Gay marriage

Open letter to religious opponents of gay marriage:

First of all, when you say that “God ordained that marriage is between one man and one woman,” do us all a favor and say, “I believe God ordained that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

This keeps the debate over the topic a little clearer, because then others who might still be thinking about which way to think about it have the opportunity to reflect that you might also believe that the earth is 6,000 years old, or that God hates shrimp.

And I know you’re not given to thinking about ambiguities, but you really need to mull over this idea: with California’s Proposition 8, you restricted the right to marry to heterosexuals. The problem is that when a right is given only to part of the population, it is no longer a right, it is a privilege. And you remember what your parents told you about privileges. That’s right, you have to earn them. And they can be taken away by the Authority Figure who grants them. “It’s not a right, it’s a privilege,” remember? So by converting the right to marry into a privilege reserved for only a portion of the population, you have just stripped all of us of our right to marry.

Hope this doesn’t make your brain hurt too much, but remember: no pain, no gain.

27 thoughts on “Gay marriage

  1. Let’s see if I can successfully prevent any possibility of elected office for myself:

    1. If both statements proceed forth from my mouth, the one beginning with “I believe” is rhetorically weaker, but in all other ways equivalent.
    2. The same rights apply under the prop for all citizens. Gay citizens may just as well marry people of the opposite gender as straight citizens. Gay citizens would obviously find less utility in this right.
    3. I simultaneously state that “I Believe” that a: God ordained marriage as 1 man, 1 woman and b: this has no particular relevance to how the government ought to go about its business. I think that religious groups should be able to let their doctrine determine how they go about things, so if denomination A wants to establish a particular sacrament under guidelines based on their religious beliefs, then they should do so. If the government wants to establish a legal union based on criteria that come forth from the consent of the governed and meet the objectives of the state, then fine. “I Believe” that the church’s entanglement with the government on this issue is a horrible distraction and creates horrible misconceptions about what Christians (as a unified whole) are all about, which leads to…
    4. I am most certainly NOT a homophobe, hater, or any of those things that folks like to call folks that have beliefs that aren’t entirely in line with theirs. Like most labels, they are a way of shortcutting discussion by grouping folks in ways that are easier to deal with. “I Believe” unequivocally, that my God (the same one that ordained marriage, btw) COMMANDS me to love my neighbor. Best as I can remember, there were no footnotes on that one. That means everyone. Even the mean ones. Even folks that watch Springer. Even Christians that hate. For the record, homosexuals aren’t on the “even” section of my list. They are God’s people and I love them like I do the rest.

    Don’t ever let it be said that I won’t rise to the bait.

  2. I think your Point #3 is absolutely germane to the argument. The government ought not to be in the “marriage” business at all. That’s a sacrament.

    The government is in the “civil union” business. Register your union with the government to get tax breaks and other legal goodies. Go to your church to have your union sacramentalized.

    Did I just close the debate?

  3. I confess I don’t have a handle to rebut your Point #2. What you say is a true statement in a purely logical sense, but my brain is not finding the flaw in the logic. And I know the flaw is right in front of me.

  4. How about: Prop 8 restricts the choice of whom you can marry to a specific subset of citizenry. The fact that the restricted subset is perfectly acceptable to ±90% of the citizenry is irrelevant in the eyes of the Law. A right should apply to 100% of the citizens.

  5. You might want to rethink that last one. Obvious examples to the contrary abound. Restroom use is one, for starters.

  6. Number 4 is remarkably close to what the Germans do, btw. And yes, as far as I am concerned, that is the beginning and end of the argument. It moves the religious debate over what is and is not marriage where it belongs. The state of civil union within governmental control would be an interesting debate in this light. What vested interest does government have in such a scenario? Why should it be involved at all?

  7. Your point being, of course, that if we could change the accepted norms regarding bathroom use, that their would be significantly more opportunities for comedic interlude in the presence of bowel movements. The world does, in fact, need more of that.

  8. re 8:

    Indeed, that thought had occurred to me: what interest does the government have in who’s bound to whom? This is where we need a lawyer in the audience.

  9. The more that both Church and State are pushed into a corner by citizenry that insist on having every aspect of Social Reality writ large and legislated to its eye teeth, the less Freedom for all of us. So there. I have sublated.

  10. We need to ask heterosexuals like Britney Spears and Elizabeth Taylor and Tom Cruise about the sanctity of marriage. I’d be interested in getting their takes on that, speaking from personal experiences.

  11. From our friends at Merriam-Webster:

    1: holiness of life and character
    2 a: the quality or state of being holy or sacred : inviolability bplural : sacred objects, obligations, or rights

  12. FWIW, I wasn’t smugly trying to educate the journalist on the definition, as I now realize it may appear. Rather, I was supporting his assertion by placing words like “Britney Spears” and “holiness of life and character” close to one another.

