The Tony Jones Blog at Patheos
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This has been making the rounds:
Gay rights, gay activist, gay….. Marriage is understood to default to a man and a woman. I have seen this floating around the Internet on blogs.
Not a lot of thought out of you lately on your blog, Tony. Mostly article postings and now a picture of a poster.
Well, Lock, sorry that my blog is disappointing you.
Chop chop, Tony. Crank out the ideas.
So why bother being the “Gay Mens Choir” as there is in the Minneapolis area? By the logic of this posting, wouldn’t being a “Mens Choir” be enough?
No. The Gay Men’s Choir is comprised exclusively of gay men. Gay marriage and straight marriage are still marriage and irrespective of gender. You’re comparing apples and oranges by comparing marriage to organizations.
No, you have utterly missed the point, once again, Melody. The article tries to/wants to eliminate the whole “Gay” adjective. So, that is the point. Isn’t it enough that a group of men who have good voices and can carry a tune are in a group that sings together? Why does there have to be a modifier? Why can’t they just be a “Mens Choir”? Why does “Gay” have to enter into the picture? Why does “Gay” have to be added to anything? As far as marriage goes, adding gay to it it changes it to something else. It’s no longer marriage as any entity throughout history has defined marriage. If you want to live with a same-sex partner, go ahead, but don’t call it marriage and don’t expect me to accept it. I don’t accept different-sex living together out of wedlock, so why would I accept same-sex?
1. Just because Liz Feldman want to call something marriage instead of gay marriage, doesn’t mean that there’s this whole universal desire to eliminate the descriptor “gay” from every single phrase that uses it. 2. Re: the choir. It might be a bunch of guys getting together, but the choir itself also serves more of a purpose that a bunch of guys getting together to sing songs. It’s about gay men connecting socially and using music to transform, educate, and heal together. Someone who disapproves of gay men might not appreciate that need, but the need exists. 3. I don’t expect you to accept my marriage, but I expect my government to treat my marriage as an equal legal entity. My state government is there. Eventually, hopefully my federal government will be there, too. I don’t need your validation, Jim W. I have the validation of the people who are important in my life, including our kids, our broader family, our neighbors & friends & church family & co-workers.
Once again? Please tell me where I missed it before. Based on your response, I think I got your point quite accurately.
There is one thing correct on that poster:
“As I like to call it.”
That’s really at the heart of it isn’t it? Is marriage whatever one person “likes to call it?”
No, Frank. The point is that gay marriage is just that: marriage. There’s no need separate it from straight marriage. It’s between two commuted adults; just call it marriage. As an aside, I’m really disappointed with the snarky, cynical comments here.
In response to your aside, Melody, following Tony’s blog has basically ensured that I will not allow comments on a theology-related blogging project I’m considering. The useful communication taking place in his comment area is far outweighed by the angry drivel posted by idiots. Which is really unfortunate, because the internet allows for amazing communication opportunities, but frankly, I’m not willing to subject myself to daily doses of emotional abuse from strangers. Kudos to Tony and others, but my skin just isn’t that thick and I get enough of that kind of thing in my analog life. I would like to facilitate conversation among my readers, but I don’t know if it’s worth it.
Of course, welcome to the internet. It’s not just here, it’s everywhere. Youtube comments are the worst. Does anyone have any solutions for maintaining a generally civil tone in blog comments?
No, the point is that’s its not. It’s something else just not marriage.
BS, Frank. The legal document is at the state level. The marriage ceremony is really a blessing from the church. So it is just marriage. The state is discriminating based on someone’s arbitrary norms.
If what you say were so gay “marriage” would have existed long ago and everyone would agree. Instead the super majority of people believe marriage is one man and one woman. Also most governments believe this as well.
All that being said I think that most people would be fine with some legal remedy regarding health, tax and inheritance rights among gay people who want to have a committed life long relationship.
That is your opinion, Frank. Opinion doesn’t equate with fact.
Actually the fact is that marriage right now is considered one man and one woman.
I can call an apple an orange my whole life, believe it to be so, convince others that its true too, yet an apple will always be an apple and an orange will always be an orange.
