Shacking Up, Gay Marriage and Now Wed Leases: Is Marriage as the Larger Culture Lives It Dead?

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Shacking up, gay marriage and now wed leases.

Given all this, I’m inclined to say as so many people do these days Why bother?

A reader sent me a copy of the Washington Post opinion piece excerpted below. The author, who is a divorce attorney, suggests that, given today’s revolving door marriages, we just set up marriage as a lease arrangement and forego all that “til death do us part” nonsense at the get-go. He sees it as a simplification of the court-laden bitterness of today’s divorce culture.

My first thought was that the guy deserves a couple of stars for innovative thinking and his willingness to legislate himself out of a job. But then I thought that he’s probably as sick of doing divorces as every other attorney I ever met. Setting up wed leases for his clients (His suggestions would require quite a bit of personalized legal tailoring for each couple.) would probably end up being, if not as lucrative as a high-dollar divorce, still a good living for an attorney, and without the need to Xanax.

So, I guess he’s not being entirely selfless.

However, he has put his finger on the truth of what is happening in our society.

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We’ve trashed marriage to the point that it no longer means much of anything. Gay marriage is the end of marriage as a legitimate institution. Now the flood gates on redefining marriage are open and you can bet that a lot of garbage is going to trot through them. Of course, none of this would have happened if heterosexuals hadn’t trashed their marriages (and their kids, homes and finances along with their marriages) for so many years.

Christians who want to follow Jesus instead of the world are going to have to make a decision about their marriages. Are they entering into Holy Matrimony, which is a life-long union on which God rains down sacramental graces? Or, are they entering into an elastic “so long as we both dig it” legal contract endowed by the state with nothing much but a lot of misery and legal gas?

The truth is, marriage, as it is practiced today has nothing — and I mean nothing — to do with the sacrament of Holy Matrimony as Jesus created it and as the Church has provided it for 2,000 years.

Which is it Christians?

Have you and your spouse entered into a Covenant before God Almighty that bonds you together in sickness and health, for richer and poorer until death does you part? Or are you just play-acting with some legally created contract that you can breach or nullify anytime there is sickness or poverty or you just don’t feel like it today?

For centuries, the legal definition of marriage corresponded closely enough to the Christian understanding of Holy Matrimony that the two could function almost as the same thing.

No more.

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In today’s brave new world, “marriage” is a legal construct. At best, it is a contract. At worst, it is a sham. Many times it is both — a sham contract.

Holy Matrimony, at least as the Catholic Church and some other denominations do it, remains unchanged. Outside of those churches that still treat marriage as the life-long Covenantal relationship between a man and a woman that God intended, there is no Holy Matrimony in our society today.

Christians who want to follow Jesus are going to have to learn to make this distinction, first in their own lives, and second as they regard the “marriages” in the wider world. There are things that redefining the law cannot change, and this is one of them.

True marriage, which, to distinguish it from the legal contracts of the wider society, I have decided to call Holy Matrimony, is a sacrament instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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It is up to you, my Christian brothers and sisters, if you want to be married in the eyes of God in Holy Matrimony, or you want a legal contract for sex and shared finances. If you want Holy Matrimony, then you must begin with the Church as the cornerstone of your marriage. By that I mean you must be married in the Church and you must make Christ the head of your home.

I do not think it will be possible for Christians to be the light the world so badly needs if we continue down this path of half Christian/half worldly.

More and more the world itself is demanding that we, as Joshua demanded thousands of years ago, choose this day whom we will serve.

Choosing to follow Christ begins in the individual heart, and it is first acted out in the home. The creator of home is Holy Matrimony.

Everything else is dead legalism.

From the Washington Post:

We all know that far too many marriages end in divorce, yet this institution does not adapt. Indeed, most Americans today want to expand conventional marriage to include same-sex couples.

So why is there no effort to improve the legal structure of marriage, when it shows itself to be deficient?

Marriage is a legal partnership that lasts a lifetime — one lifetime to be exact, that of the first of the spouses to die. Generally speaking, that is a long time for any partnership. People, circumstances and all sorts of other things change. The compatibility of any two people over decades may decline with these changes to the point of extinction.

In real estate, one may own a life estate in a piece of property. This is comparable to the term of a marriage — a lifetime. And in real estate, one may hold possession of property for shorter terms through a lease.

Why don’t we borrow from real estate and create a marital lease? Instead of wedlock, a “wedlease.”

Here’s how a marital lease could work: Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years — one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes. It could end up lasting a lifetime if the relationship is good and worth continuing. But if the relationship is bad, the couple could go their separate ways at the end of the term. The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.

  • oregon catholic

    Amen. I am at the point of not caring what civil society does with marriage. It has become one of the easiest contracts to break – not necessarily cheap, but easy to get out of.

    I would like to see the Church step away from any participation in the civil marriage license and do as Europe does – Holy Matrimony in Church and a separate civil contract/lease. I’d even go so far as to say we should take the pretense of a civil ceremony out of it and make it the same process as applying for the license – a simple clerical window transaction. Ceremonies should be separate from the legal transaction.

    I think the more meaningless and committmentless we make civil marriage the better. Maybe people will wake up and return to having some respect for what the institution always was before no-fault divorce came on the scene. The children will suffer of course, but they’re suffering already.

