How Long the Arc

This past Tuesday, marriage equality suffered another setback at the hands of bigotry in the state of Maine. This defeat is especially disappointing because, from all accounts, the No on 1 campaign did everything right: running a well-organized, well-financed campaign with powerful advertising and a dedicated get-out-the-vote effort. But even the smartest and most well-crafted effort of persuasion can’t succeed if people aren’t willing to be persuaded, and this was evidently one of those times. The defeat was a narrow one, but I know that’s small consolation for the citizens of Maine who’ve had their civil rights stripped from them by another prejudiced, religious majority.

This result is a demonstration, if another was needed, of the folly of making human rights just another question at the ballot box. This is why we have a constitutional republic in the first place – to protect the rights of minorities by putting them beyond a majority vote. I have no doubt that there are still plenty of places in the U.S. where interracial or interreligious marriage would fail if it were put to a referendum.

Remarkably, even though they’ve won this round, the enemies of equality are still trying to portray themselves as the victims. Take this column by Rod Dreher, which expresses a self-pitying lament that someone might call people like him nasty names because of how they voted:

…unless you’re prepared to call more than half the country bigots — and I have no doubt that many, perhaps most, gay marriage supporters are, and let that self-serving explanation suffice — maybe, just maybe, you ought to ask yourself if there’s something else going on here.

What that “something else” might be, he doesn’t say, but to answer his implicit question: Do I think that people who vote against same-sex marriage are bigoted? Yes! People who would deny equal rights to their fellow human beings, even if they cast their ballot with the most sincere intentions in the world, are still bigots. Why on earth does he imagine that the number of people who vote one way or the other would change our answer to this question? Is he saying that the majority can’t be prejudiced?

Even a cursory look back at history ought to disabuse him of this notion. Every prejudice that we’ve fought and overcome was popular and accepted in its day – from the belief that Africans’ natural role was as slaves, to the belief that women lacked the judgment and discernment needed to vote, to the belief that atheists are unqualified to hold elective office, to the belief that the races should not mix. Every civil rights movement began as a small minority of dedicated activists who battled to win people’s hearts and minds, who struggled, faced setbacks, met with widespread scorn and demonization, and were ultimately victorious. There is no reason to believe that this movement will be different – and very good reason to believe that those who stood on the wrong side of this fight will, one day, be regarded much the same way as we now regard people who defended those past prejudices.

Martin Luther King said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. But for those of us who are still on the wrong side of that bend, it can be agonizingly slow. To my GLBT friends and allies, who’ve already waited so long and suffered through so much, I can’t in good conscience ask you to wait any longer. But nevertheless, I say: have patience. I ask this of you not for political or tactical reasons, but out of the simple recognition that time is on our side. Just a few years ago, the idea that same-sex marriage would lose at the polls by only a few points would have been astounding; and more change is already visible on the horizon.

As with many social and scientific revolutions, the biggest obstacle to change comes from those in the older generations who have grown up with their prejudices and are too entrenched in them now to ever give them up. And, to be blunt, they will not be around forever. They will be replaced by younger generations, people who’ve grown up knowing gays and lesbians not as despised and stigmatized outcasts, but as their relatives, their neighbors, their friends – human beings just like everyone else, who want for themselves the same things that straight people want. If you want to see the future, we got a glimpse of it on Tuesday (see also):

At University of Maine’s Orono campus, 81 percent of students voted against taking away equal marriage rights, also showing the generation gap that persists on this question.

That is the generation that will be voting the next time this question comes up on the ballot. The bigots can fight as hard as they want, but their era is ending. They have only a short time left.

And this week’s news wasn’t all negative. In Washington state, the “everything but marriage” initiative Referendum 71 – which grants same-sex couples all the rights of marriage without using that term – won a slim, but nevertheless historic, victory. Although separate-but-equal isn’t the best outcome possible, it’s far better than nothing, and a clear sign of the progress that the gay-rights movement continues to achieve. (And for Rod Dreher’s sake, note that this initiative, despite not using the emotionally charged word “marriage”, was still fought tooth and nail by Christianist bigots. What better evidence could you ask for that the true goal of the religious right is to persecute gay people and deny them their rights?)

As long as that arc is, it’s still bending. The question isn’t whether we will eventually win – it’s only a question of when. The progress of equality can be slowed, but it can’t be denied. I know many of you are saddened and angry and frustrated, and I am as well. But if it means anything, remember: We know who we are, and we know what we stand for. No vote can take that away from us.

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.

  • Alex, FCD

    …unless you’re prepared to call more than half the country bigots…

    Damn rights I’m prepared. And if the entire country votes to strip certain people they don’t like of their rights, I’ll call the entire country bigoted.

  • http://www.dvorkin.com David Dvorkin

    There is no such thing as the arc of the moral universe, as I pointed out here.