If you want to pretend and call something marriage that’s not go for it but it does not make it so.
Your world is just not reality, Frank. Our church has blessings for all couples, same-sex couples included. It’s the state that has the problem – it’s a legal issue, not a religious issue.
Charles I am sorry you have fallen prey to bad theology. I am sorry that your church has deceived themselves and you. Don’t be a victim of that! Trust God even when you don’t understand it or it doesn’t make sense and find a different church that desires people to be what Christ can make them not what they make of themselves.
Can’t help but jump in here guys, but here in Canada same-sex marriage has been legal across the nation for almost six and a half years, and we’ve yet to sink into the ocean. So there’s that. I’d also like to point out that even in the United States, no such “super majority” exists that is opposed to gay marriage, as you can see from this Washington Post poll conducted in March: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postpoll_03142011.html To continue with what Charles was mentioning, and what his been one of the major themes of late here on the blog, civil and religious marriage are two entirely different things. Even though most states in the US do not yet recognize same-sex marriages, it doesn’t change the significance of these unions as covenants before God.
Zachary please provide scriptural support that a homosexual union is something that God blesses. Until you can you shouldn’t speak for God.
I would hope you know how polls are conducted and the science behind them. It’s all in the question that is posed and how large the sampling is. I certainly hope that you don’t put stock in a poll. I could post several that support my position.
If each person in this country were to vote on the definition of marriage the results would overwhelmingly be one man and one woman. The bible supports that as well.
“I could post several that support my position.”
Frank: Please do.
Here’s a chart of the Gallup polling on the issue, over quite a long time: http://www.gallup.com/poll/147662/First-Time-Majority-Americans-Favor-Legal-Gay-Marriage.aspx
I would be very interested to see the recent polling that supports your position that a “super majority” is still against gay marriage.
Frank, what do you do with Gal 3:28 in you black and white world?
I do proper exegesis. What does Gal 3 have to do with gay marriage?
I have not been able to come to any answer on this issue because I am torn. One question I haven’t seen answered: if two men can get married, why not two men and a women who all love each other? Or a 40 year old and a 13 year old who love each other? I am not making fun or trying to be outrageous but trying to understand and would appreciate any serious responses.
1. Re: Polygamy. Lots of other issues that would need to be worked out that don’t need to be with non-plural marriages (gay or het), such as consent. Do all spouses need to consent to new spouses? How is divorce managed? Those two issues really would need to be worked out.
2. Do 13-year-old children in our country have the legal right to enter into contracts? Can they buy houses without the consent of their parents? Cars? No. Different states allow for minors down to a certain age to get married with parental consent, but usually there is a need for both spouses to legally consent. That said, wasn’t there an 50-something actor who just married a 15-year-old country singer? That was in a DOMA-state, too.
Long answer made short, gay marriage, polygamy, and adult/child marriages are all different issues and really need to be considered separately. There are cultures that have allowed both polygamy and adult/child intergenerational marriages that wouldn’t allow gay marriage and I’m sure you could juggle those results for more modern cultures. I mean, Jesus’ mom was in her very early teens when she married the adult Joseph so…
Good info, thank you. It helps. It begs a question I haven’t thought of before: do polygamists support gay marriage? If they did, would it mean the same philosophy behind one would support the other? If they didn’t, on what basis would be their opposition?
“do polygamists support gay marriage? If they did, would it mean the same philosophy behind one would support the other? If they didn’t, on what basis would be their opposition?”
As a rule? No, they don’t. Though I’ve heard legal arguments against anti-sodomy laws used by polygamists with regards to anti-bigamy laws.
Jon, With all due respect, same sex marriage, polygamy, and bigamy are not separate issues. The fundamental issue here is a right vs. a law. Same sex marriage proponents usually believe that a judge can force same sex marriage onto the state/ culture.
If that is their position, same sex marriage has to be a right. Since you are changing the definition of marriage, it is a accurate statement to say that redefining marriage is a right.