  13. In Re the argument referenced by 5,

    A similar argument was probably used in defense of of laws that barred inter-racial marriage.

    “The same rights apply for all citizens. You all have the right to marry somebody of the same race, regardless of how much you want to marry outside the race.”

    And a similar logic is implicit in a single party state that hold elections,

    You can vote for anyone who runs…


  14. Marriages crash and burn. Even to poor, dull folks out of the headlines. Gay and straight. When I mutter “There but for the grace of God…” I don’t see infinite sets of male and female genitalia stamped and tagged, assured of salvation, tied together with a white satin bow. I see some people lucky, some miserable, many seeking a seal of approval for all kinds of reasons, many dancing in the masquerade because that assures acceptance. All trying to be happy. Happy marriages. Many laws, proscriptions, blueprints, genitals, lives, meanings.

  15. I have been sick for two two days, so I am just now getting caught up on this one. I live in California, and I voted on Prop 8. This might not be something that has made it into the media, but prop 8 was ALWAYS going to pass for 2 reasons, who it was written by and how it was written.

    It was written by opponents of gay marriage to be slightly confusing. (If you are for gay marriage vote No.) It was also written to be very definitive, so that the “Yes on 8” propagandists could say, “If you vote no on 8 they will throw your pastor in jail.” This is not theoretical. These are actual tactics that I saw on fliers. Vote no on 8 and if your pastor refuses to marry a gay couple in his church, he will go to jail. Now just because it was blatant fear-mongering doesn’t mean it wasn’t true. I’m sure there were ACLU lawyers with those lawsuits ready to go.

    But that’s because of who wrote the measure. If the proponents of gay marriage had written their own measure with a little more description and leeway called for, it would have passed. I know it would have passed.

  16. Mike’s point about how the law probably would need to be enforced reinforces my earlier arguments. The entanglement of church and state (church IN state? state IN church) makes this a very real potential outcome.

    At the risk of launching an entirely different discussion (which I, of course, would never do), (and besides, it’s Mike’s fault), is the legal underpinning of church marriage the only reason that forces are at work within the major denominations trying to rewrite the principles of those faiths? The legal and societal issues of equal rights aside (those are governmental, and I’ve addressed them above), why is it so important to demand that a set of beliefs of a religious organization be changed to match an agenda? Would it be right to demand that Jews consume pork? Hindus eat beef? I’ve no gripe with someone interpreting whatever writings define their faith differently from the next guy, but if you feel strongly enough about it, why not start your own church? I’ve never honestly understood that particular component of this argument, unless of course, it is the other (legal and governmental) argument simply playing out on a different battlefield.

  17. That is what it is.

    Judaic Law is the product of a Theocracy, remember.

    When we debated the draft, for instance, we were debating how to approach the question of Sacrifice. State/Religion.

  18. You know, commenting on the earlier blog post re: Kevin & Mize’s landscape reminded me that I still haven’t come back here to comment on this.

    I feel obligated to respond; I’ve felt obligated to since Nov. 17, but I just don’t know. I’m sick of this debate. I’m sick of this topic. I am glad the discussion is being had. VERY glad. I absoultely belive the discussion needs to be had. But I just don’t know if I can stomach being part of this gay marriage debate anymore.

    If I feel up to it, I may say more later.

  19. I hope so Jobie, but completely understand the sentiment just the same. My reluctance is less so on this topic than others (perhaps more because of new ideas/beliefs coalescing for me lately than any real expectation of moving the metaphorical needle at all), but I definitely understand. Somewhere between fatigue, hopelessness, lethargy, and indifference. Some or all of these apply to my emotions on any of several topics on which I have risen to the bait or battle (depending on your perspective) easily in the past, but now, I just… well… you know…

  20. I don’t know, Jobie. I reckon it depends on which debate. If the debate is about legal gay marriage, I’d call it a toss-up. Emotions (and it is VERY much about emotions, the foremost among them being fear) are still very high on the subject. Take the battle for black civil rights as an example. The civil war was fought in the 1860’s, and the battle raged on (literally) in the 1960’s. I think its possible that the legal question could be resolved by the 15 year mark (or sooner), but I would be very hesitant to say that the question (at a societal level) will be in any way moot.

    I do think that we as a nation would be much better off if we could learn to disagree on matters without hate having to be a part of the equation. Perhaps your post about the young lady at your school speaks to changes in this area as much as anything. If there is anything the last 20 years have done to diminish America, it has been the trend that says to disagree with someone (on any topic) means you must hate them. Sure, the concept has been around for thousands of years, but it seems the political environment of these two decades has made it so much more in vogue.

    Nothing hurts or confounds me more than when folks assume that because I disagree within them, I must hate them. Funny how quickly I forget living a fair portion of my life with that same perspective.

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