Honey and Sweetheart

(ring, ring) “Hello?”

“Uh, hi Honey, it’s me.”

“Oh hi Sweetheart. What’s up?”

“Well, I just wanted to check to be sure, uh, are we okay with each other?”

“What are you talking about?”

“I mean in our marriage. Is our marriage okay?”

“Of course it is. What’s going on?”

“Well I just heard that the California Supreme Court ruled that no one can be discriminated against in their right to marry whomever they love, and that includes same-sex couples.”

“Wow! That’s great. What’s that have to do with our marriage?”

“Well, some people are saying that this is going to destroy marriage, and because our marriage is so important to me I just wanted to be sure it hasn’t been destroyed.”

(laughter) “Oh Sweetheart, you are so funny. Our marriage is up to us. It’s our creation that we make better or worse every day by the decisions we make. It can’t be destroyed by the gay couple next door who want to be married too. People who are afraid of that either have weak marriages, weak minds or small hearts.”

“Yeah I thought you’d say that Honey, but I just wanted to be sure.”

“Listen Sweetheart I’ll show you how strong our marriage is when I get home tonight. Okay?”

“Okay. Love ya, bye.”

About Richard Wade

Richard Wade is a retired Marriage and Family Therapist living in California.

  • http://skeptigator.com Skeptigator

    Personally, I plan on divorcing my wife and then blaming it on teh gays.

    “I really wanted to stay married, your honor, but the gays destroyed my marriage.”

  • http://www.chedstone.com Roy McKenzie

    haha! this is great. And a great way to present how absurd it is to suggest that gay marriage destroys marriages.

  • Pingback: California’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional | chedstone.com

  • mikespeir

    I don’t think this is quite the point of those who insist this kind of thing will destroy the institution of marriage. They oppose broadening the definition until it seems to have no real meaning at all. (And it’s not just gays and lesbians who would like to change things. Others would like concepts like open marriage, polygamy, etc. to be socially and legally acceptable.) They fear that by so expanding the concept fewer people will bother with it and that arrangements heretofore considered morally debased will become palatable and even mainstream.

  • http://www.cognitivedissident.org/ cognitive dissident

    This post is full of win, and made me laugh out loud…thanks!

  • http://youtube.com/joelschooling Joel Schooling

    I demand apologies for using such terms as “honey” and “sweetheart” .
    You think you’re better than Obama? ( “sweetie” )

    =P

  • Richard Wade

    They fear that by so expanding the concept fewer people will bother with it and that arrangements heretofore considered morally debased will become palatable and even mainstream.

    Uh huh. And their point is………?

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Yeah, I just informed Mr. Writerdd that we will have to get divorced now.

  • Drew

    Blasphemy!

  • JimboB

    Haven’t you infidels heard?! Gay marriage killed the dinosaurs! Repent before it’s too late!

    /sarcasm

  • Siamang

    HOORAY!!!!!!

    I was there, during that magical Valentines Day weekend, when San Fransisco started issuing licenses. My mother in law got married, there in the rotunda of city hall. My wife and daughter were there for the historic moment.

  • http://wisertime.wordpress.com Jake

    Is that a straw man I smell burning?

  • RobL

    It is so sad that this is even an issue. I had to attend a relatives first communion at a small Catholic church in North Idaho a short while ago. At the end of the service the head of the parish stood up and ranted about gay marriage then passed out petitions for all of us to sign and send to the local state legislator. The gist was that gays are evil and gay marriage should be illegal. Then as I walked out the door I passed a tombstone out in front garden that was inscribed with: “Placed here in memory of all the babies killed by abortion”. I left very sad and depressed about the mentality of the people living in the area.

  • Stephen

    I don’t think this is quite the point of those who insist this kind of thing will destroy the institution of marriage.

    Based on the discussions I’ve had with such people, they don’t have a point, nor are they trying very hard to find one. It’s a just a convenient way of dressing up their anti-homosexual bigotry to make it socially acceptable (in certain quarters).

  • Brian E

    I’m going to ask a question out of total ignorance, and let me first state that I don’t care one way or the other on the issue. But what is the pressing need for gay/lesbian couples to have state-recognized marriages? Is it simply for tax/benefit purposes? To look at the other side of this argument – does having the state recognize your relationship as a ‘marriage’ make it more meaningful? As an atheist, ‘marriage’ has little meaning to me other than what I file on my taxes and other critical paperwork (I don’t even wear my wedding ring). The actual relationship with my wife is the part that has merit and meaning to me and that’s what I focus on.

    So I’m not trying to offend anyone, just trying to better understand.

  • Arlen

    I can barely contain my happiness and excitement!

    /serious

  • Siamang

    Here’s what I wrote, on the JREF forums when I got back from San Francisco, writing under the name “Silicon”.

    Quote:
    Originally posted by rikzilla

    I’d hardly refer to that as “legal”. The term “legal” implies permanance. Your use of “as of this moment” implies that you have no illusions that this will remain “legal” for long. You may as well have said “In this place, at this momnet”…because as soon as your MIL leaves California she’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who recogizes her “marriage”.

    Silicon:

    Well, she lives in California, so I think she’s okay on that front.

    Yes, everyone there, thousands of people, had no illusions that their marriage is a done-deal permanent thing. At least the PAPER is impermanent.

    Now, if a judge strikes down their paper, it’s only their rights which go away. They keep the paper, it gets framed and goes up over the mantle. We keep the moment in which my daughter saw her grandmothers get married.

    My MIL and her partner will still be married. Actually, they have been married for 4 years now, they got married in a religious ceremony, in front of family, loved ones, witnesses, and God (according to their beliefs). Any judge cannot dissolve that union without their consent.

    This was merely about getting the paper, and hopefully the rights that go with it. But also sticking up for your rights, fighting for future generations, etc. The world will be a better place for my daughter because of what we did this weekend, I have no doubt.

    Illusions? We have none. False hope? None. Hollow promises by the mayor? Pandering? That’s not what was happening there in SF.

    Roadtoad, I thought he was pandering as well, before I went there and took part in this. Take a look at the footage, look at the photos online. And think, you aren’t seeing 1/100th of the emotion that is pouring out of this building. Seeing hundreds, HUNDREDS, THOUSANDS of families positively swooning with joy, happiness, love. Over and over and over. You are looking into the faces, EVERYWHERE you look, on each face you see, you can see the happiest day of their life. Now imagine spending one day in that crowd with every single person overwhelmed with emotion.

    THAT’S what’s happening in San Francisco.

    None of the black students sitting down at Woolworths lunch counters in 1960 had any illusions that they would get served lunch, either, roadtoad.

    But sat they did, and though it took years, eventually they got served.

    Was Dr. King pandering, giving people false hope?

    Yes, the Mayor is breaking the law. Everyone there knows that. I’m sure he would quote Dr. King:

    Quote:
    One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

    Is now the time for this action? I’d again look to Dr. King for the answer.

    Quote:
    I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

    We need a Dr. King now. The mayor isn’t a Dr. King, but he knows his words and his spirit.

    If you weren’t there, and I’m assuming you weren’t, Roadtoad and Rik, you cannot know the pure, pure emotion. And you cannot know the resolve of these people to have what heterosexuals take for granted, flaunt, throw away, and toy with. You didn’t see the tears of joy on thousands of faces this weekend, when the door of equality was opened for just an inch before it will be shut again for a time.

    Let us work for when that door will be flung open for all time.

  • http://www.godriddance.com Ryan

    Nice blog you’ve got here. Please check out my site, GodRiddance:
    http://www.godriddance.com

    -Ryan

  • Karen

    Woo-Hoo!! I was so excited when I heard this on the radio this morning. :-)

    I turned on CNN and they were actually reporting it as a defeat for gay marriage for about 10 minutes. They even had a “legal scholar” giving her opinion – obviously without seeing the ruling. (Duh… ) I was like, “What the f***?!” and I switched to MSNBC which had the story right. CNN recanted about 10 minutes later.

