Ginormous gay marriage roundup

gaycakeA few years ago I was having coffee with a friend of mine who is gay. He surprised me by telling me that he opposed gay marriage vehemently. He thought that children should have a mother and a father and that gay marriage would subvert that. He also believed gay culture was all about promiscuity and sexual liberation. Marriage might kill what he loved about being gay.

While most of my gay friends and acquaintances would not share or express his views, he’s not the only homosexual I’ve met with such feelings. Which is why I found it so fascinating to see a New York Times piece last week that delved into the views of gays who oppose the political fight for gay marriage. Anemona Hartocollis talks to Bill Dobbs and other activists who think that gay marriage forces have hijacked the gay rights agenda:

For better or for worse, to be unattached and gay is not what it used to be. Gone are the guilt-free days of free love in the clubs, of hooking up at bathhouses and reveling in promiscuity, which Mr. Dobbs prefers to call “sexual generosity.” In are elaborate weddings, shared property, pets and children.

Mr. Dobbs said that even on Fire Island, where cohabitating with 12 other men was once a time-honored tradition, a friend who is an utterly bourgeois gay homeowner complains that he gets the gimlet eye from gay and lesbian parents because he is not in a relationship. Another friend scolded Mr. Dobbs that if he had never wanted to marry, there must be something wrong with him.

Hartocollis also speaks with homosexuals who oppose the push to define homosexuality as a simple function of biology rather than involving choice.

It should not be surprising that a group has a diversity of viewpoints but it seems many reporters fall prey to the notion that this isn’t the case. It’s particularly problematic with minorities. It’s presumed, for instance, that white Americans or heterosexuals can and will have different views about political or cultural issues. But so many reporters imply that minorities will have the same view about a given political issue. How many reporters have revealed that not all homosexuals share the same political goals on gay marriage?

Hartocollis explains why some gays oppose the push for gay marriage:

They question whether monogamy is normal. They wonder why gay men and lesbians are buying into an institution that they see as rooted in oppression. They worry that adapting to conventional “family values” will destroy the cohesion that has made gay men and lesbians a force to be reckoned with, politically and culturally.

In the 70′s, many gay people saw themselves as “an army of lovers,” to borrow the title of a German documentary of the time, [Jim] Eigo said. “I still hold the candle for a gay community like that, in which every man is linked to every other by at least the potential of being his lover.”

bostonlawdrumsupbizThis article was published the same week as another excellent Times piece on gays and marriage. Jane Gross speaks to married men who come out to their wives later in their marriage. A number of men wish to stay married because they enjoy the fruits of life with a wife and kids. It’s fascinating how some of the men interviewed, most of whom asked to remain anonymous, expected little to change when they told their wives about their sexual behaviors on the side:

Dr. T.’s wife had agreed she could live with his sexual orientation provided he didn’t act on it. So he lied and said his homosexual relationship did not include sex. But she wasn’t fooled and forced him to move into an in-law apartment in the family home, a way station to a more formal separation.

This development has left him stunned, one moment sympathetic to his wife’s position and the next disbelieving that they can’t work it out. “I love her, but she wants me to be in love with her,” Dr. T. said. “She wants to be my one and only. Everything we have will be at risk if, God forbid, we divorce.”

The article is very well-written and Gross admits up front that she has limited statistics about the number of gay men who are married. She works with what few numbers she has to give a feel for how widespread an issue it is. She also tells the sad story of a 64-year-old man who divorces his wife because of his homosexuality. While he has kept up good terms with his wife and sons, he has found “he is ill-suited, or too old, for gay night life.”

gaymormonsAnother great article on gays who are married looked at a completely different phenomenon — gay Mormons who choose marriage openly. Peggy Fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune‘s religion reporter, talks to gay Mormons who blog about their married life. The piece is lengthy and honest — Fletcher Stack cites statistics that indicate Mormon marriages with one gay partner are not likely to succeed. But she records the hope and candid admissions of several parties who are trying to make it work. She identifies one gay Mormon by the pseudonym Landon:

Sex is “more complicated than for most other people,” Landon said in a phone interview. “Concessions are made. That’s the nature of making an unconventional relationship work.”

He doesn’t believe he chose to be gay, so he doesn’t feel guilty about having same-sex attractions. He agrees with the LDS Church’s distinction between desire and actions and is trying everything he can to resist those desires, or even overcome them.

The key to being hopeful, Landon says, is believing that “God has an individual answer to me. God will grant me ‘miracle upon miracle.’”

Fletcher Stack was able to get the men and some of their wives to speak openly about the sexual struggles in their marriages and the methods they use for overcoming the challenges of being attracted to the same sex while married to a member of the other. Here are their blogs if you’re interested. You also may be interested in this U.S. News & World Report story on gay activists rethinking their strategy in light of recent defeats of gay marriage.

Photos via Marx Marvelous, Justin Nash and Decidedly Odd on Flickr.

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  • Sam Osborne

    The First Amendment establishes that our government shall “make no law respecting the establishment of religion.” Thus, as with all religious rituals and sacraments, government should stay out of the “Holy Matrimony” business and leave its celebration to religious organizations.

    As for protecting the rights of all citizens to freely associate with each other, government should enforce the Constitutional provision that restricts State law from impairing contractual obligations that establish relationships between consenting adults. In ensuring the equal protection of this guarantee to all citizens, state government can institute laws of civil union that protect the right to enter into such relationships.