    • FW Ken

      I tend to agree that civil marriage is a loss, but I can only go back and raise again the question I raised the other day: what is the community’s interest in marriage at all? Why are any relationships privileged with social approbation and financial benefits? Why not remand all couplings or group arrangements to contract law? Why should a sexual relationship (couple or group) be treated differently than friendships or other familial relationships?

      Once we answer these questions, then we are well on the way to justifying or discounting same-sex relationships, plural marriages, and so on.

      • hotboogers

        These are good questions. Historically, I think the community’s and the government’s interest in marriage was more the interest in children, perpetuation of society, etc. So perhaps all those tax breaks should follow the children, not the sexual liaisons …
        and familial privileges like inheritance, hospital visitation, etc. could become normally arranged by legal means rather than by unspoken custom …

    • Neil Cameron

      Taking the church out of the civil marriage process altogether would solve a lot of hassles and remove much of the conflict and confusion.
      Although I perceive a problem should a union involving a Holy Matrimony union end up entangled in divorce proceedings.
      If a court were to pass judgments resolving a dispute in the dissolution of a Holy Matrimony scenario, those judgments would become precedent law. As the body of that precedent law builds up, so too does the need for a legal statute dealing with the allocations of rights & obligations in the dissolution of such a union.
      Once again we find the emergence of a body of law & dispute resolution, specifically reserved for heterosexual, spiritually active people, and not accessible by the gays. Enter the next round of challenge for equality under the law.
      The only way to avoid that, would be to ensure that the Holy Matrimony aspect remained exclusively intangible and strictly on the Spiritual ‘plane’. Effectively beyond the reach of any earthly court.

      • hamiltonr

        I’m going to back off after this and let readers respond. But I want to clarify one thing. So far as America is concerned, the church has never been involved in civil marriage, since the laws of this country were every single one written by duly elected representatives of the people.

        I think what you’re really talking about is that Christians are members of civil society and as such they advocate for things they believe the same as you do. The difference being they don’t always agree with you the way you do with yourself. That is not “the church” my friend. That is American citizens, exercising their rights.

        I think that whatever the short-term outcome of the current public debate on redefining marriage turns out to be, you can count on the fact that Christians will continue to remain engaged in the debate and that we will also continue to advocate for our beliefs.

        What I am talking about in this blog is the obvious (at least to me) fact that the larger culture no longer supports Christian beliefs or Christian families and Christians are going to have to stop allowed either their institutions or themselves to be defined by that larger culture.

        Christianity is at its best when it’s counter-cultural. It is certainly that in America today. What’s lacking is the realization that this is so.

        Now. I have Sunday dinner for my family to tend to.

        • Neil Cameron

          “Christians are going to have to stop allowed either their institutions or themselves to be defined by that larger culture.”

          Full points on that one! I fully agree.

          This is very similar to the problem of a society transitioning from a legally entrenched domination & favoritism of one ethnicity over all others, towards an inclusive and democratic society.

          Those of the formerly ‘favored’ ethnicity previously relied on mainstream laws, media, social construct etc for their cultural identity. As society becomes more inclusive an increasing diversity of influences infuses the laws, media and social construct. Effectively leaving the formerly favored with the problem of a rapidly evolving culture that appears to be becoming “polluted” with seemingly unwanted influences. They feel a loss of cultural identity.
          All too often they blame the perceived polluters (hate speech, discrimination etc) instead of realizing that they have been defining themselves on the basis of something which is not there to mold or define their culture at all.
          Looking in all the wrong places.
          This is evident in European descended populations right across the former British Empire.

          Is this what is happening in the Christian world, on a slower more profound level, as society shifts away from total domination by Christian spiritual leadership, towards a more secular, diverse, inclusive & tolerant society? Looking in all the wrong places. Places no longer occupied exclusively by us or people like us?

          A return to ‘base’ to regroup is needed.

          • FW Ken

            Actually, racial identity is something wholly other than sexual preference. Three former is an objective fact, the latter a self-reported condition with no basis in science.

      • oregon catholic

        I didn’t mean to imply that a civil marriage license wouldn’t be necessary too. I simply want to see the Church stop having any part in the civil license since it has become hypocritical to tie a civil marriage license to any sort of vow. It should be a standard contract handled at a registrar window with signatures notarized so people can get their tax breaks ;-).

        • FW Ken

          OC -

          Why should they get their tax breaks?

      • FW Ken

        Courts would, of course, have no jurisdiction over religious marriage. I have no doubt that gay rights advocates would try to go after churches for hurting their feelings, but separation of church and state goes two ways.

        • Neil Cameron

          Unfortunately with the courts and jurisdiction some lawyer will find a way (eventually) to justify accepting jurisdiction by a court.
          The only ways to ensure that they cant are to specifically deny it, and / or ensure that no rights / obligations can or need be allocated in a dispute in the issue at hand: i.e. keep it intangible and on the spiritual plane.
          That way the separation of state & church is further strengthened, and keeps Holy Matrimony firmly in the Church.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        Divorce proceedings, like Civil Marriage, are discriminatory and need to be eliminated. The state has no legitimate interest in divorce; if it’s a wife beating case, charge the man with assault and battery and lock him up.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      I agree. But I was there in the late 1990s.

      I want government entirely out of marriage now. I see no way left to write a marriage law that is compatible with the Constitution.