    Atheists should avoid falling into that sort of wish-fulfillment trap. The moral setting of our world is entirely what we make it – or in this case, what the bigots make it.

  • http://blog.motheyes.com Joel

    Were half of a country against miscegenation, I would have not a moment’s hesitation in described that half as bigoted.

  • http://confessionatheist.blogspot.com Dale

    It may provide some consolation to know that in my home state of Washington, Referendum 71 has passed. This piece of legislation keeps our state’s same-sex domestic partnership laws intact. While this is by no means the kind of change many homosexual couples want, it’s nonetheless good news for the movement overall. At least we can rest assured that couples won’t have their existing rights taken away here in the Evergreen State.

    Seattle Times article on Referendum 71: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010212278_webref7106m.html

    Still, it doesn’t do much to lessen the blow the movement has taken in Maine. How I wish I could put those who voted Yes on 1 in the shoes of the gay couples they’ve denied marriage rights to! How I wish I could make them feel that sense of disappointment and injustice! I agree with you wholeheartedly, Ebon: I’ll call the whole country bigoted if it wants to deny equal rights to all citizens. After all, gotta call ‘em like I see ‘em, and I see a whole lotta narrow-minded people in this ridiculous nation of ours.

  • Sarah Braasch

    The Religious Right has perverted the meaning of our liberal constitutional democracy. They’ve convinced half our nation that our democracy is a might makes right, moral majority wins affair. Thus, all of the reinvigorated religious campaigns to outbreed and outvote everyone else.

    They do nothing so much as betray our Constitution and our founding. The founders understood nothing so well as that tyranny may be found in many disguises, and that tyranny of the majority was to be protected against just as much as tyranny by one or the few.

    Public referenda (if they may not be negated as unconstitutional by the judiciary) are wholly undemocratic. If by democracy we mean, and I hope to God we do, rule of law and human rights and secularism and individualism.

    If not, as Benjamin Franklin said, we’ll have our republic as long as we can keep it.

    The Religious Right seems determined to destroy it.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com/ D

    I’m trying to read everything with a critical eye today. I’m also trying to be concise, so if I screw it up, then please bear with me. The very strongest criticism I can think of for your rhetoric here is: it won’t convince everyone.

    I’ve gone around and around in circles on this, but two syllables won’t stop following that criticism: screw ‘em.

  • Matthew

    I say 40 cubits . . . what? Arc? Never mind . . .

  • Sean Wills

    That quote really boggles my mind. let’s walk through it:

    If 1 person thinks X, and you believe that X is bigoted, that’s okay.

    If 100 people think X, and you believe that X is bigoted, that is presumably still okay.

    If 1,000,000 people think X, and you believe that X is bigoted, you’re wrong.

    The logic just leaps out at you, doesn’t it?

  • penn

    I definitely agree that many in this country don’t understand the idea of constitutional rights and firmly believe in mob rule. A poll from this summer found that 70% of people thought women should take their husband’s name after marriage, and full 50% thought it should be legally required (here). Now I understand that the religious right has pushed the “gay marriage will destroy civilization” meme pretty hard, but no one is directly arguing that hyphenated names or women keeping their own names will destroy civilization. I think deep down a lot of Americans just think that things they don’t like or disagree with should be illegal. I guess civics isn’t taught very well in a lot of places.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com chanson

    Yeah, as much as I’d like to believe in a moral arc of the universe, I have to agree with David in #2.

    Overcoming bigotry takes effort. It’s easy for people understand that their own group has the full range of human types, but the human brain tends to simplify other groups to stereotypes. I’m not surprised at all to see that more than half of the country is bigoted. It’s a difficult problem, but we work on diminishing prejudice through education.

  • Polly

    Re The half-the-country idea:
    He probably means that if half the country agrees about something, it’s due to some underlying truth contained in the idea. Not that sheer numbers make something right, but that sheer numbers indicate that there’s more to the story and you libruhls just ain’t seein’ the light.
    I disagree. The popularity of bigoted notions doesn’t indicate anything other than mass ignorance. Seldom are mobs smarter than their dumbest constituent.

  • http://bridgingschisms.org Eshu

    I disagree with David on the moral arc. I don’t think it reduces so simply and necessarily to karma or supernatural wishful-thinking as you suggest on your blog.

    I know it is a difficult thing to measure, but it’s hard to think of any aspects of social justice that are worse today than they were hundreds of years ago, while Ebonmuse mentioned several which are moving and have moved in the right direction.

    But you’re right that these things don’t happen on their own or as part of the universe’s natural course. They happen because humans in general have a capacity for compassion and need for justice. I think the larger social groups we form, the more need for justice. And yes, these things don’t happen without people chaining themselves to railings, making speeches or refusing to give up their seats on the bus.