    Okay, so now we have to deal with the Focus on the Family clones who are trying to get a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the ballot in November. I’m thinking things have changed a whole lot since 2000, and it’s not going to pass this time. I mean, we’ve seen gay people get married and we’re all still here. Heterosexual marriage lives on (despite Richard’s wife’s worries ;-) ).

    I’m going to be out campaigning against the bigotry if FOTF gets this hatred on the ballot, and for Barack. Man, what an historic election this is shaping up to be!!

  • chancelikely

    I’m always struck by the “Gay marriage will destroy/diminish straight marriage” arguments.

    Seems to me the institution is diminished by not extending it to people who should have it.

  • Siamang

    Jake said,

    Is that a straw man I smell burning?

    If so, do you care to plead the argument you think is strongest? Tell me right now why you think my mother-in-law shouldn’t be allowed to be married to the mother of her child. It better be a very, very good reason.

    Be advised that this is personal for me, and I’ll take any attack on their rights as an attack on my family, as you would if I were to say anything against your family.

  • mikespeir

    Richard & Stephen:

    Now, I’m not trying to argue their case for them. I’m just suggesting that we address their actual concerns. It is not among their concerns that existing heterosexual marriages will somehow fall apart if gay marriage is allowed.

  • Siamang

    Is their actual concern that this’ll be followed by “man and tree” marriage and “man and dog” marriage?

    Because I’ve heard them say that before. And all I have to say is that if “man and dog” marriage is what you’re against, that ain’t gay marriage, it’s interspecies marriage.

    If you have to use the specter of future legalization of polygamy to scare people away from gay marriage, then the gay marriage isn’t really the thing you’re arguing against.

    Their arguments are so phenomenally poor that it’s hard to tell them from straw. Which kind of clarifies what happened in the state supreme court on this case. Not even their lawyers could make a strong enough case for something that’s been status-quo for the last 150 years of state law.

    If the other side even HAD a good argument, I’m sure it would have shown up there.

  • Richard Wade

    Karen,

    Heterosexual marriage lives on (despite Richard’s wife’s worries)

    What makes you assume that I am Honey and my wife is Sweetheart? :)

  • Spurs Fan

    What makes you assume that I am Honey and my wife is Sweetheart?

    Hah!

    I don’t think this is quite the point of those who insist this kind of thing will destroy the institution of marriage. They oppose broadening the definition until it seems to have no real meaning at all. (And it’s not just gays and lesbians who would like to change things. Others would like concepts like open marriage, polygamy, etc. to be socially and legally acceptable.) They fear that by so expanding the concept fewer people will bother with it and that arrangements heretofore considered morally debased will become palatable and even mainstream.

    Even if polygamy and other forms did become legal it still doesn’t change the fact that two people are in charge of their own marriage and what they make of it. I feel that monogamous heterosexual marriage has done enough damage to the “institution” already..what’s the divorce rate in the Bible belt? How many of those not divorced have had affairs?

    Finally, for all of those critics who say that it has “always been one man and one woman”. Have you ever read the Old Testament? Many of the marriages, including those of the hero patriarchs, are quite polygamous (Solomon, anyone?).

  • Richard Wade

    This is their strongest, most rational, most logically compelling argument against permitting those who want to marry to marry.

  • Miko

    I don’t think this is quite the point of those who insist this kind of thing will destroy the institution of marriage. They oppose broadening the definition until it seems to have no real meaning at all. (And it’s not just gays and lesbians who would like to change things. Others would like concepts like open marriage, polygamy, etc. to be socially and legally acceptable.)

    But the real point is that they’re wrong. They said exactly the same thing about interracial marriage. They said exactly the same thing when matchmakers went out of style. What they really oppose is broadening the ‘definition of marriage’ until it seems that they’re unable to maintain totalitarian control over it.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ hoverFrog

    Aww, that’s really sweet.

  • http://mypantstheatre.blogspot.com bullet

    Quite frankly, I don’t see the problem with polygamy, either. Consenting adults, and all that jazz. In addition, it would make for some really interesting legal wrangling.

  • Claire

    Brian E said,

    But what is the pressing need for gay/lesbian couples to have state-recognized marriages? Is it simply for tax/benefit purposes?

    It’s about all the other legal stuff when something bad happens. Imagine being in a car wreck with your not-legally-married partner who is badly injured. Next thing you know, his family (for the sake of convenience I will say ‘his’ instead of ‘his or her’) is making all the medical decisions, you can’t even see him because it’s ‘family only’, then he dies and suddenly you’re homeless because the house was in his name and your kid is taken away because it was your partner’s DNA that the kid has and not yours.

    That is a worst case scenario but it illustrates why it’s important. When crap happens, the unmarried have no rights.

  • http://themousesnest.blogspot.com Mouse

    Re: why a state-recognized marriage?

    A good place to start is with something like HRC’s FAQ on same-sex marriage and relationship recognition:
    http://www.hrc.org/issues/5517.htm
    The bigger goal is federal recognition, as there are 1000+ benefits at the federal level conferred from legally-recognized marriages. It is possible to approximate a decent number of the state and federal benefits through various legal documents, but it takes a couple thousand dollars and is still not a guarantee of recognition in every state.

    My hope in all of this is that as more states recognize same-sex marriages, it will be harder to argue that the current patchwork of recognition does not violate the “Full Faith and Credit” clause of the Constitution.

    My wife and I were married in Canada, but had all the necessary paperwork done a few years before that, as part of the second-parent adoption process when our son was born. We’re lucky to have had the money for all of this, but even so, we play a constant game of worrying we won’t have the right paperwork with us if something bad happens to any of us.

  • Karen

    What makes you assume that I am Honey and my wife is Sweetheart? :)

    Well, isn’t it obvious?! You are a honey of a guy! ;-)

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    A true watershed will be with the first marriage between an Atheist and a banana. ;) Let put past fears behind us!

    Seriously, only disguised bigots would want to limit marriage based on the personal preferences of consenting humans who love each other… Although, I do support age and incest restrictions.

  • Old Beezle

    Richard Wade is my hero:

    Richard Wade said,

    May 15, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    This is their strongest, most rational, most logically compelling argument against permitting those who want to marry to marry.

    Mass hysteria! You’ve used Ghostbusters before, I think, and it was music to my ears then as well.

    And hooray for the Supreme Court of California (well, 4 of them at least)! I’ve already placed it on my list of Why I Love to Live in California.

  • Kyle

    They oppose broadening the definition until it seems to have no real meaning at all.

    I’m trying to figure out how one would broaden the definition of something to the point where it doesn’t have any real meaning anymore.

    I suppose you could define “rabbits” to also mean “horses”, but then that wouldn’t be a very good definition. However, it would still have “real” meaning.

    I just want to say how sorry I am for everyone who decided to get married and will now be in an institution with no real meaning. When will we know when all the real meaning has left? :-)

  • Nurse Ingrid

    Here is my answer to Brian E’s question.

    In 2004, Greta and I were among the 4,000 couples who got married at SF City Hall. As it happens, my mother is also gay, and she and her partner had also made an appointment to get married at City Hall, and I was planning to attend. Then the courts stepped in and halted the weddings, so my mother’s was cancelled. Then the courts stepped in again and annulled all the marriages that had already taken place.

    I’ll just repeat that: the government cancelled my mother’s wedding. Then the government annulled my marriage.

    I live in the Bay Area, and I don’t have to deal with much anti-gay discrimination in my daily life. But that experience hit me hard and made me realize: we really are second class citizens.

