How Will the Coming Legalization of Gay Marriage Affect Your Love For America?

Right now, in a federal courtroom in San Francisco, a judge presiding over a nonjury trial is deciding whether or not states have the right, under the federal constitution, to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. At issue is whether or not California’s November 2008 passage of Proposition 8, which amended the state’s constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, was a violation of the federal constitution’s 14th Amendment rights to equal protection under the law.

This case is historic, because it is the first federal case to question the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans. It is certain to lead, via the appeal of its outcome, to the justices of the Supreme Court being forced to make a landmark decision on whether states have the right under the federal constitution to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

Arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs (who are two couples: one lesbian, one gay) that Prop. 8 amounts to unconstitutional discrimination is lawyer Theodore Olson (a litigator best known for representing George W. Bush in the Supreme Court case that decided the 2000 election). His argument is, and throughout the trial will probably remain, pretty straightforward: that Prop. 8 is in violation of the 14th amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

“It is,” Olson said in court yesterday, “the courts’ responsibility to protect the rights of minorities.”

When I saw this trial coming, I imagined that I was the lawyer faced with defending the constituionality of Prop. 8. I tried to think of the foundational arguments upon which I would build my case. Outside of a courtroom, I would always be able to point to the Bible as the salient argument against gay marriage. But in a federal courtroom, I wouldn’t have that option. You can’t make federal laws based on Biblical injunctions. In this war I’d have no access whatsoever to my most powerful weapon.

After some reflection, I saw that for this case there would be only two doors open to me. One was marked Tradition. The other was marked Children.

I would have no choice. My argument would have to be that federally mandating gay marriage legal would fly in the face of our hallowed societal traditions, and would threaten the well-being of children. That would be all I could say.

And so I knew that going into the courtroom I would sigh a secret, heavy sigh. Because I would know how certain it was that I was going to lose this case.

Thus far in the trial (which started yesterday) defense’s attorney Charles Cooper, a prominent lawyer for the Prop. 8 campaign committee Protect Marriage, has taken the only path available to him. He has argued that legalizing gay marriage would threaten societal tradition, and the well-being of children.

“The limitation of marriage to a man and woman has been something that has been universal,” he argued. He said Prop. 8 expressed “a special regard for this venerable institution [of marriage].” He said extending marriage to same-sex couples would undermine its status as a “pro-child institution,” and redefine it as a private relationship between two adults who love each other.

“It is the purpose of marriage—the central purpose of marriage—to ensure, or at least encourage and to promote that when life is brought into being, it is by parents who are married, and who take the responsibility of raising that child together,” he said.

The wall into which that argument is destined to crash is that marriage is already defined as a private relationship between two adults who love each other. That’s what marriage is. And, like it or not, gay people are already raising children. Those two giant cats are already long out of the bag. The court can’t affirm that married people who don’t have children aren’t really married, or are in any way less married than couples who do have children. And gay couples are already together sharing the responsibilities of raising children—as are foster parents, step-parents, adoptive parents, grandparents, and all kinds of other partnered adults whose right to raise children is already fully protected by law.

The traditional nuclear family is a wonderful thing. But it’s not even the norm anymore.

It’s inevitable that gay marriage will become legal in America, the same way it was inevitable that slavery would be outlawed, that women would win the vote, that interracial marriage would be deemed perfectly legal, that gay rights would be protected, that discrimination based on religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation would become illegal anywhere and everywhere in America.

The question of the legalization of gay marriage has finally moved into the federal courts. That means it’s destined to end up before the Supreme Court. There it’ll smack right into the 14th Amendment. The first section of that amendment is perfectly clear: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property … nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” When the defense argues that, due to its protected civil rights, homosexuals already enjoy “separate but equal” status, the court will take as its precedent the famous Brown v. Board of Education case  of 1954, and thereby determine that the status of gays, while certainly separate, isn’t, in practice, equal.

“I’ve been in love with a woman for 10 years, and I don’t have access to a word for it,” lead plaintiff, 45-year-old Kristin Perry of Berkeley, told the packed San Francisco courtroom. “In a store, people want to know if [my partner and me] are sisters or cousins or friends, and I have to decide every day if I want to come out wherever we go, if we are going to risk that negative reaction.”

“I’m proud to be gay. … I love Jeff more than myself,” testified Paul Katami, 37, one of the other three plaintiffs in the case. “Being gay doesn’t make me any less of an American.” The passage of Prop. 8, said Katami, affirmed that “being gay means I’m unequal.”

The plaintiffs opened with these kinds of emotional pleas, as opposed to anything of a more technically legal nature, because they know that the key to the court determining that their societal status is not equal to that of heterosexuals lies in the emotional stress they suffer from being unable to legally marry.

I think we can stop wondering whether or not the Supreme Court will rule, once and for all, that gay marriage is legal. It will. What we should be wondering now is how we’re going to react to this new, legally sanctioned paradigm of marriage. When people say they love America, what they are by definition saying is that they love and believe in the American Constitution. But for a lot of Americans—for perhaps the majority of us—that love has never been tested as severely as it’s about to be.

Hold on to your hats, friends. Earthquake’s comin’.

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  • Robin

    The legalization itself will make me love America more. The reaction- the weeping and gnashing of teeth- will make me love American Christianity less.

  • Earthquake coming. Will people leave America? Paraguay sounds nice. You'd have to learn Spanish, but hey, if you're really committed to leaving, learning a language should be no significant barrier…

  • Allen

    As one of those lucky enough to get a marriage license when they were legal (we call it the "limited edition license"), my husband and I am enjoying "equal protection" — as long as we stay in California or a handful of other states. The legal murkiness of domestic partnership definitions, which vary from place to place, is one of the big 'separate but how could it be equal?" obstacles to the defense of Prop 8. I agree with John that same-gender marriage will inevitably become legal nationwide. Just how long it will take is another question.

    At our church wedding, we used the Bible as a weapon, too — just by reading from most of it rather than a few oddball passages . There's an awful lot in there about love and being a responsible person and taking care of your family — and returning love for hate. Robin, I hope and pray that American Christianity is about to embrace its own diversity!

  • A true believer

    I wish the Christians who rabidly cling to a few words attributed to Paul in order to justify their own vile hatred and fear WOULD leave America (or see the light, and change), so that we Christians who actually understand the Gospel can get on with undoing the damage their hatred has been doing for so long.

    But they won't leave, or learn. They'll remain, and continue to embarrass sane, compassionate Christians with their frothing anger and fear—and continue to keep non-believers who MIGHT be interested in Christianity as far away from it as possible. And all, of course, in the name of Christ.

  • Personally I think the government should just get out of the marriage business altogether. If you want to get married, go to a church. Traditional Christian churches will only marry a man and a woman. More progressive churches like the Metropolitan Community Church will marry same-sex couples. Muslin Imams may marry a man and up to four women.

    None of those will entitle the happy couple(s) to the legal protections of marriage. Those can only be obtained by getting a domestic partnership at the county clerk's office.

  • Jennifer

    What does it matter to straight people? Homosexual are going to live together, and have children together. Why not give them the same marital rights as us, or tax breaks for that matter. It's not fair for them to have to claim single for their whole lives, when they have the same marital duties as we all have. Children are born to people every day who don't want them; a life in a happy home is better than a home in which you aren't loved, wanted, abused. As for tradition, American tradition is dead already. It died when people refused to say Christmas, and when we stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance every day in schools as to not provoke lawsuits about preaching an ''under God'' theology. Whomever gets upset with our country regarding homosexuals' rights to love one another should have been upset years ago, when tradition and children were first neglected.

  • RogerC

    What a difficult topic to tackle, John. The legal issue of redefining marriage is greatly different from simply getting someone to acknowledge a same-sex couple. I work at a non-profit operated by area churches. Our board would not want us supplying emergency shelter (hotel room) to an unmarried couple, whether they were male/female or same sex. To ask the board to treat same-sex couples the same as a male/female couple would be to ask them to reject their beliefs. If the law is changed regarding marriage, operations like this one could cease to exist due to liability issues.

    This is somewhat similar to the abortion issue in relation to nationalized health care. Many Catholic health facilities (1/6 of the total hospitals in the U.S.) would be impacted and possibly closed if they were forced to do abortions. Many organizations and businesses will close if forced to violate their conscience.

    What institutions would be required to recognize same-sex marriages? Would the business owner who opposes homosexuality? Would private religious organizations?

    One other thought… If someone opposes homosexuality because of religious beliefs, this does not automatically mean they are full of hate.

    Interesting blog, John. Thanks.

  • JJ

    John said:

    "After some reflection, I saw that for this case there would be only two doors open to me. One was marked Tradition. The other was marked Children."

    What about this:

    Civilizations have defined marriage as one woman, one man, both of consenting adult status.

    If that definition is changed (in this particular case, to same gender, both of consenting adult status), it logically opens the door to further challenges of the definition. If the definition can be changed once, it can and will be changed in the future for other important reasons.

    For example, scientists are now looking at the possibility of children being conceived with 3 biological parents; new breakthroughs are making this a probability. In that case, a family of 3 parents would clearly benefit from marriage being redefined to take care of these special families. (Even now, there are 3 parent families, because of biological donors to same-sex couples).

