What’s the fuss with same-sex marriage?

GayMarriage 01Last week I criticized a Los Angeles Times story for spinning the results of a poll to make it seem like opposition to same-sex marriage wasn’t significant. Though supporters of traditional marriage had a 19-point margin of victory over those who want to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions, the Times referred to that margin as slim, narrow, “a bit” of a bare majority.

This week, Times reporter David Savage wrote a piece arguing that people shouldn’t worry about the California Supreme Court decision striking down a ban on gay marriage. The poll results were included to support the argument. But this time, they had a completely different spin:

However, recent national polls have shown what the Pew Research Center called a “stable majority” opposed to marriage for gays and lesbians. Last year, it said that among those it surveyed, 55% opposed allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, whereas 36% supported the idea. This was roughly the same result as in 2004, when the Massachusetts court ruled.

It is also similar to the Los Angeles Times/KTLA Poll of Californians taken last week. By a 19-point margin, respondents favored a measure targeted for the November ballot that would limit marriage to a man and a woman.

I’m so confused! Can’t we get the Times reporters to get their story straight? Numbers are whatever you want them to be, apparently. Anyway, Savage’s article nevertheless continues with the advocacy theme we’ve seen in previous Times stories. He says that the court decision won’t have a ripple effect. The headline is “California gay marriage ruling isn’t seen as trend”:

As the nation’s most populous state, California often sets in motion social and political trends that sweep across the country. But legal experts on both sides of the fight over same-sex marriage say that the California Supreme Court’s ruling giving gays and lesbians a right to marry is not likely to have a ripple effect.

For more than a decade, conservative activists have erected a series of legal barriers to prevent one state’s move toward recognizing gay marriages from setting in motion a national wave. In 1996 they won passage of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which said that same-sex marriages performed in states that allow them do not have to be honored by the federal government or other states.

And they won laws in 42 states to limit marriage to a man and a woman. In 27 of them, these are constitutional amendments that cannot be overridden by judges or lawmakers.

It’s just a strange argument. It’s not like “conservative activists” woke up one day deciding on a whim that marriage should be defined legally as a one man, one woman arrangement. Presumably their successful efforts in support of a traditional definition of marriage were in response to something. That “something” they have been responding to is a recent but rapid movement in support of redefining marriage to include same-sex partnerships. Is that movement not bolstered by the California Supreme Court ruling? That’s what Savage writes:

“While the California ruling is very significant, a lot of states have already taken action on this,” said Christine Nelson, an analyst who tracks the issue for the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. She said these states have made it as difficult as possible for judges to give legal recognition to marriages between two men or two women.

For that reason, many experts foresee the move toward same-sex marriage in the United States as taking place over a generation — if at all — resulting not from quick and decisive legal victories but from slowly changing attitudes that eventually carry over to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oh, so the California Supreme Court ruling has nothing to do with overturning the definition of marriage held by the West for thousands of years — that’s going to be overturned a long time from now . . . like in a generation.

It is hilarious to me that the phrase “over a generation — if at all” makes it into a story. What does that mean? Either marriage will not be redefined at all, or it will happen pretty darn quickly. I think even people who aren’t reporters could have figured that a redefinition of marriage will either happen or not happen.

Then Savage compares opposition to same-sex marriage with opposition to interracial marriage, because we all know that those are completely equivalent and also to make sure that opponents of same-sex marriage are smeared as bigots. Here’s the crux of Savage’s argument, though:

Five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the gay rights movement a big victory when it struck down as unconstitutional the anti-sodomy laws that branded gays as “deviants” and said they could be prosecuted for having sex at home. By then, only a few states, including Texas, had such laws on the books.

By contrast, the number of states with laws prohibiting marriage for gay or lesbian couples has been steadily growing this decade, not shrinking. A look at a map of the nation would suggest the gay-marriage movement is blocked, except for beachheads on the two coasts. Most states have amended their constitutions to take the marriage issue away from judges.

samesexmarriage 02Again, though, this movement in support of defining marriage traditionally is a responsive movement. The only reason marriage laws are being written to exclude same-sex partnerships is because the movement to include same-sex partnerships in marriage has had so much success.

The argument — that the court ruling is inconsequential, is also undermined when Savage quotes someone saying that the California precedent will be enormously influential with the Connecticut court looking at the issue in the coming months.

Anyway, despite promises that the article quotes “legal experts from both sides” of the marriage debate, I only found quotes from one side. For instance, here’s the subtle ending to the article:

Nonetheless, gay rights activists and many academics are convinced that a generational shift in attitudes will lead toward the acceptance of same-sex marriage. UCLA law professor Jonathan Varat said the students he encountered tended to favor “equality for same-sex relationship.”

“I wonder, as do many of them,” he said, “whether a generation from now, people will look back on all this and wonder what all the fuss was about.”

Ah yes, what is the fuss about? We have no idea since arguments against redefining marriage are always clumsily written if portrayed at all, of course. There’s no retort, for instance, to this question — posed rhetorically — about whether we’ll all wonder what the fuss was about. Nope, the California court ruling will have no effect, no effect at all — and yet we’ll all look back on those bigots — who are morally equivalent to racists — in just a few short years and wonder what was the big deal. At least if the Los Angeles Times has anything to do with it.

Print Friendly

  • Cal

    Gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for 4 years now. Name ONE negative effect.

    yeah I thought so.

    Marriage is good for everyone or it’s not. Gay marriage may benefit only a small percentage of the US population but it hurts noone. The truth is that you hate gay people and will do ANYTHING to keep them from having better lives.

    Once again..name ONE negative effect in Massachusetts. Im still waiting…

  • skeptic

    Religion’s stranglehold on “societal norms” will continue to fade. It is the natural social evolution of our species. And it’s about time!

  • Franszwa

    Sexual Immorality

    Quote:

    1 CORINTHIANS 6:13 – The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

    1 CORINTHIANS 6:18, 19, 20 – Flee from sexual immorality, All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received
    from GOD ? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
    Therefore Honor God with your body.
    And of course, the obvious: men were not meant to have sex with other men. Just as women were not meant to have sex with women. Take a look at our anatomies.
    Romans 1:27

    Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 Condemn same-sex activity between two males.

    1Corinthians 6:9-10 Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters
    nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, will inherit
    the Kingdom GOD.
    Do you know to interpret GODS Word, to suits your behavior, and teaching people to violate to damaged the Temple of GOD, with sin. Which is where The HOLY SPIRIT Dwells.

    1Cor.3:16-17
    So than, if the person had The HOLY SPIRIT in him/her you would recognize GOD voice!
    HOMOSEXUALITY is a sin ( PERIOD ) ! And it is unnatural.
    GOD created Adam and Eve but not[ Adam and St-Eve ] [ REMEMBER ]

    Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    Galatians 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!

    Isaiah 55:11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 1 Thessalonians 4:8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

  • Michael

    Then Savage compares opposition to same-sex marriage with opposition to interracial marriage, because we all know that those are completely equivalent and also to make sure that opponents of same-sex marriage are smeared as bigots.

    If journalists can’t use the most apt historical and legal precedent because it makes social conservatives feel like bigots, you are really going to hamstring journalists.

    The California court relied on the interracial marriage cases. The only significant example over the last 50 years of expanding the fundamental right to marry to marginalized groups involves interracial marriage. The fact that California was the first state to outlaw such bans and that it took more than a generation for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on it seems like the exact kind of analysis that supports the theory expressed in the article.

