Monday, November 3, 2008

On Marriage, Giraffes, and Proposition 8

I have little respect for people who see the world in black and white- especially in politics, where you can find intelligent, thoughtful people on both sides of almost any issue. However, there is one issue on which I cannot understand the other side, and that is gay marriage.

This is an issue that feels so personal to me I can barely write about it without tearing up. My best friend since I was five, the boy I grew up with, who was a "bridesman" in my wedding, and someone I've known and loved longer than my own brother, is gay. He told me that in high school and it rocked me to my core in a way you can only understand if you grew up in a suburb as conservative as mine. And while I struggled with what that meant in the aftermath of our conversation, one thing remained absolutely clear: this was my best friend, the same boy I made forts with on the greenbelt and immediately told the truth about Santa Claus when I discovered it - nothing about him had changed and my friendship with him didn't change either. From that point forward I was a secret gay-rights activist. I glared at those who used "gay" as an insult (which in high school is pretty much everyone) and I worried about my best friend growing up in an America that discriminated against him.

And that's what it is- discrimination. Treating two like people differently. I have yet to hear a single coherent, non-religious reason why same-sex couples should be an exception to the Constitution's fundamental right to marry. I've heard "marriage is a religious institution" and while that's true, it is also a governmental one, and until the government stops being the regulator of marital unions, you can't use religion as an argument when there is a Constitutionally mandated separation between church and state. Of course the flip side of that is that churches don't have to have anything to do with these ceremonies, but as a governmental matter, there is no reason to deny a governmental right to an entire class of people. And those rights are numerous and important- joint tax returns, hospital visiting rights, rights of survivorship in wills, the right to sue for wrongful death, automatic inheritance of a portion of your spouse's estate, exemptions in estate and gift taxes, insurance benefits, and so many more.

To me, it is a civil rights issue. Just as I find it crazy that my grandparents lived during a time when it was illegal in some states for blacks and whites to marry, I hope that my children will find it bizarre that I lived in a time when it was illegal for two gay people to marry. Another argument I've heard is that marriage has traditionally been between a man and a woman- well, black people were traditionally slaves and that didn't make it any more right. There's also the "it isn't natural" argument which I'm pretty sure people also said that about interracial marriage, plus there are numerous members of the animal kingdom who prefer to mate with the same sex and I'm not sure it gets much more "natural" than a bunch of giraffes out in the wild who have more same sex "couplings" than heterosexual ones (a random fact brought to you by Wikipedia). But as a married person, the argument that offends me the most is the one that says heterosexual marriage is somehow threatened by same sex marriage. I don't know about the state of your marriage, but mine is decidedly not threatened, weakened, or undermined in any way because more people want to join in pledging their lives to each other. And it's probably worth noting that this is one of the few issues on which JP and I are in total agreement.

Jerry Sanders, a conservative Republican mayor of San Diego who has campaigned for Proposition 8 which seeks to "eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry" (quoting the text of the Proposition), decided not to veto a city council decision to support same-sex marriage. In an emotional press conference that made me cry at my desk, he gets it right: "As I reflected on the choices I had before me last night, I just could not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage than anyone else simply because of their sexual orientation... In the end I couldn’t look any of them in the face and tell them their relationship, their very lives, were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife."



We need more politicians like him- and by that I don't mean ones who think like me (though I wouldn't complain). We need leaders who are willing to truly reconsider their positions, who don't cling blindly to the positions of their party, and who are willing to take a stand and do what is right for the people they serve. I wish I lived in California so that I could vote No on Proposition 8 tomorrow for my best friend who deserves to have his relationship respected by the government just like mine.

40 comments:

  1. Long time lurker coming out of the woodwork to say thank you for your post. I agree with it 100% and you've expressed your feelings much better than I could have. On almost every street corner here in Sacramento there are "Yes on 8" groups waving signs, and almost "No on 8" protesters. The churches have spent so much money on spreading hate, instead of helping people. Prop. 8 really upsets me for all the reasons you list in your post. If this passes, I'll be sick. Just sick.

