Gay Marriage in Illinois

For the many people in both the GLBT and conservative communities throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire (and especially those in California from the beginning of Prop Eight) who love to sarcastically and condescendingly say to me:

“Andrew, you can say whatever you want about gay marriage and it doesn’t matter because you’re in Illinois and not our State who has to deal with it.”

Take a look at this. And yes, I do forgive you for your rude comments to me over the years.

Much love.

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  • what do you "say" about gay marriage … i guess i never heard it/read it.

  • Hey Andrew; very cool. Here's how I would dream that the gay rights issues evolve: champions like you, Ruth Olsson, Jim Wallis, and many other "straight but not narrow" from the evangelical and/or more conservative traditions keep on chugging on the rights issues, while many of us from the glbt community keep up with the building bridges and focusing on the responsibility end (supporting causes, ending the spread of HIV, just being out there in the open as good citizens). At the end of the day, it will be all of us that are better off for having been on this journey.

  • Mrs T

    The argument for gay marriage is because we have become a socialistic nation (OK, "socialism lite," as I call it).

    Everyone demands insurance, vacations, & other 'benefits' from their jobs! The government now mandates 'benefits' to full-timers, something unimaginable in my childhood!

    Well, if the gay person does the same work as the hetero person, he isn't entitled to the insurance discount on the spouse or kids. He isn't entitled to any substitue benfit that I know of. We have come this far. No one, not even the typical conservative Christian, wants to give up his insurance benefit! They don't want to turn back the clock. What do we do?

    I remember that Eric Zorn of the Tribune had suggested having 'civil unions' for everyone with the same benefits of marriage. Then the people who want a religious ceremony can get one, & those who don't can still be considered to have the protection that 'marriage' now gives.

    It makes a lot of sense. My religious views are still nebulous on lots of these issues, but since we as a nation have demanded certain things, we

    have to do something. Of course, nothing is so simplistic. We also have to have divorce laws, child custody laws, etc. clarified.

    Christian conservaties have to trust that God will work things out. There are unmarried hetero couples all over. How do we explain them to our kids? Is it any different with GLBTs? There are plenty of hetero roommates. So, kids may not even notice or care….. Sometimes our kids don't care unless the adults make a big fuss of things. If we Christians do what we need to do in our own families, we shouldn't have to worry so much about others. Let's clean up our own back yards first.

    I'm not so afraid of gay marriage as I am of terrorist attacks, gang crimes, & other assorted problems that haven't been dealt with effectively.

    Remember that Andrew's mission is to bridge the gap, not to make policy.

    He operates on love, not fine-tuning everyone's opinions.

  • Andrew,

    I am really wrestling with this issue right now… my position has been one of with holding judgment. Truly not sure if gay people should or should not be married… How much does this really matter??? The fear tactics of the "slippery slope" seem a little over the top so where does it stop.I love people, gay or straight Open to your thoughts???

  • RE Mrs. T – I know that Andrew's mission is to build bridges (as is much of my own personal mission), but in this work we are also called to be authentic in our own truths so that we may invite others to share theirs. Love is the bridge between truths. I think (and am sometimes surprised, actually) that Andrew may be even more advanced on gay rights than I am, and I am gay raised in a very liberal environment. I think we share the passion that it is the honoring, witnessing and holding our truths in love that we all move towards the greater Truth.

    The struggle for gay marriage is not easy, and can feel like a slippery slope for sure; however, as with so many rights (for women, for Indians, for blacks, etc), I think it is important that we let the heavier weight be with those who are most impacted by the restrictions. It always strikes me as odd when (on sports radio, for example) white sportscasters talk about how blacks should feel. Gay marriage is similar – it is very important to many, just as faith is to many people, and we all are better when we support that, I think.

  • AKennedy

    I would also love to know what you think Andrew. I haven't heard that and am curious.

    For me it's become an issue of equality. Our government recognizes marriage, regardless of where it's roots began. And not everyone in this country is required to have a religious ceremony/wedding/marriage and it's still recognized and acknowledged. I don't understand how this would be different. We're denying this right to a whole group of people. I don't think churches and organizations that don't agree should have to perform those ceremonies. But those same sex couples should be able to be recognized by the goverment who gives benefits to married couples. It's about the civil recognition to me, plain and simple. And I'm excited to see Illinois taking this step.