    That social conservatives feel that this guilt by association is a “smear”–and that this is part of the political message being used by social conservatives in the battle over same-sex marriage–shouldn’t force reporters not to mention the best historical and legal comparison available.

  • Kate

    Plenty of straight people have done more to denigrate the institution of marriage than all the single-sex couples who have been in monogamous partnerships for years. (Elizabeth Taylor and Britney Spears are two that come immediately to mind.) With all of the truly awful, urgent things going on in the world today, I just can’t understand why some people get so upset about this.

  • Dan

    Here you go Cal: the Massachusetts court has locked into place a defective view of marriage and has thereby made the state permanently powereless to do anything that would effectively reduce the divorce rate or to advocate the importance of both parents participating in the raising of a child. By officially blessing “gay marriage” the state is in no position to discourage single parenthood since, according to the Massachusetts court, there is nothing wrong about excluding Mom or Dad from a child’s life and indeed it is “bigoted” to think otherwise. In addition, the Massachusetts court’s ruling further imbeds into the law official support for an amoral sexual ideology that is associated with abortion and sexually transmitted disease, which, like divorce and illegitimacy, are at astronomical levels. This makes it all the more difficult to deal with these problems as well.

    So, yes, you are right, “gay marriage” is harmless if you are content to live in a morass of abortion, illegitimacy, broken homes and STDs and don’t mind courts depriving you of the power to legistate concerning these matters. For those not content with this ugly picture, “gay marriage” is an unmitigated disaster.

  • Martha

    “the anti-sodomy laws that branded gays as “deviants” and said they could be prosecuted for having sex at home.”

    And by the same token, bigamy laws mean people can be prosecuted for having sex at home.

    Please!

  • Martha

    Gentlemen, explain to me the reason why non-religious or other-religious societies did not permit same-sex marriage.

    If it’s all down to “religion’s stranglehold on “societal norms””, that is.

    Personally, I’d be broadly in favour of civil union legislation with associated legal protection for everyone, gay or straight, but don’t call it marriage because it’s not.

    And why is it suddenly so important to have access to marriage, given all the strides towards doing away with that piece of paper? That we don’t need to prove our love, or keep our promises? What about all the cohabiting couples who don’t want to enter into a marriage – are you saying they are to be regarded unfavourably?

  • iskunk

    Ah yes, what is the fuss about? We have no idea since arguments against redefining marriage are always clumsily written if portrayed at all, of course. There’s no retort, for instance, to this question — posed rhetorically — about whether we’ll all wonder what the fuss was about. Nope, the California court ruling will have no effect, no effect at all — and yet we’ll all look back on those bigots — who are morally equivalent to racists — in just a few short years and wonder what was the big deal.

    We can only imagine how long it will take for same-sex marriage to be legalized nationwide. More than ten years, probably (my guess) less than fifty. The issue does seem to have moved faster than that of anti-miscegenation laws, which will in the end likely prove a historical parallel.

    Franszwa, this excerpt from the above-linked Wikipedia article seems relevant:

    In the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century, many American states passed anti-miscegenation laws, which were often defended by invoking racist interpretations of the Bible, particularly of the story of Phinehas and the “Curse of Ham.” [Stephen R. Haynes (2002), Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery, Oxford University Press US]

    To address the titular question of this article, however: What is the fuss, indeed? I’ve followed this debate for a long time, and have come across only one point of substance raised against the matter: that cash-strapped municipalities may not have the funds to cover benefits for a new segment of married couples. (And this isn’t much of an issue, given that same-sex couples, for as much noise as is made about them, are comparatively rare.) All the arguments about potential harm to children raised in such families have been debunked by actual child-care professionals; all the biblical arguments are not germane (as those address why a certain church should accept or reject same-sex marriage, not whether they should be recognized in secular law); arguments about allowing marriage to dogs, trees, etc. fail on basic logic. (Arguments referencing polygamy are more interesting.) The question would not be so rhetorical if the arguments against were more meaningful.

  • Nicholas

    What does the state have to do with marriage anyway? How can the state “define” marriage? Marriage is a mystery, a sacrament. Just as I wouldn’t trust the state’s definition of Eucharist, I don’t trust its expertise in marriage.
    What’s going on in California isn’t marriage and it never will be.

  • Ben

    Two comments: First, there’s a new Field Poll out today that shows a majority of registered voters in favor of gay marriage and against the amendment to ban it again. Here is the poll with crosstab data: http://media.sacbee.com/smedia/2008/05/27/15/Tabs_for_22681.source.prod_affiliate.4.pdf.
    Back when Molly first wrote about the LATimes poll, I mentioned that their data seemed a little suspect given that the 18-35 year olds in the LATimes poll came out the most conservative on the gay marriage question. That just bucks all known polling on this topic. Field is extremely reputable, and they found that the youngest age categories were, as expected, the most liberal. I think we have to look with very great suspicion on the validity of the LATimes poll.

    Second, I was struck with this comment by Mollie:

    Ah yes, what is the fuss about? We have no idea since arguments against redefining marriage are always clumsily written if portrayed at all, of course.

    Perhaps there’s a role her for getreligion to play not just critic, but to provide then some helpful explanation of the religious arguments against gay marriage. Tmatt’s recent link to the Weekly Standard article “Banned in Boston” was hugely helpful for me to understand a little better the reasoned concerns about gay marriage. More please. Maybe do a Q&A with a particularly articulate religious conservative on this issue to help reporters understand the range of arguments. If those arguments aren’t being presented well, it would be a service to point reporters to sources who can make those arguments.

  • iskunk

    Dan writes:

    So, yes, you are right, “gay marriage” is harmless if you are content to live in a morass of abortion, illegitimacy, broken homes and STDs and don’t mind courts depriving you of the power to legistate [sic] concerning these matters. For those not content with this ugly picture, “gay marriage” is an unmitigated disaster.

    Dan, do you have a reference for these issues having turned for the worse in Massachusetts since the court ruling in 2004? The state already has one of the lowest divorce rates in the nation. Its child-protective services arm did get a low national ranking recently, but that has been chalked up to a lack of political will in the state government (as usual).

  • Tim

    Dan: the things you describe are not measurable negative effects. They are hypotheses. They are not a sound basis for deciding public policy. Something like “the divorce rate has risen by 300%” or “tax revenue has gone down by $4 billion” would at least constitute factual claims that could be evaluated on their own merits. But a “defective view of marriage” and “amoral sexual ideology” are value judgments about homosexuality — you are entitled to hold those beliefs, of course, but they will not get you far in a debate.

    This much seems clear to me: while children may best be raised in a marriage, marriage is not exclusively intended for raising children. That has been determined by decades of legislative and judicial activity establishing that marriage is available to the elderly, the infirm and the infertile. Dan’s concern for the children is well noted, but it is essentially irrelevant here. Marriage isn’t merely a child-rearing tool; it is a basic human right.

  • Zeke

    It’s interesting that people quote the bible — you must realize that not everyone believes what you believe. In the USA, people are free to believe what they think, and you have no right to impose your morals and values upon others, if they do not wish do partake in them.

    Now, if gay marriage were adversely affecting the country, there’s a HUGE list of other things that affect the country in a MORE adverse way, but is anyone focusing on that? How about our education system, and how people don’t take it seriously? How about the jokes they crack about Americans in other countries, due to our general stupidity? Doesn’t that concern you? If you want to talk about morals and values, it starts ELSEWHERE besides the whole marriage issue. In this world full of terminally stupid people and the problems they cause, gay marriage is the least of your worries. So get over yourselves and fight for a better cause.