The 14th amendment dictates equal protection. If one group has the fundamental right to change the definition of marriage, all groups have that same right that homosexuals do. This leaves three options:
1. Same sex activist would have to change their position to marriage being a law that they want to pass. They can not do this because same sex marriage has been rejected in virtually every state and they know it won’t be implemented. 2. Same sex marriage proponents can be hypocrites and deny polygamists the same right they demand. 3. They can admit that their own logic chain forces everyone to live a culture where marriage means whatever anyone wants it to mean.
No same sex marriage proponent wants to go with any of the three options, so they usually go with: 4. Ignore the substance of the argument against them, name call and demonize. Anyone who disagrees with them is a homophobic bigot.
That is of coarse setting aside the theological reasoning to allow same-sex marriage, which does not exist.
There are different issues involved with polygamy and non-polygamy, that’s all I’m saying. Polygamy is much more complex and there would need to be examination of how this would play out in our American culture. I’m not necessarily against plural marriage. Like gay marriage, there’s a very real religious liberty infringement by it’s being outlawed. I’m not waiving the banner for plural marriages, nor do I feel any compunction to do so. But I’m also not tearing it down, either.
Jon, Either everyone has the right to redefine marriage or you are being a hypocrite ,discriminating against other groups who want to change the definition of marriage too, and you are rejecting your own logic chain.
If redefining marriage is a right for homosexuals, the 14th amendment dictates that redefining marriage has to be a right for polygamists too.
If homosexuals are being discriminated against simply because they can not get married, other groups are being discriminated against because their definition of marriage is being denied as well. It doesn’t matter if you think polygamy is complex. Your own logic chain dictates that polygamist should have the exact same right as homosexuals to marry whoever they want.
The end result of that logic chain is that people should be forced to live in a culture where marriage means whatever anyone wants it to mean. If you don’t want to live in a culture where a marriage is one man married to two brothers and two sisters, that is too bad; redefining marriage is a fundamental right.
You can’t say that but you can not have same sex marriage as a law that you would like passed either because your political agenda will fail. The case to allow same sex marriage makes absolutely no sense.
PS Arguing that homosexuals have the fundamental right to redefine marriage but attempting remain ambiguous about other marriages is equivalent of arguing that African Americans should have the right to vote but you are not sure if Asians should have the same right. Either voting is a right or it isn’t. If voting is a right everyone has the right to vote.
The Dude: What do you want from me? I’ve already admitted that I don’t have any major problems with plural marriages. But polygamy is different from non-polygamy. It’s more complex than non-polygamy. There are issues unique to it that should be figured out. Do all spouses need to consent to new spouses? How is divorce handled? What about inheritance? Are the women all still married to each other once the patriarch passes away?
As to brother/sister marriages, I’ve never understood how gays marrying is a slippery slope towards that inevitability when 1. siblings have already had the ability to marry in the past (mostly in the ruling classes) and 2. people in the US as close as first cousins already possess the ability to legally marry in many more state than what allow gays to legally marry. Plus the federal gov’t recognizes those first cousin marriages, as do other states that otherwise legally forbid those types of unions. First cousin marriages would seems to slip more easily to sibling marriages, in my opinion. My understanding is that there are genetic issues that have led to the outlawing of sibling marriages.
That said, I think it should be up to siblings to initiate their desire to marry first. I am not aware of any actual effort for siblings or parent/child couples to seek the legal right to marry each other, are you? If that’s true, then we’re really just using some hypothetical issue to accuse me of being a hypocrite.
And while I do beleive that there are polygamists or other poly groups who would love to legalize plural marriage, I haven’t seen much of an effort to make this a reality. Usually, I see such families just seeking to get rid of bigamy laws so that they can live together in spiritual group marriages without fear of police intervention. Spiritual marriages are much more useful for polygamy groups who would rather “bleed the beast” (AKA the state welfare system) as opposed to being legally defined as a single household and being responsible for financially supporting one’s family.
Gay people led the effort to gain legal protections, responsibilties, and recognition of our families. I think that other potential family groups (polygamists, sibling groups, whatever) should be willing to do the same. If that makes me a hypocrite, so be it. But I don’t believe that it does.