    I think the arc exists because most people have a sense of justice to which movements like this ultimately appeal.

  • Joffan

    I wonder what universal attitude of today’s society will be regarded as bigoted a hundred years from now. Any bets? “I can’t believe they kept animals as pets”? “They thought voting was optional”? “They locked up criminals”?

  • http://bridgingschisms.org Eshu

    Joffan,
    I think, “They actually ate meat from real animals, rather than stuff grown artificially! Disgusting!” :-)

  • Wayne Essel

    I think that marriage should be moved to the church side of the separation of church and state and that civil unions should be the ONLY institution of that type that the state sponsors, for ALL persons regardless of sexual persuasion or preference. If someone wants a marriage, then let them do it within their religion’s purview, but let it have no influence on their rights as a citizen.

    JMHO…

    Wayne

  • http://superhappyjen.blogspot.com Superhappyjen

    I don’t get what’s wrong with homosexuality, I really don’t. Seems to be about the same as hetrosexuality with some minor plumbing differences. If it was only a handful of religious nutjobs that were against it, I wouldn’t be too surprised, but I don’t know why SO many people are so against it. Where’s the harm? Isn’t love a GOOD thing?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Joffan,
    I’m hoping that future generations will look at us in disgust over the death penalty.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    ^^^^^^

    This.

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    To my GLBT friends and allies, who’ve already waited so long and suffered through so much, I can’t in good conscience ask you to wait any longer. But nevertheless, I say: have patience.

    It clear from your GLBT citation that the rights movement is not classed solely as a movement for gay and lesbian marriage, but also inclusive of bisexual and transgender rights. So in relation to bisexual marriage, will the person be entitled to marry a member of both genders, or will the person be forced to pick a member of one gender (or transgender)?

  • Wednesday

    So in relation to bisexual marriage, will the person be entitled to marry a member of both genders, or will the person be forced to pick a member of one gender (or transgender)?

    Why would marriage equality mean that a bisexual (or anyone, really) has to decide in advance that they will only legally marry men, or only legally marry women? It’s not like straights have to decide in advance that they’ll only marry white people. They can marry a white person, divorce or be widowed, and then marry a black person.

    Oh. Wait. I see what you’re asking.

    Are you serious, or are you just being an ass? This old canard needs to die. “Bisexual” is not the same as “polyamorous”. Bisexuals are attracted to persons of either sex, just as some straight people are attracted to people of the opposite sex with blond hair AND people of the opposite sex with brown hair.

    Being monogamous or polyamorous is completely separate from what types of people you are attracted to.

    Also, being transgendered is not a “third” gender. Most transgendered people identify as men or women, it’s just that their birth sex does not match that.

  • http://confessionatheist.blogspot.com Dale

    This is not at all related to what has been said, but was that bit about Referendum 71 added later, Ebon? I swear it wasn’t there when I posted my comment about it…

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    I’m pretty sure the bit about R71 was always there, Dale – but maybe whoever created the universe five minutes ago with an appearance of age has been getting sloppy.

    I want to clarify my position on something else that came up in the comments: I certainly don’t believe that the cosmos has any intrinsic or built-in moral law. My reading of Dr. King’s remark is more like what Eshu said in comment #12: I interpret the “moral universe” to be the sum total of human beliefs and actions, and in that sense, it’s clear that there is a trend of progress which tends to lead to wider circles of moral sympathy and a greater recognition of the need for fairness and justice. There’s nothing preordained about this trend; it’s just the way that things are contingently turning out. Nevertheless, we can recognize it and take it for a hopeful sign, even in the face of bitter defeats like this one.

  • bassmanpete

    I don’t get what’s wrong with homosexuality, I really don’t. Seems to be about the same as hetrosexuality with some minor plumbing differences. If it was only a handful of religious nutjobs that were against it, I wouldn’t be too surprised, but I don’t know why SO many people are so against it. Where’s the harm? Isn’t love a GOOD thing?

    There’s nothing wrong with homosexuality but you have to realise that up until the 1960s (in the UK at least) it was a criminal offence; people could be locked up for being homosexual. There are still a lot of people around who were brought up in that era and retain the old prejudices and some of them, unfortunately, pass those prejudices on to their kids. My only objection to homosexuals is their hijacking of the word gay :)

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    My only objection to homosexuals is their hijacking of the word gay :)

    Heh! and ironically I have had gay friends of mine complaining about the current teenagers using “gay” as a pejorative, not anti-homosexual exactly but in the context of “poor” or “lame” or “dumb” all of which have transcended their original meanings. Language is “cool” don’t ya know? (not in the original sense of the wo….oh forget it:)

  • Chuck

    When did we overcome this one?