  • hotboogers

    Marriage as a “lease” is not a new concept. Some writers of speculative fiction have been portraying it that way for decades. Marion Zimmer Bradley, the uber-feminist fantasy/sci-fi author, for one. Many others as well.

    Remember back in the 90′s when the gay activists were so reassuring that they weren’t at all interested in marriage qua marriage, but only in legal partnerships that would give “human rights” privileges to couples … things like hospital visiting access, rights of inheritance, etc. … yah, that was lying all along.

    The next step after gay marriage will be polygamy. Then … who knows? Whatever seems unthinkable today is what it will be.

    I believe you, Ms. Hamilton, have previously stated something about the Church “divorcing” itself from civil marriage/partnership arrangments and only doing sacramental marriages. I concur. I think we, people who want to be Catholic, would find out right quick who are friends really truly are.

  • Jeff Jankowiak

    Hotboogers..We tried to ask for a seat at the table in the 1980′s, 1990′s and 2000′s. We would have settled for at least not degrading us and at most civil unions with all the right and privledges which you have in your marriages. But noooooooo…the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition wanted to keep us as 3rd class citizens. Well now that these issues have been brought in front of our brighest legal minds it has been determined you cannot discriminate against gays, lesbians and their children. You can thank the Jerry Falwells, Ralph Reed’s, Brian Brown’s and the Tony Perkins for this transition. They continued to demonize us and now the general population has turned against your traditions. I believe this is long overdue.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      That is a straightforward set of lies, and I know because I was around in the eighties and nineties. Every demand you made was met. And you never had enough. As for demonizing, don’t make me laugh: the predominant culture demonized Jerry Falwell and the rest – you just have to read what Time magazine or the leading newspapers had to say about them – and you happily went along with their lies, distortions and defamations. Which is your standard practice, and the thing you are doing here and now even in the presence of people who know that you are lying.

      • Jeff Jankowiak

        Fabio…thanks for stating your were around back then. It certainly adds credibility to your comments. Unfortunately, I lived through the discrimination and having to listen to words like “abomination” “filth” “sodomy”, “disgust”..and those were just the nice words. I did not listen to Time Magazine or anyone else. All I had to do was turn on the TV and listen to people like Jerry Falwell, Jessie Helms, Ralph Reed and the rest of their cabal. You can still go and listen to the likes of Pat Robertson, Brian Brown, and Tony Perkins to just prove my point. These charlatans clearly make my point. So don’t tell me I am lying. These were/are evil people that take your money to promote their discriminatory ways in the public and political arenas. If they are not careful the next move will be to relegate them to their homes and churches and..oh GOD forbid, tax them. We did that to the cigarette companies…hey…maybe this might be a solution? And before you crucify me I have a very good relationship with GOD but I do the right thing and keep it to myself.

        • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

          Your claim of a relationship with God does nothing to impress me when you have, one, failed to answer any point I made, and, two, evidently failed to listen to what I said. I guess the sound of your voice is too attractive to you to bother with anyone else’s. I said that Time Magazine demonized the Falwells and such; you say “I did not have to listen to Time magazine” as though listening to Time magazine were in the same category as listening to Falwell. And you are lying and remain lying because – I repeat – EVERY DEMAND YOUR KIND MADE WAS MET. So stop pretending you are the poor persecuted little innocent. It’s the oldest and dumbest trick in the book, and old dogs like me have heard it till we are sick of it. You are trying to make us feel sorry for you because, thirty years ago, a minor and despised strand of public opinion called you words. Dear dear me. And you are trying to pretend that at the same time Hollywood, the media and the political and business establishment weren’t courting you lot as if you were the most desirable of all parties. From Philadelphia to Brokeback Mountain, Hollywood honoured forgettable movies because they flattered the gay movement’s victim complex and made them seem beautiful and pitiful. At the same time, find me one movie, find me one, that treats evangelicals and fundamentalists as anything but loathsome objects of contempt. And the same is true of television, magazines, newspapers, advertising, big business and politics.

          • hamiltonr

            I had to delete some of the answers to this that had good arguments in them but got too personal in an unkind way.

            Fabio, please don’t call people “your kind” etc. Just say the facts as you see them.

            As for those of you who want to answer, please don’t say ugly things about other commenters.

            Everybody, stay on the issues.

            Otherwise, thanks to all of you for such a thorough discussion.

            • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

              Did I say “your kind”? If so, I shouldn’t have. I thought I used the expression “your lot”, which I think is more neutral – at least, I heard it used for the other person’s family, club, football team, or political party, with little or no negative overtone. But then, I have no idea how it will sound in another country. I did, on the other hand, use the expression “accomplices” in another answer, and I did so deliberately, because I think the behaviour of certain members of legal professions in the pursuit of their chosen results is nothing short of conspiracy. A man such as Mr.Injustice Vaughn Walker, to quote a shameful recent instance, does not belong on the bench, and his behaviour during the Prop 8 case reminded me closely of old accounts of Soviet court proceedings.

        • FW Ken

          If they are not careful the next move will be to relegate them to their homes and churches and..oh GOD forbid, tax them.

          Thank you for showing the strategy, although it was already known. Your willingness to oppress those who differ with you reveals the deep narcissism and disordered nature of the homosexual condition. Note that I didn’t say you are disordered, but you have so identified yourself with your sexual preference that you can no longer hear what people say, only that you are bad. This is usually a symptom that you think you are bad.