  • Dan

    Dan writes nonsense. The civil law contract between two persons of the same gender leads only to their commitment to each other in the same way the civil law contract between two persons of different genders leads to a similar commitment. Those commitments may or may not last, but neither leads to the collapse of society any more than the other. It isn’t “gay marriage” that’s the cause of a 40-45 percent divorce rate.

    What the religious call marriage is, in fact, a civil union. What is called marriage is, in fact, a form of contract in civil law for which the state issues a license if certain criteria are met. The priest/minister/rabbi who conducts the religious ritual called marriage is acting as an agent of the state, not the church, mosque or synagogue. If marriage were solely a religious institution, then presumably atheists and agnostics cannot marry. They do, of course.

    There is no rational basis in the 21st century for discriminating on the basis of gender in the civil law pertaining to marriage. Thankfully, the states of Massachusetts and California now reject such discrimination that is based on the inherently evil myths, superstitions, fantasies and fictions of institutional sectarian religions.

  • Joe

    Correction: The name above should be Joe, not Dan. My apology for having Dan’s comment too much in mind.

  • http://goodintentionsbook.com bob smietana

    There is some precedence for that “what’s all the fuss about comment.” Very few Christians today would argue that the Bible justifies slavery, or denying women the right to vote, or segregation, or eugenics, or a whole host of other issues.

    Yet Christians in the US have argued in the past, and in at least one case, were willing to go to war, to defend those positions. And they were certainly willing to jail transracial couples and sometimes lynch those who crossed segregated lines– acting,if not in the name of God, certainly with a sense that God was on their side.

    Small wonder that journalists or law professors give little credence to claims that the Bible forbids gay marriage.

  • Lisa Leff

    Anyone who thinks homosexuality hurts nobody should also consider redefining the word “is.”
    Homosexuality hurts children.
    Denying this is self-deception is far worse than the worst perception of the Bush administration, and even worse than the worst perception of the current House.
    While society should be exerting its energies in protecting and strengthening marriage, homosexuality is nothing but another attack on it. Children from bad marriages are at a disadvantage in every way, shape, and form when it comes to education, problem solving, etc.
    Homosexuality’s natural evolution is pedophilia and worse. There’s no black and white difference because it is one and the same moral digression.
    Homosexuality has always been found in the morally bankrupt societies throughout history. It is a norm only in non-human primitives.

  • Lisa Leff

    “And they were certainly willing to jail transracial couples and sometimes lynch those who crossed segregated lines”
    When you change topics, you should simply confess that you have no argument because you have none.

  • http://innig.net Paul

    “Make sure opponents of same-sex marriage are smeared as bigots…?

    Opponents of same-sex marriage are bigots. It’s not a smear if it’s true.

    That doesn’t mean they are entirely bad people. Most everybody harbors some kind of bigotry. But let’s call a spade a spade here.

  • Tim J.

    Of course, Christians have also had a history of opposition to polygamous or underage marriages. Why not use those as analogies instead? You’d even get the added bonus of a tie-in with current events.

  • Mike

    Same-sex marriages do not hurt anybody. Who cares if you are against it or not, it is not you getting married to someone of the sam sex. Also, there might be passages in the bible against same-sex relationship, but that just shows how we let something other then ourselves control our lives. The bible means nothing. Marriage is a bond between two people, not a bond between people in the bible

  • Mike

    Dan, you say “So, yes, you are right, “gay marriage” is harmless if you are content to live in a morass of abortion, illegitimacy, broken homes and STDs and don’t mind courts depriving you of the power to legistate concerning these matters. For those not content with this ugly picture, “gay marriage” is an unmitigated disaster. ” How do you think like that? That is rediculous. First of all, abortion is everywhere not just in Massachussets and second of all, STDs are all over the world and people give up children everyday and there are same-sex couples who are there to adopt them because yes they cannot have children of their own. Your accusations are ridiculous and do not even make sense with the issue. Same-sex marriages do not cause these things nor support them, they just happen so get over your single-minded ways and grow up.

  • Luke

    Dear Lisa Leff,
    Please provide us with a list of all “morally bankrupt societies” with citations for their support of homosexuality so that we can be as educated as you are on the topic. Would that list exclude the homosexual-incinerating Nazi Germany? Do you consider that state to be “morally wealthy” because it rejected homosexuality? How about Iran which, as its president claims, has no homosexuals? How exactly do you define morally bankrupt?

  • Stephen A.

    Anyone who says it’s “harmless” to deliberately deprive a child of a mother AND a father is ignoring a glaring negative effect of gay marriages. But let’s not expect to hear any reporting on that little fact in our slated, cheerleading media.

    On the other hand, if every gay person who is married has to swear to never participate in a Gay Pride Parade, never visit a bathhouse and never again have random sex in public restrooms, then it would be a wonderful domestication experiment and may be well worth the social cost.

    Tim J. makes a good point about Christians opposing other kinds of marriages, too. The reason THOSE aren’t used as examples is because 99% of people oppose polygamy and underaged marriages. But the ruling in CA and earlier in MA, undermines those prohibitions, too, as I’ve noted before.

    As for Paul’s comments (entry #20) anyone who calls people a “bigot” should be automatically assumed to have lost his or her argument, just as surely as if they had played the “Hitler” card.

    I also LOVE how people can come here on a RELIGION board and visciously trash religion, as did skeptic (#2 above) and Mike (#22). How pathetic. What’s worse, I’ve just prevented myself in the previous paragraph from naming what they are. Darn it.

  • Brian

    The point of marriage is family and children. Homosexuals are people with feelings and all that but they are biologically irrelevant; by their choice of partner they are not able to reproduce. I suspect most of the fuss is about affirmation, “Look at me, I’m gay and just as good as you!” which is a reasonable thing to want. Redefining marriage however, is not the answer. Every fake, counterfeit, dollar bill out there reduces the value of the legit, real dollar bill in my pocket.

  • harryo

    Is the California State Supreme Court decision just an evolution of the definition of marriage in a democratic, non-theocratic republic? The Christians speak of tradition; if they really embraced the philosophy of tradition and marriage, Christians would have no problem with polygamy since it was commonly practiced in Old Testament days and that the bible does not specifically ban polygamy. Isreal does not prohibit polygamy and of course, polygamy is permitted for Moslems. I don’t see the threat against “traditional” marriage since religious leaders can impose whatever rules they want about their rules concerning the marriage ritual within their church. No church can be forced to marry a same sex couple under the California ruling, that strictly dealt with the civil aspect of marriage. The California consitution says that the state can not discriminate and that situations where separation is necessary, such as restrooms, equal facilities must be provided for both men and women. There’s no way the court could rule that couples in civil unions have been treated by the state the same way hetrosexual couples are treated. Finally allowing same sex marriage would help discourage the practice of gays, particularly gay men, marrying hetrosexual women on the downlow to obtain benefits. When these women find out their husbands are gay, their families are destroyed and the women often suffer emotional problems. Far fewer gays would engage in sham marriages to women if same sex marriage is permitted.

  • Mike

    Wow Lisa Jeff,

    “Homosexuality hurts children.
    Denying this is self-deception is far worse than the worst perception of the Bush administration, and even worse than the worst perception of the current House.”