    If gays and lesbians, or others, desire to extend their Civil Union into Sacramental Marriage, they can find a body of faith that is willing to sanctify their contractual relationship. If they cannot locate one, their freedom of religion entitles them to start a denomination of their own.

  • cheryl

    A gay opponent of gay marriage was quoted in an article “Can Gay Marriage be Stopped?” that appeared in Crisis Magazine in 2002 (excerpt):

    “…Can such a powerful tide be turned? Is heterosexual distaste for homosexual acts enough to defend the institution of marriage?

    “I’m surprised that you appear to believe that straight society dislikes the gay lifestyle,” John McKellar told me. McKellar, who lives in Toronto, is president of Homosexuals Opposed to Pride Extremism (HOPE). “I’m surprised that you haven’t figured out that we rule the world these days. Everybody except orthodox religious sects has either been cowed by gay activist intimidation or softened by the politics of victimology and oppression and the doctrines of tolerance, diversity, and inclusion.”

    But isn’t homosexuality, at some level, fundamentally about love? Don’t count on it, McKellar says. “Our lifestyle is very much about party, pageant, parade, and promiscuity. We want to have our cake and eat it, too. There was an article in the gay press last year titled, ‘How to Stay Married and Still Be a Slut.’”

    What does a homosexual like McKellar (“I’ve had short-term and long-term relationships, and at present, I’m unattached”) think of gay marriage? “Sure, we all have baby envy, and lots of us would like to raise kids,” he says. “But we can’t have everything we want in life, and it’s selfish and rude to redefine society’s traditions and conventions simply for our self-indulgence…”

  • Jason Pitzl-Waters

    No culture/subculture is a monolith. Just as it is possible to find conservative evangelicals who didn’t vote for Bush, so too you can find homosexuals who oppose Gay Marriage.

    A couple observations:

    It seems the loudest gay opposers to marriage rights seem to be gay men and not lesbians. A reporter should dig into the often deep idealogical gulfs between gay men and women.

    Many of the criticisms about gay attitudes towards marriage from the HOPE spokesman could be rightly laid at large segments of the straight population as well. Then again I’m not sure I’m going to take anything HOPE says seriously since the founder has also endorsed ex-gay therapies. There is conservative critique, and then there is moving into outright self-hatred manifesting as political expression.

  • Dan

    So the First Amendment bars the state from recognizing marriage! How has the Supreme Court overlooked this point for 225 years??? Just think of all the religiously-based laws that will fall once the Supreme Court wakes up: spousal support laws; alimony laws; child support laws; inheritance laws; spousal rights to social security and pension beneifts; the list is endless. And after all, when you think about it, why should a child expect to have his biological mother and biological father care for him? Can the brat not get through his bigoted head how important it is for gay people to have all the same trappings of marriage that straight people have? How is it that we get these spoiled, self-centered children that long to know, love, and be loved by their biological parents? Fortunately, the First Amendment can set them straight.

    I see no reason why we should stop at striking down state involvement in our religiously based marriage laws. The Supreme Court has been asleep at the wheel for so long that it has allowed to creep into our law innumerable other sorts of laws that are religiously based in just the same way marriage laws are. Most obvious are the laws against murder, theft and perjury — all laws that essentially come straight out of the Ten Commandments and we all know that the Ten Commandments have been barred from our courthouses. It will also be critical to take another look at the legitimacy of the civil rights laws which — it is not a secret — came about as the result of a “faith-based” movement. In fact, as religion touches on about every aspect of life, it is hard to conceive of any law that does not in some respect violate the First Amendment (except of course laws that establish gay marriage or allow abortion).

  • Larry Rasczak


    If I didn’t know better I’d say you were my professor for Constitutional Law back when I was a 2L.

  • Dan

    Nah Larry, I’m just another right wing troll.

  • Jeff

    It’s amazing the variety of views and differences on the issue of gay marriage. Even within what you initially think would be a community who supports it, you find disention. Personally, I’m in favor of gay marriage. I plan on getting married here in B.C. as soon as I’m ready (yes, I have a partner).

  • C. Wingate

    Marriages aren’t just about– or even mainly about– religion. Back in the days when we still procreated, they were about families. A stable environment for the rearing of children is, I submit, a public good. It’s a little ironic that they gay marriage argument smells very much of specifically Christian theology, but as marriages are in a fundamental sense contracts, it’s really hard to keep the government out of them.

    To change the subject, long ago I got to hear he Bishop Spong selling, er, speaking on the subject of Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism. After carefully explaining to us how homosexuality was all about biological destiny, he was confronted during the Q&A by an angry woman who stated quite firmly that her lesbianism was her choice. He had no answer for her. Apparently he had spent all his time listening to the male homosexual side and hadn’t heard that a lot of lesbians viewed things differently.

  • Alexei

    I’d rather hear Spong talk about sexuality than the divinity of Christ. At least then it would be entertaining.

  • Stephen A.

    I’m just highly entertained by one of the photos. I like the jewelry store soliciting gay couples to buy wedding bands.

    But unless there’s such a thing as a triple ring wedding (and I’m a single guy, so forive me if I am ignorant of this) are they seeking POLYGAMISTS, as well? (I’m sure there’s another explanation, right?)

    The Gay Mormon photo also amuses me, but not as much, since I know there are quite a few of those. Though they are not known for participating in parades with banners like this.

    As for the anti-marriage gays, I worked with a gay man who was utterly opposed to marriage for gays, though he didn’t elaborate why. I suspect many are, for the reasons exposed in the article.

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