          • Jeff Jankowiak

            FWKen..I think you have hit the “nail right on the head”. The religious zealots, and leaders who have pandered to them, are revealing their “deep narcissism and disordered nature of the religious condition”. They have never been forced to face these issues so I know it must be hard. Religious zealots love to take bible lore and interpret in an attempt to force their beliefs on others. Well their “hayday” seems to be ending. Maybe after they are forced back into their homes and in their houses of worship we will have a more peaceful, loving, and caring society. And I am sure you are now branding me an atheist or some other crazy representation. Before you do understand I have an excellent relationship with GOD. What that relationship is between the two of us. I force it on no one else and I wish others would do the same.

    • hotboogers

      The Moral Majority, whoever … were saying then what we all see in plain sight now … “a place at the table” has now become mandated approval. Tolerance is no longer acceptable; approval is required. This was lied about in the 80′s and 90′s and is now out in the open. I believe you are mistaken in thinking the “general population” has “turned against” anyone’s traditions. I hear about cases like, but not limited to, the bakery sued for not wanting to participate in a “gay marriage,” and their legal travails, and their subsequent increased business from ordinary people who want to support them in business and in taking a stand for their faith. This is not “turning against” tradition; this is supporting the tradition of freedom of the practice of religion and freedom of speech. One person’s freedom of religion or freedom of speech trumps another person’s demand for cake any day.

      • FW Ken

        Not to mention the Chick-fila business last year. The long lines in support, the pitiful few at the gay kiss-in.

        • Jeff Jankowiak

          FWKen..you are right. But if Chick-fil-A had denied service to gays and lesbians they would be out of business right now. They did not. All they did was have their bone-head CEO give money to an organization which raises money to discriminate against a minority in this country. Very distasteful but not against the law.

          • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

            Yes, they would be out of business right now, but not because the public would have turned against them, but because one of your accomplices in politics would have got another one to go to a third one who spends as a judge the time he can spare from backrooms and dating websites and have got this model of integrity to shut the business down.

          • FW Ken

            My point is that the gay rights movement doesn’t have the popular support that exists in the fantasy-land of borrowed 60s civil rights rhetoric.

            • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

              In evidence to the contrary, polling data appears to suggest that contemporary support of legalization of gay marriage is higher than and increasing faster than support of legalization of interracial marriage did circa the Virginia v Loving decision.

              • FW Ken

                Polls often reflect the polling agents interests rather than actual public sentiment. Contrast that to the polls that matter, at which most states have rejected same-sex marriage, until very recently. Most legalized unions are the result of pandering politicians and judicial manipulation.

                Speaking of which, there is a strong legal argument starting up that same-sex marriage is not legal in California, except for an extremely narrow group in one locale. Except, of course, that a little thing like legality can’t stand in the way of the Cause.

                http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/sf/page/30742

      • Jeff Jankowiak

        hotboogers. I am not saying to turn away from traditions. I am hoping you will understand their are people which are different from your traditional standards and they create their unions, create families, buy homes, pay taxes and go to work every day. They deserve to have the same rights and be treated with respect. They also have the freedom to not listen to your religious beliefs. I clearly support your right to believe as you wish in your home and in your house of worship. But don’t force those values on other people.
        As for the bakers, photographers, hotel owners it is all about public accommodation. If there are anti discrimination laws in a municipality and you are offering a service to the general public you cannot break that law or you will be fined or your business license will be revoked. You cannot pick and choose which laws you want to operate under. If you don’t like the law get it changed. Like I said above your religion belongs in your home and house of worship, not in the public business arena.
        As for traditional religious consumers….good luck supporting a business which is breaking the law. Without a business license good luck operating.

        • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

          This response is so hypocritical that I wonder the responder did not choke on it. You don’t have the least intention to disrespect the traditions of others, nooooooooo; just to twist and demean the laws until they force them to do exactly what you demand them to do (“good luck supporting a business which is breaking the law”). The very notion that you would support existing law is a joke. Gay pride parades violate laws on public obscenity and nudity every single time, but if anyone tried to enforce the law you would not only make more noise than an airplane at take-off, you would make damn well sure that the public official who had tried to do his or her duty would be ruined for the rest of his or her life, hounded out of any job and any home, and if possible jailed.If, twenty years from now, you found him or her manning a cash register or cleaning the floors at Wal-Mart, you would make a Twitter-Facebook case of it and start sending thousands of letters to his/her employer about employing “homophobes”. That is what you do, and that is the respect for laws and law enforcement to be expected from you. And let’s not even talk about importing any concept of law into gay bars and other meeting places. You will not support any law unless it allows you total self-indulgence and those who disagree with you no space at all. That is your concept of justice.

        • FW Ken

          At least now we know what you are, Jeff. I’m glad you aren’t hiding it. In some ways, I think decent people should retreat and let the Saurons of the world have their day. You will eventually invade our homes and churches (already have, in fact), but the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Read some history along with the gay rights pamphlets. This isn’t new and it ends badly for you, after it ends badly for us. Then we pick up the pieces, restore order, and you can go back to hooking up in public restrooms and bathhouses. Oh, yes, I know about that. I’ve had lots of gay friends who aren’t desperately trying to convince the world (and themselves) they are normal. They tell me the truth, plus I read some materials outside of my own echo chamber. Try it some time.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-strange-strange-story_b_136697.html

        • hamiltonr

          Jeff, all people deserve the same rights and respect. Homosexuals are human beings, made in the image and likeness of God.