    How can you write something like this and be capable of taking yourself remotely seriously. Abusive parents hurt children, parents that enforce single closed-minded beliefs hurt children, lack of proper education hurts children. Does homosexuality have these inherent problems associated with that lifestyle?

    Your comments about bad marriages hurting children due to the issues you have specified have absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality. Are you that blind?

    “Homosexuality’s natural evolution is pedophilia and even worst.” You are clueless, it’s a wonder people like you even get by in society.

  • Joshua

    It’s funny that religion once based on the crusades can still see it’s self as being flawless. While the bible holds many lessons to be learned we forget one simple fact. It has been tainted by man kind over thousands of years, “interpreted” by individuals who poisoned it with their bias and bigotry.

    A comment was made equating homosexuality to pedophilia. I not only find that repulsive but simply a non truth. Pedophilias are comprised of male individuals mostly yes however are they 85% heterosexuals with a controlling urge and complex. I get people may not believe or understand homosexuality but using unfounded fear evoking garbage to back your own bigotry is just sad.

  • Kathy

    I just can’t believe these people who are against gay marriage. What ever happen to live and let live? They are not bothering you and thier marriages will have no affect whatsoever on yours.

  • Dave

    [...A]rguments against redefining marriage are always clumsily written if portrayed at all

    Mollie, thanks for including a smidgen of GetReligion concern in an otherwise conservative-complain-list post.

    Stephen A. (among others): Can you back up the assertion that every kid needs a mom and a dad, as compared with two moms or two dads? Ie, comparison with kids of single parents is not a valid test of the gay-marriage environment for children.

    BTW, if gay couples were childless the mom-and-dad argument would be pointless. But they’re not. Some gay couples adopt; others have children from previous marriage, before they came out to themselves and divorced.

  • http://www.wealthwithoutwork.org A Different Dan

    I love people like Franszwa who attempt to paraphrase passages from the bible to prove a point.

    If you read a little further in the book of Leviticus you’ll see that you should be condemned for eating shellfish, “rounding your beard,” not standing when an elderly person enters the room, or getting a tattoo.

    The Corinthians passages make even less sense in an argument. Did you ever think that maybe I don’t want to inherit the kingdom of god, if it’s gonna’ be filled with haters like you?

    On another note, Jesus surrounded himself with men, do you really think he’d be anti gay? When in Rome. . .

  • Lee

    Stephen A. : Anyone who says it’s “harmless” to deliberately deprive a child of a mother AND a father is ignoring a glaring negative effect of gay marriages.

    Typically, homosexual intercourse doesn’t result in offspring. If you’d like to make an argument for the immorality of adoption or artificial insemination for gay couples, feel free, but I fail to see how that is at all related to gay marriage.

  • Thomas

    Every single argument against gay marriage boils down to “I think it’s icky.” and “My Bible says it’s wrong.”

    When reasonable people respond that neither position is a viable argument to deny legal parity for gay couples, the anti-gay crowd then trots out “the children”. “Children NEED a nuclear family!” they scream and froth.

    Except, they don’t. It’s ideal, of course, but hardly a necessity. In fact, I can easily point to several families on my street that would benefit from one or the other parents taking a permanent vacation. Further, sociological studies of children with gay parents show that they do just fine.

    At this point in the discussion, the anti-gays usually become downright defamatory about gays as a group, saying that they are diseased and mentally ill, and therefore don’t deserve marriage equality. This is a tactic usually employed out of desperation and is easily refuted with peer reviewed scientific studies. (The Biblical commandment against bearing false witness seems to fall conveniently by the wayside for these people.)

    Realizing that their anti-gay rhetoric is making them look bad, the anti-gays then usually turn the argument back to how allowing gays to marry will devalue the institution as a whole. This is also unpersuasive, because they can never articulate HOW it will do that. A heterosexual couple who wants to get married will still do so even if Bill and Steve next door tie the knot. And if they invite Bill and Steve, they will surely get a cool present.

    In the end, when you ask an anti-gay person how allowing gays to marry will harm anyone or anything, what one gets is lots of heat… but very little light.

  • Christopher

    There is no need to resort to religion on this topic. It is very clear that men and women are complementary: emotionally, psychologically, and physically. The sexual acts that are performed by men on men and women on women are absurd and go against reason. The fact that they do not produce offspring is the most obvious reason that the state should not equate this with marriage. The word “marriage” is derived from “matrimony”, which is rooted in the word “mater”=mother. Matrimony is literally to enter into the state of motherhood.
    The root of our sexual confusion and incoherence on so many of these topics is that the majority of people embrace sodomy even for heterosexual couples. What do I mean? Those who think contraceptive sex is equal to procreative sex-or atleast sexual relations that are open to life-have accepted a sodomitic world-view. If you accept the moral legitimacy of contraceptive sex then by logical extension you must accept the legitimacy of homosexuality. The legal root of this goes back atleast to Griswald vs. Conneticut in 1965 when the state law banning the distrubition of condoms/contraception was overturned. We go from Contraception and abortion, to divorce and homosexuality-there is an inner logic to all of this.
    The only coherent explanation of sex comes from a proper understanding of the nature of sex as proper to a man and a woman committing for life to the possibility of children AND physical union, because the TWO ends of the sexual act are 1) procreation and 2) the union of the spouses. This can all be understood on the natural level. Those who wish to bring scripture into the conversation must understand that Revelation builds on the nature that God created. Those who wish to argue against this position are ultimately arguing not against a paticular religous stance, but reality itself.
    This is why homosexuality must be seen as a sinful inclination that should be fought against, just like a sinful inclination for an unmarried man to lust after his neighbor’s wife or another person to be envious of his neighbors goods. The state exists to order society in conformity with reality. One of the fruits of unchaste behavior is the inability to see and comprehend reality. This is the state of the West. We have become slaves to our most base and disordered appetites and we can no longer perceive reality. We are now living in the true dark ages.

  • Dave

    Stephen A. (#25) wrote:

    I also LOVE how people can come here on a RELIGION board and visciously trash religion

    Stephen, this blog has tolerated some incredibly aggressive and negative comments with a religious basis. It can put up with a few anti-religious comments.

    To all the new commentators: Note the option bars above the window for your comments. They enable you to set off a quote from an earlier comment, or the post proper, in one of those gray boxes. Makes a lot easier to follow.

  • Dave

    Christopher (#35) wrote:

    We go from Contraception and abortion, to divorce and homosexuality-there is an inner logic to all of this.

    Yeah, some of us call it progress.

  • http://www.wealthwithoutwork.org A Different Dan

    It’s so great to see an articulate discussion going on here in this forum. I do think that having these little chats will eventually (and rather quickly) lead to a more enlightened and accepting view of “others.”

    Being anti-gay defies logic. The “I think it’s icky” argument fails rather quickly in an intelectual discussion, and soon removes the look of disgust from their faces, and replaces it with a look of just plain dumb.

    When you stop to think about how little of the “icky” stuff goes on in a typical day, you realize that there’s a lot more depth to the human being, and perhaps maybe they shouldn’t all be lumped into the “icky” category.

    Besides, heterosexual sex is pretty “icky” too, (if you’re doing it right) but nobody ever seems to mention that.

    Hmmmm?

  • http://www.wealthwithoutwork.org A Different Dan

    If you accept the moral legitimacy of contraceptive sex then by logical extension you must accept the legitimacy of homosexuality.

    I am very happily and heterosexualy married, and I still accept the legitimacy of both, so I don’t see what your point is, other than you think I’ll rot in Hell.