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  2. YES! I agree!

    I think the other side basically comes down to this: the religious groups that support Prop 8 believe that homosexuality is a choice, and that if we allow same sex marriage to be valid and socially acceptable, then their children will choose to become gay and have same-sex marriages and there will be no more order in the world. Or something like that. And it's truly, truly ridiculous.

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  3. I don't disagree with you about the merits of gay marriage. I think it's pretty hard to justify this kind of discrimination. But I don't agree with you that it's an easy question. I can think of at least two non-religious reasons why people could seriously question the wisdom of expanding the marital franchise, and I thought I'd offer them in the interest of giving the other side a fair shake:

    First, they might be Burkean traditionalists. That is, they might think that overturning traditional marriage is dangerous because it is impossible for a rational person to reliably predict the consequences of such a change. Those consequences may also be difficult to detect (if, for instance, they are diffuse), and almost impossible to reverse. I am sympathetic to Burke in lots of ways, chiefly in that I think major social change should be gradual. I suspect that is, in part, why people favor civil unions in such large proportions; it's easier to understand the effects of making legal rights equally available than to try to speculate about whether there's anything magical about the word 'marriage' and whether it would be bad to change its meaning. Opponents of gay marriage do a poor job of explaining what calamities would befall us if the "institution of marriage" were changed; but perhaps it is enough that they identify that question as beyond the limits of cognition.

    Second, I think it would be plausible to say (though I question whether this is really anybody's reason) that heterosexual-only marriage is justified by a social/moral judgment about the optimum environment for raising children. I do not doubt that gay couples make superb parents; but plenty of people do doubt it, and I'm not sure their concerns about regularizing gay adoptions are totally silly. A lot of people have a deep-seated view that something isn't quite right about children (almost all of whom are heterosexual) being raised by parents who don't share (and therefore can't effectively model) their sexual orientation. I have no idea whether social science would tell us that this matters to children's lives in any measurable way, but I don't think the case has been effectively made to ordinary people that it doesn't. And the objection may not even be answerable by social science; it may be kind of normative judgment about the kind of society, or the kind of family, people think should be encouraged. Perhaps that's just prejudice, but so is all tradition. "Tradition is the democracy of the dead," said GK Chesterton.

    That, ultimately, is the hardest objection to gay marriage to articulate, but one that I think is doing some behind-the-scenes work: society isn't convinced yet. In part, this is because no one is doing anything to convince them. The argument in favor of gay marriage is always just about fairness, equality, and cries of "discrimination." But ordinary people, I suspect, think there's more going on here than just the standard "equality" line. They need convincing on their own terms; but the left's approach is often to belittle those people's worldview, or try to exclude it from the conversation. I think that's a mistake.

    Finally, I'm not sure I understand the notion that arguments for social policy must be "non-religious" to be valid. I get that religious arguments have a narrow appeal, but so too frankly do modern liberal arguments. A religious person will never convince the secular person to cast a vote by citing Leviticus; so if he wants to maximize his chances of democratic success, he will phrase his argument in broader terms. But the modern left seems to recognize only two measures of morality: utility and equality. Most people agree that those are important, but also think that other factors, like tradition and loyalty to an in-group, also have moral significance. So the modern liberal, when he dismisses the force of traditionalism as "prejudice," is no different than the Bible-thumper. Both think their own criteria for judging morality are the only criteria people should use. We all think this about our own moral systems. If the religious person decides to advance non-religious arguments, it is not because he doesn't think his religious view is right; it is because he hopes to convince you on your own terms. Gay rights activists need to start convincing the unconverted on their own terms, too. It may make one feel better to dismiss the other side as immoral, outrageous, prejudiced, and unworthy of being answered, but none of that is likely. What is more likely is that they approach the question from a different perspective, and will not be persuaded until that perspective is respected, and engaged thoughtfully.


    Just my 2 cents :)

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  4. Great post, LL. There are so many of us who wish that we could vote in California today.