That said, I am a married gay man. My husband and I were wed in our church in the late 90s and legally wed in our state early last year. In the 2.5 years that marriage equality has existed for gay couples here in Iowa, I have heard nary a peep from polygamists or brothers and sisters or child brides or dancing goats or any other potential alternative marriage scenario that people hypothetically throw at gay marriage supporters. None of these groups have expressed the desire to legally marry in this state. I actually keep my ear out for such things. I also haven’t seen evidence of any pastor thrown in jail for preaching against homosexuality or for refusing to marry gay couples. I also keep listening for such stories. Marriage is a reality here for gay couples and life has gone on without any of the boogedy-boos. Imagine that…
Jon, The issue isn’t whether you have a problem with polygamy or not. The issue is whether polygamists have the same right that homosexuals apparently do, to go to court and force polygamy on a culture that doesn’t want it.
Once again, either redefining marriage is a right or it isn’t. If redefining marriage is a right, the definition can be changed by everyone not just by homosexuals.
You are equivocating between same-sex marriage being a right and a law that you would like to pass. If same-sex marriage is simply a law that you like, you can not have a judge imposing it on the state. The rationale to allow same-sex marriage is non-existent.
The danger with same-sex marriage being implemented in this way is that it throws the constitution and the rule of law into the trash. The constitution separates the three branches of government for a reason.
The judiciary’s job is not to pass legislation. If redefining marriage is not a right for everyone, you have no legal justification for same-sex marriage being a right. Something isn’t a right just because you think it’s a good idea or your feeling are hurt. You do not get to side step the rule of law just because you think something is a good idea.
The issue boils down to the mind-set of you think something is a good idea, therefore it is. Your opinion counts more than someone who disagrees with you.You believe that same-sex marriage is a good idea, that gives you the right to force your idea on everyone else. They do not have the right to disagree with you.
That is a fascistic mind-set and when you couple that with having judges implementing laws because they also think it is a good idea, you are on very dangerous ground.
What you are seeing is people who have been emotionally manipulated and responding to the legal inequities between marriage and gay unions. If all the same legal rights were offered in civil union legislation yes the majority would vote for it including me. No one wants to see anyone suffering needlessly. Gay marriage proponents want to frame the issue emotionally and it works in the short term but will fade quickly when the reality of what’s being proposed moves from the heart to the head.
However if you want to change the accepted definition of marriage it will fail miserably. Whether you believe that or not is really not relevant.
But I’d still like you to cite all those polls that show that a “super majority” are still against gay marriage.
Once again most poll results are irrelevant. Often the questions are biased to begin with and the sampling is flawed.
Frank, your post was moderated because it had two hyperlinks. That’s an automated way to weed out spammers.
The problem is that almost every state that has constitutionally banned marriage for gay and lesbian couples has also constitutionally banned civil unions. And in those states where they said during the elections that they were only concerned about marriage (like, say in Michigan), they have successfully stripped public employees and university employees of domestic partnership benefits, citing their constitutional amendments.
Opponents of gay marriage/marriage equality/however you want to frame it like to bring up civil unions in concept, but lumped it all together in practice. That’s been the history and the political reality. And it really sucks.
Hey Tony thanks for the information and thanks for letting me post. It’s to your credit to allow dissenting opinions. I guess I was just a little hypersensitive.
I think if people were honest, they would have to admit that “marriage” for a long, long time has been understood as a union between a man and a woman. There are some that want to change that understanding (which is fine)….but to pretend that marriage doesn’t- for most people and most of history- = man + woman, is ludicrous. Therefore, I find the meme intellectually dishonest.
I get your first point, Brian, but not your conclusion about the meme. A marriage is a marriage. I’m legally married, not legally gay married.
I, for one, can’t stand the use of ‘meme.’ Call me a memephobe.
Jon: I guess what I mean is this… Let’s say a random stranger meets you and asks if you’re married and you respond, “yes.” Wouldn’t most of those random strangers would assume your spouse is a woman? I think so and that’s why “gay” as a modifier for marriage makes sense in a way that “gay parking” does not.