    (Which of course brings religion back into the discussion.)

    I believe that there is PLENTY of love in the world to go around, and that it should be shared by whoever you choose to share it with. Thinking otherwise wouldn’t seem loving to me.

    I also want to say that I appreciate the fact that you’re trying to help me. (You obviously care a great deal about the safety of my soul.) But, can you also understand that I’m trying to help you?

    A difference of opinion is one more reason to celebrate the human experience. The TRUTH probably lies somewhere in between.

  • http://rantandravepolitics.blogspot.com Jordan

    To A Different Dan. As I explained on my blog, Leviticus hasfood laws, like not eating pig or shellfis,the main reason they were established was to distinguish the Jews from people they considered lesser to them, like the Gentiles. Nowadays laws like that are not needed because the perfect Son of God came to earth to wipe our sins away. Laws like food laws, or various others that could be called ‘crazy’ put forward in Leviticus could never be followed, even by Abraham, Moses, and other holy of holies. But since the savior of the world has came sin can be gone and eternal life can be achieved. Morality laws, like homosexuality, never change, but tradition laws have because of salvation through Jesus.

    And as another commenter said on my blog Jesus not only fulfilled the Law when He died on the cross, but He also did away with all of the ceremonial and sacrificial laws.

    Colossians 2:14 – “…having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”

  • iskunk

    Christopher writes:

    The root of our sexual confusion and incoherence on so many of these topics is that the majority of people embrace sodomy even for heterosexual couples. What do I mean? Those who think contraceptive sex is equal to procreative sex-or atleast sexual relations that are open to life-have accepted a sodomitic world-view. If you accept the moral legitimacy of contraceptive sex then by logical extension you must accept the legitimacy of homosexuality. The legal root of this goes back at least to Griswald vs. Conneticut [sic] in 1965 when the state law banning the distrubition [sic] of condoms/contraception was overturned.

    Contraception? Are you seriously arguing against contraception as an inherent moral evil? Extramarital sex, I’ll give you that, but contraception? Are you one of those folks who argued against antibiotics, on the basis that they would spare fornicators from paying the price for their sins (i.e. syphilis and other STDs)?

    Seriously, arguing against contraception (and the legitimacy of sex for non-procreative purposes) in this day and age is akin to arguing for a flat Earth. And it defies logic if divorce is brought up—how many marriages have come to naught because of lack of action in the bedroom?

    Not that I’d be unhappy to see opposition to homosexuality equated with opposition to contraceptives. It means that, in time, not only will people wonder what the fuss was all about, they’ll wonder what the heck were we even thinking back then.

  • Joe

    Of course, Christians have also had a history of opposition to polygamous or underage marriages. Why not use those as analogies instead? You’d even get the added bonus of a tie-in with current events.

    because an argument can be made that underage and polygamous marriages are exploitative and create victims.

    I also LOVE how people can come here on a RELIGION board and visciously trash religion, as did skeptic (#2 above) and Mike (#22). How pathetic. What’s worse, I’ve just prevented myself in the previous paragraph from naming what they are [bigoted]. Darn it.

    except that to be bigoted is to be intolerant of one’s biological identity, while to argue against a religious point is only to be intolerant of one’s ideas.

    Redefining marriage however, is not the answer. Every fake, counterfeit, dollar bill out there reduces the value of the legit, real dollar bill in my pocket.

    you are comparing mathematical value to moral value. religious folks might want moral value to be that clearly definable, but its obviously not – otherwise this debate would not be occurring.

  • http://www.wealthwithoutwork.org A Different Dan

    Morality laws, like homosexuality, never change, but tradition laws have because of salvation through Jesus.

    Where does it say that in the bible? Seems to me you’re making a personal choice about which laws were “nailed to the cross.”

    Personally, i consider anti-gay laws “crazy” and believe that Jesus serves as an example we should be aspiring to. I truly don’t believe that “God” keeps track of the mistakes that we make, but rather rejoices as we progress, learn, and become more enlightened.

    One of my favorite biblical quotes is “seek the truth and you will find it.” By narrowing your beliefs to a single religion you have rejected all other possibilities for truth, and therefore stopped “seeking.”

    At least, that’s how I look at it.

    Perhaps Jesus meant that truth is in the simple act of searching for it.

  • http://onlinefaith.blogspot.com C. Wingate

    re 4: The point is, Michael, that it isn’t their analogy. It’s the analogy of one faction in the argument; so if the press uses it as their own, they join that faction.

  • Roberta Young

    Two professors frpm McGill University wrote an article called “Answering Advocates of Gay Marriage”. One of the professors is gay, so they cannot be accused of homophobia, which is the standard insult/non-argument that advocates of gy marriage invariably make.

    Here is their summary:

    There’s nothing wrong with homosexuality. One of us, in fact, is gay. We oppose gay marriage, not gay relationships (which are already supported by most of the economic and legal benefits given to common-law couples and should be supported by all).

    Most people assume that heterosexuality is a given of nature and thus not vulnerable to cultural change, that nothing will ever discourage straight people from getting together and starting families. But we argue — and this is important — that heterosexual bonding must indeed be deliberately fostered by a distinctive and supportive culture.

    Because heterosexual bonding is directly related to both reproduction and survival, and because it involves much more than copulation, all human societies have actively fostered it (although some have also allowed or even encouraged homosexuality in specific circumstances). This is done through culture: rules, customs, laws, symbols, rituals, incentives, rewards, and other public mechanisms. So deeply embedded are these, however, that few people are consciously aware of them.

    Much of what is accomplished in animals by nature (“biology,” “genetics,” or “instinct” ) must be accomplished in humans by culture (all other aspects of human existence, including marriage). If culture were removed, the result wouldn’t be a functioning organism whether human or non-human. Apart from any other handicap would be the inability to reproduce successfully. Why? Because mating (sexual intercourse), which really is largely governed by a biological drive, isn’t synonymous with the complex behaviours required by family life within a larger human society.

    So how could marriage be harmed by adding a few gay couples? A good question, especially when you consider the deplorable state of marriage right now, which has been caused by hedonistic and irresponsible straight people.

    Marriage is a complex institution. It must do several things (and, from an anthropological and historical perspective, fostering the emotional gratification of two adults is the least important). It must foster the bonds between men and women for at least three reasons: to encourage the birth and rearing of children (at least to the extent necessary for preserving and fostering society); to provide an appropriate setting for children growing to maturity; and — something usually forgotten — to ensure the co-operation of men and women for the common good. Moreover, it must foster the bonds between men and children, otherwise men would have little incentive to become active participants in family life. Finally, it helps provide men with a healthy masculine identity based on a distinctive, necessary, and publicly valued contribution to society — fatherhood — especially when no other contribution is considered acceptable.

    Without public cultural support for a durable relationship binding men, women, and children, marriage would initially be reduced to nothing more than one “lifestyle choice” among many — that is, it could no longer be encouraged in the public square (which is necessary in a secular society). In fact, doing so would be denounced and even challenged in court as discrimination — the undue “privilege” of a “dominant” class, which is a breach of equality as defined by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But discrimination in this case should be allowed — and could be under the Charter — in view of the fact that marriage, as a universal institution and the essential cultural complement to biology, is prior to all concepts of law.

    In short, redefining marriage would amount to a massive human experiment. Some experiments work, it’s true, but others don’t. Remember that an earlier experiment, changing the divorce laws, set in motion social forces that would not be evident for forty years. This new experiment would be unprecedented in human history, and yet we haven’t taken the time to think carefully about possible consequences. Instead, we’ve allowed emotion to sweep aside all other considerations.