          Where I disagree with you is your attempt to limit other people’s rights. Your phraseology here:

          “I clearly support your right to believe as you wish in your home and in your house of worship. But don’t force those values on other people.”

          Is the standard formulaic of those who want to limit the rights and freedoms of people of faith. We have far more than the “right to believe” as we “wish” in our “home” and “house of worship.”

          We have a First Amendment right to the free exercise our religious faith without government interference.

          Attempts to limit this to inside the home and house of worship are tyrannical. They almost mirror the legal framework used by totalitarian regimes who want to stamp out religion. In those countries, houses of worship must be registered by the state and religious people are forced under penalty of law, to keep their faith private.

          This kind of thing is also used in parts of the world where violent persecution of Christians is happening.

          Your demand that Christians not try to “force” their “values on other people.” Is also an appeal to tyranny.

          Are not Christians entitled to the “same rights” as homosexuals? Do they have the right to petition their government? Do they have the right to vote by secret ballot for whomever they wish? Do they have the rights to assembly, public demonstration, access to the courts, free speech and to follow the dictates of their conscience?

          Whether you meant it that way or not, your demand that Christians stop trying to “force” their “values on other people” is a demand that they either stop exercising these rights, or that the rights be taken from them.

          In a free society, everyone gets to have their say, even people who don’t agree with you, Mr Jeff. In America, people of faith have a Constitutionally guaranteed right to the free exercise of religion.

          As for laws about “bakers, photographers, and hotel owners,” who in this discussion is actually trying to “force” his viewpoint “on other people?”

          On the one hand, you demand that roughly 70% of the American people be deprived of their rights to advocate for their beliefs which are the clear rights of every American citizen. On the other hand, you advocate laws which would force them to actively participate in activities they do not agree with — because you say you have a “right” to do so.
          What of their rights?

          At the same time, you demand that again roughly 70% of the American people, sideline their core beliefs to behind closed doors and only in private.

          What you are suggesting is tyranny Jeff. That and a total destruction of the basic American rights for those you don’t agree with.

    • oregon catholic

      You don’t have near the support of the general population that you think you do. If you step outside your echo chamber it looks and sounds different. Don’t forget that when ssm is put to the vote of the people it usually gets defeated. Mostly you have apathy on your side but that can change. We’ve seen it recently with abortion. The widespread support for anything goes abortion was never there, it was apathy and ignorance of what was going on. As the curtain has been pulled back on the worst of the worst practices, people are not as apathetic anymore and we are seeing limits being put on abortion that pro-choicers never dreamed would happen even a couple of years ago. Remember that pendulums swing both ways and the harder you push the faster they change direction.

      • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

        It is true that in most cases where Same Sex Marriage has been brought to popular vote, it has been defeated. However, it is also true that most such votes were taken when support in the nation overall was considerably lower (between 2004 and 2012, net attitude changed from circa +30 opposed to +5 support), and that most such votes were taken in states which tended to be less supporting than the nation overall.

        In contrast, popular attitudes on abortion have barely shifted over the past 40 years, varying within a roughly 10% range and no pronounced trend.

        • oregon catholic

          First of all, many people who oppose ssm in principle have simply given up fighting the issue (hence the point of the article). They haven’t changed their minds about the morality or so-called normalcy of it and what may seem like a change of heart victory really isn’t anything of the kind. Gay marriage isn’t confering any additional ‘respectability’ of the lifestyle over the civil unions most people were willing to let ss couples have long ago for legal/financial fairness reasons.

          The same thing happened with abortion. And now we are seeing a shift in the opposite direction because attitudes didn’t really change – they were just dormant – until some uber-hideous abortion practices that were long out of sight came into public awareness and stirred up the opposition of lawmakers. That is coupled with images of the radical element that comes out to support no-limitations on abortion – the hail satan, feces-throwing types – and people are disgusted by them and it only reinforces a desire for limits.

          • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

            In both cases, the attitudes I’m referring to are from polling questions explicitly asking about the legality of Same Sex Marriage, which indeed does not necessarily reflect a change in mind on the morality or “normalcy”.

            While there is no history of polling specific to the morality of same sex marriage (making direct measure of past change impossible), there is polling history regarding attitudes about the morality (“wrong”ness) of two same-sex adults having “sexual relations”; here again, national attitudes have been shifting relatively rapidly. Controlling for such moral attitudes on homosexuality indicates increased support for SSM in all subcategories. Such within-category trend would indeed be consistent with “many people who oppose ssm in principle have simply given up fighting the issue”. However, the change in the fraction of the population falling into those categories of moral attitude indicate that many people are changing their legal/political stance correlated with a change in moral stance; and attitudes on legality on SSM have clearly shifted.

            Regardless, your focus on the historical outcomes to the neglect of recent outcomes, statistical polling, and the degree of correlation of both recent and historical of statistical polling to electoral polling outcomes; and your focus on the less direct metric of “morality” to measure support for changes to law (rather than what people say the law should be), would seem to suggest you are more likely the one overestimating the current level of support for your position in the overall population, in manner consistent with how conservatives tended more surprised than liberals at the accuracy of meta-pollsters’ predictions of the November 2012 national elections.