  • Br. Michael

    Gay marriage and marriage in general is between two people who love eachother unconditionally. Why some people need a wedding and a certificate is odd and questions the foundation of the uncondtional love.

    I apologies Andrew for the discrimination you got about how you feel or what you think. Imagine discrimination I get for having a part of me that I did not choose to have.

  • Jon Trouten

    My marriage equals socialism? Whatever…

  • Mrs T

    Of course it doesn’t. The ‘socialistic’ demand that we get insurance on the job & then for spouses unfairly omits the gay person. He gives equal work but doesn’t get that equal benefit. The system works against the gay worker. The hetero worker won’t want to give up his ‘goodies’ so he shouldn’t object to gay marriage or civil unions.

  • Audrey

    It’s kind of odd to read about marriage being equated with benefits. Back in 1987, my partner and I had a Holy Union ceremony at the MCC church.
    At that time, we were in the middle of the AIDS epidemic, and very few lesbians and gays were thinking of marriage at all. We received no benefits, no discounted insurance, no tax breaks… we had our ceremony in the eyes of god and for love. There was no benefit outside of those two things for us, so my idea of lesbian marriage is quite a bit different from what it eventually became. I’m really glad we had this ceremony back then, because it had a purity of spirit that “gay activism” always seems to strip away. Or maybe it is just my lesbian view, that we don’t allow anyone to “grant us” anything. We simply do, and become.

    So here we are 22 years later, and it has become a national issue. As lesbians and gays become less invisible, I think gradually most straight people will actually have good lesbian and gay friends. When this is a common social thing, I don’t think this debate will really be as strange as it is. Again, in America, it is really minorities who lead for social change, majorities, because they are majorities aren’t really leaders or innovators.

    Remember, in time, the change becomes a part of the tradition of social innovation that is America. The great grandchildren of slaves and slave owners are now best friends. Women are speaking regularly in church, and now head the Episcopal Church USA. Abolitionists are revered, Martin Luther King (who was once thought to be a communist) now has a national holiday in his honor. Lesbians and gays are getting married.

    What I worry about is that we as a radical and innovative people will become dull with marriage… where once we were visionaries, shamans, radical nuns and mystics, now all you’ll see will be baby toys in the driveway… Sigh…

  • Audrey

    P.S. What would Judith Butler say 🙂 ?

  • Props, Audrey, for throwing out the hook on Judith Butler. I have not read her work — pretty cerebral and to my thinking, convoluted stuff from the mere discussions of it — and had all but forgotten I’d read some about her in the past.

    Bringing folks like her into the parlor for us to get acquainted with may help enlighten us all on what lies behind the debates surfacing here from time to time. It’s especially interesting for folks like you and me, who are deeply curious lifelong learners. That’s the main point of intersection between us, even more so than my past and your present “identity life.”

    Butler’s discourses on censorship are particularly interesting. Don’t you think in our discussions here we inadvertently fall prey to the common human practice of censoring one another (or attempting to censor whole representative communities) when our ideologies clash? It seems to me Andrew is working at getting people to see that and understand how it impedes meaningful and productive co-existence.

    Clearly, we all can learn from one another if we will take the time to listen.

    My two cents. Happy Friday.

  • Audrey

    Hi Debbie,

    I’m going to try to cut and copy some of your comments so I can more intelligently answer them. Cross fingers,,,,
    Re: Butler:
    “Bringing folks like her into the parlor for us to get acquainted with may help enlighten us all on what lies behind the debates surfacing here from time to time. It’s especially interesting for folks like you and me, who are deeply curious lifelong learners. That’s the main point of intersection between us, even more so than my past and your present “identity life.”

    Wow, it copied! There’s hope for me yet. Anyway, Butler is way too complex for this little blog. I brought her up because post modernism and a continuation of French philosophical tradition is in the mix about the discussions of gay marriage, gender etc. It’s useful to be acquinted with this tradition because it is part of lesbian culture. Butler is very difficult to read, as is Foucoult, Derrida and the others. Post modernism can sometimes make a mess of language and poetry… but it is out there.