    One comment to Matt - the American Psychological Association has done significant research, finding that there is no negative impact on children with gay parents. In fact, they're much the same as children of straight parents.

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  6. Amen.

    And to Matt - I don't see why proponents of gay marriage should have to justify it to those who are opposed. If you're denying rights to a group of people, surely the onus to should be on those seeking to deny the rights.

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  7. I'm a fairly conservative Republican, but, like JP, this is one issue where I am in total agreement. I find that many in our generation are also in agreement, and my hope is that, if not sooner, in the next decade or so, everyone will have the right to marry.

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  8. Amen, LL. It amazes me that we are debating what boils down to a civil rights issue.

    Matt--"almost all children are heterosexual"? What gives you that idea? GLBT adults started out as kids, too, and this isn't a "choice" they made, it's more a realization of who they've been all along. Kids may exhibit what they think are expected behaviors for a time--even if it feels wrong to them--just to be accepted/ loved, but it doesn't mean they start out hetero and then change.

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  9. RIGHT ON! I just sent an email to all my friends in Florida considering a similar ballot initiative. In many ways I care about this more than the presidential election. It just seems so wrong to vote in favor of this awful discrimination.

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  10. Amen, sister.

    True

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  11. The reason this issue bothers me so much? A woman I used to work with actually made an announcement in the break room one day asking us all to go vote to keep marriage between one man and one woman. "Marriage is sacred," she said.

    This woman has been married 4 times.

    And Matt, on the raising children thing . . . just because a couple isn't married doesn't mean they can't raise children together! ; )

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  12. hey ll - love the post. but i think the san diego mayor video, while very moving, actually happened in 2007.
    sarah

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  13. ms ll, thank you.

    we wish we could vote in california today as well. instead, my partner and i will snuggle our daughter and watch the returns tonight, hoping against hope that people discover how big their hearts can actually be.

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  14. Thanks sarah- not sure how I missed that! I'll correct it.

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  15. Thank you for this! What a great post which really puts my throughs into print. I hope you don't mind if I link this in my blog.

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  16. Well said!

    I'm so nervous about this today! I know the polls have been good, but this means so much to so many people.

    During the last election our state voted to add an amendment banning civil unions (our state had already banned gay marriage). Apparently, the conservatives felt we hadn't discriminated enough against gays, so we needed to work on that. It came on the heels of one of the major state universities approving partnership benefits for gay and straight domestic partners. Oooh, can't have people getting benefits.

    It may be only one state, but for California to vote down discrimination today is incredibly important, an example for the entire nation. I hope Californians make the right decision. There is only one right decision here. The other is just discrimination wrapped in religion.

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  17. grass:

    I get that you think the burden on persuasion is on the other side. Unsurprisingly, they think the burden of persuasion is on you. So long as both of you have that position, the result is that nobody thinks they should have to justify the rule they wish to impose on society as "law." But in a democratic society, it seems to me that nobody starts out with a presumption of being always right. You want your proposal to be the law? You should actively persuade your neighbors. Otherwise, you can't complain if they vote in a way you don't like.

    Incidentally, in case I didn't make this sufficiently clear before, I am in in favor of gay marriage. I'm just not in favor of ridiculing people who disagree with me on this issue. LL started this post by pointing out that it's difficult to see what could possibly motivate the other side on this issue; I agree that opponents of gay marriage do a poor job of making their case, so I thought I'd take a stab at identifying what could be motivating them. I'm pleased to know from (in)santiy girl that there's data available on the child-rearing question, and I think making more public use of that data would be a more persuasive line of argument that what many supporters of gay marriage do, which is to call the other side names.

    finally, tara: what gives me the idea that almost all children are heterosexual is that almost all people are heterosexual. The percentage of gay people seems to vary by sex, somewhere between 2-5%, something like that. I assure you it was not a dig; I was just speculating that when people think about gay adoptions, I think they assume we're talking about straight kids being raised by gay parents, and that maybe something about that is unsettling to them. If so, it's important to try to find out _what_ is unsettling, and address it.