I’m not trying to be hurtful and hope you don’t receive the comment as such. I’m simply, as one who is on the fence on this issue (and truthfully would like to be convinced to be on “your side” ) (for lack of a better way to say it) I believe you would have a better chance at reaching and convincing people if memes like this were more intellectually honest. Does that help you understand my second point better or am I missing something? Thanks.
I agree that people might very well assume that I’m married to a woman instead of a man when they hear that I’m married. They might also very well might not assume that my son is black when they learn that I’m a dad. People make assumptions all the time and they often aren’t correct assumptions. I’m not some “marriage not gay marriage” nazi. I recognize the need to clarify the uniqueness of my family when it needs clarifying. But I didn’t apply for a gay marriage license. I applied for a marriage license. I didn’t invite my friends and family to my gay wedding. It was simply a wedding. My kids and larger family don’t consider our marriage to be anything but a marriage. Ultimately, it’s a marriage even if sometimes people call it a gay marriage at times in an attempt to further define it.
I still don’t get the intellectual dishonesty angle. But I’m dense that way sometimes. If allowing you to call my marriage a “gay marriage” brings you over to my side of the proverbial fence then so be it.
So besides the whole “marriage vs. gay marriage” thing, what’s preventing you from being reached?
I see where you are coming from, and at the risk of belaboring the point…the assumption is based on the word “marriage.” If marriage means “man + woman” than what you have is something that is not a marriage *even though it is similar or the same in every other respect.* An example: Field hockey and ice hockey are similar but field hockey is always qualified by “field” because “hockey” by itself, is understood as ice hockey. I guess I feel the meme is dishonest because it seems to ignore this long standing understanding that marriage is between a man and woman.
In my state, you couldn’t apply for a marriage license, so I wonder how that impacts my understanding since, when I read your comment, “I didn’t apply for a ‘gay marriage license’ my reaction was, ‘Hmmm…good point.’” Maybe the problem is simply that the meaning of a word (marriage) is changing and we are in the midst of that transition…not unlike the word “gay” which most people don’t use as a synonym for “happy” anymore?
From a civil/political/law standpoint, I would support civil unions for same sex couples but have a hard time supporting “same sex marriage” because I’m sensitive to the idea that a word means something and marriage means “man + woman.” Again, maybe that meaning is changing but I don’t think the change has really taken hold.
If I still have failed to make myself clear we’ll chalk it up to either you being dense or me being inarticulate…your call.
To answer your last question, I want to believe that God blesses same sex unions but I find it hard to square that with scripture. I wish it weren’t the case, but I can’t lie to myself. I’ve read a bit on both sides of the issue and will continue to. Be that as it may, while I may be unsure about same sex marriage, I have no question about God’s love for you or any of His children.
A few thoughts Brian: 1. I think people focus on the wrong thing when we define marriage by the number of genitals possessed by the married couple. Marriage is so much more than being a man and a woman. What about lifelong commitment, and fidelity, and companionship, and love, and the general joining together of a new family? 2. Your last paragraph implies that it needs to be 100% understood that gays are good with God before we’re allowed marriage licenses. I wasn’t aware that filing for a marriage license was a Christian rite. I live in one of Iowa’s most multicultural communities. Should I tell those of different faiths and/or no faiths that they need to give up their marriage licenses and otherwise stop getting married? 3. Personally, I believe that GLBT people have a shared place within the Christian church — and an equal place within the church. I believe that 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 can easily apply for gay people. I believe that lifelong celibacy can be wonderful for those who choose it, but I also don’t believe that every GLBT Christian is called to lifelong celibacy. Seriously. Marriage is the alternative for celibacy. And we’re called to be equally yoked with our spouses, which calls into question (in my mind, at least) the suggestion that gay people should marry het people. The queerest relationship in the Bible that I can think of is that of David and Jonathan. I understand that there is dispute about the nature of this relationship, but… well. The relationship wasn’t exactly sanctioned by God, but it also wasn’t smited by God.
I understand that you might want to know for sure that God blesses same sex unions. I know this is the case. I’ve lived it. I’ve felt His blessings in my life as I’ve joined together with my husband and as we’ve watched the past 15 years expand together. We’ve cherished the gift of children in our relationship and watched these wonderful boys grow into handsome men right before our eyes. Every day together is a gift. I understand that you don’t witness this, but it’s true.