    Consequently, the definition of marriage could continue to evolve so quickly that the courts would have difficulty dealing with all the well-argued, individual challenges.

  • Jennifer

    that's supposed to be suppose not purpose. oops.

  • onemansbeliefs

    It is doubtful that this decision will alter, in anyway, how thankful I am to be an American.

  • Kara

    It'll make me love the system of checks and balances even more. My feelings about America itself will change when public opinion does.

  • "He said extending marriage to same-sex couples would undermine its status as a “pro-child institution,” and redefine it as a private relationship between two adults who love each other."

    In my mind there is only two ways to look at marriage:

    If it is for 'a private relationship between two adults who love each other' then marriage should be for everyone regardless of sexual orientation with or without the intent to have children.

    If it is to promote a 'pro-child institution' then you might as well call marriage an agreement and license to breed.

    In that light the US Government needs to re-evalute why it is in the marriage business in the first place. And have no doubt it is for business, not for love.

    Regardless, legalizing gay marriage would be a long overdue and significant step in the right direction IMHO.

    As for loving American more because of it, well, it will help. Time will tell. Though I am still telling a friend in England to keep his basement apartment open for if I ever choose to shake the dust off my sandals and move on…..

  • It'll give me hope that perhaps our country isn't quite done yet in building the list of great civil rights accomplishments you noted. In 40 years we went from desegregation to a black President.

    It's exciting to ponder how my children will look at these issues, now seen as so controversial, when they are in a place and time when sexual orientation is as meaningless as skin color in defining the character and value of a human soul.

  • JJ: Actually, Western civilisation has defined marriage as between a man and a wife (note the difference in power and significance between the roles – women were largely property for most of Western civilisations history). The rest of human civilisation has been anything but 'traditional,' with polygamy being far more common than monogamy. Buttressing bias with a call to maintaining traditional structures, ironically, would result in the polygamy that you are suggesting is a natural outgrowth of allowing two consenting adults to have their relationship accorded the status generally given to two consenting adults.

    PS. Over the last two years the strengths of the US legal and political system have really been shown, at least internationally. While producing contentious and noisy deliberations, they result in powerful arguments being made and inspiring change occurring. This is not something the US had been known for (think GWB Junior's first election).

  • If we spent half as much time helping married couples avoid divorce and stay married as we did fighting gay marriage, far more would be done to help the institution of marriage in our country.

  • Robin

    I agree with Brian (and Tony Campolo, etc) in the statement that everyone should have civil unions- legally equal. Then “marriage” would still be what a church does, and people can either get that or not.

  • Wow! Impressive series of comments here. You guys make me look good. Which, you know, given my last haircut….Hyuk! No, but good work. Like Brian and Robin, I, too, have always wondered why we have what feels like a weird hybrid thing happening with the church and marriage. When a pastor declares a couple "man and wife" (or, you know, "married"), it's clear he or she just did something spiritual, which of course is great. But it's also clear that in some way he just proved an important civil service, which always seems … not really his job. The way marriage works today seems to tromp on the idea of church and state remaining separate. It seems like more and more, relative to marriage, they're going to be situated in such a way as to more clearly BE separate, doesn't it? It's starting to seem a little inevitable that what happens between a couple and their religious representative in a church-type setting doesn't have anything whatsoever to do with the legal and civil status of their relationship.

    That's weird though too, isn't it? Much less than for the excellent types of concerns raised above by Roger C—but doesn't that put the responsibility for determining who should and shouldn't get married into the hands of a relatively lowly civil clerk? Don't, right now, the churches work as sort of a societal VETTING institution for would-be married couples? What would happen if a man and two women DID go to the courthouse and request a marriage certificate? Is the $10-an-hour clerk at the window supposed to be the person who decides whether or not to issue them one?

    I suppose it'll all end up another monstrous governmental bureaucracy, where you'll APPLY for marriage license, and then have to get interviewed and vetted and so on.

  • My mom always said that you can't legislate morality. (One of the few things I listened to.)

    Many of the cultural conservative issues, which are so divisive, are really moral issues. You can't make a law that requires someone to adhere to another person's definition of morality. This is just one of the areas where Christian shoot themselves in the foot and run off non-Christians from the discussion. (If you haven't read John's "I'm O.K. — You're Not," do so. It will give you are sense of what I'm talking about.)

    I don't think those people who are gay are fighting for equal rights are doing so because of marriage. I think they are doing to be viewed as human beings. I think they are really standing up and saying "Quit condemning me as somehow a mis-fit or a lesser human."

    How can we Christians better change the moral climate of our nation? Live what we say we believe. I don't agree with my gay friends relationships, but I love them just the same. By the same token, I don't agree with some of the moral choices my children have made, but I love them anyway.

  • Probably should add to my comment — My endorsement of John's book was an unpaid announcement. (Chocolate and coffee always accepted.)

  • Lisa


    I'm 99% in agreeance with you, but 100% impressed with your simple and well put stance. Bravo!

  • Latoya

    Jasun Mark. You said 'it’s clear that weddings are just another party for straight people'.

    How on earth could you something like that? You mean to tell me that being straight automatically means you dont value marriage?? And being gay means that you do? I understand your upset and how strongly you feel, but try to remain respectful.

  • Jasun: LaToya's right. You were doing a good job, until you went to far by saying marriage is essentially just a joke to straight people. But even with that, you make excellent and important points. But you'd do well to back off the hyperbole, so it doesn't distract from whatever good points you might be making.

    Phil: Extremely good job. (Folks: I knew Phil DeHart 35 years ago, and haven't heard from him since until he showed up on my blog. He was a year ahead of me in high school. We weren't friends. We weren't ENEMIES, or anything: he was just a guy who went to my high school. I knew him enough to say high to him in passing—years before we had played Little League baseball together—and I always liked him. But mostly I always FEARED him. He had fists like hams, and he was always PUNCHING me. He never seemed to be doing it out of anything but rambunctious good fun: he was just one of those huge, football linemen guys whose idea of greeting you is to immediately put you in a head lock and rub a bald spot on your head. Except he wasn't mean like that, at all. He was just … a raw, extremely powerful physical force. But he always seemed happy and excited about … well, life, I guess. I never asked him; I just tried to survive our encounters. But it was clear, always, that he had a great, open heart. I always left him smiling, shaking my head, and rubbing my arm. And now here he is! A Christian, doing amazing work with the poor in the Philippines! I rejoice in their luck in knowing him better than I ever did—and also, out of instinct, fear a little for their arms.)

    Brian: You were probably joking, but of course what you've said isn't fair, either. As you surely know, straight people take the moment they're wed as seriously as they ever take anything else in their lives. It's hardly fair to accuse people who are in the process of getting married as "flaunting" anything. But you knew that ….

  • Jasun: So you're actually STICKING with your theory that straight people tend to get married not because they love each other, but because THAT'S how greedy they are to get the wedding presents? And you don't see how crazy and irrationally angry that makes you sound?

    Complain about inequality between gays and straights. People will hear that. But assert that the love gays have for each other is noble and pure, while the love straight people have for one another is based primarily on superficiality and greed, and no one in the world will listen to you. Because that's manifestly ridiculous.

    Brian: I agree with you that the "be gay, just don't flaunt it" position is untenable, at best. (And I think it's an "opinion" held by relatively few people. Certainly in my experience it is.) But straight people don't "flaunt" their sexuality any more or less than gays do. ALL people are insane about their gonads, period. People—straight, gay, and anywhere in between—can no sooner stop "flaunting" their sexuality than birds can stop flying.

  • John: I don't think anyone's saying that all (or even most) straight people's love is "based primarily on superficiality and greed". What I am saying is that society has a whole variety of ways of celebrating straight nuptials no matter how serious or frivolous they may be but many people (not you, I understand that) don't think the love gay people share rises to the level of "marriage". I agree with Jasun that what's good for one should be good for all.

  • Jasun Mark

    John… you're telling me it's "manifestly ridiculous?"

    Really? And then how do you explain the countless reality shows where women claw each other's eyes out to marry the multimillionaire they haven't met? How do you explain the notion that a guy isn't worth marrying unless he can spring for a transparent rock on a ring that cost him 5 grand?

  • No one's saying there aren't shallow, greedy dipshits in the world. The mistake you make is extending that into an assertion that that the MAJORITY of people are shallow, greedy dipshits. If it wasn't so FREAKISH that some people would actually get married just for financial gain, nobody would watch those shows.

  • Jasun Mark

    Ok, then let's take it off reality shows, then.

    When my sister had her first of three marriages and I was expected to travel across the country, get a tux, give up three days of work… I did it. But when I explained that I just couldn't afford a gift (remember the $15 hot plate?), people reacted in shock and disgust. "You can't go to a wedding without giving a gift," people spat at me. My parents went out and bought a small gift and wrote my name on it.

    I was then given more grief because I didn't decorate the car they drove away in.

    Please don't tell me that materialism at weddings isn't half the point and flaunting your show isn't the other half. My intelligence and my family have been insulted enough.

  • Annnnnnnnd I give up.

    Sorry to hear about your apparently severely dysfunctional family.

  • Jasun Mark

    What you call "dysfunctional," I'm afraid is what has been proven to me over the 18 years since is actually called "typical."

    Tell me… how many gifts did you get for your wedding?