    …to the belief that atheists are unqualified to hold elective office…

  • Alex Siyer

    Every prejudice that we’ve fought and overcome was popular and accepted in its day – from the belief that Africans’ natural role was as slaves, to the belief that women lacked the judgment and discernment needed to vote, to the belief that atheists are unqualified to hold elective office, to the belief that the races should not mix.

    Amen for that

    The agnostic president of my country has 80% of approval in a 87.14% Christian Country. Some day christians in america will be able to defeat the religion=moral prejudice too.

    PD: there are 8.3% of atheists and agnostics

  • Wednesday

    There’s nothing wrong with homosexuality but you have to realise that up until the 1960s (in the UK at least) it was a criminal offence; people could be locked up for being homosexual.

    More than locked up. Alan Turing wound up committing suicide as a result of what he was put through.

    In the US, gay sex (and in some cases oral and anal sex between opposite-sex adults) remained illegal to some degree or other in 14 states as late as 2003, when SCOTUS struck Texas’s law down. This does not mean the laws were uniformly enforced, but they were on the books.

  • ambrosia

    @14

    I’m hoping that future generations will look at us in disgust over the death penalty.

    You don’t have to wait for future generations – many in the current generations (outside the US) already do. Well, horror if not disgust.

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Dale,
    You say of bisexual marriage “This is not at all related to what has been said”.
    Have you read a different article? Does it not say:

    To my GLBT friends and allies, who’ve already waited so long and suffered through so much, I can’t in good conscience ask you to wait any longer. But nevertheless, I say: have patience.

    The “B” in GLBT stands for bisexual; hence, it is relevent. Now perhaps you might give your views on bisexual marriage?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Mavricky, what on earth is “bisexual marriage”, and how do you feel it’s relevant to what I’m discussing here?

  • XPK

    @Mavricky – It kinda sounds like you are just making light of this entire thing, Mavricky. As in “ha, ha…bisexual marriage, get it?” I understand if you cannot imagine being attracted to someone of the same gender. Perhaps you might think about what it would be like for your partner to be in the hospital dying, but you are not allowed to see them because you aren’t “related/family” unless you have multiple legal documents on hand to prove otherwise. Or imagine having to adopt a kid, by yourself, then have to wait a certain period of time before your partner is allowed to become a legal guardian of the child.

    I am bisexual and I am married. Fortunately for me the person I met that I wanted to partner with for the remainder of my days is of the opposite gender so I don’t have to worry about not having rights, having rights taken from me (or at least not as drastically), or having to go to extra-ordinary legal lengths to be able to perform duties related to my partnership. What disturbs me is when I think about what my life would be like if the person I wanted to partner with for the rest of my days was of the same gender.

  • Alex Weaver

    Mavricky, what on earth is “bisexual marriage”, and how do you feel it’s relevant to what I’m discussing here?

    Adam, that was a pretty rude thing to say to Mavricky, don’t you think? I mean, “what on earth”? “How is it relevant?” That sort of language really makes it seem like you “prefer to engage in overdramatic redfaced huffing and puffing than serious debate.”

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com/ D

    I think it’s pretty clear that Mavricky is asking whether a bisexual man can marry a man and also marry a woman (he’s just not up on the lingo, give him time). I don’t see why not. I think that’s how they roll in Denmark.

    I mean, really, we’re talking about legally codifying love. Who cares how many people get in on it? I say, the more the merrier, if that’s your thing.

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    I think it’s pretty clear that Mavricky is asking whether a bisexual man can marry a man and also marry a woman.

    Yes, that’s exactly what I’m asking. D, thanks for clearing it up.
    Ebonmuse, to answer the question again, it’s relevant beacuse.. actually just go re-read comment 19 and 29 above (as that question was answered twice before)!
    XPK, I’m not trying to make light of this, I’m trying to ask a question of principle. And as a bisexual who is married you are probably in a good position to give a viewpoint on this question: As a bisexual would you have liked (or be prepared to fight for) the right to marry a man and a woman?

  • Peter N

    First of all, here in Iowa for example, I can certainly marry a man, and then a woman, as long as I divorce the man first.

    Second, if I were bisexual, that would mean I was attracted to people of both sexes, in other words, more potential life-partners. It doesn’t mean I have to be married to one of each to be satisfied, any more than as a straight man, I want to be married to more than one woman!

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    I should think it was obvious that the context of my original comment was that, under our current system, a homosexual or bisexual person can’t marry the person they love if the two of them happen to be of the same gender. This gender-based restriction on who can join in civil partnership is born of bigotry and has no rational basis, just like past restrictions on marriage based on the participants’ race.

    Removing this discriminatory barrier does not imply the automatic right for a bisexual to marry two people of different genders; just as, when interracial marriage was legalized, no one gained the right to marry a black and a white person simultaneously.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Ebonmuse, you’re right. And, I totally support gay marriage as the pragmatic next step in the fight for equality for all.