    I’m old school on censorship… majorities attempt to censor minorities, and minorities fight back by attempting to censor majorities. I like the life of the mind, and believe it is essential to develop a philosophy to deal with the world. Like most feminists, I don’t often like what’s handed to me, I don’t like arguments from tradition, and I don’t like groups of people making rules for me just because they were given some privilege in the past (usually backed up by the military and the church).

    I personally think that a younger generation will figure out the post-christian world, since I am not post modern, and I’m not an institutional christian (for lack of a better term). That said, I believe that people could be a lot better educated on each other’s ways of life and values.

    I believe it is very important to read the source material, have the discussions, and become informed. Otherwise, you are stuck in both christian propaganda, right wing propaganda and leftist idiocy. And believe me, I get just as annoyed at leftist idiocy as I do at right wing stuff.

    I don’t think we have much in common about “identity life” past or present Debbie, since my life is simple and uncomplicated to a degree. But I believe curiosity itself is the first step to real knowledge, and real knowledge is very important to me and to you as well. Can women of different political or religious backgrounds have an advanced discussion? I certainly think so 🙂

    And since this topic is about marriage itself and what it means…. I’m veering off topic again (being on topic point by point is a hallmark of straight male discourse BTW 🙂 Most women I know never talk this way with each other.

    People can become very attached to tradition, and fundamentalism rises when people feel overwhelmed by change. You can see this in the Islamic world, and you can see this in contemporary America.

    The thing that’s interesting about gay marriage, is that it is essentially a civil libertarian argument. Do we treat everyone as a citizen, or do we have separate categories of citizens? We’ve had separate categories of citizens throughout US history, and we’ve expanded the constitution to expand citizenship rights.

    I personally think lesbian and gay marriage is much more complicated than people are making it. There are a lot of things we need to think about.
    I find the arguments over benefits petty and demeaning, for example. I said sacred vows to my partner because I really loved her. We both felt connected to god in a deep and meaningful way, but had to find the place where people and god would respect us. God already respected us, but human beings were not as advanced 🙂

    Already lesbian couples are getting into debt because they want to spend more money than they have on weddings. This is a huge danger for women, and one that gay men are not aware of. If you looked at the income differentials between gay men and lesbians, you’d be shocked. It’s why lesbians have to be so diligent in simply claiming lesbian only space.
    King Louis XVI would not do well at a lesbian potluck. That little joke aside,
    I think straight people have really degraded marriage over the years, and straight marriage itself has to be examined.

    Corporate America has a lot to answer for in destabilizing families, laying off thousands of workers at will, not being flexible and making work hours family friendly etc.

    So straight marriage as we know it, is really in a big mess. Then along comes lesbian and gay marriage advocates, and I think a lot of the social anxiety over this is really about the instability of straight marriage, or even straight identity.

    I try to listen to conservative viewpoints, because I want to get what they really are all about. Marriage as it was once known, has long disappeared in America. The family as we know it constitutes around 8% of the American public. So we are hearing arguments that long for a past even as that family disappeared long ago. A nuclear family is not even biblical.
    None of us would ever want to live in biblical times, believe me.

    I think, and correct me if I am wrong, but I think evangelical christians constitute about 20% of the population. Gays and lesbians have yet to be adequately or scientifically measured. We can be creative with census data, but the US census doesn’t even list us as a category. So we’re basically talking about two minority groups battling it out.

    My straight liberal friends support lesbian and gay marriage. I think they are happy to think of us as “just like them.” Or at least they have the security of believing we are now a known quantity. Straight people often come to our events now. This never happened before. Our little communities often adopt elderly straight couples, who are lonely, and who their own children have ignored or neglected. These new family like situations I think give comfort to the elderly couples, who suddenly have all these lesbian and gay children, and they give comfort to us, because many gays and lesbians were rejected by their biological families.

    It is these straight people, who are a part of our community, who have become strong advocates on our behalf. This is too long a post. I know I write too much. But these ideas are complex. They are not sound bites.
    I feel a certain responsibility to present a lesbian viewpoint here (one of hundreds), and I still hope that lesbians will come here and comment. Waiting for Godot might be the best literary allusion here 🙂

    That said, the topic of lesbian marriage could be an honest one, one free of the usual hysteria. I assume that both Andrew and you Debbie oppose it. However, it has become a national issue, and evangelicals are now kind of stuck with the debate whether they like it or not.