    Here’s the rest of the article should you be so open-minded as to actually read it:
    http://catholiceducation.org/articles/homosexuality/ho0064.html

  • http://perpetuaofcarthage.blogspot.com/ Perpetua

    Dear Mollie,
    I do hope you will do a piece on the two polls out now about the potential California amendment on marriage. As Ben #11 says, there is a Field Poll out today and Somebody’s Statistics Must Be Lying

  • Dan

    Christopher (#35) is absolutely right. Contraception is at the root of the problem, as shocking and incomprehensible as that may seem to secular types. It has been noted that the press rarely or never reports the reasoned basis for opposition to “gay marriage” – just imagine how unlikely it would be to ever read anything in the press about why contraception is harmful! The press has a chance coming up though, as the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae is approaching. That much-maligned encyclical letter was widely and vociferously denounced after it was released and its teaching widely ignored by Catholics. Now however there is a growing realization among Catholics that Humanae Vitae was prophetic, particularly in its prescient predictions that the approval of contraception would result in “conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality” and loss of “respect for the woman,” who would be used as “an instrument of selfish enjoyment.” The mainstream press cannot report on this because it completely lacks the moral sense to understand it – it would be like asking it to report in a foreign language in which it has no instruction.

    I also appreciate Christopher’s comment concerning the relationship between chastity and reasoning ability. The authority for this is no less than St. Thomas Aquinas, who has no equal in modern times when it comes to reasoning about morality. Here is what Josef Pieper writes in his book “Guide to Thomas Aquinas”: “Thomas – like Goethe, incidentally – always maintained that purity was a necessary condition for recognizing truth, for seeing reality.” (pp.123-124)

  • Joe

    Roberta Young,

    Those guys are professors? I thought McGill as a good school. It probably is, but would be even better without them. They said that hetero marriages are important, but didn’t say why gay marriages weaken hetero marriages. Whether or not gay marriage is allowed, the same number of people will be straight and gay.

  • http://rantandravepolitics.blogspot.com Jordan

    To A Different Dan If I didn’t make this clear before Colossians 2:14 says “. . .having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”

    The written code is the tradition laws the food law. These were not a question of morality. But homosexuality is. And to “seek the truth and you will find it.” Well I have, I sought found, and I need not saerch any longer because my personal relationship with God is overly satisfying. I am not narrowed minded but know what I have, my relationship not religion is all I need.

  • Ben

    Roberta — Thanks for summarizing that line of thought.

  • Tim J.

    This discussion has spent very little time on media coverage so I’ll try and veer back in that direction.

    A hugely undercovered story lies in the implications of same-sex marriage for the church-state division. In the state of Massachusetts, which according to many in this thread has seen no ill effects from same-sex marriage, Catholic Charities had to shut down their adoption agency merely because they wouldn’t adopt out to gay couples. Colorado had a similar bill to force religious charities to take the “right” stand on these issues, though I don’t know what’s become of it.

    This blog has, happily, noted what’s at stake, but it is a side of the debate that clearly needs more air time, since so many people here have managed to stay ignorant of the results that have already occurred.

    Telling that story would go a long, long way towards fairly representing those who oppose same-sex marriage.

  • iskunk

    Roberta Young, thank you for the link to that article. It made for good reading.

    I see some glaring problems in the arguments it presents:

    1. It presumes that same-sex marriage advocates are after a trite affirmation of love, and not the “much more complex” reality of marriage. Some people may see it as the former, but it’s unfair to deny that there aren’t many same-sex couples who are in it for everything that the union entails.

    2. All the bits about “masculinity,” “the relationship between men and children,” etc. are pop psychology. The authors of this article do not have professional credits in mental health nor child-rearing, as far as I can tell. Those who do, however, have fairly unanimously held that there is nothing unhealthy in the families anchored on same-sex unions. These have already existed long enough for adult children of same to be members of society, and they are as fit and well-adjusted as anyone else. (I believe it was even found that such children may even have a small advantage over those from traditional unions, on the basis that there was less likelihood of angst and confusion from sexual identity issues.)

  • Chris Todd

    The argument for gay marriage doesn’t even make sense on a naturalistic level.

    Let’s say I was an atheist biologist. Sex has one purpose: perpetuating the species. The feelings are simply nature’s way of reinforcing the sex drive. My analysis of homosexuality would not be that it is immoral but that it is at best a biological dead end (no reproduction). Some animals are born needing litle or no raising by parents. Humans are immature for quite a long time. Marriage is a social (and religious) reinforcement of the sexual bond so that 2 humans can raise any resultant children to maturity. Binding 2 sexual partners who have no ability to reproduce has no biological or societal value.

    Furthermore, redefining marriage in such a way takes away any perceived value to heterosexuals. Many young people already see little point in marriage. If marriage can be entered into by anyone, it will mean even less. Yes, heterosexuals have been responsible for the devaluation of marriage. That hardly justifies striking yet another blow.

    We will not see much of the effects in my generation, nor in my grown children’s generation. But our grandchildren are going to take one look at marriage (which by then can be contracted by any number of men and women and dissolved in a blink)and think, “Why bother?”

  • str1977

    Religion’s strangehold on public ethics?

    Well, if you strangle something it will eventually die.

    So it seems that it is Liberalism (or rather Relativism) that could be described a strangler of ethics.

  • str1977

    “Opponents of same-sex marriage are bigots. It’s not a smear if it’s true.”

    Every bigot that every walked the face of the earth thought his bigotry true and hence neither bigotry nor smear.

    It seems truer to say that proponents of homosexual “marriage” are bigots as they are apparently thinking (at least on this and related threads) that opponents are fair game for ridicule and bashing, all based on using a busybody court overstepping its authority to redefine marriage into something else. It is the arrogance of power laughing down on a reeling opponent.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean they are entirely bad people. Most everybody harbors some kind of bigotry. But let’s call a spade a spade here.

  • Dave

    iskunk wrote (#41):

    Seriously, arguing against contraception (and the legitimacy of sex for non-procreative purposes) in this day and age is akin to arguing for a flat Earth.

    Good luck using the flat-Earth analogy with this crowd. I tried it in a discussion of the Intelligent Design flavor of creationism, and it bounced right off.

  • str1977

    “Is the California State Supreme Court decision just an evolution of the definition of marriage in a democratic, non-theocratic republic?”

    No, it cannot be. It could only be in a judicratic republic. BTW, isn’t it an irony that Josephus coined the term “theocracy” to desribe a system of the rule of law.,

    “Christians would have no problem with polygamy since it was commonly practiced in Old Testament days and that the bible does not specifically ban polygamy.”

    That is irrelevant since a) the bible nowhere commandes polygamy b) it does ban homosexuality c) this issue is not about polygamy (apart from the fact that the court’s decision weakens the secular argument against polgygamy).

    “I don’t see the threat against “traditional” marriage since religious leaders can impose whatever rules they want about their rules concerning the marriage ritual within their church.”

    Until the same busybodies came along and move against such freedoms as well. (There is a thread on GR on this.)

    And marriage is already hurt by being redefined.

    “No church can be forced to marry a same sex couple under the California ruling, that strictly dealt with the civil aspect of marriage.”

    But somehow the state of California was forced by overstepping judges.

  • Grant

    Uh, guys? Even without all the flames, most of these posts are way off the topic of this site.