  • Jasun Mark

    (it also might be noted that your "i give up, I'm walking away" post ended up with yet another self-elevating slag at my family. Seems to be a recurring theme in this issue.)

  • @Jasun:


    I'm a straight, married woman who definitely didn't get married for the gifts or the money. I married an artist – definitely not for the money. My engagement ring isn't a real diamond, but I love it just the same. My husband and I BARELY make enough money to pay our bills. Our wedding was simple and relatively small. Not everyone who came to the wedding got us anything – for many of them, simply coming was their gift. We were just delighted that they cared enough to be there to witness our union. Among my circle of acquaintances, most of their weddings have been the same.

    Not every straight couple are selfish money-crazy showoffs who don't take their vows seriously. Just like not every gay couple are "flamboyant" stereotypical flamers. Some people are greedy selfish beings – no matter their sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, gender, or soda preference. Some people are selfless, caring, giving individuals – no matter their sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, etc.

    Just to say, maybe you should be as allowing and understanding toward "straight people" as you want them to be towards "gay people." It's not like they're different species with ingrained traits that cannot be changed.

  • My wife and I received virtually no gifts at our wedding. We had no money. We got married in the Shakespeare Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, at 9 in the morning, and just hoped that no cops would kick us out during our ceremony. We were married by a gay pastor. In lieu of gifts, we had our friends bring FOOD, so we'd have something to eat at the "reception" we afterward threw at the place my wife worked. Someone gave my wife the flowers for her hair. Someone else gave us her bouquet. Another friend donated the (hippie-style) gown she wore. Another friend took pictures.

    That was it. No gifts.

    It was a deeply wonderful affair.

    You know, straight people ARE capable of true love.

    I'm sorry about that comment about your family. I was showing you SYMPATHY, since you had done so much to describe what a totally dysfunctional family you have. You told a story about how they treated you terribly. I was just … trying to be nice.

    We're done now. If your next comment here is anything vaguely snarky, I'll delete it. Be respectful now, or be elsewhere.

  • onemansbeliefs

    Jasun: You could choose to think differently!!! You could start this process by not making generalizations. You make a statement that you believe that weddings are just a larf for all straight people and then follow it up with a divorce rate that is less than 100%. This alone should show you that some straight people believe, honor and live the commitment they made to their spouse.

    If I chose to generalize, I could think that all gays and lesbians behave like the ones I see at the gay pride parades. I could believe that all gay men have the same desires as the members of MAMBLA.

    If you don't know any straight married people that have not flaunted their relationship by doing the things you've listed above, I make myself available. Just let me know….

  • Jasun Mark

    OK, well.. yes.. I was intentionally making some pretty big generalizations. But it sure got a lot of you thinking and I'm sure it was the first time many of you have been in our shoes.. being told your marriages aren't as "real" or "good" as someone else's based solely on the sex of the two people.

    I do think there's a lot of truth to what I say and I don't actually think my family is dysfunctional at all. once they got over the "Jasun is gay" thing, my parents became bastions of gay support and in a very rural, conservative community. We joke about how they're more out than I am.

    I also do think that gay couples and families are treated with a very extreme double-standard. We're often expected to follow a set of rules not followed by the ones who put the rules in place.

    As you've posted above… there isn't a single rational argument against gay marriage that even makes sense, let alone should be held up by courts. When the tables are turned against some of you, you see how silly the arguments are. Sadly, I've been here before. Courts are often not very fair.

  • Phil DeHart

    hi guys and gals,

    I had to wait for my wife to go to bed before I could sneak over to the computer and get on The problem i face now is i am without a proof reader, so spelling, punctuation, flow, and sensible editing will not happen. So here we go. I am a Christian, and I probably have homo-phobic tendencies which I am completely comfortable with. I know more straight people, and therefore have more trouble and problems with them than I do with the gay population. My worldview does not pre-dispose me to ask myself if my love for America will be affected by this whole legalization of gay marriage. America is going to stand before God someday and receive its judgement for a variety of sins and injustices. This whole issue of gay marriage is just scratching the surface and God will get his chance to “vote” on it. There are many activities in this country which have been legalized which would no doubt fall under consideration as “sins” against God and/or injustices against our fellow brothers and sisters. I am giving a little glimpse at my worldview, although I grew up in the states and enjoyed many of the freedoms and comforts that you do. You know, I havent cast all those loves for “stuff” aside, but my priorities, vocation and mission in life has changed. I have seen on a very large scale the perversion of governments and education and social welfare and religion. And I have seen the poor, and the children, and the family suffer. I listen to the rhetoric and playful debate which becomes sport that goes on in the states, and I count it up as one more luxury. Folks, I am a Christian. I am not a straight Christian, and I am not a homo-sexual Christian.. I am a Christian, who honestly is a sinner saved by Gods’ grace……… I know there are some who tire of the liturgy and the theology, proclamation, and anything smacking of Christianese. I dont walk around and thump the bible in peoples faces. I share my faith with redemptive words and redemptive deeds with people who are physically hungry and thirsty and sick and unclothed and dirty and violated in every imagineable way. I work to help restore these people to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. To me, that is the Gospel of Christ, and thats what I am called to do. Regarding all these dialogues about gay marriage and the like……….personally, and by faith, I would not vote for that. And if I was a trusted friend I would counsel against that. But if my friend proceeded with that, I would still love them and pray for them, and still be their friend.

    John…. you rock. I love this forum. I am learning alot about people and throwing my two cents in.

    God bless, phil

  • JJ


    Your argument was a bit hard to follow, but I get your general drift that you believe 1 female/1 male is less "traditional" in history than polygamy. However, I wasn't able to see you address the main issue I tried to raise:


    If the basic definition of marriage can be changed once, it can and will continue to be changed.


    And if change continues to happen based upon the current needs of individuals within a culture, then it will become increasingly difficult to define it legally.

    I just don't know how the courts will be able to deal with all the variety of challenges to the definition, once that door is open. We can say that one change is all that is needed or will happen, but that is unrealistic. And for those who say, "Well, this is a simple civil rights issue, and if we take care of this, we're done," that is unfair to all the others in the future who will call foul that they are suffering discrimination. (Again, a 3-parent family easily comes to mind.)

    I just don't think it's as simple as some want it to be or hope it will be.

  • Latoya

    Phil, that was beautiful

  • Jasun Mark

    I get so tired of Christians asking me to follow a set of rules they don’t even follow themselves. I can find countless instances of biblical law that Christians just roll their eyes at, yet just a few short lines later, they find a vague line they use to attack my family. You won’t ever find a ballot measure to ban eating of shell fish or wearing cotton polyblend but the bible clearly states that both of those things will send you straight to hell. No ifs, ands or buts.

    Marriage, no matter how much they claim, isn’t for procreation. My sister was married three times before she finally had kids (so much for “til death do us part”) and she was never charged with fraud. If straight people can get married in a drunken stupor by an Elvis impersonator in Vegas and get more rights and protections for their family than I can get after 18 years with my husband, even the most conservative person will admit there’s an imbalance of justice.

    After seeing that silly YouTube video of the couple disco dancing to the alter for the 3 millionth time and it’s gleeful promotion on every TV show and chain email, it’s clear that weddings are just another party for straight people. They don’t take them seriously. They have never had to worry what will happen to their loved ones when they die in the way gay couples do, they’ve never known the horror of being refused entry to a hospital room as their partner dies alone inside. They’ve never had health care refused to a partner because “you’re not married” and they’ve never had to suffer the humiliation of being told their relationships aren’t of equal value to the vanity flings of Britney Spears or Jon and Kate.

    Yes… gay marriage is an inevitability. It might not happen this month and it might not happen this decade. But as the arguments fall to the side one by one, the elephant in the room that’s left points to the real reason we don’t have equality.. people want to cling to their “better-than-you” status. And I’m just not willing to politely sit at the back of the bus so you’ll be comfortable anymore.

  • JJ: Appologise for the confusion but you got to my point – the institute of marriage has FUNDAMENTALLY changed numerous times in its history. So much so that the current institute of marriage does not represent traditional forms (which was the ligitimisation of your argument).

    My other point was that modern marriages, which value (and absolutely rightly I hasten to add) women as being equal partners in the relationship are a nonsense. From a traditional standpoint. Heck, you only have to go back 30 odd years to find that the role of women in society has completely changed, and so the partnership of marriage has been re-written to reflect the application of the principle of equality.

    What we are seeing is the application of that principle even further.

    Unfortunately, we human beings have an inbuilt heuristic that regards the current status quo as 'the way things have always been'. (The brain has an inbuilt tendency to minimise confusion and reduce conscious cognitive functions – which is why we can breath and think! Indeed, this heuristic has been a quite an effective and accurate representation of reality until the last few hundred years. Nowdays 'way things always have been' significantly changes ever other week.)

    PS. Similar arguments to the point you are making were raised for (take your pick) women getting the right to vote/women entering the workforce. And, you know what, they were RIGHT! Women being treated as equal human beings DID change society – it made it better (and paved the way for black people to be not treated as sub-humans and may eventually lead to a lack of formal legalsied social stigmatisation of gay people.)

    Marriage has been in constant evolution. Ignorance and a limited perspective makes it seem stagnant.