    I don’t know the answer to the crisis of straight marriage. I know the conservatives out there say: get rid of birth control, get the women to stay home and obey the husband etc…. but this is kind of a fantasy now, and we have to deal with the real.

    To me, we have to look at capitalism and what it does to families, or wage structures, or even mobility, pornography and a sex saturated culture for answers. I hope that maybe some of the things I’ve learned in my union with my partner over the past 34 years, might actually be useful to straight couples. I know they often come to me for help, and there is a kind of irony in this don’t you think?

    Thanks Debbie for sharing and caring. I know I am very tough here; it’s kind of a lesbian custom. But I will try to listen and see what’s what, and I think god can inspire us to something bigger than an “issue.” God is greater than issues I would hope.

  • I speak about my thoughts on gay marriage in my book on pages 87-91. Also, here are 2 links from my blog as well:

    I have also been giving a lot of thought to the topic recently in light of what has happened, and will extrapolate on what I see as the 3 main points to the debate of legally recognizing gay MARRIAGE (not civil unions) in upcoming posts.

  • Melissa

    Hey Andrew, I just want to say how much I admire you for what you’re doing. I’ve been reading your book and blog and I’ve learned so much.

    I was just on the fan page of a state governor who is running for re-election who recently came out with a statement of his opinion of a court ruling (I believe it was a district court, not sure–sorry) that gay marriage should be legal. I’m not here to argue this one way or the other, but I wanted to say that the comments posted by some of his supporters just made me sick. These are people who claim to be Christians who are calling gay people names I will not even repeat here, but you can probably guess. I was just gobsmacked at how venomous some of the comments were about gay people and their lifestyle. So, I posted MY opinion on how shameful it is that “Christians” would use that kind of language against anyone, and *I* ended up being attacked! One poster actually assumed I’m gay (which I’m not) just because I said I thought his words made me sick! I never even gave my personal opinion on the issue–I simply called them out for their sickening words and hypocrisy! One person even wrote “gays are going to hell anyway, why not give them a head start.” Can you believe that?! I am just so appalled at that. I wish I could re-post what they wrote in response to me here. To any gay/lesbian person reading this–I am terribly sorry for people like this, who call themselves Christians and then resort to this kind of language and venom. I know people like this have hurt you, and I am so sorry that Jesus has been so misrepresented by them.

    So, Andrew, I now understand to a very tiny degree what you must go through on a daily basis. I pray that you find confidence and rest in the Lord and stand on His firm path for you no matter what is thrown your way. Much love.

  • Audrey, I don’t know if I have the strength in me — it’s Friday in a long work week — to address all your points. Not that all of them even need addressing as they can stand on their own merits. I will hit the high spots as a few things really do interest me. I do, also, appreciate the tone of your comments.

    “I like the life of the mind,” you said. Yes, me too, as well as the life of the spirit that goes with it. I believe God means for us to use our intellect constructively, but also to realize that we are more than “the sum of our parts” through Him (and/or Her, if you wish).

    “I believe that people could be a lot better educated on each other’s ways of life and values.” Amen. Otherwise we are just shooting from the hip and missing the mark. And mutually censoring.

    “Can women of different political or religious backgrounds have an advanced discussion? I certainly think so.” Yep, so do I. In fact, women may be more open to that than are men, in general.

    You obviously struggle to make sense of some of the very things I do, with regard to gay marriage and the civil arguments for it. It is complicated, as you say, and there is much pettiness on both sides of the debate.

    One of my heartbeats certainly is to see marriage strengthened as an institution or entity. Yes, many outside forces have worked against marital stability, as you point out. When my husband I and I renewed our vows after our first decade of marriage, I loved the way our pastor used the “chord of three strands” illustration about marriage, with Christ at the center. This takes marriage far beyond a civil or benefits-centric institution.

    “However, it (gay marriage) has become a national issue, and evangelicals are now kind of stuck with the debate whether they like it or not.” True, to the chagrin of many. It is one of those tough times in our history when we have to battle this out — I mean the ideology of it — before God. Being evangelical in my doctrinal beliefs, I am hard-pressed to find a way of sanctioning gay marriage. But I definitely see the reality of recognizing that there are many gays and lesbians who love each other, want to form households and families and cannot be cast to the curb when it comes to civil rights and needs.