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  18. I wholeheartedly agree! I recently received an email that puts it perfectly, I think - it reads:

    "Whether you support or oppose the concept of gay marriage, Professor Raskin's response should be tattooed on all of our elected officials:


    On Wednesday, March 1st, 2006, in Annapolis at a hearing on the proposed Constitutional Amendment to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie Raskin, professor of law at American University's Washington College of Law who lives in Montgomery County with his wife and three children, was requested to testify.

    At the end of his testimony, Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs said: "Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?"

    Raskin replied: "Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."
    "

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  19. Hey LL,

    Thanks for the post. It's great to have such strong support from a happily married woman who does not feel threatened by my desire to also be a happily married woman someday. We could not make change without people like you, and I hope there are enough like you in California to defeat Prop. 8.

    And Matt: The percentage of gay people is higher than 2-5% (generally discusssed as 10% as the absolute minimum). And, as a gay woman, I don't hold it against my parents that they are heterosexual and I think they did a fine job raising me despite that difference.

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  20. I couldn't agree more. Thanks for the post.

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  21. I couldn't possibly agree more, and said almost the exact same thing on my own blog yesterday (though yours was much better written). I am absolutely proud to vote No on Prop 8 today. I hope the rest of my state will join me.

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  22. Don't forget immigration rights too. My sister is a lesbian in a long time committed relationship with a Dutch woman. They have a son together. They recently moved to Holland because sister's partner can no longer stay here. Her student visa ran out. So sad that my sister cannot sponser her life partner for a green card because their family is not recognized by our country.

    I agree with you 100% that I do not get the arguments. If churches don't like the unions, then don't perform the ceremonies. These relationships and couples will be out there whether they are recognized by the state or not. I just don't get why they can't have the rights.

    I'm a Californian who proudly donated to the no on 8 campaign. I'm crossing my fingers for the results tonights.

    Thank you for your thoughtful and intelligent post.

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  23. pip,

    I am sure they did. My point is that telling people that is much more likely to persuade people to support gay marriage than calling them prejudiced. It just requires people on the left to recognize that, for some people, equality is not a super-norm. Those people are not evil; they just think that other things matter besides equality. So make them see that gay parents are good parents--not just that it's "unfair" not to let them parent. That doesn't persuade anybody who isn't already converted.

    I also get the impression that I have somehow been less than clear. I agree with those of you who support gay marriage. I think you are right. I do not care what percentage of the population is gay. I do not doubt that gay parents can be great parents. But voters in California may just vote down gay marriage today (and even if they don't, voters in plenty of other states already have). If you would like to avoid this result in the future, it would benefit you to convince others who support gay marriage to change their tune. If you'd rather just feel secure in the knowledge that anyone who doesn't share your equality-at-all-costs conception of morality is backwards--ironically, precisely the same trait often condemned in "religious bigots"--then just keep doing what you're doing. (That's a general remark directed at the left, not at any particular one of you.)

    Incidentally, can you imagine if, rather than just describing the views of gay-rights opponents, I actually advocated them? Do you think the response I'd get would be civil? I have lots of conservative friends, and I assure you the answer is no.

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  24. To Matt: I think you have made several good points, and to those who are trying to yell at him, note that he's not saying he agrees with or advocates the points he's laid out. He's just doing exactly what I said I hadn't experienced: coherent, non-religious arguments against gay marriage. Now I disagree with those arguments, and I think he does too (with at least most of them), but it is important to hear the other side so that you can better support your own.

    So thank you Matt, for contributing to what you knew was going to be a hostile environment, and thank you everyone else for continuing the discussion. As Matt noted, "If you would like to avoid this result [a gay marriage ban] in the future, it would benefit you to convince others who support gay marriage to change their tune." And you can't convince people if you don't first understand where their views are coming from; self-righteous indignation like my own won't get you very far with someone who disagrees with you.

    And as a side note, I personally know and love Matt. I would also like to note that I beat him by one class rank in high school, something I will cling to forever because he absolutely kicked my ass in law school.