  • Diana


    Thank you for putting the shoe on the other foot. What you said was very necessary and very much called for, even though it plainly caused offense to some who read it. The heartbreak that I heard communicated in your posts was very illuminating. Thank you for the wake-up call.

  • Latoya: I would describe weddings as “Straight people flaunting it in public.”

  • Jasun Mark

    Latoya, how can I think any different? There’s never been a horrified reaction to the 24-hour marriage of Britney Spears, there’s never been a call for an end to the “met her an hour ago” marriages in Vegas or the “quickie divorces” in Reno.

    I’ve had straight people tell me with pride that they “made money on our wedding” and blathered on about the piles of gifts and pocketfuls of cash they got just for getting married. Add to that and endless series of “wedding showers” where people are expected to just show up with “stuff.”

    When my husband and I moved in together, we had to cook our meals on a two-burner hot plate we got for $15 at the second hand store. Nobody rewarded US with a toaster oven. We’re together because we love each other… we didn’t do it for cash and prizes.

    If straight people really did think marriage was the serious institution that they pretend they do, divorce would be harder to get… if you could get them at all.

    Seeing straight people parading through the streets with “JUST MARRIED” signs, honking their horns, clogging up traffic, making a scene (and they accuse US of “flaunting it”).. it just leads me to believe that weddings are just a larf for you all. Especially when your divorce rate is.. what? Over 50%?

    You know that when they allowed gay people to get married that the divorce rate in Mass went down? You got a better explanation? ‘Cause I don’t.

  • Jasun Mark

    John, you say “It’s hardly fair to accuse people who are in the process of getting married as “flaunting” anything.”

    Excuse me? I’ve been told that just wearing a wedding ring is “flaunting it.” I’ve been told that calling my husband “my husband” is “flaunting it.”

    After we got married, we went and had a quiet brunch with our friends. We didn’t take out an ad in the paper, parade through the streets, post us dancing down the aisle on YouTube and The Today Show didn’t ask us to re-enact it for their cameras.

    It’s just more double standard.. what I mentioned at the start of my first post… accusing us of things for which you give yourselves a pass.

  • John: As I think Jasun points out pretty clearly, I wasn’t joking at all. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard straights say something to the effect of, “I don’t care if you’re gay as long as you don’t flaunt it in public.” Straight people have no problems “flaunting” their sexuality all of the time from weddings to the Miss America pageant to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

  • When the defense argues that, due to its protected civil rights, homosexuals already enjoy “separate but equal” status, the court will take as its precedent the famous Brown v. Board of Education case of 1954, and thereby determine that the status of gays, while certainly separate, isn’t, in practice, equal..

    You forget that gender discrimination is held to a lower level of scrutiny than racial discrimination.

    In Minor v. Happersett , the Supreme Court refused to strike down laws denying suffrage on the basis of sex. ( Minor predates the 19th amendment.)

    Men, but not women, are required to register for the draft.

    Public schools are permitted to have separate extracurricular programs for boys and girls, provided that the programs are equal.

    How would federal courts view race-based draft exemptions, or racially segregated public school programs?

  • Kara

    I don't entirely agree with Jasun, but I do see where he's coming from. While I would never say that individual straight people usually get married for frivolous reasons, I do think that the institutions and modern customs surrounding straight marriage are materialistic and have more to do with getting attention and having a lavish party than with the actual act of making a public civil lifelong commitment. That doesn't mean individual straight people want it to be that way, I know many who had nontraditional weddings for that reason. My aunt and uncle married in a courthouse in front of a judge to avoid the hoopla. So I'm not making claims about the motivations of specific straight couples, but about the outcomes of current customs surrounding weddings.

    I've heard stories of straight women calling gay bars and wanting to have their bachelorette parties there. And they don't understand why they might get told "no". I don't want to be some kind of quirky accessory in a tradition of a major social institution that people like me are still considered unworthy of joining. I'll go to the individual weddings of my family members because I love them, but the institution itself? Until "marriage" means equal marriage, I'm not interested. It's just another institution telling me that I'm less than. So big, huge weddings that cost tens of thousands of dollars are painful for me to see, yes. Because I'd be ecstatic if I could get married in a courthouse. And it feels like some straight couples wouldn't get married at all if they had to get married in a courthouse. Which makes me wonder why they're doing it.

  • Casey

    And I really wasn't gonna comment- because this is not my big concern actually. But reading the comments made me.

    First: I firmly believe that courts, laws, churchs, pretty much everyone BUT the said 2 (or 3 or 4 or 9) people getting married should BUTT out. We have really got to start acting on this whole, 'if it's not affecting you- and it's not hurting some one- leave it alone'.

    Personally, I don't care what other sexuality people do. Or talk to. Or live with. Or what color their curtains are gonna be, or who they're going to screw. As long as it's not me you're hitting on- don't care. Good luck, but I don't care.

    Second of all (because I can never make just one point here): I veiw 'marriage' as a word. Yes, it has meaning. But, that meaning can and will change.

    Examples? Um. Word 'gay'- used to mean a happy person. Now it means someone that sleeps with the same gender (and it's usually used as an insult)

    Also- that lovely N word that anyone with any racial sense won't say for any reason. It used too be in the dictionary as an 'ignorant person'. Now, we have obviously added a word to that definition. And it is Definitely an insult!

    Aint wasn't even a WORD but we lovely people decided it should be!

    Third!: May I point out that I agree with Jasun. I agree with his words, his feelings, and the overall fact that this whole issue is unfair and sucks. I do agree. But honestly people- I read the comments. And His tone in his comments didn't bother me. Not because he wasn't being hostile (he was) but because I, like all of you, are smart enough to know that generalizations are just that. Generalizations. Doesn't bother me because frankly it's not true in my case, or John's case. I think we can all agree that this issue wouldn't been avoided had the word 'most' been present and not implied. But still- it is implied. It is always implied when speaking of generalizations.

    My last imput- I really like how you spelled your name Jasun. I love the name 'jason' anyway, and I love when people spell it differently.

    Great comment discussion John!

  • Matt

    Ugh, the dreaded "Bachelorette Party at the Gay Bar."

    Few gay bars allow them, many have had to post signs at the door saying "No Bachelorette Parties."

    Crowds of young women, drunk and rowdy, screaming, squealing and disruptive. Putting on a big loud show and making a scene, annoying the people the bar is there for. Telling the men there "I love gay bars because I can come here and never get hit on" like they're at Rent-A-Eunuch and the patrons are there for them like servants.

    Ironic, when the place is filled with C-blocking Bride-To-Be parties, the gay men don't get hit on much, either.

    Gay Bars exist as a place gay men can go to meet and socialize, not so we can protect your girlfriend from unwanted advances. By the way "you're such a waste" is the gay equivalent of telling a black man he's "articulate."

  • I know I've already put in my two cents worth, but I want to add my comments to the whole wedding affair.

    I've come to agree that weddings are more about social issues (and possibly how many gifts can I get) than about the purpose. Weddings are meant to be a public acknowledge of a commitment made – civil or otherwise. That's why when Hubby and I met, I didn't get the whole big deal. We made a commitment, why did we have to go through even civil authorities to affirm it?

    My daughter's first marriage started with a fairy-tale wedding — everything little girls are taught to dream about. The marriage ended less than five years later when my daughter wisely got out of abusive situation before she was physically hurt and children were involved.

    Her second wedding was in a chapel in Lake Tahoe, NV and everyone was told after the fact. That marriage is much better and getting stronger through the years.

    I'm not anti-wedding. I'm anti-the waste of money and lack of commitment. In that respect, I sometimes wonder if my gay friends are more committed to their relationships than straight couples who love the celebration.

  • Steve

    The question of gay marriage is not a question of an institution but a question of government sponsorship of that institution. Right now gay couples have the right to be "married" in a religious, personal and social sense. If a gay couple wants to have a religious or sacred marriage ceremony that is perfectly legal. If they want to call each other husbands, wives or spouses no one can, or should be able to, stop them. If they want to introduce themselves to the world as a married couple they are within their full legal rights. In essence in all of the ways most heterosexual couples view marriage as most important, gay couples share equal rights.

    The question raised by this court is whether the government has the right to deem certain relationships as more significant than others. But the government already does that. Family members have more legal rights than friends. Friends have more legal rights than strangers. Parents have more legal rights than siblings. The system is set up to recognize the inherent differences between relationships and to address them accordingly.

    So the question then becomes is there any inherent difference between a fully committed gay couple and a fully committed heterosexual couple? The answer is yes. Namely the ability to create children. Like it or not homosexual couples lack the basic biological relationship needed to bear children naturally (invitro fertilization in the end does require two people of opposite sexes). And studies have found that children from homes where their parents are married fare much better than those in homes where their parents are not married.

    So here's the real constitutional question: Does the U.S. government have the right to endorse and reward those relationships that can produce the next generation and raise them in the best environment? Yes they can, because they already do. In fact it is in our governments and our society's best interest that such relationships get certain special treatment.

    I have great sympathy and compassion for gay couples. I want them to be committed to each other and to love and protect one another as any romantic relationship should. I think they should have marriage ceremonies and call themselves husbands or wives.

    But at the end of the day I don't think anyone who is being intellectually honest can say that that a gay relationship is exactly the same as a heterosexual one.

  • >But at the end of the day I don’t think anyone who is being intellectually honest can say that that a gay >relationship is exactly the same as a heterosexual one.