    But, I also support civil unions for everyone and no govt sanctioned marriage (in the long term) as a separation of church and state issue.

    And, also, and I know no one wants to talk about this for pragmatic reasons, which are not to be discounted — they are more than legitimate concerns — but I thought I would share this.

    I’m just as concerned about vulnerable young girls and women, especially in isolated religious cults, but when will it be time to talk about a redefinition of legally recognized family?

    I think this will have to be addressed soon. The current legal framework does not address the way that people actually live their lives.

    I know that this is a Pandora’s box. I just thought I’d throw this out there.

    This is an interesting website and organization doing work on this issue. Let me know what you think:

    http://www.beyondmarriage.org/

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Removing this discriminatory barrier does not imply the automatic right for a bisexual to marry two people of different genders.p>

    Exactly, it does not imply an automatic right for a bisexual to marry two people of different genders. So my point is, that when gay and lesbian people secure their rights to marriage, haven’t the rights of bisexual people been left behind/forgotted? Aren’t they are also being discriminated against? – because if they want to get married they will effectively be forced to decide to either “go straight” and marry a member of the opposite sex, or fall into the gay/lesbian category by marrying a member of the same sex.

  • jemand

    heterosexual men are attracted to women. How could it POSSIBLY make sense that a man marries every woman on the planet! Keep hetero marriage illegal!!!!!!!!!!

    That help, mavricky? You get what we’re *actually* talking about now, and what bisexual *actually* means?

  • jemand

    Bisexual DOES NOT mean polyamorous! Ugh, you still don’t get it. Most bisexual people only want one long term committed relationship at a time. A minority want polyamorous relationships, just like a minority of gay and straight people want polyamorous relationships. That’s fine but it has nothing to do with what we’re talking about, and NOTHING to do with the definition of bisexual!

  • Alex, FCD

    Sarah:

    Ebonmuse, you’re right. And, I totally support gay marriage as the pragmatic next step in the fight for equality for all.

    But, I also support civil unions for everyone and no govt sanctioned marriage (in the long term) as a separation of church and state issue. [Italics mine - AFCD]

    I don’t think you’re going to get very far with this particular line of argument. Marriage, as it is carried out in the US*, is entirely secular. Sure it can be carried out by a priest in a cathedral preceded by a mass, but it can also be carried out by a JP in your house preceded by hors d’oeuvre. Marriage certainly was originally a religious ceremony, but as it stands it’s not regulated by a religious body, nor is carrying it out the sole province of religious bodies, nor is it available solely to religious people, nor do religious people get any extra benefits from it. Sounds like church and state are pretty separate to me in this matter.

    The website you link to gives a list of people and groups who should be entitled to marriage-like legal benefits:

    · Single parent households

    · Senior citizens living together and serving as each other’s caregivers (think Golden Girls)

    · Blended and extended families

    · Children being raised in multiple households or by unmarried parents

    · Adult children living with and caring for their parents

    · Senior citizens who are the primary caregivers to their grandchildren or other relatives

    · Close friends or siblings living in non-conjugal relationships and serving as each other’s primary support and caregivers

    · Households in which there is more than one conjugal partner

    · Care-giving relationships that provide support to those living with extended illness such as HIV/AIDS.

    And I’m all for giving out these benefits where it’s appropriate (I’m sure there are some huge income-tax complexities in there somewhere), but I don’t see why we have to get rid of marriage in order to do that.

    Oh, and Mavricky:

    Exactly, it does not imply an automatic right for a bisexual to marry two people of different genders. So my point is, that when gay and lesbian people secure their rights to marriage, haven’t the rights of bisexual people been left behind/forgotted? Aren’t they are also being discriminated against?

    If straigt people already had the right to have harems and that was being denied to bisexual people, then you might have a point.

    *Or Canada, anyway. I’d be very surprised to learn that it works differently in the States.

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Jemand,
    I think it is you who don’t quite get the point here. Ebonmouse attempted to address my question in terms of interracial marriage, and you have addressed it in terms of heterosexuals being attracted to more than one person – neither of these answers is getting at the principle in question. In both those examples there is attraction to only ONE other gender. In both “conventional” marriage and gay marriage there is only ONE other sex in the equation: to marry a person of the opposite sex (i.e. heterosexual) or to marry a person of the same sex (i.e. homosexual). Whereas in the Bi-sexual case there is sexual attraction to TWO genders.
    But if I am correct in reading correctly between the lines here then your view is that a bisexual person must relinquish their bisexuality if they decide to get married and thus is forced to decide whether to be straight or gay, and that is as far as bisexual rights go.

  • jemand

    @Alex, your mention of US and Canada is yet another reason why homosexuals need access to actual marriage, not just “civil unions.” Marriage is a state recognized in many different countries, not just the US, and it would be discriminatory to keep that from them even if they would be able to get all the same benefits… as long as they remained in this country.