    Thanks, again for your thoughts, Audrey.

  • Audrey

    Melissa, this is how lesbians and gays have been treated for decades.
    In the past, police arrested us just for having our own bars and clubs, they put lesbians and gay man in mental hosptials, they had the psychiatric establishment declare lesbians and gays mentally ill, just for being who they are. If in any way, a straight person defends us on right wing blogs or within conservative christian confines, then that person will be attacked too, and also assumed to be gay. The idea of straight allies getting hit with all of this is relatively new.

    Not all churches condemn gays and lesbians. So the world moves on. Conservatives of a few decades ago, are not the same as the conservatives today. For example, I’ve actually heard conservative talk radio say that it was ok with “civil unions” or “domestic partners” but not ok with the use of the word “marriage” for lesbians and gays. Secretly the believe gays and lesbians are sinners, or they would rather get rid of us, but they put on this “false face” because the center in America has moved.

    I’ve never liked the word marriage, for example. And I would never call my lesbian partner a “wife” which to me smacks of ownership and patriarchy. No one is the “head” of our household, we run it together, for example. Most lesbian feminists are horrified to be using “wife” to describe their partners!

    I think the word “marriage” is very emotionally charged for straight people.
    Conservatives by their very nature are uncomfortable with change, so everything that speaks to fundamental change whether it be the rights of women, the end of slavery etc. will be a huge upset early on.

    We need to not lump all christians into one group. No two denonimations are the same. The people in the streets yelling that gays are going to hell would probably never sit in a pew in an aristocratic Episcopalian service, for example. I’d never go to a hell fire preacher type church.

    I think the people who attacked you Melissa are giving Jesus a really bad name. In fact, I’d say they are using god’s name in vane, and committing a kind of blasphemy. But they don’t know this. The people who have used christianity to attack lesbians and gays really will find themselves looking quite silly as time goes by. And believe me, a few insults come your way if you are a straight ally, but always remember, that is nothing compared to actually being this kind of target every day of your life! Welcome to my world.

  • Melissa

    Audrey, thanks for your response. I realize that the attacks I received because of my opinions are nothing compared to what gays and lesbians go through. I didn’t mean to sound like I could even remotely understand what that’s like, because I can’t. I just get very angry when people spew the kind of nonsense I read and then use the name of God and His Word to justify it. It just really upset me to read people’s words of condemnation–I mean, saying gays are all going to hell…because last time I checked, that wasn’t my job or the job of any human being on earth. I may not agree with every opinion posted here, and I certainly don’t agree with the posts I read on that page, but I think we can all agree that that kind of language and condemnation are harmful to both sides.

  • Audrey

    That’s the problem Melissa. People really do say these things to us all the time. Every gay pride parade, every gay gathering, you’ll have christians show up carrying signs condemning us. Even at our funerals, these people show up with the “god hates ___(anti-gay pejorative).” It has gone on non-stop for as long as I’ve ever been at these public events.

    Just imagine if you were a parent who believed this stuff, and rejected your own lesbian or gay child? I am very very lucky that I wasn’t born into a fundamentalist christian home, or a home where my father was an abusive patriarchal man. I lucked out, but not all women are so lucky.

    So thanks Melissa for noticing and for saying something. I don’t ask for much in this world, except that people counter this kind of hatred of us. Silence is not a good thing, but it does take courage to speak, and it takes double courage for women to step out!

    Now that I’m much older, and have a large friendship network, and live in a very liberal city and neighborhood, I can take a step back from that in your face hatred. I can pretty much take a step away from men who think women are sex objects or second class citizens. I do have the option of just staying away from the male as god mentality. But I feel for my younger lesbian and gay family. I know that they aren’t as strong, or maybe came from a home where the father was a patriarch, where women were abused in the home, or where a church might be a rabid anti-gay type church. Even a pastor who has made public anti-gay comments could be a dangerous place for a young gay boy or lesbian girl. In the past, many conservative christians simply looked the other way. They heard this kind of stuff, but said nothing. Now, things are changing, and usually, the conservatives are the last people on the civil rights train. That’s ok, maybe it’s not the LAST train 🙂