    Is exactly the same? No. Has exactly the same value and is deserving of exactly the same honor and respect? Yes. Absolutely.

  • Steve

    A relationship can have the same honor and respect without it requiring the same governmental endorsement. It is not the job of the U.S. government to tell people how to think. It is the job of the U.S. government to do that which is in the best interest of this country and the society as a whole.

    And I hate to say it, but if anyone thinks that legalizing gay marriage will suddenly earn it the same respect and honor from the majority of people in this country, they are mistaken.

  • Kara

    Steve: The government's right to privilege certain relationships over others is limited by the constitution. The Supreme court, in Loving v. Virginia, stated that "the freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival."

    In that case they ruled that states could not prohibit interracial marriage. It was a violation of the 14th Amendment, which provides that everyone receive equal protection under the law.

    If only heterosexuals who were capable of procreation were allowed to marry, your argument might hold water. But obviously the governmental purpose of marriage is not procreation, because the infertile and the elderly are allowed to marry, as long as they are opposite-sex.

    The governmental interest in marriage, in my opinion, is encouraging stability and commitment. It is to provide legal protection for children. (Gay people do often have children together. Those children deserve legal protection too.)

    The procreation argument is good in theory, but it has never been reality in the US. The government doesn't care if married couples want to or are able to have children when deciding to grant them a marriage license. And gay couples can have children together; children who are always wanted and planned.

    The only reason gay marriage is illegal is because gay relationships scare misinformed and misled straight people. They think we want to "recruit" their children. They think we want to end straight marriage. They think we're evil sinners bound for hell. They have the right to hold those opinions.

    But discriminatory laws can't be based on them.

  • Steve: That's why I said way back on the fifth comment that I think the government should get out of the marriage business altogether. There should be no government marriage for straight people, gay people, or anyone else.

    The governmental rights now assigned to married people should only be applied to those who have civil unions through the clerk's office.

  • Steve

    I'm aware of the Loving v. Virginia case, but you must admit that the realities of interracial marriage and gay marriage are two completely different things. You can't pull the ruling out of its context which is often what people try to do.

    And the ability to pro-create is not considered on marriage applications because it is a given in heterosexual relationships. Ask my friends who were declared infertile and have since had two children naturally. Or the 67 year old woman who recently gave birth to a child. Or my other friend who had a vasectomy and 6 years later got his wife pregnant.

    The only way to truly distinguish between those relationships who can pro-create and those who can't is based on the gender of those getting married.

    Again I do want homosexual couples to loving and committed to one another. I also think they should have more rights than friends or acquaintances, which I why I support civil unions. But it is not unconstitutional for the government to set aside a certain designation for a relationship that is unique biologically.

    Personally I wish that our society had no hatred to toward homosexuals, not because they are gay, but because they are people who need love and acceptance and respect. But I can't pretend that homosexual relationships and heterosexual relationships deserve to be legally classified the same way.

  • Kara

    Again, your argument would make more sense if the government had ever actually run marriage that way. My mother has had a total hysterectomy. Should someone in her situation be able to get married? I find the implication that all heterosexual couples can procreate to be a very strange one, because it's not at all based in fact. There are many, many straight couples who are genuinely, irreversibly, permanently infertile. Others openly choose not to have children, but we let them get married.

    Western marriage was originally about property rights. Women passed from their fathers to their husbands, and so did all their stuff. It built alliances between families. Coverture was the law of the US for generations. Women were the property of their husbands. Then the definition of marriage… Changed.

    I'm not saying Loving v. Virginia is a perfect parallel to this case, but it is relevant. The court established marriage as a right, specifically a right related to the pursuit of happiness. They were two people in love who were being denied the right to marry because of immutable, inherent characteristics.

    Even if the government did want to define marriage as something there for the benefit of children, it doesn't make sense to exclude gay couples. They adopt. They hire surrogates. They use IVF. They foster. They have kids! The biological process by which that happens shouldn't matter. Many heterosexual couples use those exact same methods to have children.

    Basically, I think marriage is a social, legal, and economic issue, not one about individuals personal ability to procreate together. In fact, there are states where second cousins are allowed to marry ONLY if one or both of them are first ruled sterile.

    I do appreciate that you're coming from a place of thought, though, and not blind animus toward gays. It's extremely uncommon.

  • How are "the realities of interracial marriage and gay marriage two completely different things"? In both cases it's a union of people with involuntarily different genetic makeups wanting to come together to form a single family unit. Seems essentially the same to me.

  • Jasun Mark

    And thanks to Steve, we're back to that double standard. Gay people can't get married because they can't have children.

    If you want to pass a law saying that marriage is just for making babies… so be it. But straight couples who marry don't don't produce a child within 18 months should then have their unions dissolved by the state and both parties should be charged with tax fraud. You can't get those special rights for baby makers if you don't get to the business of making babies, now, right?

    Can't have kids because of a physical problem? Sorry, no special marriage rights for you. That's only for the procreators.

    Women over 40? Forget it. We all know that children born to older mothers have much higher risks of birth defects. Ask Mrs. Duggar about that.

    Couples with children who divorce? Sorry, no. They should be charged with child endangerment for not staying together in the best interests of the kids.

    And don't even get me started on single mothers. There's a special law and penalty we'll have for them…

    Of course… none of those stipulations will happen because as we've seen… it's just more of the rules that are only applied to gay people. Gay people can't make babies so they can't get things like estate rights or power of attorney. Straight people? Well.. ya know… we let it slide for them.

  • Loving was based on a right that was considered fundamental, and had been since 1776. The catch is that in 1776, marriage was presumed to be between one man and one woman. The concept of same-sex "marriage" would have been totally alien to the authors of the Bill of Rights.

    As for procreation, it is important to remember that married couples can procreate even if they do not intend to .

    Calling different things by different names is not discrimination. The states and the people, of course, are free to call different things by the same name for whatever reason that they see fit, but the equal protection clause can not honestly be interpreted to require them to do so.

  • Kara

    Forgot to add: I could not possibly care less what the founding fathers would have thought about same-sex marriage. The majority of them liked slavery and women-as-property, too.

    "Calling different things by different names is not discrimination."

    Separate isn't equal.

  • Forgot to add: I could not possibly care less what the founding fathers would have thought about same-sex marriage. The majority of them liked slavery and women-as-property, too.

    It is quite relevant when interpreting the Bill of Rights, just as the intent of the authors of the Fourteenth Amendment is quite relevant when interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment.

    Separate isn’t equal.

    It depends on the degree of separation.

  • To the people who say, "I think the government should just get out of the marriage business altogether…"

    The government can't. Or won't. For health reasons. Not the government's health. Though that might become an issue down the road. Put it this way. If you have a couple who wish to get married and they have certain diseases. Or some major internal malfunctions. Something that might be passed on and create some very damaged offspring.

    Question to you PC know-it-alls is: are you Okay with that?

  • Kara

    It is quite relevant when interpreting the Bill of Rights, just as the intent of the authors of the Fourteenth Amendment is quite relevant when interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment.

    I disagree quite strongly. The simple, concise language of the Bill of Rights and most Constitutional Amendments is of great benefit to us, in that it keep the Constitution applicable through changing times. As it turns out, you see, women and racial minorities are full-value humans too! Who'd have thought? (Hint: Not the founding fathers.)

    The Constitution was never intended to place a freeze on all legal understanding at the moment of its signing. It was to provide a framework for a government. Women were denied the right to vote even after the Fourteenth Amendment. That was wrong, even if the people who ratified the Amendment didn't think so.

    It depends on the degree of separation.

    In Brown v. Board of Education, the Court ruled that separate was "inherently unequal".

    To the people who say, “I think the government should just get out of the marriage business altogether…”

    The government can’t. Or won’t. For health reasons. Not the government’s health. Though that might become an issue down the road. Put it this way. If you have a couple who wish to get married and they have certain diseases. Or some major internal malfunctions. Something that might be passed on and create some very damaged offspring.

    Question to you PC know-it-alls is: are you Okay with that?

    I don't think anyone who's saying the government should get out of marriage is saying that there shouldn't be anything resembling marriage. It's semantics. Civil unions from the government for anyone, and marriage from a church or religious body, at their discretion.

    But as far as I know, there aren't any laws against people with inheritable diseases marrying or having children anyways, so it's kind of moot.

  • The Constitution was never intended to place a freeze on all legal understanding at the moment of its signing.

    Of course not.

    That is what Article V was for.

    Women were denied the right to vote even after the Fourteenth Amendment.

    Yes, they were.

    That was wrong, even if the people who ratified the Amendment didn’t think so.

    The remedy to that wrong culminated in the Nineteenth Amendment, which was ratified less than half a century after Minor v. Happersett .

    In Brown v. Board of Education, the Court ruled that separate was “inherently unequal”.

    On the basis of race.

    On the basis of gender, we still have segregated sports teams. When I went to high school from 1991 to 1995, we had gender-segregated volleyball, basketball teams, and tennis teams. (The football teams were integrated because there were not enough girls for a girls only football team.)

  • Kara

    Of course not.

    That is what Article V was for.

    We disagree again, I suppose. (Which is certainly fine, but will impact our ability to discuss any constitutional issues beyond this one.) The 19th amendment should never have been necessary, because the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law should have already provided women with the right to vote. It was an error in interpretation caused by social bias.