John it not theologically correct to say that because you have “felt”blessings that God blesses your union or because you have great kids that God blesses your union.
In Matthew 5 Jesus says God brings the sun and the rain on both the just and the unjust, on both the good and the evil.
Too many people believe that just because their life is going well that it’s Gods blessing and conversely when things are going wrong that God has withdrawn His blessing.
I am glad you have found happiness but you cannot equate that to a blessing from God. After all many atheists would say their lives are great.
Oops I am sorry I spelled your name wrong Jon.
So I can’t describe the blessings that have come to me in this lifetime? I always hear Christians share the numerous blessings that God provides for us.
You can describe them but you cannot automatically say they are from God. As I said many Christian are mistaken by labeling what is happening in their lives always as blessings from God.
No offense, Frank, but I can describe the blessings in my own life any way I please.
You can but to to say they are automatically from God is completely inaccurate theologically.
Sorry, I changed a statement to a question in my post and forgot to take out the extra “would”. I think you can figure it out, sorry for my sloppiness.
Jon, thanks for the response. One point of clarification…I agree with your second point, “it needs to be 100% understood that gays are good with God before we’re allowed marriage licenses” is a faulty premise. My hang up on that issue is, what does “marriage” mean? If it doesn’t mean “Man+woman” then fine, but if it means “man+ woman” (along with all the other things you listed, fidelity, companionship etc.) it seems like we need a new word or category. That’s why I would support civil unions. I’m sensitive to the idea that “civil union” is separate but equal, but I don’t believe it is.
As for my own private opinions/ religious convictions about all this, I am in process and hold these opinions somewhat loosely. You’ve given me some good things to consider. Blessings.
When I was a kid, people didn’t define marriage by the presence of one vagina and one penis. They defined it through lifelong commitment, fidelity, companionship, etc. It actually surprises me sometimes how people have narrowed the essence of marriage down to one basic element (1 man + 1 woman) and have ignored everything else that makes a family.
Jon, I don’t see how I’m limiting the essence of marriage and I don’t believe I’m ignoring those other aspects. All I’m saying is if you take one element out (male and female) it changes things. Our difference seems to center around how much it changes things. You may be right in suggesting it really doesn’t change it that significantly, I don’t know. I’m simply trying to explain how I see things. I do appreciate your push-back.
Brian: If my husband Mark was instead my wife Marcia and everything else in our collective life was the same, you would have no problem considering it a marriage. At least that’s my assumption.
My family is my family and my marriage is my marriage, regardless if you have problems conceptualizing a marriage between two men or not. We can butt heads over definitions or just accept that not everything that is the same is 100% similar.
Jon, With all due respect, you are dodging the issue. Did your legislatures pass same-sex marriage or did a group of same-sex marriage proponents get a referendum on the ballot and vote it in to law in Iowa?
No, a judge passed it. A judge said redefining marriage is a right. The citizens of Iowa are being forced to accept the definition of marriage that you like. If they want to live in a culture were marriage is defined as one man and one woman, that it too bad. Your opinion counts and their opinion does not.
On top of that, the legal justification used to implement your political agenda is totally illogical. Under the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause, if homosexuals can change the definition of marriage, groups who want a different definition of marriage have that same right.
You were ambiguous on the subject and attempted to separate the issues. Your rationale dictates that polygamy should be implemented by a judge when a group polygamists file a lawsuit against the state. Do you agree with that? Are polygamist being discriminated against simply because they can’t marry who they want?
Why does your opinion count more than someone who disagrees with you? What gives you the right to force your opinion on everyone else? What would your reaction be if a state passed a same-sex marriage ballot referendum and a judge overturned it simply because he disagreed with you?
Actually, our state’s supreme court found that the state’s DOMA law was unconstitutional.
Re: polygamy: I have no problem is plural marriage advocates take their case to either the legislature or the judiciary.