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  25. Matt:

    I get your points and agree with most of them. I think the Burkean argument is probably the most prevailing reason that people hesitate to make this change. What will happen? We don't know, and people fear the unknown. So, we just don't change anything.

    I also get that you are in support of gay marriage and I wasn't trying to yell at you.

    However, if you really want to get to the heart of the problem with the gay marriage movement, it's that there isn't truly a heart to the movement. Even strong supporters of the movement have vastly different reasons as to why they support it. And we have plenty of people within the gay community who do not support the movement and even shun the idea of trying to conform to the "societal norm" of getting married. Many people are also happy with civil unions while others find anything "less" than marriage to be a slap in the face.

    Every person I know would respond differently to each of the arguments you raise. As a result, we do a very poor job of making our case. In fact, half of the time we're not even sure what case we're trying to make. We do not have a unified front and without one, change will be a slow and tedious process. Perhaps that is why it is easier to dismiss the other side than to engage them in intelligent discussion. Let's hope that Prop. 8 fails and provides a little motivation to keep up the fight.

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  26. Prop. 8 is easily the most visible proposition on the ballot this election, and the ads have been running non-stop here in CA. The Yes-on-8 ads harp on how "marriage is required to be taught in schools" and seem to play on the fears of conservative parents who don't want their kids to "learn that a boy can marry a boy." The prop. 8 supporters also say that domestic partners are already afforded the same rights as married partners, so they frame the issue as "protecting traditional marriage" and not as dealing with civil rights at all.

    I drove through mobs of No-on-prop. 8 supporters in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood yesterday and the excitement was so moving. It makes me sad to think that prop. 8 might actually pass, especially because there is SO MUCH misinformation out there... I've heard intelligent people get confused on what a yes or no on Prop. 8 even means... and that doesn't even touch on the fact that Prop. 8 supporters misrepresent the facts to play on voters' naivete, like bringing kids and schools into the debate.
    I'm rambling and am probably not coherent, but I just wanted to say that I totally, completely agree with everything you said. Even though I didn't vote for a Presidential candidate this election, I waited in line for almost 2 hours this morning to vote against Prop. 8. I really hope that it ends up making a difference and that other states can follow CA's example!

    Great post!

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  27. i just voted No!

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  28. I personally don't support this but doesn't mean I look down on or treat anyone badly who lives their life this way. I do believe this is a choice lifestyle just like I choose to be straight. I also don't expect special treatment because I'm straight (marriage should not be considered special treatment), nor should anyone who's gay expect special treatment from me. For example, my state holds a "Pridefest", which includes a parade, rally, music, food, etc...every year to honor the gay community; I'm not complaining there isn't a parade held to honor me for just being straight. It's only human to disagree, it's called having your own opinion and while I respect everyone's feeling on this subject, people should respect those who are opposed.

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  29. To the most recent anonymous:

    I'm not sure of your situation, so maybe you fit this - but I think you can only say that you "choose to be straight" if you have romantic/sexual feels towards people of the same sex and you choose not to act on them. In that sense, then maybe you are choosing to be straight. A person would only be choosing to be gay if they were actually attracted to people of the opposite sex but decided, for whatever reason, that they wanted to be with people of the same sex. For most us, that's just not the case. I don't choose to be attracted to people of the same sex. I just am. And if I denied that, then I would be CHOOSING to lead a straight lifestyle.

    If you think that marriage is not special treatment, then that suggests that you would agree that gay people should be able to get married - i.e. not be treated in a manner different from straight people.

    Finally, the gay community throws itself a parade. It's not like the state sponsors a parade. It's the gay community doing it for themselves. And the difference there is that you're not discriminated against because you're straight. You don't need any sort of morale-boosting to feel okay about who you are (at least in terms of your sexual orientation). The same is not true of the gay community. I remember once when I was a kid and mother's day was coming up. I asked my mom why we didn't have daughter's day. She said we didn't need one because every day was daughter's day. She was right. My needs were met all the time - the same is true for the straight community.