    That is why atheists should care about this issue. Because the government has no business interfering in our families in that way. And calling it “civil unions” or “domestic partnership” doesn’t work, because those terms are not recognized in all jurisdictions of the nation and the world the way that “marriage” is.

    I appreciate your question, Brian, and no offense taken. But I would respectfully suggest that “privilege” is something that people only notice when they don’t have it.

  • mikespeir

    I’m trying to figure out how one would broaden the definition of something to the point where it doesn’t have any real meaning anymore.

    Really so hard to understand? A definition is an attempt at precision. It’s so the other guy can have a fair idea what you’re talking about (“meaning”) when you use the word. Using “rabbits” for “horses” simply muddies the waters such that no one is really sure whether you mean what we now call a “rabbit” or what we now call a “horse.”

    Why, if we wanted to, we could get rid of all words but “rabbit,” and define it such that it substituted for every word we now use:

    Rabbit rabbit rabbit, rabbit rabbit!

    Did that mean anything to you?

  • Siamang

    A definition is an attempt at precision. It’s so the other guy can have a fair idea what you’re talking about (”meaning”) when you use the word. Using “rabbits” for “horses” simply muddies the waters such that no one is really sure whether you mean what we now call a “rabbit” or what we now call a “horse.”

    I’d argue that this isn’t very broadening at all, any more than when we “expanded” the term marriage to include two people who were of different races.

    “Expanding” the term marriage in that case didn’t muddy anything… It clarified.

    Ditto here.

  • mikespeir

    Not “very” broadening, Siamang? No, when there are only two meanings assigned to a word rather than one it isn’t “very” broadening. On the other hand, meaning is diminished by about half, isn’t it? We’re not sure whether the subject is rabbits or horses anymore.

    “Expanding” the term marriage in that case didn’t muddy anything… It clarified.

    That’s an amazing statement. Can you explain yourself?

  • MTran

    mikespeir,

    Not to be too snarky, but the “explanation” you have provided sounds like post-hoc rationalization of deliberate, gross, bigotry to me.

    I’ve followed this issue for only 30 years or so and not once, in all that time, have I ever heard a single anti-marriage-for-teh-gays spokesperson make such an argument. Not ministers, not priests, not Bishops, not state assembly members, not petition proponents, not anyone. They just say, Teh gay marriage is disgusting, or God don’t like it so neither do I.

    So if this “rationale” is widespread among such folk, they seem to be keeping it to themselves as a cult secret or something. Or, perhaps, they are protecting their pre-existing religious position by latching onto a rationalization similar to the Discovery Institute’s assertion that ID has nothing to do with belief in a (Christian) god.

    And I hate to break it to you, but inclusive definitions are not less “precise”, as you have asserted, they are simply less “narrow.” A hammer is a hammer, whether a ball-peen hammer, a claw hammer, or a sledge hammer. Is that really so hard to understand? Or must the name be changed for hammers that have plastic instead of wooden handles?

    If arguments are based on mistaken fears about grammar or English usage, they are simply bogus and do nothing to counter arguments based on equal justice, human rights, or basic fairness.

    As for fun talk about rabbits, horses, and other creatures, I suggest that you pick up a book on cladistics or just check out Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin.

  • Siamang

    That’s an amazing statement. Can you explain yourself?

    My statement is, the ruling in Loving V. Virginia which ended laws against interracial marriage emphatically did not ‘muddy’ the meaning of the word “marriage” in the least.

    Instead, it clarified the term by eliminating the racist aspect of the institution. Before Loving, the term “marriage” meant “married, but if you’re different races then in some states you are married and in some states you aren’t married.”

    After Loving, “Marriage” meant “married.”

    Clarity.

    Right now, in California, we have “Marriage”, and “A patchwork of shit cobbled together under the terms civil union and domestic partnership that ideally should come right up as equal to the rights of marriage, but without the word.”

    Ah, for some clarity.

  • mikespeir

    MTran, I haven’t even tried to argue for or against the propriety of gay marriage here.

    And precision is by definition narrow.

    Your point about the hammers is well taken, though. I’ll have to think about how that applies.

  • Peter

    Bigot said: “when there are only two meanings”

    Step 1: Marriage is between 1 white male person of a certain class negotiating with the father of 1 white female person of the same class.

    Step 2: Marriage is between 1 white male person of certain class and 1 white female person of the same class.

    Step 3: Marriage is between 1 white male person and 1 white female person.

    Step 4: Marriage is between 1 male person and 1 female person.

    Step 5: Marriage is between 1 person and 1 person.

    If there is no scientifically verified harm to families, children, and society by 1 person and 5 persons marrying, then so be it – you can’t just make up imaginary reasons based on your personal feelings and not evidence. Well, you can, but you’d be a bigot worthy of mockery. And you’d also likely be a theist, go figure. Of course, your Bible is pro-polygamy anyhow so what’s the deal?

    There is verifiable psychological harm by incest and animal rape, so you can scratch those off the table. The question of anti-gay issues and theism are the same – where’s your evidence?

  • Maria

    lol, I love it

  • mikespeir

    Instead, it clarified the term by eliminating the racist aspect of the institution. Before Loving, the term “marriage” meant “married, but if you’re different races then in some states you are married and in some states you aren’t married.”

    But it did that by eliminating adscititious distinctions, did it not? In effect, the definition was narrowed, not broadened. Before, marriage was the legal union between a man and a woman, except not between a white man and a black woman or a black man and a white woman. Afterward, it was merely the union between a man and a woman, period.

    I can see what you’re getting at, though. Why not narrow it even further? Why not “the legal union between two persons”? I think the objection will be that the definition has never been–in all of history as far as I can tell–the union of two men or two women. (Even in polygamy, the women [assuming polygyny] were not considered married to one another, only to the man.) In that light we seem to be tacking something on. Does this narrow the definition by eliminating sex qualifications or does it widen it by allowing gay unions in addition to traditional ones? Some will say, “Who cares?” Maybe it doesn’t matter.

    The objection to that broadening, of course, as has been amply mentioned here, is prejudice, fear, and, mostly, the supposition that marriage has its origin in the divine. (Which would mean we’re not at liberty to redefine it. Being an atheist, I’m not buying that.) I think we’ll agree that those have no proper place in the discussion.

  • MTran

    mikespeir,

    I don’t know what political positions you may or may not support, but it was your *comment* to which I was responding. I don’t think I accused you of taking a position regarding gay marriage, I did, however, take issue with the explanation *you* provided.

    As for “precision” meaning “narrow,” that is a quality (though not a synonym) of the term, especially when it is used for scientific or mathematical purposes. However, you were using it as a concept that places a constricting qualifier upon *definitions* of words. I’m not convinced that it works that way when applied to language.

    In the context of defining terms, “precision” of meaning does *not* preclude broad categories or indistinct boundaries. Some categories of things or actions are rather loose or fluid by nature and their definitions reflect that.

    A *word* can be used precisely or imprecisely, correctly or incorrectly, but a broad *definition* is not necessarily less precise than a narrow one. As far as I can tell, they are just different definitions. And you’ve doubtless seen how “terms of art” take everyday words and imbue them with very “precise” meanings that have nothing to do with common usage.

    Steven Pinker has discussed problems that native English speakers have created for themselves when they attempt to apply the rules of math to language. Perhaps we have just stumbled upon another such instance.

    Or maybe you just have thought about it longer and have a better angle on it than I do!

  • Reynvaan

    mikespeir, I think your use of “broad” and “narrow” in defining marriage is a bit different from other people’s understanding in this discussion. I know I was confused at first.

    You seem to be calling marriage broad/narrow based on the dictionary definition:
    more words used to define it = broad, as in “the legal union between a man and a woman, except not between a white man and a black woman or a black man and a white woman.”
    Fewer words used = narrow, as in “the legal union between two persons”.

