’t be fooled. A simple google search on mormon evangelical relations will reveal a lot about their plan.

    You’d tell your kids “Don’t accept candy from strangers.” Set a good example by not doing it yourself.

    (See the War on Savings)

  • http://www.baytzim.com/ Joe

    Here’s a comment by a Christian Minister who opposes same-sex marriage BUT IS VOTING NO ON PROP 8!

  • Alex

    I`m surprised to be called “New Puritan”:
    (these are quotes taken from an essay related to Prop.8)
    http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2008-10-12-1.html

    “Your ability to raise your children to believe in your religion is already under attack; the New Puritans are quite prepared to use force to take your children and propagandize them to believe the scientifically indefensible dogma that gay marriage is “just the same as” marriage”

    “The New Puritans who are forcing this on us are dictators at heart, haters of democracy if it doesn’t get the results they want. Isn’t it ironic that most of them call themselves “Democrats” and call their opponents “fascists”? I guess “marriage” isn’t the only word they’ve redefined.”

    More quotes of the same essay:

    “But they will certainly try. Anyone who doesn’t accept homosexual couplings as marriages will be called names and persecuted. Our children will be propagandized to accept “marriages” that we repudiate.”

    “If we take our children out of school to teach them at home, the state will declare home-schooling illegal — there are movements already under way in several states to do exactly that”

    “At that point, what can we do? I’ve heard frustrated people talk about armed rebellion, about overthrowing the government. Those of you with itchy trigger fingers, put away your guns. We are committed to democracy, not to violence”

  • Alex Weaver

    After reading about this we decided to scrape together enough for another donation. I sent the following letter to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign via the contact form at the “Protect Marriage” site.

    Please forward this to the executive committee and Ron Prentice.

    Mr. Prentice,

    Today I ran across a copy of the letter your organization wrote to Jim Abbott, of the Abbot group. While I have never been sympathetic to your position, your organization, or your tactics, reading it was the first time I found myself literally shaking with anger. A naked attempt to influence the course of a ballot measure by blackmailing supporters of equality is beyond beyond the pale. Although my family is presently struggling, these despicable, un-American tactics on top of the despicable, un-American position of seeking to deny loving adult couples legal recognition of the families they form, and first-class citizen status, based merely on the gender of the adults involved, have motivated us to donate an additional $25 to the No on 8 campaign, on top of the $25 we already donated and the $35 we donated to the Human Rights Campaign. Our first donation was made in the honor of a friend of ours who is planning to marry her partner in the near future. The second donation was made in your honor.

    We have no interest in being contacted by your organization, and will treat any sustained attempt at contacting, soliciting, or browbeating us as criminal harrassment. I have omitted our address from this note because of the history of violence from supporters of legalized bigotry, and because your attempt to blackmail Jim Abbott and his business shows that no tactic is beneath you and your minions. Any attempt to ferret out our address or other information will be considered criminal stalking and will receive an appropriate response.

    I intend to publish an open letter with any newspaper or site that will listen, when I have time to compose it, more thoroughly explicating my views on this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Alex Weaver

    I’m going to print out a copy of the letter and show it to a few people who might be undecided but swayed by the awareness that the measure’s opponents had stooped to those levels.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Well done, Alex. :)

  • Polly

    I’ve been thinking about Prop 8 some more recently. I’ve been feeling a certain amount of discomfort almost like shame but not quite there.

    Maybe I’m making too much if this, but it seems to me that I am going to go into a booth and “decide” the intimate details of other people’s lives. Just because I’m answering the question in the “just” way doesn’t excuse the fact that I’m being asked AT ALL. Some questions shouldn’t need asking.

    Maybe it’ll be clearer with an extreme example. Suppose the question put to voters was: Are black people 3/5 human or fully human? I would hope that the response would be unanimous (with the possible exception of some McCain rally attendees). But, wouldn’t it be an affront to even think that something like that SHOULD be submitted for, and decided by, a vote?

    I guess that’s just the way we have to do things in this so-called civilization of ours.

  • Brad

    From Kaltrosomos:

    [Me:] “Do you think it is possible to overthrow religions, or no?”

    Possible, but not likely in the near future. We would need thousands of years, if not hundreds of thousands, to alter the evolutionary advantage religion seems to enjoy. This is not a change you can expect in our era. Assuming, of course, that secular humanism can prove itself more useful in the struggle for survival.

    (Emphasis mine.) I have to wonder, exactly what would alter the evolutionary advantage of religion? Need the qualitative change be biological and psychological, or could it be sociological on a much smaller time scale?

    Unlike in humanity’s history prior to modern times, we are more globally connected than ever nowadays. In prior ages, when a religion died out a new one might eventually take its place because there was a vacuum and there was still a starvation for superstition and theology. History repeated itself because societies couldn’t learn from the past.

    I have to wonder, though, if the information age of today could change all that. There seems to be a glimmer of hope in the real-world implications of the internet, and as it expands more, I think all we can do is expect more from it. For instance, there is Internet Infidels as well as Ebon Musings, plus a host of other smaller sites, that won’t just fade away even if religion does. As another example, for Scientology, there is Operation Clambake and Project Chanology from “Anonymous”.

    Obviously this is optimistic speculation, but I think there is some small reason to suspect a paradigm shift that puts religion in its place where it won’t be coming back so easily.

  • Alex Weaver

    A bit of irony glimpsed on campus this afternoon.


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