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  30. Such a great post! My nephew is gay, and "came out" to his family when a college roommate discovered what he had been browsing on the pc in their dorm room, and said he would "out" him in the smaller town that they both were from. But before he told his family, he very, VERY seriously considered suicide.

    A stand-up comedian (gay) has some schtick where he talks about "choosing" to be gay. And then asks why you would choose a lifestyle where people automatically hate you and your life may even be in danger.

    It is NOT a choice that someone can make - I firmly believe that. And denying their civil rights because they are gay, is just so, SO wrong.

    Thank you so much for this post. I just discovered your blog and will put it in my "faves".

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  31. straightmom?11/5/08, 7:13 PM

    I have been reading your post for a year and I feel I know you. Sorry if that's creepy. I was so happy to see this post. When our son came out to us when he was 12 (unintentionally), it started us down a road that has led to our activism to the point that my husband and I feel we are part of the gay community. This is a very personal issue to us. We worked to defeat Prop 2 in 2004 in Michigan and lost. Our son is 20 now and doing very well, but it took years of our support for him to beat depression and suicidal thoughts. We had to learn how to be totally supportive, and our family had to learn how to deal with society's rejection without getting so angry that it was unhealthy for us. I am very disappointed that Prop 8 didn't go down in a big way, (although it's still up in the air) but I'm trying to take the long view. If and when our son finds the love of his life, we will help them find legal avenues to protect their relationship if they cannot legally marry. But I am waiting for a favorable Supreme Court to rule that all of these discriminatory amendments are unconstitutional. Change is coming and younger people will accept these relationships as healthy and normal. Thank you for this great post!

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  32. I don't agree for various reasons. They may be intelligent or quite the opposite to you but they are my opinions. First of all I was raised in a world capital that is HIGHLY liberal. I grew up secular for a vast majority of my life and I didn't care what or with who people did things with. However, I am now a Christian and although I struggled for a few years with my faith and this issue (because I knew great men who were gay) I came to the understanding that marriage is a gift from God. I once met a gay man in high school who told me that ALL gay men cheat. There is no room, even though in this day and age we dispose of spouses like toilet paper, for that kind of behavior, and most importantly heart in such a sanctified union. There are only two covenants described in the ENTIRE Bible and Torah and that is the relationship between us and God and husband and wife. It is so incredibly upheld that it is used to symbolize our relationship with God. This is all to say that whether the government wants to allow civil unions between same-sex couples is none of my concern. However, when a same-sex couple preaches about wanting to be married spiritually, there exists a problem because the very nature of their union is strictly prohibited.

    I'm not against gay people. But committing gay acts does not form a part of your identity much like being an alcoholic has nothing to do with who you truly are and believing that the two are intertwined is pretty sick.

    That's my opinion as a spiritual woman. If they want to tax breaks and the legal rights, then by all means. But don't ask to be married by the people of God.

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  33. PS: I just wanted to add that in the Christian pro-gay community there is a sense that those pieces of the Bible need to be thrown away to fit with the times. Well, there are restrictions on heterosexual couples that prohibit many things as well and no one bickers on their behalf.

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  34. [Sigh], to the last anonymous: the entire point of this post is that marriage IS regulated by the state and a whole list of rights and benefits attaches to that legal title for your union. I'm not requiring that anyone "be married by the people of God." And just because one guy told you something in high school does not make it true. Not to mention the fact that even if it was (and it's not) that has pretty much nothing to do with the legal status of their union.

    Your argument is based entirely on religion and my whole point was that in this country with a Constitution mandating the separation of church and state, you have to give me more than that to justify denying fundamental rights to an entire class of people.

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  35. And, as a fellow Christian who has also read the Bible in entirety, there are a LOT of very clear Biblical rules we've all chosen to ignore because of "the times". Not mixing wool and linen, not working on the Sabbath, and not planting two different crops side by side are just a few examples. Obviously these are theological issues best debated with your pastor or priest, not something the government should be deciding.