Re: your last question: I would be crushed if the people of my state amended our state constitution and legally invalidated my marriage. I would never forgive my friends or neighbors or anyone else that I learned personally voted for such a change. Their marriages have never been threatened by the existence of my marriage. My marriage is threatened by such an action.
For what it is worth, I think you can support marriage equality for same-sex couples, in terms of civil law, even if your own religious beliefs prevent you from supporting marriage for same sex couples in your denomination.
When my husband and I got married last year, we went to the courthouse in DC and filed the paperwork to get a marriage license just like any other couple, gay or straight. Our “officiant” (I think that is the legal term used) filled out that license paperwork and sent it back in to the DC government, after the ceremony (religious, Quaker).
There are two problems if you assert that we should be barred, as a same sex couple, from being legally married, in accordance with our religious beliefs: One is the issue of equal protection – marriage comes with huge host of benefits, rights and responsibilities related to property, finances, taxation and civil law, at the federal and state levels. (there was a GAO study a few years ago that identified 1138 rights at the federal level. Each state has several hundred additional rights). Not allowing couples to legally marry leaves them in a severely disadvantaged position, which just cannot be overcome by private contracts or other arrangements
The second is an issue of separation of church/state – a rather large number of congregations in our state (or district, since I live in DC..but that is another long story) marry their same-sex couples. Why should the government be telling them that they cannot legally do so? Should government adopt the Catholic/Mormon/Evangelical….position that marriage is only for straight couples, and impose that on dissenting congregations/denominations? Isn’t that a breach of church / state separation, by denying civil marriage licenses to certain congregations/denominations because other congregations/denominations object?
None of that means that I have the right, or desire, to march over to my nearest Catholic church (for example) and demand that the priest marry us, or even speak with us. If I wanted to worship with them, and adhere to their rules, than I would do so. I have my own faith which I am very happy with, and all I want is equal treatment under the law.
There are lots of previous posts on civil unions. They are a step forward in many instances, but there some big pitfalls: 1. Civil unions can actually invite discrimination — Employers, for example, could easily offer insurance benefits to spouses, but not civil union partners. Civil unions are not standardized or recognized across state lines. 2. Civil unions are “separate but equal”, and we have a really bad history with “separate but equal” in the U.S., as that was the legislative justification given for segregation. We don’t need to repeat the experience, do we? 3. It is that is legislatively/legally difficult, if not impossible to go rewrite thousands of federal, state and local laws and regulations to include “civil union partners” or “domestic partners” in addition to “spouses”. It’s also just kind of illogical — reinventing the wheel because….??? 4. Most states that ban same-sex marriage also ban civil unions. You see support for civil unions trumpeted by anti-gay politicians/clergy, sort of as a substitute to sway voters against marriage rights for same sex couples without having to feel guilty about the denial of equal protection under the law. That was certainly one of the main arguments during the anti-gay marriage referendums in California (which has a fairly robust “domestic partnership” program for gay couples) and Maine (which has a token domestic partnership program which gives same-sex couples a few rights). In other states, where LGBT persons have made less progress (like all of Dixie), politicians/clergy have no compunction expressing opposition to any rights for those horrible gays, because you know, they’re gay…
I think Tony has it right: we need to separate our thinking about marriage as a civil institution from our thinking about marriage as a religious one. If someone wants to oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds, that’s fine, as long as that opposition is directed at the religious institution of marriage. That is an argument that every denomination (including mine) seems to be having internally these days. But to deny someone access to a civil marriage license just because you don’t like the “gays”, that’s just naked and unjustifiable bigotry. In a free and multi-religious society, one person’s (or one group’s) religious beliefs cannot trump another groups religious beliefs, and no set of religious beliefs can be used as justification to abridge someone’s right to equal protection under the law.
You’re correct, Basil. We’re talking about two separate issues here (the secular vs. the religious) and I’m as guilty as others for mixing the two. Essentially, it really boils down to civil marriage process, which is what most gay people are talking about here. I’m just muddying it up here by describing why my religious beliefs support my support for marital relationships for both gay and het couples.
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3. There Are Two Marriages
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5. Would John Piper Excommunicate His Son?
6. A Call to Clergy: Stop Performing (Legal) Marriages
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