    Am I wrong in my interpretation of your use of these words?

    I think Siamang, MTran, etc. are using those terms in relation to the concept, rather than the definition. For example, the first definition I cited from you above would be a narrow concept of marriage, because the people it includes are a small group. The second definition, on the other hand, is a broad concept, because it includes a much larger, more varied swath of the population. Essentially, the first definition is restrictive and exclusive, while the second is progressive and inclusive; the first is alienating, the second ensures equality, or at least that’s how I see it.

  • http://wisertime.wordpress.com Jake

    Siamang:
    I understand this is personal for you, and I assure you I mean no personal offense. I think it’s pretty clear, too, that nothing I say will convince you, as you said that you’ll take any “attack on [your family's] rights” as an “attack on your family.” I’m not sure what that means, except that you feel passionately about this issue, which is fine.

    I’m not attacking anyone. I just don’t believe that a right for two men or two women to marry exists. I happen to believe that same-sex intercourse is wrong, and I’m probably the only one to comment on this thread who believes that, and I’m ok with that. I don’t necessarily think homosexual behavior should be outlawed, but I also don’t think there’s any reason why states should be required to change the way marriage has always been understood.

    I made the straw man comment because the original post assumed that the right-wing Christians, or whoever, think that homosexual marriage will ruin heterosexual marriages. That’s not what anybody I’ve ever heard means when they say that homosexual marriage is a threat to marriage. They mean that it’s a threat to the institution of marriage, which is already pretty much a laughingstock in this country (and yes, I know the stats aren’t any better for evangelicals on this). The line of thinking is that the marriage of a man and a woman is the basic building block of the family, which is the basic building block of society. To pretend that that bond can be made between anything other than a man and a woman leads to a messed-up view of what marriage is. That’s the logic– I haven’t thought through whether I agree with it, but no Christian thinks their marriage is going down the tubes just because gay people can get married too.

    I’m just saying there’s plenty to disagree on without setting up straw men to beat up. It’s just as easy for a bunch of atheists to laugh at the stupid, backward, ignorant Christians they’re imagining as it is for Christians to assume that all atheists are moral reprobates who eat children.

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

    Brian E.:

    But what is the pressing need for gay/lesbian couples to have state-recognized marriages?

    Other people have answered some of the more practical aspects of this question. And I’ll second what they said. There are a whole host of practical benefits and responsibilities associated with marriage: tax benefits, but also hospital visitation rights, child custody rights, inheritance rights, etc. And as Nurse Ingrid pointed out, marriage is recognized in every country and in every state in this country, in a way that civil unions and domestic partnerships are not.

    But there’s something else, something I consider very important even though it’s intangible:

    Marriage is an unbelievably old human institution and human ritual. The word and the concept carries a weight, a gravitas, intense and complex social and emotional associations, from centuries and millennia of people participating in it. (Yes, much of that history and many of those associations are awful… but the evolution of the institution is part of what gives it its weight.) Civil unions and domestic partnerships just don’t have that.

    Legalizing same-sex marriage isn’t just about the full legal recognition of my partnership with Ingrid. It’s about social recognition. It’s about being seen as a full member of society.

    My parents did it. My grandparents did it. My great-grandparents did it. I want to do it, too.

    And now, in 30 days, we’ll be able to.

  • cautious

    Jake sez:

    but I also don’t think there’s any reason why states should be required to change the way marriage has always been understood.

    Ignoring that marriage has not “always” been understood in any manner, since it’s a (relatively recent) human invention…

    …and ignoring that mutually-monogamous, one-male one-female relationship has not “always” been the way that marriage has been understood…

    Marriage is defined by government; democratic government is based on the will of the people; if the people’s will changes, then government should change to go along with it. …right?

    I made the straw man comment because the original post…

    …the original post which was > 90% humor? Yes, we all get it, you didn’t get the joke. Well done.

    In the original post, there was a mention that people who are threatened by homosexual marriage are suffering from “weak marriages, weak minds or small hearts.” From your comments, particularly that section about

    I don’t necessarily think homosexual behavior should be outlawed

    I’m guessing its a mix of the last two conditions.

    I’m not old enough to have seen Loving v. Virginia and so I am positively thrilled that in my lifetime, we might (maybe) be able to extend civil rights further in our country. The annoying thing is that some people have to be brought, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. And why? Oh, right, because of attitudes like:

    I happen to believe that same-sex intercourse is wrong

    What a weird coincidence, I happen to believe that Republican-Republican intercourse is wrong. But I’d be sick to my stomach if they weren’t allowed to marry the people they choose to love.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ hoverFrog

    I happen to believe that same-sex intercourse is wrong

    Why? Are there specific sex acts that are wrong in your view? At what point do you begin to describe a loving and committed relationship as “wrong”? Is it only where sex occurs? Sex is a part of a relationship (a marriage, if that’s your thing), not all of it. Where do you draw the line between right and wrong? Is it when a couple cuddle, kiss, touch….I could go on, or is it when they get naked? Is it partial nudity or full nudity?

    Maybe we should force homosexuals to wear a hat when they have sex so that they aren’t completely nude? A great big hat with a feather in. Or one of those pope hats. Having sex while partially clothed in nothing but a pirate hat can’t be wrong, can it?

    Yarr!

  • Peter

    I happen to believe that same-sex intercourse is wrong

    Your reasons are imaginary. I happen to believe making up imaginary reasons based on imaginary deities talking to you through fictional holy texts to oppress a biological determined human trait to be highly immoral.

    why states should be required to change the way marriage has always been understood.

    Let’s say marriage has been around for 15,000 years. It was polygamy or women trade for most of this time in most cultures. And this assessment ignores our 200,000 year history. Nope, Jake, you don’t get to claim “always been understood”. Your reasons are, once again, imaginary and in your head.

    The line of thinking is that the marriage of a man and a woman is the basic building block of the family, which is the basic building block of society. To pretend that that bond can be made between anything other than a man and a woman leads to a messed-up view of what marriage is.

    Once again, a bunch of imaginary reasons based on no decent evidence. You are just typing for the sake of typing. Just because you can imagine a somewhat rational argument, doesn’t mean your imagination equals reality. Please stop using your imagination so much, Jake.

    I’m just saying there’s plenty to disagree on without setting up straw men to beat up.

    Not really. There is nothing to disagree with. Gays are a biologically determined, sexually antagonistically selected, sexual orientation of the homo sapiens species. Oppressing them for any reason is immoral, just as it is to oppress black skin or red hair. The ONLY reason to disagree with anything here is to use your imagination to whimsically design play-logic arguments that fit your imaginary deity’s anthropomorphized bigotry.

  • http://http//blog.crispen.org/ Bob Crispen

    I saw this video on Sara Whitman’s blog:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rauYr-8vvoA

    Those kids are hilarious.

    Did any of y’all pick up this word some 13-year-old kid came up with to describe some of the haters? : gaycists.

  • MTran

    This entire conversation reminds me of the sorts of arguments that were posed in many (if not most) state legislatures in the 1800s when there was a movement to outlaw “marriages by contract.”

    The argument then was, if people get married through the use of a written contract, that reduces marriage from a Christian-God-Blessed union into a form of prostitution that degrades the institution of marriage itself and the partners to such marriages.

    The *real* purpose of the laws, however, was to stop the influence of the Christian denomination that had the marriage contract, without the need for church ritual or officiation, as part of its essential traditions. That Christian denomination was the apparently “vile” Quaker sect, a denomination that was utterly opposed to violence and slavery — at a time when slavery was common and a violent “honor” culture permeated much of the American south.

    Of course, the fact that the Quaker tradition treated both spouses with respect and provided women with a means to avoid marriages to violent, domineering, gigolos made it all the more apparent to “right thinking Christians” in other sects that such a horrible practice had to be stopped before it spread further.