    And also, it's true that marriage is a covenant in the Bible and sacred as such, but the government provides for divorce, which according to the scripture should never be allowed. But it must be allowed because marriage under the government isn't a religious institution, people take additional steps and apply their outside belief systems to make it so. So just as your religion may not accept divorce, but the government does, your religion can refrain from accepting gay marriage, but the government must. The governmental designation of marriage should probably have a different name (like "civil union"), but it doesn't, it is called marriage and because separate is inherently unequal, everyone should have the same legal title.

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  36. straightmom?11/5/08, 9:00 PM

    "However, when a same-sex couple preaches about wanting to be married spiritually, there exists a problem because the very nature of their union is strictly prohibited." Anonymous, no matter what you may wish you could control,you cannot deny another person's spirituality or beliefs. You had the right to choose your religion. Why do you feel you can speak for all people? It is this attitude that made me and my family leave the Christian church.

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  37. To (in)sanity gal,
    I see your point in regards to (not) choosing your lifestyle, and it makes since.
    And honestly, I don't think there's anything wrong w/ some discrimination. For example, let's say your walking down a dark alley, you see someone walking towards you dressed and acting in a certain way that makes fearful. You don't know that person, but you've already formed a judgement on them.
    Anyway...thanks for responding, because I do see the so called "choice" differently now.

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  38. Okay, this is definitely a long comment, and LL, feel free to delete, but I had to get it out!

    I am a conservative Christian Republican who believes in the right to marriage for all people, gay or straight.

    I think that Matt has made a very good point. Just as no religious bigot is ever going to convince gay-rights activists that gay marriage is an abomination by self-righteously thumping a Bible; no homosexual person or gay-rights activist is ever going to convince an anti-gay conservative that marriage should be equal and available to all couples by shouting about bigotry and discrimination. It’s simply too disrespectful. If each side would consider the other’s views and approach the conversation with respect and an openness to new ideas we might be able to persuade one another. Interesting – wouldn’t that approach work with ALL disagreements? But, I digress.

    Most of my friends and family are shocked that I support gay marriage. By approaching them with respect for their opinions, many of them have become open to gay marriage. The most common arguments I have heard that are easily countered with logic are:

    The Bible says homosexuality is an abomination.
    Yes, it does. The Bible specifically says that a man should not lie with another man as he would a woman and if he does, both should be put to death. In the OLD Testament. Specifically, Leviticus, Chapter 20, Verse 13. However, note that Leviticus, Chapter 20, Verse 10 states that if a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, then both the adulterer and the adulteress should be put to death. It is not for us to determine which parts of the Bible are to be followed and which are to be ignored. How can a Christian be so passionate about the conviction that homosexuality is an abomination and at the same time, ignore adultery - a sin punishable by death? I find that most Christians have a difficult time explaining why they think one verse must be followed to the letter while another can be ignored.

    Christian marriage is between a man and a woman.
    Yes, correct again. That’s what the Bible says. However, the government is not granting certificates of Christian marriage. If it were, then no Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, etc., (or divorced) person would be allowed to get married. The government provides certificates of marriage to couples who want to share their lives, retirement benefits, and tax returns - among other rights and privileges - with each other.

    Permitting gay marriage will make a mockery of the institute of marriage.
    I find this particular argument to be both hilarious and offensive. On the hilarity side – HA! Gay people are going to make a mockery of marriage? My next door neighbor is 31 and has been married 6 times. If that’s not mocking marriage, I don’t know what is. On the offensive side – NO! As a Christian, I am offended by the idea that a government approved marriage has ANYTHING to do with the vows taken before God. If it did, then I would not be able to tolerate the number of people who take vows and then discard them so easily. THAT is what destroys the sanctity of marriage. Heterosexual couples have treated marriage as right of passage or, worse, hobby for so long that the entity has lost its reverence.

    Furthermore, the Bible never says that two men or two women cannot devote their lives to each other in deep and abiding friendship and love. Isn't that what all good marriages should be about? The only difference between a gay couple and a straight couple is the sex act. Let gay couples get married and the sex will be the same - Nonexistent!!

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  39. Melissa, absolutely fantastic comment, I couldn't have said it better.

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