            (What polling I can find on attitudes on morality of abortion show changes similar to that of the change on attitudes on abortion’s legality, varying within a much smaller ~10% range.)

  • Sus_1

    I’m wondering if a bakery can refuse to make a divorce cake because of their religious beliefs.

    Besides setting a good example, what can those of us that are married with no intention of divorcing do about the divorce rate?

    • pagansister

      Your question is very interesting, since some bakeries and florists have been sued for not being willing to cater a SS wedding or provide flowers, so it seems that the same could be possible if a person wanted a divorce cake, because the store owner didn’t believe in divorce.

      • kenofken

        The difference likely lies in how anti-discrimination laws are written. Many now specifically include sexual orientation as a protected class. A number of states also have provisions prohibiting discrimination based on marital status. It’s less clear to me what federal law covers on that count, though there are provisions relating to marital status such as pregnancy and gender.

        The creation of protected classes in law is based on the degree to which a set of persons is defined by their status and how they are targeted for discrimination based on that. One’s sexual orientation is a central and defining and identifiable part of one’s identity in day to day life. It has also been the basis for massive and widespread and vicious discrimination affecting every aspect of life and livelihood.

        I don’t think status as as divorced person quite parallels that. That status spans all classes of society, and I don’t think it incurs the same sorts of stigma (in modern times) and targeting as sexual orientation or race or religion. I could be persuaded on that point. I don’t want to see people given a hard time in retail establishments over divorce or anything else, but civil rights law is based on deeper concepts than simple civility.

        • hamiltonr

          You raise an important question, which is should homosexuals be a protected class of citizens under the law as black people have been for several decades now?

          If your basis for making that claim is “massive and
          widespread and vicious discrimination” then I would posit that it makes more sense to extend that privilege to women, who are bought and sold like chattel and who constantly face the threat of violent assault than do homosexuals.

          In fact, I would posit that most of the legitimate claims to discrimination, particularly violent assault, that homosexuals have faced in the past are almost gone. There is such a press uproar whenever something like that happens, along with demonstrations, etc.

          Whereas the standard press and social response to violence against women remains, “rapes and murders happen every day.” As for buying and selling women … I don’t think I have to even address that, do I?

          You say you are a same-sex marriage advocate who is straight. Do you have daughters? If you do, you might think about advocating for them.

          • kenofken

            Discrimination law already counts gender as a protected class. It’s in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and many other laws. Does that mean we’re doing enough on the ground to deal with violence or discrimination against women? No, but the grievances of gays and women are not at odds with each other. It’s not like there’s some finite store of justice the groups must fight over. It is also way, way premature to say that problems of homophobia, including violence, are over and done with. Those attitudes are very much alive even if they’re on the wane.

            I don’t have daughters, but I have two wonderful nieces. I will advocate for them as women and in any other capacity, and I don’t see how gay rights advocacy in any way would detract from that. In fact, I see no way whatever that the struggles can be separated. A society which won’t actively protect the rights of some oppressed minorities or groups is a society which will never respect women.

            Societies which leave some disfavored groups to fend for themselves or which dismiss their claims and struggles is a society which ultimately only respect brute force or the strength of majority. Those regions and countries in the world where homosexuals are still at constant threat of deadly violence are, without a single exception, the worst places in the world for violence against women, trafficking, and very often also the places with the worst records of religious oppression and ethnic violence. That is no coincidence.

            • FW Ken

              Interesting to have violence against gays come up. A little research found that in 1999 there were around 1350 assaultive crimes committed against gays in the U.S. If gays are 2% of the population, that’s 6 million people, of whom 1350 is an infinitesimal percentage. It’s much higher in Brazil, but this:

              A Brazilian gay blog has investigated a sample of 30 murders of gay people reported on the media in 2009 — including some of those used by the GGB in its national statistic report. It determined that the “large majority” of them were committed by the homosexual partners of the victims or those who were otherwise in a relationship with them (e.g., male prostitutes), with some others being killed due to unpaid debts with gangs involved in drug trafficking.[30]

              That’s from Wiki:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_against_LGBT_people

              and is consistent with the violence pervasive in gay relationships of my acquaintance.

              That doesn’t get into the polemical and political use of such gay murders as do happen, nor does it cover violence committed by gays.

              http://cnsnews.com/news/article/bishop-catholic-mom-murdered-gay-man-died-martyr-her-faith

            • TheodoreSeeber

              I’m utterly convinced by the behavior of some people, that heterophobia is starting.

              Neither, of course, is a real phobia.

      • Neil Cameron

        The same would apply.

        Discrimination on the grounds of family status would likely induce a legal challenge.

        http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/real-estate/divorce-hurt-apartment-search-article-1.1185045

        • oregon catholic

          The fact that anyone is suing over cakes and flowers and claiming harm and others are seriously discussing the merits is a good sign of how silly our culture and our legal system has become.

          If I had a room to rent in my home I could legally discriminate against a smoker and refuse to rent to him/her even if I had the last vacancy in town. I could do the same to an obese person if I furnished the room with delicate little chairs that would break under their weight. I can even refuse to rent to a redhead or people with big noses if I hate the sight of redheads and people with big noses. But if a gay person and a same sex partner come to rent from me, I can’t refuse them on the basis that I don’t want what I believe to be sinful behavior going on in my home in front of my children.