  • Richard Wade

    Jake, I want to respectfully respond to your concerns in part because everyone deserves respectful responses and partly because by speaking to you I feel that I am speaking to a majority of people in the U.S. whom I would like to convince to think differently by thinking thoroughly, all the way through to a credible conclusion.

    Some other people have done a good job of clarifying the intention of my post, but please let me explain it. Sweetheart’s concerns are not a straw man, they are a parody. A straw man is an absurdly extreme exaggeration of an opposing argument that is easy to attack. But for it to be a straw man it is supposed to be taken seriously, as if the absurd exaggeration is plausible. In my post nobody is supposed to think that Sweetheart’s worries are plausible. The parody is to show the absurdity of the opposing argument which claims that if same-sex marriages are allowed, then as you put it “the institution of marriage is threatened.” In my opinion, that is more like a straw man since although it is vague it is oh, so scary sounding, but no one actually describes exactly what the threat would be, nor do they elaborate on what would be the further undesirable consequences. Leaving that phrase just hanging there as if that is a sufficiently self-evident bad outcome only creates foreboding in people who don’t think it all the way through. Being incomplete, it is not a valid argument and seems pretty much full of hay to me.

    Jake, If you really think that the statement, “Same-sex marriages threaten the institution of marriage” is a valid, straw-free argument, then please:

    1. Tell us in detail exactly what bad things will happen to the institution of marriage if this threat is fulfilled.

    2. As the consequence of those bad things happening to the institution of marriage, tell us in detail exactly what bad things will happen to our country, our society, our civilization, our species or whatever else you think will be affected.

    I am respectfully and open-mindedly eager to understand what, in actual, causal, plausible terms is so terribly at risk if two guys or two gals get to call their relationship a marriage.

  • Siamang

    Jake said:

    I’m not attacking anyone. I just don’t believe that a right for two men or two women to marry exists.

    As of today, it does in California. Whether you believe it or not, it is reality. You may not agree with it, and you may think that the right should in fact not exist.

    But as of right now, it does exist. Let us take that as a starting point, then. Given that the right now exists for members of my family to be legally married, let us hear why you think they should be stripped of their right.

    I think it make the discussion much clearer when viewed from this perspective.

    I happen to believe that same-sex intercourse is wrong,

    Aha, so you’re the sex police now? Can I get a clearance on french kissing within straight marriage… okay or not okay? I mean, while we’re passing judgement on folks, I just want to be clear… is french kissing taliban approved?

    See, you started your sentence with “I happen to believe that”. I don’t know if you noticed, but you didn’t give any REASON for your opinion. The words “I happen to believe that…” sound like a reason, but if you look closely, they really aren’t a reason. You’re just saying “I don’t like it because I don’t like it.” I have noticed that religious people often use phrases like that to sound like they’re giving a reason, or providing support for a view when they aren’t or can’t.

    I don’t necessarily think homosexual behavior should be outlawed,

    Good then. Can we set the sex thing aside, since we aren’t talking about outlawing private, adult consensual sex? The sex is a distraction from the real topic then, is it not?

    but I also don’t think there’s any reason why states should be required to change the way marriage has always been understood.

    So you’re one of those “man was made for marriage, marriage wasn’t made for men” kinds of people. It’s an institution, first and foremost…. who cares about the people who have to make a life for themselves… who live and love and work and care for each other, make families, make homes, die and bury and grieve each other… screw people… it’s INSTITUTIONS that count!

    I made the straw man comment because the original post assumed that the right-wing Christians, or whoever, think that homosexual marriage will ruin heterosexual marriages.

    I think it makes a different point, humorously. The point it makes is: If it doesn’t mess with your personal marriage… then YOU shouldn’t mess with other people’s marriage.

    They mean that it’s a threat to the institution of marriage, which is already pretty much a laughingstock in this country

    You know who’s not laughing? My family. We’re crying.

    I’ll quote what I wrote back then, just after witnessing hundreds upon hundreds of people getting married, in violation of all that is wrong and unjust with the former marriage ban.

    If you weren’t there, and I’m assuming you weren’t,… you cannot know the pure, pure emotion. And you cannot know the resolve of these people to have what heterosexuals take for granted, flaunt, throw away, and toy with. You didn’t see the tears of joy on thousands of faces this weekend, when the door of equality was opened for just an inch before it will be shut again for a time.

    You wouldn’t think marriage was such a pathetic joke if you wanted to marry your fiancee, and the stupid government wouldn’t let you.

    The line of thinking is that the marriage of a man and a woman is the basic building block of the family, which is the basic building block of society.

    Please explain for me what does and does not constitute a “building block”. Does a single mother (like mine was) constitute a building block? What about a mother and a grandmother raising a child of a soldier killed in Iraq? Are they a building block, or not?

    I mean, if “building block” or not is the measure by which we choose who gets to be a legal family in the eyes of government… then there should be some kind of back up reasoning as to what constitutes this building block. What about two senior citizens with no children… are they a building block? Do they get to get married? What about two gay women with a child… do they get to raise their child as a family, or are they “single mother and financially supported friend”?

    What I’m saying is, if you’re going to bring out the “building block” trope, you better back it up. Why is my mother in law, her wife and their child not a building block?

    Please define precisely what makes a “building block.” And try not to define it tautalogically: straight couple = building block. Building block= straight couple.

    I encountered someone arguing the “building block” idea on a different thread during the great gay wedding march in San Francisco. I wrote this challenge:

    Please show evidence that society is made up of “building blocks”. I don’t know where that analogy comes from, so I’m not sure what sociological validity that analogy holds.

    Surely family is important. But I do not see the “building block” analogy. Do you think that society is a structure, as in a building, and that a weak family, somewhere in the structure, will allow all of society to topple? That’s not supported in sociological studies, as far as I know. We have good families and bad families in society. We have loving, comitted parents, and we have drug abusing, wife-beating families. Yet society doesn’t topple as long as we continue to try and maximize the good, and minimize (through law enforcement and education and health care and charity) the latter.

    I don’t accept your reasoning, therefore, and I think you’ve done some arm-waiving as far as what “building block” means.

    My question to you is:

    How do you define “building block”, and if that “building block” “affects society as a whole” and “must be above privacy issues”, by what measure do we as a society determine WHICH families are fit to be “building blocks” and which ones will be so unfit as to be a danger to society?

    Or do you think that only gay families pose that danger?

    Should a government body start marching around and divorcing –say abusive couples–because their marriage is a danger to society as a whole?

    Jake wrote:

    To pretend that that bond can be made between anything other than a man and a woman leads to a messed-up view of what marriage is. That’s the logic– I haven’t thought through whether I agree with it,

    Yeah, why think about reasoning behind your views?… Just start your sentences with ” I happen to believe that…”

    but no Christian thinks their marriage is going down the tubes just because gay people can get married too.

    They’re too busy worrying about what other people might be doing in the privacy of their bedroom.

    I’m just saying there’s plenty to disagree on without setting up straw men to beat up. It’s just as easy for a bunch of atheists to laugh at the stupid, backward, ignorant Christians they’re imagining as it is for Christians to assume that all atheists are moral reprobates who eat children.

    I think the post was a joke that made the point ‘if it doesn’t mess with your marriage, don’t mess with other people’s marriage.’

    But getting back to the charge of a straw man argument. After you called “straw,” I responded by saying:

    If so, do you care to plead the argument you think is strongest? Tell me right now why you think my mother-in-law shouldn’t be allowed to be married to the mother of her child. It better be a very, very good reason.

    But you didn’t give any reason. All you gave is “I happen to believe that…” Well, that and the building block thing.

  • MTran

    “…no Christian thinks their marriage is going down the tubes just because gay people can get married too.”