    You’re making it much less fun to lurk. ;-)

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    These comments are mostly off-topic and even some of the ones that are on-topic are in poor taste.

    For those who don’t know about GetReligion, we don’t care what you think about same-sex marriage. You can be for it, you can be against it. That’s your business and this is NOT the venue to debate it.

    This is the venue to look at media coverage of same-sex marriage.

    Either discuss media coverage of same-sex marriage, including the Los Angeles Times article referenced above . . . or go elsewhere.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    I feel like spiking the whole dang thread.

    Yet, in a way, this whole mess is a perfect example of why the mainstream press is going to need a very good battle plan if it wants to offer coverage that is fair to the views of people on both sides of the issue.

    It would be hard to edit the thread, since so many of the posts are people throwing mud at each other.

  • Martha

    Mollie is correct. The point of this thread should be to discuss the use the newspaper made of the poll results.

    When the paper (seemed to) wish to advocate in favour of same-sex marriage, the 19% lead for the “No” side was explained as a “slim lead”.

    Now, maybe it is or maybe it isn’t. What would be considered a thick lead? 30%? 40%? 60%?

    If the lead swung the other way, to be 19% in favour of the “Yes” side, would the paper still describe it as a slim lead? There seem to be good grounds for doubting this.

    When the paper (seems to) wish to reassure its readers that this decision will not frighten the horses, then the 19% lead is a good, solid margin that will defend the – well, I was going to say the cause of right, but it’s presented as the cause of the conservatives and bigots.

    Now, is this meant to be an editorial or reporting on the facts? If it’s an opinion column shilling for same-sex marriage, sure, call the lead tiny and prophesy triumph for Truth, Justice, and Fluffy Bunnies.

    But if it’s supposed to be a factual account of what’s going on, then give us some analysis of WHY it’s a slim lead (as compared to what other polls?), or WHY it won’t have an effect, and keep your opinion about is this the rising wave of advancement and progress for the opinion columns.

  • Ben

    Martha,

    As was pointed out in the first thread on this topic (and largely ignored), a California ballot initiative must pass with at least 50% of voters, so rather than a 19 point spread, the LATimes poll found the ballot measure would pass by only a 4% margin (54%). Hence, perhaps “slim” wasn’t a bad choice of words *IF* that had been properly explained in the LATimes article. The more interesting journalistic question here, I think, is what to make of the disparate polling, with Field Poll finding support for the amendment standing only at 40%. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s reason to doubt the LATimes polling.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Ben,

    You’re right about ballot initiatives needing to pass with at least 50 percent of voters. However, the only responses on ballot initiatives are yes or no. If you don’t vote, you don’t count. So it’s not correct to say it would pass by only a 4 percent margin unless you operate with the assumption that all of those polled represent a good sample of likely voters and that all of the undecideds would vote against the initiative.

    I will be looking at coverage of the Field Poll, too! Thanks.

  • Paul Benedict

    Whether one is heterosexual, religiously orthodox or homosexual, the fist big issue facing folks in California is the loss of sanity in government. Why didn’t the courts just rule that there is really only one sex? Why didn’t the courts just rule that there is no such thing as heterosexuality because it is unfair to homosexuals?

    If a government thinks it can do this to a word like marriage on the basis of “good intentions” how about words like property, liberty, or a phrase like “freedom of worship.” Whether well intended or not, all laws, whether enacted by democratically elected officials or by judicial fiat, rely on words used sensibly.

    This whole issue is, flatly, Orwellian. Whatever happened to recognizing and appreciating our diversity? A same sex union is not the same as the act of love enshrined in matrimony. What’s wrong with acknowledging and appreciating this? The underlying realities remain unchanged no matter how many laws are passed. The only result is that California, like Massachusetts, will become a universal joke, a historic by-word for travesty. This is a shame because the premises of our society have the potential to help liberate a world. Instead, every tin-horn dictator from Tehran to Beijing will be able to point to this ruling and say “Democracy? Look at those fools. Do you want to be like them?”

  • http://pursueholiness.blogspot.com Pastor K

    Terry,

    If you’re looking for permission to spike this whole thing … I certainly give it to you. There are plenty of places in internetland for this kind of mud. GetReligion can and does do better than this.

  • iskunk

    Mollie wrote:

    For those who don’t know about GetReligion, we don’t care what you think about same-sex marriage. You can be for it, you can be against it. That’s your business and this is NOT the venue to debate it.

    This is the venue to look at media coverage of same-sex marriage.

    I apologize for contributing to the off-topic-ness. Debates like this can be difficult to resist when the crowd is articulate and not prone to baseless ad hominem attacks. GetReligion certainly has a quality reader base.

    I would point out, however, that you didn’t exactly help matters with your editorializing in the article–particularly the last paragraph. I believe the discussion would have remained more on-topic if the article had set the example of laser-sharp focus on the subject. The editorial commentary practically begs for a response, and before you know it, the whole discussion is revolving around that.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    iskunk,

    Feel free to “editorialize” or criticize or share your opinions about the media coverage. In fact, we encourage it. This just isn’t the venue to debate the underlying issues.

  • iskunk

    Much obliged, Mollie; I meant to say that the article would have been less conducive to off-topic discussion if it had not signaled your own view on the underlying issue so clearly. Ideally, the article text would have left a reader unsure of whether you were for or against SSM, thereby defusing that issue as a point of contention and leaving the reader free to focus on the real subject without distraction. Granted, I don’t think the article could have been written in a completely neutral way, but it certainly could have been more modest in its remarks.

    It may be additionally beneficial in that partisan readers won’t be predisposed to (dis)agree with you because your views (don’t) align with theirs–at least, for readers not already familiar with your views.

    I don’t want to say that expressing strong opinions on such topics is bad or wrong–but that in this case, it did not help to advance the thesis of the article, and resulted in a discussion shooting off on a tangent. Might the benefits of a different approach outweigh the costs?

  • Thomas

    Mollie, I have to agree with iskunk, above. You posted an entry larded with your own negative opinions on a controversial issue; you cannot now go back and say that all you were doing was calling attention to what you perceive to be inaccurate media coverage.

    It is intellectually dishonest to use rhetoric like this and expect no response. “Nope, the California court ruling will have no effect, no effect at all — and yet we’ll all look back on those bigots — who are morally equivalent to racists — in just a few short years and wonder what was the big deal. At least if the Los Angeles Times has anything to do with it.

    But then, I routinely notice an appalling lack of intellectual honesty on the part of those who are on the very wrong side of this issue. You may “think it’s icky” and “your Bible says it’s wrong”, but if that’s the best you can do, you can hardly expect the media to take up a flag and a musket for your cause.

    This morning, a local reporter was interviewing commuters about our Governor’s proclamation that gay marriages valid where performed must be recognized by New York State agencies. The exchange went like this:

    Reporter: “What do you think of Governer Patterson’s statement?”

    Commuter: “I think it’s wrong! I don’t agree with it. I could never approve of something like that?

    Reporter: “Why not?”

    Commuter: “I just can’t.”

    Reporter: “It just rubs you the wrong way, huh?”

    Commuter: “Yes!”

    Reporter: “Do you think that’s a valid reason for any public policy decision?”

    Commuter: “Uh. Um – Uh…”

    Reporter: “Back to you, Beth and Carol!”