    On the basis of gender, we still have segregated sports teams. When I went to high school from 1991 to 1995, we had gender-segregated volleyball, basketball teams, and tennis teams. (The football teams were integrated because there were not enough girls for a girls only football team.)

    This isn't a completely correct description of the law. Any girl who can meet the skill requirements can play on any sports team at a government-funded school. If a girl is tall enough/skilled enough, she could play boy's basketball. They're required to let her try out, and to hold her to the same standards. So if that's the parallel, then it's okay to keep straight couples out of civil unions, but not to keep gay couples out of marriage. If that is indeed the parallel we're going with.

  • This isn’t a completely correct description of the law. Any girl who can meet the skill requirements can play on any sports team at a government-funded school.

    Was there a Supreme Court decision on this?

    Are public schools required by constitutional case law to allow boys to play on girls' teams?

  • Jasun Mark

    Steve’s biggest problem seems to again be a “government sanction” of relationships. Back to what I said earlier about how some people need a legal “better than you” status. A pedestal from the government on which to stand above someone… anyone… the gays will do.

    It’s very telling that he thinks gay people wanting equal rights is akin to us wanting “the same respect and honor from the majority of people.” Frankly, I don’t care if you respect me or not. But I DO care that I have the same rights, protections, responsibilities and access to resources like pensions, my husband’s estate, and being “next of kin” should he die or not be able to act in his own capacity.

    When it’s him in a coma, I’m the one who should make his treatment decisions with the doctors. Not you, Steve.

  • Kara

    Not all straight couples can procreate. I didn’t realize that that was the point I was going to have to argue. There are straight couples who would love to have biological children, but cannot and never will be able to.

    Is the government trying to give an incentive to procreate, or is it giving incentive for being in a relationship with the hypothetical, theoretical, non-universal, ability to biologically procreate? Because if it’s the latter, they don’t have a compelling governmental interest. Wanting to reward actual procreation is one thing, and is possibly defensible. Giving different legal status to a whole group of people based on a purely hypothetical ability to have biological children together is just a code phrase for “we like heterosexuals better”.

    The vast majority of the actual rights and responsibilities that marriage confers have nothing to do with children. They’re about the relationship between the two people involved. What does the ability to biologically procreate have to do with hospital visitation, or the biological origin of a couple’s child(ren) have on the idea that it’s good to governmentally encourage stability between their parents?

  • Casey

    What law says people with inheritable diseases can't marry or have children? And for that matter, what exactly would you propose be a good method for determining which diseases to allow and which are strictly not okay? Diseases are pretty finicky in how they chose to show up and all. And if you say all of them; then potentially that means NO one can have children. Cause everyone has a history of something.

  • Kara

    No cases have ever made it to the Supreme Court itself on either issue, but circuit court rulings based on the EPC have been left in place, including one that reads thus:

    "Therefore, the issue for resolution is plainly posed: does the equal protection clause prohibit an association from denying qualified female athletes the opportunity of playing on the varsity team in contact sports, when the school offers a 'separate but equal' program for female athletes in those sports? I conclude that the equal protection clause requires schools to give qualified female competitors the opportunity to play on the 'male' interscholastic varsity team. "

    Similarly, there have been no SCOTUS rulings regarding boys on girls' teams. However, several circuit courts have ruled that because girls are traditionally underrepresented in sports, it generally doesn't violate equal protection to keep boys off girls' teams. Federal law, in the form of Title IX, actually prohibits public schools from allowing boys on girls' teams unless boys are underrepresented in the athletic program.

  • Kara

    Ah, crap. Italics fail.

  • Come on Kara… with those frilly clothes and wigs, you have to wonder about the sexuality of those “founding fathers:” LMFAO

  • Jasun Mark

    I think we’ve pretty much put out that saying that marriage is just for having kids is a very slippery slope. And I’m not sure that the people wanting to get on it are going to like where that ride ends.

  • Hey, you guys. I was out of the house all day. (Pretty major dental work, PLUS a physical at doctor—which included my first rectal exam EVER, which in the context of this comment thread and let's just move right along.) But I just read all these comments, and I MUST say I'm impressed. I've been writing this blog for … whatever, almost three years …. and this is easily the highest level of sustained discourse I've ever hosted. So I just wanted to pop in and say how much I appreciate the care, thought, and discipline you guys have here evinced. It really makes me kind of … well, proud to … I don't know … host it. It's a pretty rare thing you guys have done here. I'm digging it.

  • Having read most of the comments here (as well as articles and comments elsewhere) about this subject, it's clear the two sides are never going to be reconciled — no matter what happens regarding the legal status of gay marriage. And some of the stuff I've read makes it clear that conservative heterosexual Christians certainly didn't corner the market on hysterically bigoted rhetoric.

    Gays accusing heterosexuals of not taking marriage seriously, when there are lesbians who marry military servicemen (by mutual consent) just share the increased benefits. (One even referred to having hit the jack-pot, when the serviceman was killed in action.)

    I've also known of a heterosexual who, apparently, got money to wed women from foreign contries so they could gain citizenship. (But, ironically, when a friend's fiance has sought to legally obtain permanent citizenship, it's been a major pain in the butt.)

    The fact that some people who think homosexuality is a sin are hateful bigots, doesn't mean that all are. Just as it is wrong to assume that all homosexuals behave like the people being outrageously provocative at "Gay Pride" parades.

    Broad brushed generalisations always seem to do more harm than good — yet the loudest mouthed extremists of both sides seem to wield those brushes with violently wild abandon, leaving any hope of civil discourse between those who disagree all but impossible.

    And if you're one of those people (on either side of the issue) who thinks that you're entitled to your angry outrage because you've "seen too much not to be angry." Nonsense! You're problem is that you haven't seen enough. The broader your brush, the smaller your experience. Shut up, and try to really get to know the people you most disagree with. Some of them are just as stupid as you imagine. But the majority aren't anything like what you've convinced yourself they are.

    I'm not in the habit of reading the Weekly Standard, but the following article about why some oppose the use of the word 'marriage', when it comes to same sex unions, is well thought out, researched, and articulated. I thought some here might benefit from reading it, if for no other reason than to get away from some of the more hysterical nonsense swirling around the issue. It's from 2003, but still seems relevant. Enjoy!

    Y'all take care.

    Ricky H

  • Kara

    While I'd never want to paint people with a broad brush, (that is, I know there are lots of different motivations for opposing gay marriage), I have no problem painting the issue with a broad brush. Experience has borne out the reality that domestic partnerships and civil unions are not equal. Families and children are being negatively affected. Gay marriage should be legalized. I just really don't see the issue itself as a gray area, and I don't think that makes me a "hysterical bigot".

    The same goes for my statements about heterosexual marriage, which I'll stand by. (They're the only statements made here that I can speak to, and the only ones I'll defend.) At this point in time, heterosexual marriages are taken for granted far more often by those entering into them than same-sex marriages are by those lucky enough to be able to enter into them. The average straight couple can get married or divorced in any of the 50 states. When they drive across state lines, their marriage is still recognized by the new state. They don't have to fear that their marriage will be invalidated at the ballot box.

    So I'm not saying it's wrong that it's generally taken more lightly, and I'm not questioning the commitment the couples involved are making. It's understandable that they take it for granted, because they have every reason and ability to do just that. But same-sex married couples just don't have that ability.

    Marriage fraud is bad when committed by anyone, gay or straight.

    The fact that some people who think homosexuality is a sin are hateful bigots, doesn’t mean that all are. Just as it is wrong to assume that all homosexuals behave like the people being outrageously provocative at “Gay Pride” parades.

    Speaking purely anecdotally, the vast majority of people who firmly believe that "homosexuality is an abomination" are also hateful bigots. Not saying you are. Not saying anyone here is. Just saying that it's really, really, really, really rare to find someone who isn't. And those who aren't bigots should be sensitive to the fact that we can't know that unless we know you, and so there might be some justified defensiveness until we do.

    I like the outrageous people who go to Pride Parades, by the way. Whatever I may think of their conduct, they're having a good time, they're not ashamed of who they are, and they don't care about trying to pretend we're all suburban married folk with two kids and a dog. (Neither are straight people, it should go without saying.)

  • Matt

    There's nothing more annoying than someone who tries to paint themselves as the "Middle Of The Road" guy while pointing to articles that say allowing gay couples to marry will lead to polygamy and birth defects. I guess it's to your credit you didn't suggest that we'll all end up having unnatural relations with our dogs, Ricky.

    I think Jasun was more than clear that he doesn't actually think that straight people don't take marriage seriously. He was careful to point out, once the dust settled, that he was (quite successfully) showing you all how it felt to be told your relationships weren't as "real." He also made some pretty good points. Gay couples have had to fight tooth and nail for every single right that heterosexuals can take for granted. But you, Ricky, didn't want to hear that the actual rational one was Jasun who successfully got the straight people to angrily defend their marriages by citing a few common (and harmless) traditions like expensive weddings and wedding showers, parading through the streets honking horns, taking out an ad in the paper and putting on a big show for the cameras.

    Pointing to a single isolated incident (which may or may not have happened) with a lesbian abusing marriage as a way to counter the 24-hour marriages in Las Vegas seems a bit silly, don't you think?