    I suppose word hasn’t gotten out to all the Christians who have said, in my presence, that their marriages *would* be devalued if gays were allowed to get married.

    Their rationale, if you could call it that, was that it *made them sick* to imagine that they would be particpating in an activity or acquire a status that teh gays could also partake of.

    There are a lot of irrational, hate filled, fearful people out there. So it’s better not to claim that “no one” has such crazy “logic.” When it comes to political supporters, you never know how strange your bedfellows might be.

  • Shane

    My opinion on the whole thing is that approaching it from the whole “marriage” angle is wrong. There should be some general relationship responsibility/dependence framework. Some would be automatic such as children or co-residents, etc. and some would be specifically applied for as some kind of pooling of resources. The idea is to examine all the benefits of marriage and just extract the legal implications of them and apply them fairly to all people.

    What about asexual people? Shouldn’t they be entitled to some of the same legal benefits (perhaps not all, but this is where specific issues have to be examined and addressed). For example, two brother who live together on a farm are not “married” in any traditional sense of the word but they have a financial and social responsibility to each other (i.e. if one dies the other would require support, etc.). What about two complete non-related men in a similar non-sexual but permanent relationship. Does them having sex or not change their obligations to each other? What if it was a man and a woman living together in a non-sexual relationship?

    The point is that government has no right or obligation to have anything to do with sexual relationships in these general scenarios and so whether someone is male/female has no legal bearing at all.

    And of course the child/animal thing is a complete red herring because these are differentiated by mental capacity and so are treated differently (more of ward/guardian responsibility model). And prohibitions on incest, etc. would also still be in effect because of the negative impact on offspring (and what about incestuous relationships with infertile partners–on what grounds do we have to ban those?)

    Anyway, my point is that government is sticking its nose too far into certain things and we should just push it back a little bit. Generalize the rules to be fair for everyone, abstract the specifics of traditional marriage out of the equation, and get rid of considerations that the government rightfully has no need of. But I don’t have the time, knowledge, or inclination to hash out the details and this really isn’t my area, but that is just my opinion at a fairly theoretical level.

  • Siamang

    Jake, I’m following right up with a message about my tone in this post. I see my previous message as a warning that basically said “I’m going to be an asshole about this.” Why? Because I want bigotry to be an uncomfortable stance, and if you want to defend it, then I hope you would feel a little tiny bit of the discomfort that members of my family feel just for being who they are in a society that mistreats them for being different.

    I’ve lived through times when it really wasn’t safe to walk the streets in a gay neighborhood, because gay bashers would come and hurl bricks at people. I’ve marched in parades in neighborhoods where fear of violence drove gays underground. I’ve taken part in candelight vigils walking the streets where young men were attacked. And I’ve done this as a straight man, committed to equality and justice, and a life free from fear. I remember being afraid that someone would hurt me because they thought I was gay while going out with gay friends.

    So I have some strong emotion and a little bit of heat behind my post. This is a personal issue for me. If you’re going to say that members of my family isn’t a family in the way that your family is a family… I want you to feel as UNCOMFORTABLE trying to justify your position as I feel trespassed against by the assertion.

    See, I didn’t say that I didn’t think that YOUR family was as good as mine, or shouldn’t have the rights of mine. You should understand that what your arguing for is a trespassing on my family. We may be able to have a good conversation, and come to a peaceful resolution. But know that it is you who are stepping on my family, and you better have some pretty good reasons for doing so.

    Anyway… yes I’m an asshole in this thread. I promise I’m not like this very much.

  • Siamang

    I agree, Shane.

    I wish the government got out of the marriage business altogether and anyone determine their head of household, shared financial partner and next of kin to their content, legally and easily with some simple notarized forms.

    My model family is a woman and her mother raising the orphan child of her sister who died a soldier in iraq. Let’s make THAT family work as a two-parent household. There are non-traditional families… time to stop ignoring them or pretending they don’t exist. Time to treat them AS families.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Richard,

    Thank you for a thought-provoking post.

    Siamang,

    I appreciate your passion on this issue. Perhaps (and I want to believe) today’s ruling is a step in the right direction. The reason I sound unsure is because it may just spark more anger on both sides of the argument. I don’t know if there are any simple solutions when it comes to changing the mindset of the majority.

    Right and wrong always seem to get in the way of thinking rationally.

    Sometimes, I think we all need to give up our rights to be right to have true justice.

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  • mikespeir

    MTran

    Or maybe you just have thought about it longer and have a better angle on it than I do!

    I wouldn’t count on that. I have done some thinking about you hammers, though, and I can see it both ways.

    Actually, “hammer” has a pretty precise definition, something like “a tool used for pounding.” If we were to add to that “or a tool used for driving screws or a tool used for turning bolts,” then it would lose meaning (or, maybe, I should say meaningfulness) as it acquired definitions.

    Likewise with the rabbits and horses. If I were to tell you, “I just saw a mammal running across the meadow,” I suspect your immediate response would be, “What kind of mammal?” It’s not that “mammal” doesn’t have a fairly precise definition (“an animal with certain distinguishing characteristics”); it’s that it’s defined as a broader category.

    Is “marriage” defined that broadly? I think a lot of people would say it never has been. They could insist it has never been “any relationship (especially sexual) between human beings.” On the other hand, as I wrote to Siamang, there’s another way of looking at it. Aren’t we really knocking out qualifiers? Would it not be simpler to say that marriage is the legal union of two people, without a qualification for “gender”?

    Of course, working from definitions can get a little silly quickly–except in that they reflect concepts. It’s the concepts here that are at issue. They’re glimpses of our take on reality. The Fundamentalist Christian, for example, has, as we all know, a very different view of reality than most of us here. He believes marriage was defined by God and we don’t have any right to tinker with it. Simply removing belief in God inevitably knocks the legs out from under most, if not all, arguments against gay marriage.

  • mikespeir

    Reynvaan,

    I think Siamang, MTran, etc. are using those terms in relation to the concept, rather than the definition.

    Ah! Good point. It’s one you’ll notice I made to MTran just above.

  • http://feveredintellect.blogspot.com Viggo the Carpathian

    I’ve got an idea, dissolve the legal sanction of “marriage” altogether. Since the word is damn precious to people.

    Lets go with a legal union system for all people regardless of sex, gender or any other criteria. Let the ‘marriage’ crowd had their weddings in their churches to their heart’s content but don;t extend any legal recognition to it. No preacher should have any legal power vested in him/her anyway.

    It seems to me that the state recognizing a religious ceremony as being legally binding is the same as the state accepting ‘god’s way’. It could be construed as a violation of the separation of church and state. I’ve wondered for a long time why preachers are allowed to perform a legal joining.

  • http://feveredintellect.blogspot.com Viggo the Carpathian

    Skipped some posts, didn’t realizing I was echoing one of Siamang’s sentiments.

    Subconscious mind-meld…

  • Jen

    Richard- I applaud you. Fantastic.

    Anyone who thinks marriage is between a man, a woman, his gun, and their government- please read Anatomy of Love, which focuses on who we sleep with and how we define the relationship. Not all marriage, such as it is, is defined or experienced the same way that it is in America today. As an extra benefit, the book doesn’t really talk about the gays, which will be a huge relief for you.

    Brian E-

    But what is the pressing need for gay/lesbian couples to have state-recognized marriages?

    I don’t know. Why are you married, if it isn’t important? Go get a divorce right now. Oh, wait, is there a reason you wouldn’t, even if it is simply taxes? Well, there is your reason.

    I don’t necessarily think homosexual behavior should be outlawed

    Bully for you. Why should we go back to the not-so-distant past? Oscar Wilde went to jail for gay sex. Now, won’t someone please think of the children? You want them to live with their sinful, unmarried parents? Better to legitimize the relationship- for the children, of course.

