Same Sex Marriage Blogalogue: Prolegomena 3 – Is It Inevitable?

Same Sex Marriage Blogalogue: Prolegomena 3 – Is It Inevitable? November 17, 2008

One question I’ve been asked repeatedly is whether the issue of same sex marriage is inevitably shifting toward cultural acceptance.  Yes, it is.

As Kevin Drum pointed out last May in Washington Monthly, the American populace is shifting on same sex issues at the rate of one percent per year (full PDF of the report from the American Enterprise Institute here).

In a less civilized manner, Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly argued this out last week on The Daily Show.  Papa Bear was arguing that the U.S. is a “center-right country” because, as he said, there are certain traditions that this country has always stood on (he, of course, was implying that things like the free market economy and heterosexual marriage are those traditions).  Stewart vehemently interrupted O’Reilly and countered, No, the tradition of this country is an ever-expanding list of personal liberties.

It does seem that the trajectory of the United States is toward more personal freedoms, and GLBT rights seem to be the next on the list after women’s rights and civil rights.  I understand why some conservatives stand against these liberties, and I’m sure the “slippery slope” argument will be invoked repeatedly during the forthcoming blogalogue.  The progressive counter to that is this: those same arguments were used to deny women the right to vote and to deny civil rights to persons of color.

I do tend to think that our society is shifting toward full and equal rights for same sex couples — I think once a society is moving in a libertarian trajectory, there is no going back (this holds only in a democracy, not under a dictatorship).

But this is no reason to avoid a robust dialogue about the issues surrounding same sex marriage.  In fact, as we approach a cultural tipping point on this issue, it’s all the more important that we have serious, thoughtful, respectful discussions.  For, if we don’t, an issue like this does have the potential to provoke nasty, even violent rifts in our democracy.

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  • Even though Prop 8 passed, it was touch and go from the beginning. It was only because of large amounts of money spent by the LDS church that it had the energy to cross the line. But, that being said, this is a generational issue. Older folk remain more to the right on gay issues, but young people are overwhelmingly supportive. Another way of looking at this issue is to note the popularity of the Ellen Show. When Ellen first came out her sitcom tanked. Now, she’s reaching Oprah heights. Now she couldn’t put the NO on 8 over the top, but just watch the crowds on her show. They cheer when she talks about her marriage — and these aren’t gays and lesbians by and large that watch. So, is it inevitable, I would think so.
    Jon Stewart is right — the history of our nation is one of expanding rights not limiting them. Of course this ebbs and flows, but in the long run it is toward increased rights.

  • I agree with Bob, and believe that this is a primarily generational issue. I grew up in a very conservative family, church, and school in Florida (which is one of the states that just added a new amendment not only making same sex marriage illegal, but effectively eliminating domestic-partnerships). The reaction of friends, family, and old mentors when they discovered I was against this ban, varied greatly depending on generation, with most of my generation being against this very harmful amendment, and most of the older generations supporting it.
    The older generation is unable to separate their devotion to Christ and the Bible from their policies, they see marriage as this universal “institution” that must be protected. This is an idea that I have never understood, and do not pretend to; for me that picture says it all if you are “Against Gay Marriage…then don’t have one”.

  • I used to live in Los Angeles. In 2000 when the first prop against same-sex marriage passed, it was by a 22 point margin. Eight years later, Prop 8 passed by ONLY a 4 point margin. SO, in 8 years we have come a long way towards full equality in the LGBTQ community. We need more straight allies like those of you here to join us in our fight.

  • TJ

    Against Marriages of Polygomy…then don’t have one. Against Bisexual Marriage…then don’t have one. If we allow marriage to be available to the GLBT community, why limit marriage to a covenant between two adults? Why not 3 consenting adults? That could benefit the needs of some bisexuals. I also have several friends who live in the USA and have had marriages of polygomy in their own country and would enjoy those same benefits here. Or why make marriage dependent on a sexual relationship? What if I desire to enter into a non-sexual life long covenant with my disabled adult niece, of whom I am the primary caretaker? Then she can qualify to enroll in my employer based health insurance plan, Social Security benefits, etc. and I can make needed medical decisions for her care. Let’s really expand the list of personal liberties Tony!

  • Larry

    I would hardly call the trajectory that this country is on “libertarian”, “libertine”, maybe, but we are moving further away from libertarianism every day.

  • Charles Cosimano

    The lesson of history is clear. In the end, the Social Conservatives always, always, always lose.

  • Rev Dave

    …aaaaand stop the clock! There we have it: our first incantation of the slippery slope argument courtesy of TJ. Except s/he forgot dogs. Heaven knows if we allow GLBT people to be treated as, well, people the next we’ll be marrying dogs. [sigh]
    Thank you Tony for your public courage on this issue.
    I do think that in 50 years people will look back on this time in church history and wonder how people who claim to follow Jesus the Liberating King could possibly support, and be leaders of the charge toward, treating some people as less than human simply because of their identity. Much like we now consider churches which fought for slavery.

  • Your Name

    Of course same-sex marriage in the United States is inevitable, just as the Apocalypse, the eternal damnation of those who reject the true Christ, and those who, as 2 Timothy 3:13 says, are “evil people and imposters, who, “will go on from bad to worse” is inevitable. However, I have decided to follow this poignant advice:
    “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how a from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV).