          This is what our ridiculous anti-discrimination laws amount to. You can discriminate all day long for all kinds of characteristics, some of them completely unjust and thoroughly bigoted, so long as one of them doesn’t appear on a list of people who hold “special” uber-rights.

    • FW Ken

      Divorce, per se is not a sin (though sins may well be involved). An apt example might be a cake for a second marriage. But the baker is unlikely to know that it’s adulterous union, if it even is adulterous (the first marriages might have been annulled).

      • Neil Cameron

        Surely a divorce is as sinful as a same sex marriage.
        The same sex marriage is not an unnatural sexual act. It is the participation in a legal contract.

        It may involve sin, but there is no guarantee that any sexual contact will occur. Sexual contact is not compulsory for a same sex married couple. If they were to marry, but not engage in the sexual act, is participating in the marriage contract a sin?

        If all same sex marriages are to be deemed sinful, regardless of the presence or absence of a sinful act, then surely the same can be said of divorce, irrespective of the presence or absence of an adulterous sexual act?

        If Divorce is not per se a sin, then surely the same must apply to same sex marriage?

        • FW Ken

          Whatever you say, dude.

        • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

          Divorce is nearly always a sin, because it amounts to man tearing asunder what God had put together – the exact denial of Jesus’ commandment. There is an exception, which is when the innocent partner either does not concede – as in quite a few contemporary divorces – or concedes because if s/he did not, someone else would suffer. That used to be a real issue in the first half of the last century, when natural children were excluded from inheritance and other rights.

        • Rick Connor

          From the Catholic perspective there is an issue here: a marriage does not exist until the couple has sex. If they do not have sex they are not married in the Catholic sense of the word. You are blending secular and Catholic views of marriage and sin: two different animals.

  • pagansister

    My husband and I were married 48 years ago, and originally were planning to be married at the courthouse or by some other person with legal authority to do so. However, we married in the Methodist church (with only 3 weeks planning) to please my parents. I didn’t need the church to “unite’ us, but my parents (who paid for it) apparently felt it necessary. (I was the oldest of 3 daughters, and the first to marry). We went back to college 1 1/2 weeks later and started the next quarter. I don’t regret the small church wedding, but I (we) didn’t have a need to be married by a minister, in a church building. I don’t feel it is the reason we’re still married 48 years later, and faith/religion really hasn’t been the center of our lives.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      PS, I have finally tracked down the Church document on which I based my various statements about you having a good Catholic marriage. It is the Vatican II Constitution “Gaudium et Spes,” chapters 46-52, on marriage, sex and the family. I would not recommend it as a piece of light reading – it is repetitious, verbose and at times unclear, as when it uses the expression “activities proper to marriage” to mean “sex”. But it adds up to a few clear teachings: one, marriage begins and ought always to contain, the mutual self-giving of one man and one woman, exclusively and generously, to build up a particular kind of unity. Second, sex in this pursuit is valid even if for any reason it is not possible to have children; the union of a man and a woman is one of the goods that marriage pursues, and it is good in itself. In fact, one underdevelopped passage suggests that the problem with sex outside marriage is that it wastes the power to achieve such a union, and therefore swiftly loses interest.

      • pagansister

        Fabio—you are indeed a blessing,though sometimes in disguise :-). Thank you for first, suggesting that I have a “good Catholic Marriage”. Even with my disagreement with much of the Church’s views, I consider that a good thing. 2nd, you cared enough to send me the reason behind your statement. Thank you! Take care.

  • Sterling Ericsson

    I find it sad that you keep pushing the anti-gay marriage argument. Especially the specious one you present in this article. There are plenty of gay couples that have been together for decades, that dedicate their entire lives to each other. And yet you are determined to mock and try to invalidate that love they have for each other.

    • hamiltonr

      Sterling, I’m not doing any such thing. I am saying that Holy Matrimony, which is a sacrament instituted by Our Lord, is something that can only be entered into by a man and a woman who is doing so with the blessings of the church. Notice, I use “church” little c.

      This is what the Church has taught for 2,000 years. I’m not saying anything new at all. I’m also not even arguing against gay marriage in this post. I am saying that it is a legal construct which has nothing to do with the Church and that Christians are going to have to backtrack and start thinking of their marriages as something different and apart from the larger society’s whimsical abuses of the institution.

      Two men or two women are not the same as a man and a woman. It is not — or it should not be — insulting to anyone to say what is reality.

      FWIW, I don’t think “gay marriage” exists or can exist except as a misnamed legal contract. I can pass laws all day long saying that there is life on Mars, but it won’t make it so. By the same token, lawmakers can redefine marriage until they’ve redefined it out of existence, but it won’t change the fact of what sacramental marriage — Holy Matrimony — as instituted by Our Lord is, always has been and will always be.

      This does not take anything at all away from the dignity and value of gay people as beautiful, loving and good people who are, like everyone else, made in the image and likeness of God. It simply reflects reality concerning the uniqueness of what happens when “a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh” and by so doing form a true marriage that is capable of creating, sustaining, and nurturing life.

      That is unique and it is the role of a man and a woman; not two men or two women.

      • kenofken

        As a gay marriage advocate (though a heterosexually married one), I largely concur. Civil marriage should never be conflated or confused with a sacremental understanding of marriage. It is a legal construct, and more accurately should be called civil marriage or civil union in all cases. I believe in total separation of church and state, and I favor gay marriage as a matter of legal rights and equal standing before a secular government. Whether people consider anyone else’s union to be sacramentally or metaphysically valid is irrelevant to me. We are all free to believe as we will on that point. The state has no business defining sacraments and the churchs have no business dictating civil law.