    And sadly, I don't agree with you. I know it might not feel good to think of yourself as a "hateful bigot," Ricky, but if you think you deserve special rights that same sex couples don't simply as a birth right, it does kinda make you a hateful bigot.

    If you say that the only thing keeping your marriage together is that you're keeping mine apart, maybe you got married for the wrong reasons. If you're saying that straight people are so incapable of loving one person that a simple expansion of rights to gay people will lead heterosexuals to marry many people with countless abandon, I might suggest that we put laws in place to keep that from happening. If you're that without self-restraint, maybe marriage isn't for you.

    Finally, bringing up Gay Pride Parades is just another display of ignorance. For years I was afraid to go to one, thinking I'd see the display of debauchery and nudity and classlessness you see on TV reports about them. What I saw was tens of thousands of "regular" people and maybe 5 people being outrageous with 10 news cameras following each one. I've seen a hundred times more debauchery at Mardi Gras.

  • Matt

    It also might be pointed out that the article Ricky pointed to starts out complaining about Lawrence v Texas. In case you didn't know, that case was where we were told we had the right to have sex in the privacy in our own homes.

    Yes, until 2003, it was legal in some parts of the country to storm into our houses and arrest us out of our own beds just for having sex. Sentor Rick Santorum said that allowing us the "right" to have sex in our own homes would lead to people having sex with dogs.

    And the article Ricky linked to suggested that America was better off before.

    So much for not being a "hysterical bigot."

  • Something I think we can all agree on (whatever one's position on gay marriage).

    This seems, to me, to be the appropriate response to these hateful bigots.

  • Diana

    Re: God Hates Signs Protest of the Westboro Baptist Church–I thought the "God Hates Signs" approach was cute but was dismayed by the child holding up the "God Hates Fags" sign. Oh, how I hate it when bigotry is taught to one so young–or even an older person.

  • Matt

    Ricky, you linked to an article which you called "well thought out, researched, and articulated" and said it would counter "the more hysterical nonsense." The article is very clear that if we allow gay couples to marry, it will lead to straight people marrying as many people as they can.

    That, to me, is "hysterical nonsense."

    I'm sorry if you don't like to be painted as a hateful bigot but to be honest, if you're pointing to an article full of hysterical nonsense about gay marriage, it does make me feel that you are a bigot, if not one who enjoys being called one.

    Let's please remember that "gay" is not what we do. It's what we ARE. Saying "I don't think you're an abomination but I think being what you are is a 'sin' is, I'm sorry, bigoted." It's placing a judgement on what we ARE. It's no different that saying "it's a sin to be tall" or "it's a sin to be left-handed."

    We are what we are. And it's not a sin to just be what you are.

    My family deserves all the same rights, privileges and protections that yours does. We should have access to all the same resources that you do.

    Saying anything different is bigoted, whether you like to hear it or not.

    Saying that "there are many people, gay and straight who treat marriage disgracefully" may be correct in your mind, but I'll see your anecdotal story of the lesbian marrying a servicemen for money with the 3 former Mrs. Trumps and the 7 former Mrs. Heffners and i'll raise you Anna Nicole Smith. If you're going to use one story about a military benefits scam as an argument against gay marriage, I think you're taking the wrong approach.

  • Kara, I don’t really see the difference between painting people or painting issues with a broad brush. Issues arise because of people, so they seem kind of inseparable to me.

    As for who is or isn’t a hysterical bigot: I don’t think someone is a hysterical bigot just because they’re feel passionately about an issue — any issue. I think a hysterical bigot is someone who treats or portrays those they strongly agree with as being unworthy of simple respect and civility. If you’re a person who can completely disagree with someone (on any issue), and still treat them decently, without resorting derogatory names, then you’re not a hysterical bigot. My reference was meant to be aimed at the extremists on both sides of the issue. I don’t believe most people are extremists.

    You said: “Marriage fraud is bad when committed by anyone, gay or straight.”

    That was one of the points I was making. Neither side has a monopoly on, or is immune from, abusing marriage.

    You may be right that most people who “firmly believe that ‘homosexuality is an abomination’ are…hateful bigots.” But that leaves out a whole lot of people, who think that homosexuality is a sin, who aren’t (and they wouldn’t use the term “abomination”, because they’re sensitive to the way some have wielded it like a club).

    Matt,…Wow! I’m not sure where to start with you. I wasn’t trying paint myself as anything. Way to jump to a faulty conclusion, though.

    The linked article did NOT say gay marriage would lead to birth defects. You should, perhaps, read it more carefully. You did, however, prove my point about people talking past each other.

    I made a general point that there are many people, gay and straight, who treat marriage disgracefully. I wasn’t responding to anything specific that I remember Jasun saying — so it’s not that I “didn’t want to hear”. I don’t judge the veracity of anyone’s statements based on their religion, race, sexual orientation, or politics (although I pretty much doubt everything that comes out of the mouths of Sean Hannity and Nancy Pelosi).

    I didn’t mention anything about Las Vegas, so I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about there, either.

    Your attempt to label me a hateful bigot, if I believe such-and-such, is kind of silly. (Does that tactic really ever work?) And I certainly don’t hate anyone – whatever their views.

    I never said that gay marriage would have any impact on me keeping my marriage together (I never even said whether I am married). So, once again, I don’t know what the hell your talking about.

    As for Gay Pride parades: I only brought that example up because I’d recently seen some gay people express their frustration at the kind of stereotyping I mentioned. Mardi Gras could be used as an equally good example in a different context. So? Whether or not you (or Kara) like Gay Pride parades (or Mardi Gras, for that matter) has no bearing on the way I used it as an example.

    Your assertion that the article I linked “starts out complaining about Lawrence v Texas” is a bit disingenuous, at best. What he complains about is the way it was argued and decided. You failed to mention that he later says, “I happen to think that sodomy laws should have been repealed (although legislatively).”

    And I don’t know what the purpose was of bringing up Sentor Rick Santorum (a cheap attempt at implying some bizarre guilt-by-association?). He wasn’t mentioned in the article, so he’s not really relevant to the discussion we’re having — unless you think I’m a fan of his (which I’m not).

    You also said: “And the article Ricky linked to suggested that America was better off before. So much for not being a “hysterical bigot.””

    How exactly does an article whose author states — “I happen to think that sodomy laws should have been repealed (although legislatively). I also believe that our increased social tolerance for homosexuality is generally a good thing.” — suggest America was better off before??

    Seriously, all you’ve done is prove most of my points. You misquote, read out of context, and then attempt to read between the lines you didn’t really read in the first place — and all for the purpose of…what?…fitting me into some predefined category you’ve created for people you disagree with?

    Finally,… My initially posted comment was meant to address some of the frustrating aspects of the gay marriage discussion in general. I clearly stated that my observations were based on things read here AND elsewhere. And I tried to generalize most of my points, because there are certain things that seem to always come up.

    Repeatedly taking things I said out of context, or attributing to me things I never said, only served to reinforce some of the points I was trying to make.

    Also, many people are still working through this issue. They’re not bigots or homophobes. They’re simply ordinary people trying to find their way in an increasingly complicated and changing world. But keep calling them names — that always helps (of course it also makes you sound an awful lot like the very people you seem to despise).

  • My family deserves all the same rights, privileges and protections that yours does. We should have access to all the same resources that you do.

    You can have those rights in a separate institution.

  • Matt

    And Rosa Parks could have gotten home sitting at the back of the bus, black people could get a drink of water from their own fountain. Sorry, no. Equality doesn't allow for a "separate institution."

    People ask me "what's wrong with a civil union?" Well nothing. Divorce your wife and get one.

    And besides, I CAN'T get those rights in a separate institution. The vast majority of those rights are still blocked from gay couples. My husband is Canadian. We live under the constant specter that he could lose his work visa and be forced to leave the country. If we were straight this wouldn't be an issue. Does that sound fair to you?

  • Jasun Mark

    "You can have those rights in a separate institution."

    And we're back to that whole "your relationships aren't as real as ours."

    Michael, you may be unaware of this but we actually CANNOT get those rights in a separate institution. Most of the anti-gay initiatives have not only eliminated marriage but add the mean-spirited cherry on top of eliminating civil unions, too. In Texas they were so hell-bent on making sure that gay couples couldn't be given any rights at all that they wrote a law so ham-fisted it may have actually made marriage itself illegal.

    The majority of the rights that gay couples want aren't at the state level anyway, they're at the federal level. Power of attorney, immigration, estate rights…

    There are 1,138 statutory provisions in which marital status is a factor in determining benefits, rights, and privileges. The vast majority of these cannot be gotten any other way than marriage. No amount of jumping through legal hoops, contracts or handshake deals can get us those rights.

    Ricky says we should have those rights through legislation but we all know that will never happen. Politicians score more points politically by attacking the gay community, not by helping us. We're tired of waiting and being told we should be happy with the scraps thrown our way. I'm sorry if our standing up for ourselves offends your decent sensibilities, but that's just the way it's going to have to be.

    It's been proven time and again that this is our only choice.

  • Diana

    "And we’re back to that whole 'your relationships aren’t as real as ours.'”