  • Jason

    Sorry about not filling in my name is the previous post under the moniker “your name.” It was unintentionally left as is.

  • Dani

    Everything that social conservatives warned would happen were certain rights made possible, would or will happen. In the 1850s, when anti-slavery politicians warned that freeing slaves would lead to interracial marriage, even though it took a hundred years for it to happen, it did.
    Of course, interracial marriage came along at a point where a decent amount of Americans accepted it, and as the years have passed it is now a non-issue. But still, I don’t think the “Slippery Slope,” argument is invalid. I would not at all be surprised if, when gay marriage is legalised, bigamists and the like ask for the right to marry as well. (Interesting enough, the bible never explicitly condemns polygamy…).

  • mar

    last weekend, my husband and i went to a great training on building bridges with the gay community, presented by the marin foundation.
    i’m also part of a really interesting facebook conversation on prop 8, comprised of mostly critically-thinking evangelicals in los angeles.

  • Glen

    Rev Dave,
    Marriage permits partners to receive tax and inheritance benefits, for example, and gives them the right to make medical decisions on behalf of one another. So why would polygomy or non-sexual civil unions have to written off as “slippery slope” arguments and refused to be addressed. Isn’t this the very thing GLBT advocates have fought against for so long, the refusal of the American public and legal system to recognize the legitimacy and merits of their argument?

  • Your Name

    So What exactly is your poistion?

  • JD

    Hit post to early above, sorry.
    So what exactly is your position on this issue? I think I can guess, but I might be wrong and it woud be good to hear it clearly from you, as I beleive we are thinking alike on this question. Thank you

  • Rev Dave

    While I was perhaps a bit glib in my initial response, I really was amused. I mean, TJ unironically invokes the slippery slope argument in response to Tony’s post predicting that exact response? And it only took, what? four posts? That’s funny.
    And I brought up the dog thing because just last week I heard this offered as a legitimate argument against gay marriage. Allow TEH GAY to marry and dogs must be next! This characterization of GLBT people as animals is offensive and worthy of derision.
    I also think it is a bad argument because, like polygamy and “non-sexual civil unions” (how would you police that, btw? How long does a couple need to abstain before qualifying?), no one anywhere is actually advocating marrying dogs. All these supposed problems at the bottom of the slippery slope accomplish is muddying the actual issues while simultaneously casting the GLBT community as sub-human, as freaks.
    So, yes, I do think it is time for “the American public and legal system” to recognize their legitimacy. But, no, I don’t think it is at all the same as polygamy, “n-s cu’s” or, ya know, dogs.

  • I never fully understood the slippery slope argument, simply because it is so outrageous, that it normally fails to accomplish its goal of being a valid argument against same-sex marriage, and often makes the individual who invokes it look like an idiot (not saying anyone on here looks like an idiot). There are simple reasons why people are not allowed to marry dogs, and that is simply because it is not fair to dogs. Let’s be honest, we are not talking about people who want to commit bestiality, we are talking about two consenting adult humans (for some reason, I have to spell that out) who are asking to be treated as equal.
    Oh, and as for polygamy, the Bible never condones it, and most of the Old Testament is filled with great men of God, who actively practiced polygamy, so take a wild guess as to what my stance on that would be.

  • Glenn

    I kinda like TJ’s argument. Because the argument that says Against Gay Marriage…then don’t have one is a bad argument and really has nothing to do with the issue of same-sex marriage. Gay marriage is allowed under the law, polygamy is not. Many faith communities will perform a same-sex marriage, many Fortune 500 companies will extend same-sex couples benefits, etc. The argument is about getting all companies to extend benefits, to get all of government to give tax and inheritance benefits, etc. to same-sex couples. Right now companies, states, etc. have a choice. If I am aginst same-sex marriage, you can still have one. And I can still have my choice of where my company extends it’s benefits, where my tax dollars go, etc.

  • Jeff

    Denying females the right to vote and persons of color other unalienable rights is not the same as denying SSM. Marriage is not an “right”. Blacks were denied unalienable rights that we were endowed with by our Creator. These rights were subsequently adopted into our Constitution in the first 10 amendments. Before Nov. 4 the California Constitution never mentioned marriage.
    Gays have never been denied life, liberty, or the PURSUIT of happiness under the law, and rightly so. However, blacks have been denied all of the above. Comparing the two minimizes the struggle that persons of color have endured.

  • Jason

    For those of you who think that the “slippery slope” is ludicrous, it is completely obvious that you have little to no true grasp on history or Scripture. It took one sin to spin the world completely out of control, so much so that God chose to flood the earth.
    As far as same-sex marriage goes, all you have to do is study Norway and Sweden since they have approved same-sex marriage in the 90s and see what it has done to family life and morality.

  • I live on the 16th floor of an apartment building, Jason.
    But I’ll make sure to get going on my ark all the same …

  • Swede

    Jascon, who are you to question the morality of Swedes? I am proud to live in a country where (although slowly) the respect towards other people and tolerance with respect to our differences is increasing. Everyone deserves to experience true love and who are we to tell other adults their love is not as important, right or beautiful as ours?