    Personally, I don’t really think I will ever get married- I just don’t believe n the institution- but I would love for it to be an option for any and all of my of-age consenting adult friends- up to and including open relationships, multiple marriages, and whatever other relationships people want to have.

  • stogoe

    Giving up the name ‘marriage’ for churches to use when they prance around in front of their god with flowers and tuxes and veils is a semantic and moral defeat, in my opinion. Why should we let them have something that was never theirs in the first place?

    The government will call their legal and financial bindings of consenting adults “marriage”, and the religious institutions can pick another word for their ceremonies.

  • Spurs Fan

    If I might bring another issue up: Mr. James Dobson said yesterday’s Cali ruling was an outrage and that it was judicial tyranny at its worst (parphrased, but closely).

    I can never buy this judicial activism argument. Do state Supreme Courts not have the right to rule on the constitutionality of laws passed by their legislatures? How is this “legislating from the bench”? Conservatives had no problem allowing the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the 2000 Presidential election, nor calling for it’s involvement in the Terri Schiavo case. It’s completely and utterly subjective. I can’t prove it, but I’d be willing to bet quite a bit of money that if Vermont’s state Supreme Court struck down the Civil Union law as unconstitutional that Dobson and Co. would be hailing the decision as glorious. My god, who today (besides neo-Nazis) would say that Brown v. Board was judicial activism? Please.

    I want to salute Richard, Siamang, and everyone else on this post who is exposing this topic for what it really should be: a non issue. Gay couples have just as much right to marry and raise children as the millions of heterosexuals who fuck it up all the time, but still have the right. Had it not been on the Ohio ballot in 2004, John Kerry might be President and I encourage all Californians to resist it being (or vote against it) when if a ban is on the November ballot.

    Go Spurs!

  • Stephen

    Now, I’m not trying to argue their case for them. I’m just suggesting that we address their actual concerns. It is not among their concerns that existing heterosexual marriages will somehow fall apart if gay marriage is allowed.

    But as long as they imply that it is, it is perfectly reasonable to call them on it, and even to make fun of them for it.

    Do they actually have any idea what their concerns are? In most cases I think it is, as I said, just bigotry dressed up. In some cases, perhaps they are so benighted that they actually believe that (a) homosexuality causes hurricanes and earthquakes, and (b) same-sex marriage causes homosexuality. Quite how one addresses that sort of concern I really don’t know.

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  • Karen

    Siamang:

    Anyway… yes I’m an asshole in this thread.

    Not so. You’re making an excellent argument in a civil, logical manner. I have witnessed some Siamangling ™ over the years, but I haven’t seen you coming across nastily or impolitely in this thread at all.

    Linda:

    The reason I sound unsure is because it may just spark more anger on both sides of the argument. I don’t know if there are any simple solutions when it comes to changing the mindset of the majority.

    Someone on NPR made an excellent point this morning: There’s never a “good” time or a “better” time to protect civil rights. They must simply be protected, period.

    The majority that is in power (conservative religious people, for the most part in this case) will never give up its stranglehold over that power voluntarily. All or at least most of the civil rights advances in this country have come about by war, protests, lawsuits and decrees designed to protect minority groups. If we were to wait until nobody was angry or fearful of black people getting equal rights, they would never have gotten equal rights. Same is true for women, interracial couples as it is for homosexuals.

    Stephen:

    Do they actually have any idea what their concerns are? In most cases I think it is, as I said, just bigotry dressed up.

    That’s exactly what it is. Nothing more complicated or nuanced than that.

  • Richard Wade

    Jake, It has been about 18 hours since you last posted a comment here and more than 24 hours since you posted your first comment here.

    I’m sure you’re okay, not sick or anything because you have posted two new threads on your blog today, one even mentioning your being against same-sex marriage and alluding to your “many reasons ranging from the theological to the Constitutional.” It sure would be nice to hear those reasons in detail over here where you have an audience who can critically challenge you. Here you have the opportunity to either convince us to see things your way or to expand your own awareness and grow beyond what we consider your bigotry.

    I submit to you that your faith in Christ and faithfulness to Christ does not depend on maintaining your ignorance, fear and prejudice about fags.

    I’m asking where you are because we get a lot of Christians who come in, make statements and then when they are challenged to take a hard look at themselves they disappear instead of sticking to it with courage and honesty. I hope you have those qualities. Otherwise we will have once again wasted a lot of time on someone who does not represent his religion very admirably.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com decrepitoldfool

    Siamang, it’s called “Freedom kissing” now. Those damn French…

  • Richard Wade

    Well it looks like this thread is just about dead so I’ll deliver its eulogy.
    The following are copies of comments I made over at Jake’s blog in a thread called “Adventures in Missing the Point.”

    Richard Wade Says: May 16, 2008 at 8:42 pm
    Jake, who are you talking to over here? Are you actually interested in communicating with real people or do you just like hearing yourself agree with yourself? Yesterday you entered into a discussion over at http://www.friendlyatheist.com where people respectfully asked you to clarify the vague and so far un-cited “reasons” for your opposition to same-sex marriage. Since you last commented over 20 hours ago, eight people have written 3,626 words directly to you, eager to hear what you have to say. Here on your blog you talk a lot about reaching out to people. People are reaching out to you, but you have disappeared. You have an audience. If you want to represent your faith well, I think you should face their respectful challenges and give yourself an opportunity to grow rather than just look for opportunities to get others to grow the way you think they should.

    Richard Wade Says: May 17, 2008 at 9:24 pm
    Jake, so you won’t decide I’m a troll, I promise this is the last time I’ll comment on your blog. As always, my remarks are coming from respect, sincerity and earnestness.

    Another 24 hours has passed and you have not replied to either hoverfrog’s questions here, my questions here or those of the eight people at Friendly Atheist who would very much like to understand your rationale for opposing same-sex marriage. So I can only conclude that you have decided to avoid the whole thing.

    You allude in this thread that you have decided that this issue is not important enough to distract yourself any more. It may be unimportant to you, but it is of great importance to millions of people who, just like you, want to be happy, financially secure and to enjoy the full benefits of their citizenship. It’s easy to dismiss something as unimportant when you’re not the one receiving the abuse. But you are supporting the abuse, so I don’t see how in good conscience as a Christian you can just walk away, giving the transparent excuse that you have to focus on the gospel.

    You are going to Prague to spread the gospel. This is the same gospel that you use to justify supporting the oppression of homosexuals and the same gospel that you are now using to dodge the issue as “not important enough” when people who feel deeply about this challenge you to clarify and justify your position.

    The Czechs are not a bunch of starving, third world bumpkins who will listen to anything you say as long as you bring food. No, they’re well educated, sophisticated and tough. They have been dominated and oppressed a dozen different ways for centuries and they’re sick of it. They know how to fight back. They’re going to confront you with the same issues and ask the same questions we have asked you, but assuming you’re going to do this work face-to-face instead of online, you won’t be able to conveniently disappear when their questions make you uncomfortable. If you respond to them with the same silence you have used here, they will get up, walk out, never come back and tell all their friends that you are at worst a fraud or at best a waste of time.

    If you can’t defend your position with a handful of American atheists on a blog where we really try to be respectful, then the Czech atheists are going to eat you for breakfast.

    Jake, I suggest that conversing honestly, frankly and fearlessly with us should be part of your training, and that rethinking your negative attitude toward a large group of people who have done you no harm would be a better reflection of the spirit of the gospel rather than the exact words of the gospel.

    Thank you for your time. I hope your family, your work and your life go well. I’ll not bother you again.

    ‘Nuff said.

  • Siamang

    Thread over, I guess.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Thread may be over, but ignorance lives on. No law will change that.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ hoverFrog

    I was really hoping for an answer from him.