  • jemand

    Mavricky, I am attracted to both black people AND white people. TWO races, imagine that*! But in legal marriage, even though the miscegenation laws have been struck down, there is only ONE other person I may marry. If I choose to get married, I must decide whether to marry inside my race or out of it. I do not understand why that would change who I *was* as a person who found people of any race attractive.

    I honestly do not understand how you don’t get this.

    *(simplified to sorta fit the sex discussion, not trying to ignore other races here)

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Jemand,
    I give up..
    Well maybe I’ll have ONE more go.
    The principle in question relates to GENDERS in marriage, not RACE (or anything else!).

  • Alex, FCD

    jemand:

    @Alex, your mention of US and Canada is yet another reason why homosexuals need access to actual marriage, not just “civil unions.”

    I absolutely agree. I only mention Canada because that’s where I happen to live. I’m trying to preëmptively excuse myself for any mistakes I make in understanding US law :)

    Mavricky:

    But if I am correct in reading correctly between the lines here then your view is that a bisexual person must relinquish their bisexuality if they decide to get married and thus is forced to decide whether to be straight or gay, and that is as far as bisexual rights go.

    Here’s a hint: bisexual people are still bisexual even if they only happen to be sleeping with one person.

  • Alex, FCD

    Mavricky:

    I give up..

    Probably your best option, under the circumstances.

    The principle in question relates to GENDERS in marriage, not RACE (or anything else!).

    Is this really that hard?

  • Wednesday

    Mavricky,

    Thank you for answering my question, albeit indirectly.

    For the third time (at least): bisexuality is not the same as polyamory. Many bisexuals are monogamous. Just because the can be attracted to people of both sexes does not mean they want to have a relationship with two people at once.

    Prohibiting polygamous marriage for all people is not discriminatory to bisexuals as a group. It may be discriminatory to bisexuals who are also polyamorous, as well as straights and gays who are polyamorous. But in that case, it’s discrimination against polyamorous folks.

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Ok so I think it’s clear from the opinions so far, that once marriage rights for gay and lesbian people are achieved that will be the end of it. There will be no additional rights sought for bisexual people. Bisexuals will have no other option but to enter either conventional marriage or gay marriage. If bisexual people are ok with this then there is no discrimination here to speak of. However, when gay and lesbian people eventually get full marriage rights, I can’t help but imagine that in the years ahead we will see the other half of the GLBT movement (Bs & Ts) beginning the fight for their rights – even though no one here seems to think they should have anything to feel aggrieved about.

  • jemand

    POLY! The word you are looking for is POLY!!! You just will not listen. Bisexual has to do with attraction, it has NOTHING to do with monogamy or polyamory. We probably WILL start talking about poly rights after we get homosexual marriage, but it’s a BAD idea to totally ignore what “bisexual” actually means. You’re being willfully ignorant here.

  • Alex, FCD

    Ok so I think it’s clear from the opinions so far, that once marriage rights for gay and lesbian people are achieved that will be the end of it. There will be no additional rights sought for bisexual people. Bisexuals will have no other option but to enter either conventional marriage or gay marriage. If bisexual people are ok with this then there is no discrimination here to speak of.

    Even if we weren’t ok with it there would be no discrimination to speak of. Legal discrimination occurs when one group of people is granted rights that another group is not*. Nobody, gay, straight, bisexual or otherwise, has the right to hold harems in the United States. This law applies equally to everyone and nobody is being discriminated against. In fact, if we granted this right only to bisexual people, then we would have a discriminatory law.

    *And the groups are arbitrary. Failure to grant free travel rights to convicted criminals, for example, doesn’t count.

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Legal discrimination occurs when one group of people is granted rights that another group is not

    In fact, if we granted this right only to bisexual people, then we would have a discriminatory law.

    Don’t quite agree with you there Alex, have you not heard of “positive discrimination”. It has been implemented many times and in many countries.

  • Wednesday

    Alex, FYI – not all poly relationships are equivalent to “holding harems”. Yes, some are. Some are also really abusive and horrible, like in the FLDS. But, and this is important, not all of them are like that.

    I know the troll is maddening in his deliberate refusal to recognize that bisexuality is completely different from polyamory, and we all know it’s meant as a slur against bisexuals, but let’s not denigrate all polys while we’re refuting it. :)

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    I concur that Mavricky is probably being deliberately obtuse here, but let me try one more time to make this as clear as I can.

    Marriage is a civil ceremony which confers certain legal rights on both partners. As the law stands, you are allowed to marry only one person at a time. That law applies equally to everyone, and therefore is not discriminatory in that respect. However, the present law is discriminatory in another respect: it denies certain people the right to enter into marriage based on the gender of the participants. This is wrong for precisely the same reason that anti-miscegenation laws, which denied certain people the right to enter into marriage based on the race of the participants, were wrong: they treat people unequally based on which group they belong to (black/white, straight/gay).