    Beth: *laughs out loud*

    Carol: *shakes head, giggles*

    The media has the number of anti-gay bigots, and the more that they and their true motives are exposed, the better.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    iskunk and Thomas,

    Your comments on this could not be more wrong.

    As I’ve mentioned many many times, I am a pretty radical libertarian. My political views on marriage are pretty extreme and not relevant to this discussion, but you’ve got me wrong.

    Just because I point out the obvious media criticism that conservatives and traditionalists are getting treated shabbily here does not mean I share their views.

    Personally I think that people should not receive benefits or punishment from the government for how they group together — be they heterosexual, homosexual or polygamous.

    So, again, you’ve got me wrong.

  • Thomas

    Well, Mollie, if that’s the case, please excuse me. Surely you can see how the rhetorical choices you made could lead someone to conclude otherwise.

    Has it occurred to you that the so-called “conservatives” and “traditionalists” on this issue deserve to be treated shabbily by the media and society in general? I mean, did you find Archie Bunker to be a sweetie pie who was just misunderstood?

    Once the arguments against gay equality are parsed in the public discourse and found wanting, those who continue to make them will not be treated sympathetically, much as Young Earth Creationists, child-abusing polygamist cult leaders, and totalitarian dictators are. You may find it unfair, but the fact is that not every idea has equal merit, and that will always be reflected in how the media portrays it.

  • iskunk

    Mollie,

    That is interesting to hear, and I would not have guessed that your views leaned libertarian. The article, however, still strikes a strongly negative tone on the underlying issue. That this gives the wrong impression of your views is unexpected, to say the least, but you still have the problem of attracting more heat than light in the ensuing discussion. Evident bias is the kicker; the fact that it is not your bias doesn’t mitigate that. We can’t know what is going on inside your head; we can only read what you write, and assume that what you write is an accurate reflection of what you think.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    What I wrote *is* an accurate reflection of what I think. What I think is that the media coverage of this issue is atrocious. That’s what I wrote.

    Also, as for Thomas’ query about whether people who support the traditional view of marriage held for thousands of years “deserve” to be treated shabbily? Um, no. I don’t think anyone deserves to be treated shabbily, particularly people who have the weight of history on their side.

    If anything, I think the burden of proof rests with the folks who want to quickly change an institution that has done much good work over thousands of years.

    But the nice thing about journalism is that reporters don’t need to decide whether one side’s ideas are more deserving of good treatment than another. They just need to report the facts, not advocate for one side over the other.

  • Gerry

    This is for skeptic.

    Wow – how original – and wrong. Did you get that idiotic idea from Christopher Hitchens?

    He’s long argued that religion is a barrier to human progress, and is also a believer in evolutionism. He, and you, are too foolish to realize that both can’t be true.

  • Dave

    Mollie writes (#73):

    I think the burden of proof rests with the folks who want to quickly change an institution that has done much good work over thousands of years.

    This encapsulates why you and the commentators critical of your writing are shooting past each other.

    The folks who want a change (which by now they might not agree is quick) don’t see it as changing the institution. They see it as extending the institution to cover other deserving couples. (This is why the miscegenation cases come so readily to their minds.)

    Your vocabulary in this instance puts you, whether you will it or not, in one of the two camps.

  • Thomas

    Mollie, you’re doing it again:

    Also, as for Thomas’ query about whether people who support the traditional view of marriage held for thousands of years “deserve” to be treated shabbily? Um, no. I don’t think anyone deserves to be treated shabbily, particularly people who have the weight of history on their side.

    Suffice it to say, your choice of words does not reflect your earlier stated views. You may think that this debate is about “supporting the traditional view of marriage held for thousands of years”.

    But it isn’t.

    As noted earlier, Mollie, if we were in pre-modern Europe, your marriage would likely have been arranged prior to your 12th birthday to a virtual stranger in exchange for a cow and some chickens. 19th century England was little better, as anyone with a working knowledge of Jane Austen’s work would know.

    It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the current concept of marrying a person of one’s choosing because you loved them came into vogue. And even then, miscegnation was illegal. Martrimony’s current form has only existed since the Loving v. VA Supreme Court decision.

    By this reckoning, marriage “traditionalists” have about 40 years of history on their side. And they’re employing much of the same rhetoric against gay marriage that was used against interracial marriage.

    I think that justifies quite a bit of editorial license on the part of the media, whose function, after all, is to provide news with a certain measure of analysis.

    Or, put another way – go get ‘em, guys.

  • Belden

    For a shining example of why there is no valid reason to oppose gay marriage, see this clip of Bill O’Reilly asking a gay marriage foe “Why?” over and over.

    After some incoherent blather, O’Reilly concludes, “You’re going to have to do better than that.”

    http://www.redlasso.com/ClipPlayer.aspx?id=9ca7efa6-5a1d-4443-97be-00cd871b6726

  • http://www.dailycadence.com Jason

    When you divide this question, there are only two answers:
    1) The Bible is useless
    2) The Bible is right

    For those that don’t believe the Bible has any truth, there’s no way that interjecting Scripture into the conversation is going to work. For those people, it’s like trying to explain to them arithmetic when 2+2 = 5; everything’s off center and there’s no common ground for discussion. They think the same thing about those of us who believe the Bible is inerrant.

    If you look at gay marriage from a strictly secular standpoint, there’s absolutely no fault. After all, if the only “law” is everything’s fair game unless it harms others then most all moral debates fall on the side of the secularists.

    But I do believe that the Bible contains the Truths for all mankind and, because of that, it drives my convictions on this matter.

    Without a common foundation of “what is the truth”, there’s no way for either side to win the debate — but it will be decided some day.

  • Dave

    Jason wrote:

    When you divide this question, there are only two answers:
    1) The Bible is useless
    2) The Bible is right

    This is a false dichotomy. There is a third path, that the Bible is a source of wisdom but not literally inerrant.

    The point of this blog, however, is that sometimes you wouldn’t know the Bible existed when the mainstream media cover an issue where one side is deep into Biblical country.

  • http://www.dailycadence.com Jason

    Dave:

    Then, to follow your example, the Bible is wrong and therefore useless. Since the Bible says that it is God-breathed, directly from God Himself, then if that’s wrong the whole thing has to be tossed.

    Again that brings me back to the point. There is only black and white, there is no gray.

  • Dave

    Jason:

    The third way proposes that the Bible is a collection of stories whose authors thought they were inspired by God, and which may represent the best thought of their times. Some of that thought may still be valuable — the Beatitudes, for example — while some may no longer be of use (homophobia, eg).

    Besides, some of it is excellent poetry — the Song of Solomon, for example — or exciting narrative (Esther, eg) irrespective of any truth content.

  • jon

    Marriage has been defined as the union of a man and a woman for thousands of years. As pointed out by Christopher

    The word ‘marriage’ is derived from “matrimony”, which is rooted in the word ‘mater’=mother. Matrimony is literally to enter into the state of motherhood.

    Thomas pointed out that

    It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the current concept of marrying a person of one’s choosing because you loved them came into vogue. And even then, miscegnation was illegal. Martrimony’s current form has only existed since the Loving v. VA Supreme Court decision.

    By this reckoning, marriage “traditionalists” have about 40 years of history on their side.

    However, whether or not the marriage was arranged does not change the point that marriage is currently understood to be the union of man and woman potentially resulting in motherhood.

    Second, government has no business redefining the definition of marriage in the name of “constitutional rights,” or “anti-discrimination.” They have every right to define whether or not a couple may be recognized as married for legal issues or tax reasons.