        • hamiltonr

          kenofken, I agree with you that churches should not dictate civil law. Where we probably disagree is that I think that Christians have the same rights as every other American to advocate for changes under the law, even if the changes they advocate are consistent with the teachings of their church.

          I think that distinction is what gets the debate hypered into bitterness. Christians, gay people — any American citizen — has the right to petition their government and to seek redress through the courts. I have never quarreled with the rights of gay people to do this, even when I sometimes disagree with the result. That is how we do things in this country.

          However a lot of people seem to confuse the activities of Christians when they chose to petition the government or seek redress through the courts with the activities of the churches. Just because these Christians may be inspired by church teachings or by sermons or any thing else, for that matter, to take these positions, that does not make their actions church activities.

          Americans are free to make their decisions about what they want to do vis a vis their government based on any criteria they chose. It is flat-out discriminatory to claim that American citizens who happen to be Christian do not have this right the same as other citizens on some nebulous and inaccurate claim of separation of church and state.

          • oregon catholic

            I wish I could give you 10 up votes on this. I cannot believe how many people have told me in all seriousness that I have to check my morals at the door before I can enter a voting booth just because I am Catholic and I “can’t inflict my religion on them”. They are utterly blind to the fact that they are asking me not to do something which they completely take for granted is their right just because they got their morality from secular someplace. It’s an incredible and oppressive blindness that would seek to take away my constitutional rights and it comes from hatred and bigotry regarding anything religious.

          • Jeff Jankowiak

            Hamilton…thank you for this well thought out and rational response. I agree Christians have the right to advocate for change in government, but I believe they need to do this as citizens and not as an organized religious entities. Unfortunately, we have watched the Catholic Church, Evangelicals and the LDS communities blur these lines . If they want to become a political action committee they have that right but the donations, tax exemptions, and disclosure rules must be followed.
            With all this said, my problem still surrounds individuals and religious institutions which attempt to discriminate against a certain class of citizens. I find this to be abhorrent. I understand their writings may encourage them to live their lives a certain way but why do they feel the need to impress those beliefs on others? This is why I believe we have twisted “freedom of religion” in this country into “freedom to evangelize” and force your beliefs upon others. I may have misconstrued another great set of writings, but I believe the US Constitution and Bill of Rights also state we have freedom from other’s religious beliefs. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

            • hamiltonr

              You can’t say that people do not have the right to advocate as part of a group Jeff. Americans are known for the way they form committees and affiliations. It’s a distinctly American trait. It is also a Constitutional right — the right to assembly. Churches are affiliations of individuals who have joined them freely and who chose to participate — or not.

              I saw churches in my community march together to the polls beating drums and singing praise hymns to vote the first time President Obama was elected. No one said a word about that, and they shouldn’t have. However, if they had been doing the same thing to march to the polls to vote on something else, there would have been an uproar along with threats and fire-breathing nonsense about tax exemption.

              In truth, it isn’t the fact that people affiliate as free citizens in churches and then chose to follow their church’s teachings in all areas of their lives, including the political that critics object to. It is some of the positions that they take.

              This isn’t, as it is cast, an appeal to separation of church and state. In fact, it has nothing to do with separation of church and state. It is about not liking the positions that are taken and trying to stifle other citizens’ free right to take those positions. The “freedom to evangelize” that you find so abhorrent is simply freedom of speech.

              No. The Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution do not say that we have “freedom from other’s religious beliefs.” Here is what is says:

              “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

              Other people have a right to disagree with you Jeff, even if they do it for religious reasons.

              • Jeff Jankowiak

                Hamilton…I am very much for freedom of association and freedom of religion but I do think a Church needs to call themselves PAC’s if that is what they are doing. I am sure you can agree that free citizens which form a PAC on whatever issue need to follow the rules of PAC…Churches should not be exempt.
                If I follow your train of thought are you saying evangelicals have the right to impress their beliefs on others? Lets take another analogy here..What if Islamists wanting to follow Sharia laws want to start advocating for traditional rules in this country? What if they had their own community and they found out someone was a homosexual. Their religion permits them to behead these individuals. How would you as a Christian feel? I believe no one has the right to impose their religious beliefs on any other person. This is what is known as life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness including the freedom from “your” religion.
                I think the basic problem is Christians have had it one way so long that they have a problem accepting that other people have other beliefs. They also think we have had a secular society when in reality we truly have not. We are now evolving into what our country truly is meant to be. Unfortunately, Christians are just going to have to accept it and stop thinking our religion is the only religion.

                • hamiltonr

                  I honestly don’t see how pacs apply to this discussion.

                  I’ve had my say for now. I’m turning it over to the readers here.

            • FW Ken

              I suggest you read the Constitution (with amendments) rather than press releases from the Freedom from Religion Foundation. I routinely get flyers on my door, and sometimes evangelists at my door, and I am able to deflect this unwanted attention without help from the government. Quit whining.

        • FW Ken

          I agree with you, except that I would not assume that removing religious arguments doors not cover all arguments against same-sex marriage/civil unions.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      I see no reason for the government to be involved in anybody’s home life at all.


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