    What we advocate is the removal of that discriminatory restriction, so that any two rational, consenting adults can marry regardless of their gender. What we seek, in other words, is to widen the field of who you’re legally allowed to marry. But that aside, the institution of marriage itself will remain the same, conferring the same rights, privileges and responsibilities it always has. In particular, you’ll still only be allowed to marry one person. As a straight man, I may love two women, but I can’t marry both of them simultaneously. The same will be true of bisexuals; they’ll just have a wider field to choose among for their marriage partner. I refer again to my previous analogy: when interracial marriage was made legal, people gained the right to choose either a black or a white person for their marriage partner – but not to marry both a black and a white person simultaneously.

  • Alex, FCD

    Mavricky:

    Don’t quite agree with you there Alex, have you not heard of “positive discrimination”

    So, to recap, I said that a law allowing only bisexuals to have multiple spouses would be discriminatory, and you disagreed with me by saying that such a law would be discriminatory.
    Wednesday:

    Alex, FYI – not all poly relationships are equivalent to “holding harems”. Yes, some are. Some are also really abusive and horrible, like in the FLDS. But, and this is important, not all of them are like that.

    You’re right, of course, and I should’ve clarified that in my original comments and I apologize. The reason I said ‘harems’ is that that’s what Mavricky is suggesting. (S)he is suggesting that it should be within the rights of a bisexual person to have two spouses*, who would not be in a marital relationship with one another. From a practical point of view, that means that one of these people is going to have a bit more power in the relationship than the other two. That’s an entirely different kettle of fish from an equitable polyamorous relationship (and, of course, there’s nothing wrong with those).

    *Or, more likely, (s)he’s concern trolling.

  • Alex Weaver

    I concur that Mavricky is probably being deliberately obtuse here, but let me try one more time to make this as clear as I can.

    *Or, more likely, (s)he’s concern trolling.

    Between the vapid boilerplate comments, the dodging of follow-up, probing, or otherwise substantive questions, the willful obtuseness displayed here and elsewhere, and the passive-aggressive bullying via “manners trolling,” I think Mavricky has made it more than clear that it is not interested in arguing in good faith, on this topic or any other.

  • Tim

    Mavricky, as a straight white atheist male, I may be attracted to many different types of females. White, asian, black, christian, atheist, et cetera. However, I’m currently in a relationship with a straight asian christian female. Just because I’m capable of finding other women attractive, does not mean that I would want to be in a relationship with them, as I am committed to the one I’m in now.

    In the same way, a bisexual person may be attracted to people of a different or the same gender, but once they are in a committed relationship, they are not going to pursue other relationships. The difference is monogamous versus polygamous (as others have stated), and who you’re attracted to does not change how you act when in a relationship with a chosen person.

  • http://www.time4rebellion.blogspot.com Mavricky

    Jemand, Tim, Ebonmuse,
    While I still think there is a subtle difference between being attracted to different people of the same gender vs different people of different genders, the difference is probably not big enough to pursue here as a rationalized argument, and probably the only thing worth hearing now are the thoughts of bisexual people themselves?
    So from the answers you have all given in pointing out the differences between bisexual and (bisexual-)polyamorous people you have answered my original question, and so I now accept your viewpoint that there essentially will not need to be another variant of marriage for bisexual people.

  • Alex, FCD

    While I still think there is a subtle difference between being attracted to different people of the same gender vs different people of different genders, the difference is probably not big enough to pursue here as a rationalized argument, and probably the only thing worth hearing now are the thoughts of bisexual people themselves?

    You’ve already been hearing them.

  • adam

    Mavricky, what exactly about bisexuality implies polyamory/polygamy? Bisexuals are just as monogamous as any other group. Potential for attraction for both sexes does not even imply any necessity to have relationships with both. You’re looking for an issue where there is none.

  • Aceral

    /sigh, isn’t communication beautiful…

  • Wedge

    Mavricky,

    Bisexual here. Did NOT give up being bisexual when I got married. I am still attracted to other people, I just happened to end up in a monogamous relationship with a man.

    Bisexual and polyamorous are not the same thing. Bisexual means being attracted to both sexes, not continually having sex with both sexes.

    Frankly, I know you’re not too stupid to have understood all the comments that have pointed this out to you.

    And I find your insistence that if I don’t constantly sleep with two sexes I’m not bisexual anymore to be highly offensive.

  • Ben

    Back from the little side-step debate going on (even though this thread is probably not being visited anymore), it’s interesting to note that the Australian Capital Territory here in Australia has just passed same-sex civil union laws. This is the third attempt at such laws, with the previous two being vetoed by the then ultra-conservative Prime Minister and the now semi-conservative Prime Minister.