    Yes, this statement is the bottom line issue of the whole gay rights/gay marriage debate. Do we as a country believe that a gay coupling is as legitamate as a straight coupling or do we regard gay couples as being less worthy of respect than straight couples?

  • And besides, I CAN’T get those rights in a separate institution. The vast majority of those rights are still blocked from gay couples. My husband is Canadian. We live under the constant specter that he could lose his work visa and be forced to leave the country. If we were straight this wouldn’t be an issue. Does that sound fair to you?

    You are free to petition Congress to change the relevant laws on immigration.

    . Most of the anti-gay initiatives have not only eliminated marriage but add the mean-spirited cherry on top of eliminating civil unions, too.

    Yes, they have.

    The majority of the rights that gay couples want aren’t at the state level anyway, they’re at the federal level. Power of attorney, immigration, estate rights…

    You are free to petition the Congress to change the law at the federal level.

    The vast majority of these cannot be gotten any other way than marriage.

    Real marriage, to be precise.

    Those benefits are not available to same-sex couples whether or not their home state pretends that they are married.

    I’m sorry if our standing up for ourselves offends your decent sensibilities, but that’s just the way it’s going to have to be.

    It is an open question of whether or not the Fourteenth Amendment entitles same-sex couples to any marital benefits. It is important to note that gender discrimination is held to a lower level of scrutiny than racial discrimination.

  • Jasun Mark

    My marriage IS real.

  • Is respect from society more important than equal rights.

  • The question on trial is not whether gay people deserve equal treatment, but whether you are capable of living up to the highest human ideals. Despite personal misconceptions. Whether you are able to apply the principles that stir the human spirit, that separate us from animals. The spark of the divine, if you will.

    America has those principles most clearly articulated, and made the most sincere effort to actually live them out. It can be inspiring to watch, but it can also be disheartening when you see how far we, collectively, live from our ideals. Yet they exert an upward call.

    To be clear, you do not judge my worth. That is a role for God alone.

    You reveal your own, in your words, your empathy, your understanding.

    Or you don't.

  • Diana

    "Is respect from society more important than equal rights?"

    The rights society grants or fails grant to individuals, families, specific groups, etc., reflect the level of respect society accords those various groupings. It's not an "either/or." It's a "this attitude leads to that behavior." If we as a society respect gay couples, we will grant them the same rights, privileges and responsibilities that we grant straight couples. If we don't, we won't.

  • Kara

    I enjoy a good intellectual debate as much as the next person, but sometimes defending the notion that you’re equal to other human beings is just too tiring. I’m going to take a break from this thread for a bit. The very fact that we’re having a debate on this is exhausting.

    Much love to you all!

  • the feather

    I see that John is right, that it's inevitable.

    I also see that homosexual people have experienced a great deal of pain as a result of not having the legal rights that come with marriage. Regardless of what I think about homosexuality itself, I have no doubt that gay couples should have the right to file jointly, the right to be admitted to each other's hospital rooms without question, and the other rights that come with marriage

    I hear that many people don't feel willing to stop there–because of the respect issue, which also has caused them a great deal of pain. They feel very strongly that it should be called marriage, and it should be called marriage by the government. I can understand this.

    But here's the thing–aside from the fact that I don't care what the government calls anything, or maybe not so aside (I'm getting there…) The thing is, I look at Kristin Perry saying she wonders whether she should come out every time someone asks if they're sisters or friends or what, and I think, she is in for a real disappointment. At least if she's really saying what I think she's saying, because what it sounds like to me is that she thinks that if the government calls it marriage it will legitimize her relationship *to the people she meets every day.* That if she can say, with government backing, "She's my wife," she will not get that negative reaction. Actually, she can't be really saying that. Because how could anyone expect that to happen? And yet all this struggle over a word–on both sides–seems to me to mean that both sides think that *the government's use of that word* either determines its true meaning, or at least determines what everybody thinks it means.

    Since when has the government ever had that power in a democracy?

    I think both sides here are assuming the government has a power over their lives, and over the lives of others, that it simply doesn't. And shouldn't. The guy who voted yes on Prop 8 is going to give Kristin Perry that negative reaction no matter what the government says in the future. And if the government did decree that marriage is between a man and a woman, this would in no way "save" marriage so defined. The government has no right to define marriage!

    For Christians, marriage is before God. And Christians are supposed to be a minority. We are supposed to not have political power. We are supposed to be people who are grateful that we can worship freely, not people who are desperate to maintain our grasp on the political definitions of things. Not people who attempt to impose our beliefs on others. People who have the inner freedom to live our own way no matter what the government does, and who in no way dominate anyone, but turn the other cheek.. This bitter political fight over the government's definition of something seems to me entirely un-Christian.

    And I don't know so much about non-Christian gay folks, but I get the feeling you all are pretty independent too. I think gay marriage is going to be legalized, I think that's generally good, but I think the results are going to disappoint you, perhaps badly. I think you'll need to draw on the inner resources you probably have in abundance. Please don't pin your hopes on the government.

  • Matt

    Feather, I'll tell you… I'm not THAT concerned with how I'm treated or viewed by hardcore right wingers and I doubt that they'll care much what I think of them.

    But having the government legitimize and recognize our relationships WILL go a long way toward our greater acceptance. When even the government and city hall is telling you that gay couples are substandard, it can sink in.

  • Furthermore, Feather, the social legitimacy conveyed by a government has a very significant impact on peoples behaviour and attitudes both directly and indirectly. Hence the importance of the values embedded in the US constitution.

    Small things can have a profound difference on the way in which we, as humans, think and behave. For instance, social stereotypes can statistically significantly influence peoples performance of basic functions (see

    PS. The role you describe of Christians is very humorous. For much of Western History the Church has dominated the political landscape. Hence the copious warfare!

  • the feather

    Just in case it wasn't clear… that Christian bit was a diatribe FOR Christians, from a Christian, on how Christians are SUPPOSED to be. I'm well aware of how we/they have been, a whole ton, over many many years. Extremely unfortunately. I hold with a theology that says what went wrong was the emperor Constantine who made Christianity the official religion, and it's been downhill from there except for a minority of Christians who noticed Jesus didn't go in for that stuff so they didn't either. Wish it wasn't a minority. I'm very sorry for many of the things the majority has done.

    Nathan, I looked at your link but it routes me back to the homepage. Maybe I'm supposed to sign in or something. It's too bad, because it sounds intriguing.

  • Diana

    "Just in case it wasn’t clear… that Christian bit was a diatribe FOR Christians, from a Christian, on how Christians are SUPPOSED to be. I’m well aware of how we/they have been, a whole ton, over many many years." It was clear to me.

    "I hold with a theology that says what went wrong was the emperor Constantine who made Christianity the official religion, and it’s been downhill from there except for a minority of Christians who noticed Jesus didn’t go in for that stuff so they didn’t either." Did you, by any chance, get some of that theology by reading Thomas Talbott's The Inescapable Love of God? Because I got that same impression from that book. If you haven't read that book yet, I highly recommend it–I think you'll enjoy it. I also just got done reading The Misunderstood God (adapted from the previously published title The God's Honest Truth) by Darin Hufford which is just as good and makes several of the same points. It's not as intellectual in its approach but more heart/gut-oriented–which is not a put down of either book, just an observation. I highly recommend both books.

    Nathan, I too had the same trouble with the link as Feather and I agree that it does sound intriguing.

  • What would be wrong with the state defining farriages to be unions between two people of the same sex and then treating them just like marriages?

  • Matt


    Is that short for "faggot marriages?"

    Like "fog" is what they call "faggot dogs" in Weho? Classy to the end, aren't you?

    Separate but Equal isn't equal. You're willing to give all the rights – just not the word. You need to maintain SOME superiority over SOMEONE? Is that the problem?

  • Is that short for “faggot marriages?”

    That is the etymology, just as woman is short for "wife of a man".

    You’re willing to give all the rights – just not the word.

    So you admit that I am willing to give all of the rights?

  • beth

    I am a southern Methodist female , a middle aged Republican, conservative, heterosexual mother and wife who happens to like Fox news. And I believe Gays should have the right to marry and be protected with the same privileges my husband of 19 years and I share. (had to mess with your stereotypes)

    So there, just had to let Jasun and friends to know there is hope. It should and will happen one day. Do I sound too patronizing when I tell you my best man friend is Gay? I'm gonna bring him a present AND cater his reception for free!

    Thanks for a great post John

  • DR

    So here we go. I am a Christian, and I probably have homo-phobic tendencies which I am completely comfortable with.>>>

    This comment is so concerning. To be "completely comfortable" with homophobic tendencies is akin to admitting to being "comfortable with racist world views. Why don't people understand this?

    This comment is so depressing. Deep breath. Deeeeeep breath. Things are changing, things are changing. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

  • DR

    Dear Latoya,

    I know this comment was months old, but you just "totally agreed" with a comment where the poster said he was completely comfortable with his homophobia. Perhaps consider how profoundly disrespectful you're being yourself.


  • DR

    Jasun, I've been to 5 gay weddings and they all received a massive amount of gifts. You've got a valid point you're making, I happen to agree with you – but claiming the majority seems a little outrageous.

  • JasunMark

    Well of course it was, and I pointed out later in this thread that I was kinda baiting the audience. Trying to show some straight people how unfair it is to suggest, based on absurd evidence, that some relationships are more "real" than others.