  • Richard Wade

    In fairness to Jake, he contacted me by email yesterday and said that he at first wanted to respond to my questions because he thought mine were the only ones that were respectful and that others were either assuming his answers ahead of time, already misinterpreting what he had said or seemed more interested in mockery than in hearing and understanding his viewpoint. He considered answering me but by the weight of what he saw in so many as an unwillingness to listen, he decided it would not be productive on this thread.

    He said that he intends to discuss his reasons on a new thread on his own blog in the near future.

    The rest of you may have your differing opinions about Jake’s impression of the tone, openness and level of respect of this thread either in general or by the individual comments. Looking back I have to say he has a point. I can, and I think others here can at least empathize how we would feel if we were confronted by eight people expressing the level of passion as there was here. I know I would have been daunted to say the least.

    Passion does not necessarily mean vitriol and earnestness does not necessarily mean closed-mindedness, but they certainly can degrade into those negative things, and they can also be misinterpreted as such by someone who is considering wading into the fray. Even though I can be one of the more “let’s try to talk calmly” kind of people here, still it is very hard for me to keep my “Irish” down when I am either arguing for something about which I have deep feelings or I am about to argue back against someone who is expressing their passion or earnestness. My combative nature simmers just below the surface all the time. “Oh yeah?!” are the words I most often bite off when I bite my tongue.

    Regardless, this issue isn’t gong away and I hope Jake isn’t going away either. Wherever and with whomever the discussion resumes, I hope we can move forward through our passion and even though we may never agree with others, we can keep an equilibrium to our talks that encourages further talks.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com hoverFrog

    I shall keep an eye out for it on his own blog. It is clear to me that I am seeing only one side of this. The side that says that granting equality to a group that has been denied it is a good thing. As hard as I try to see a negative effect of this all I come up with is that some people may be forced to review their ideas and that may make them uncomfortable for a while. Well, we could all do with that a bit more often.

  • Siamang

    I guess I communicated what I wanted to communicate, then.

    I can’t say I hold a lot of charitable or even civil thoughts for Jake. So strong is my emotion to protect my loved ones that I frankly think that uncivil dialog can do some good.

    In the 1940′s Stetson Kennedy started a movement called “Frown Power”….

    which simply encouraged people to pointedly frown when they heard bigoted speech, leading Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner to say that he was “the greatest single contributor to the weakening of the Ku Klux Klan.”

    I don’t suspect that Jake will take away the message of love behind my anger with him. I’d like to know if he understands that if I was amoral, or didn’t give a fuck, there would be no passion behind my words. Only through love could I ever defend my family in such a way.

    Does he see the love? I do not know.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com hoverFrog

    Jake has started a series of posts explaining why he disagrees with same sex marriage over here.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ hoverFrog

    Jake has completed part two and three of his posts explaining why he disagrees with same sex marriage. It’s worth a read and worth laying out opposing viewpoints. Maybe we’ll change a few opinions.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com decrepitoldfool

    My wife and I have been married for 29 years. Getting married was easy, but staying married was not. Though we did and do love each other, we married impetuously and foolishly and the differences between us were and are substantive.

    But it is above all else a partnership. We have held hands while she gave birth to our three children. We have together endured unemployment, sickness, and the deaths one year apart of each of our fathers. We have attended graduations together, helped our kids with their homework until they advanced to the point where we could only offer moral support. She has been hospitalized once and I have many times and we have been there for each other, watching out for each other’s interests.

    Our. Marriage. Matters.

    But what if we had been of two different races and had the misfortune to live in our parents’ generation in certain states? Or what if, when our partnership was formed, we had been of the same gender and the law simply refused to recognize our right to form that partnership as we navigate through life, and denied us the thousand-or-so legal ties and benefits that fit comfortably within the word “marriage”?

    The bible has about the same number of verses pertaining to eating shellfish as it does against homosexuality. And approximately twenty-two times that many verses enjoining Christians to have mercy on the poor. Why aren’t more Christians clamoring for social justice, for national support of good schools in poor neighborhoods, for equal health care for all? The bible contains verses that establish second-class citizenship for people whose testicles have been crushed. The Apostle Paul, who never met Jesus (who never once mentioned homosexuality) except in a hallucination, wrote the strongest words in the book against homosexuality.

    In a secular society (please note the number of times ‘god’ is mentioned in our constitution) the tenets of any religion cannot be considered as the basis of any law.

    And the “definition of marriage”?

    This should be obvious, it shouldn’t take a minute to figure out. It’s partnership in life. It’s mutual protection, love, and care. It isn’t genitalia.

    It’s simple humanity and decency toward people who are a little different. It isn’t just which kinds of genitalia people have – some people have ambiguous genitalia, should they be forbidden to marry? Many married couples never have sex anymore; should they forced to split up? Why is this so hard to figure out?

  • Bill

    Like many people in this thread, I made a post on my own blog celebrating the California Supreme Court decision. I recognized the potential for arguments that would stem from such a thing, but felt like I’d be up to the task of defending my opinion. Well, apparently I’m having an off day because I got a response that I’m having trouble coming up with a clear and concise refutation for. His argument is based on the premise that the only reason the government sanctions marriage is because it produces the next generation of citizens. Here, I’ll let him say it himself,

    Homosexual couples should not be given the same rights because our government is responsible for passing laws that support the purposes of our country. The only reason our country recognizes heterosexual marriages and gives legal rights, tax breaks, ect., from a secular point of view, is because it has an interest in doing so because those unions produce the next generation of citizens. Homosexual couples should not have the same rights because our government has no interest in their unions.

    The reason I’m tossing this up here is in the hopes that someone smarter than me could jump over and provide some clear opposition to his thoughts. Yes, I realize I’m being a bit lazy, but after reading some of the comments in this thread I realize just how much some of you have thought about this issue and will be able to do a much better job of answering him than I ever could. Also, this isn’t a plug for my blog, I don’t care how much traffic I get, but it is a plea for help. Oh, and you can find my post here. Thanks.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com decrepitoldfool

    Bill, I’ll post this here and at your blog, but the short answer is that partnership has many societal benefits besides children, and that even infertile couples are “allowed” to marry. (can you imagine how well a childbearing requirement would go over?) It is also true that gay people have children, and also adopt children, and those children deserve the protection that a partnership affords them.

  • Siamang

    My mother in law has a child with her wife.

    Therefore by the person’s own argument:

    From a secular point of view, government has an interest in granting marriage because these unions produce the next generation of citizens.

  • Bill

    I appreciate a couple of you popping over to give your thoughts. I feel like I’ve opened a can of worms on my blog that I wasn’t quite prepared for. It’s obvious this guy has thought about this issue a lot more than I have, which is unfortunate because while I disagree with him, I’m having trouble making a rational argument against him.

  • MTran

    Bill,

    The whiner who is spouting off on your blog doesn’t know what he is talking about. He has simply made up a post hoc rationalization for a policy he happens to like.

    In the US, the feds and the states got into the marriage license game rather late. Sadly, much of the states’ “interests” were methods of oppressing religions and races they did not like. The rest of their (more understandable) interests were mostly related to ease of administration of governmental benefits to dependents and survivors and for judicial uniformity in probate disputes. Nothing to do with future generations.

    You may find this link to a New York Times article useful:
    Taking Marriage Private

  • Bill

    Thanks a lot for the link to that article! That’s really what I’ve been looking for; some guidance as to just why the government is involved in marriage in the first place. Without some background knowledge in that area it’s difficult to converse with someone who argues his point from that arena.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com decrepitoldfool

    Bill, he’s got nothing: he can’t tell a religious from a secular argument, and the one secular argument he does have is packed full of misunderstanding. Short version: government only “allows” people to marry who “produce” something the government wants, and gay people can’t have children. Add generous amounts of bible verses and serve with a garnish of self-righteousness.


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