    The first time a law was passed, it was an actual marriage law. The paradoxically-named Liberal Party of the time, who have strong ties to and receive funding from many churches, used their House of Reps and Senate majorities to amend the federal Marriage Act to include the definition of “one male and one female only”, thus making the ACT law illegal.

    The second attempt was a civil union act which was just like a marriage, conferring all the rights of a marriage, for all marriages, straight or gay. However it was struck down by the new Labor Party Prime Minister as being too-much like marriage and therefore undermining the federal government’s monopoly on restricting people’s relationships (my words, not theirs). While true that many straight people would opt for a cicil union instead of a marriage, I don’t understand why the word marriage must essentially be applied to all qualifying relationships. Surely it is the rights that come with the union that matter, not the word describing it.

    This final attempt has been seriously watered down. The new bill applies only to gay relationships (marriages which don’t qualify under the Marriage act) in an attempt to appease the divided Senate. At least one Liberal senator has vowed to cross the floor to vote for the bill if it came to that, but it is yet unknown whether the PM will attempt to veto the move. If he does, I’ve lost all faith in the system, where the federal government can meddle in state and territory business, and where our Members of Parliament violate the constitution and agreed-upon UNHRC standards to represent their own interests (religious beliefs and/or being reelected). My faith in the system is already on a fine-line. Voting is compulsory here, but I reserve the right to scrawl the word “you all suck!” across the ballot if it comes to that.

    Honestly, the most galling aspect is that in the lead-up to the last federal election there were Labor party members at the local Pride festival trying to drum up votes for the now-PM. It was a pity that when pressed on exactly what the Labor party would do for gay rights in this country, the silence was deafening. Some vague promise to “do something” doesn’t cut it, I’m afraid. How arrogant of them to court the LGBT vote while doing exactly what the conservative wingnuts we wanted to oust (for other reasons, such as the draconian workplace laws) would have done.

    Well, just thought I’d put it out there that the US isn’t the only place where the religious-right have their tentacles in politics and human rights issues. In fact, if this bill gets overturned same-sex marriage will still be illegal across the country. Our backwards laws don’t recognise same-sex marriages performed overseas, can void passports if they suspect you’re going overseas to get married, and even go so far as to deny visas for children adopted overseas by same-sex couples.

    And all this coming from a country supposedly more progressive and less religious than the US.

  • Alex, FCD

    Ben: my condolences. This caught my eye, though:

    This is the third attempt at such laws, with the previous two being vetoed by the then ultra-conservative Prime Minister and the now semi-conservative Prime Minister.

    You guys have a Prime Ministerial veto? How does that work? Does that only apply to his own party’s policies, or can he veto private members’ bills as well?

  • Katie M

    Washington D.C.’s same-sex marriage law just went into effect. Here’s hoping it STAYS in effect!

  • Always_learning

    A bit late to this thread, but I was wondering if anyone has ever considered running a mock campaign in any state for a ballot initiative to prohibit Christians from marrying (on the grounds that pairings of Christians, particularly right-wing Christians, are inimical to the democratic and secular valued embodied in the US Constitution), with a view to using the publicity surrounding such a campaign to educate people on how hateful and abhorrent it is to deny a group of people their rights for a trait or characteristic of that group that one dislikes or disapproves of.

  • Zietlos

    To be honest A_L, it wouldn’t be a good idea. A nice bit of wish-fulfillment, yes, and you’d probably be able to do so in some countries, like Egypt or Iraq, because they are the minority, but for some reason, when a group is in the majority, the power, and/or has all the rights, they tend to react violently to everything from anonymous websites to comic strips. It would be extremely dangerous for the demonstrators, even if done in jest, because some people would think you’re taking it seriously, and then draw 2 conclusions: 1: This person is a bad person and deserves to be hurt, and 2: OMG THE ATHEIST CONSPIRACY IS TRYING TO TAKE OUT RIGHTS AWAY!!1 ITS TREU!1!!11!11!! And then the campaign turns into an example, taken out of context by Faux News, of why atheists are teh evulz.

    Now, if you were a well-known celebrity or comedian, maybe John Stewart or Colbert, or even Penn and Teller, you probably could get away with it as a social commentary (which it would be either way, but celebrities have more rights than normal people, as you know). Know any numbers for famous people?

    But yes, it is quite blatantly stupid to campaign against giving people rights (at no cost to you). I mean, if you’re campaigning against a tax hike to make homeless shelters, intellectually I can understand people wanting to keep their own money. But a no-cost-to-you, except maybe lost schadenfreude, well, it’s just wrong.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Always, not to my knowledge, but there was a petition to put a divorce ban on the ballot here in California.