NY state senate votes against equality

By Phil Plait | December 3, 2009 2:14 pm

Yesterday, the New York State Senate voted down a bill that would have allowed same-sex marriage, by 38-24. Not surprisingly, political party was the overwhelming determinant of the vote: while some Democrats voted against, all the Republicans did.

I am 100% in favor of marriage between consenting adults. Period. I’ve written about this many times (here and here and especially here). It’s not my business what flavor of humanity they love. I could go the route of saying that I have gay friends who deserve the right to get married, but that’s a cop out: it doesn’t matter whom I know. It’s a matter of equality, and we should know instinctively that equality is the right thing to fight for.

Not everyone sees it that way, of course. If you don’t like (for example) gays, or blacks, or women, that’s your opinion, and you have the right to that opinion. But you don’t have the right to deny them their rights.

NY State Senator Diane Savino said it best. She gave a speech on the Senate floor that should be required viewing for every citizen of these United States. It is simply phenomenal.

I agree with her. The idea that somehow gay marriage harms hetero marriage is one of the dumbest arguments ever, and is clearly simply a smokescreen for bigotry (unless they support this guy as well). How is my marriage weakened or lessened in any way if across the street, two men who are in love get the same rights I do? How does love lessen love?

And for those NY Senators — and people in other states — who voted against this simple act to give equality to all of your constituents: shame on you. Shame.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (203)

  1. Levi in NY

    My Republican state senator, Betty Little, voted against it. I was furious when I heard her vote and immediately called her office. The lady on the other end told me Little is in favor of civil unions, but I explained to her that “separate but equal” is not equal, and that her vote is unconstitutionally infringing on the religious liberties of churches like the one where my grandmother is a minister, which actually want gay marriage. Her church is in Vermont, so thankfully she can perform such marriages, but still, just because the larger churches are against it does not mean that smaller denominations should be barred from doing it. That’s un-American.

  2. Quiet Desperation

    what flavor of humanity they love.

    Eew.

  3. Jerry

    I agree.
    The argument I hear from my parents is one of protecting churches. They think that if gay marriage passes that gay people will go out and start suing churches if they don’t marry a gay couple. Pretty lame argument.

    BTW my parents are Mormon and i had to steal the stupid Yes on 8 poster from their lawn.
    (ohh, they can’t wait to get to Kolob)

  4. If gay marriage is that much of a threat to “the sanctity of marriage” what about those quickie wedding/divorce chapels in Vegas? As someone who’s semi-religious, I see the “homosexuality is wrong” passages of the bible as similar to the “here’s how to sacrifice animals” portions. Practices that aren’t (or shouldn’t be) followed anymore as society has outgrown them. Odd how some people claim we must obey “God’s law” about homosexuality and yet claim that we don’t need to follow “God’s law” about animal sacrifices. After all, God did tell us to do them in the bible, right? I expect to see those religious fundamentalists slaughtering some chickens, cows and goats soon. (As an aside, I’d really enjoy the PETA vs Religious Fundies battle. Anyone got any popcorn?)

  5. Phil, at least give the opposition more credit than that. It’s perfectly possible to be against these laws for reasons besides “you don’t like…gays.”

    One could make the rights argument the other way – the State has no right to change an institution which belongs to the culture, but rather should follow the culture. There’s still a lot of work to be done changing hearts and minds – in 31 out of 31 states, even more liberal ones, public referendum has turned it down. That says something. Focus on that first. Let the churches and the synagogues and the secular marriage institutions allow gay marriage, and when it’s a part of the accepted fabric of marriage, then government (if it must have something called “marriage”) can get on board.

    And if it’s legal rights people are concerned about, then take the civil unions, they give the same rights. Call me old-fashioned, but what I find meaningful about marriage is not the legal benefits, but the participation in an ancient tradition granted meaning by our community(/ies), and that is something that the State, try though it may, can never give.

  6. Bill

    But…but…don’cha see, Phil? Once we allow same-sex marriages, that’ll open the door to bigamous marriages! And polygamous marriages! And people will be marrying their farm animals! And then we’ll ALL be doomed!!! (1)

    (1): This is parody. The satirist who wrote it is not responsible for any heads that may explode when reading it.

  7. what flavor of humanity they love.

    Baconaise flavour? :P

    Great post. I think I will be putting this up on my facebook status as soon as I get home and have some me time.

  8. tacitus

    what flavor of humanity they love.

    Eew.

    And there, distilled into one word, is the real reason these people oppose gay marriage.

    If we judged everyone equally by the same standard then we wouldn’t allow fat people, ugly people, or just about anybody over 50 to get married either.

  9. khan

    So Adam: People can’t equal rights until Pope Ratzi approves?

    The pope also doesn’t like abortion, or birth control, or divorce; let’s ban them all.

  10. scotth

    NY State Senator Diane Savino, I think I love you.

    Wow, I’m all teary-eyed. It starts off slow, but wow… just wow.

    How did 38 people vote against this?

  11. I said nothing about a specific religious institution – please don’t strawman me. That’s very rude :) It’s a matter of what the culture as a whole accepts; a very fuzzy point to measure, but one which (if the referenda are any indication) I’m pretty sure we haven’t reached yet.

    Also, no one is banning gay marriage. If, say, a church wants to marry a gay couple, they can. It’s happened. I hope it will happen more. I will be much more comfortable with these laws then. It’s just that the State won’t call it marriage, and won’t grant some benefits (benefits which, I remind you, come equally with civil unions). This is VASTLY different from banning birth control, where if you try to use birth control, the State will actually *stop* you.

    Personally, I could care less if the State calls my marriage a marriage. As far as I’m concerned, they have no legitimacy with regards to marriage; marriage is far older than our government, and marriage, a cultural institution, can’t possibly be up for vote.

    Seriously, folks, if the government doesn’t give you some contract, you can’t enjoy a committed, lifelong relationship? You can’t go to whichever institution, religious or secular, that you prefer and be married? Does marriage only mean something if you also get a tax break? If you call it a marriage, your friends, family, and community call it a marriage, and your church/synagogue/humanist organization calls it a marriage, but City Hall doesn’t, is it not a marriage? Gimme a break.

    I would love to see people start to realize that the meaning of marriage does *not* derive from the State.

  12. Topher Henness

    The telling thing is the number of arguments used against same-sex marriage that were once used against interracial marriage.

    My wife and I have many gay couple friends. Amazingly, our marriage is still strong.

    In regards to those who oppose basic rights, there is another possibility. I have, on more than a few occasions, thought “methinks they doth protest too much.” Perhaps it is a case of denying others rights out of guilt/self-loathing? It’s amazing how many “family values” politicians are caught in illicit same-sex affairs.

  13. Adam,
    I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with you. The banning of gay marriage is no different than when whites and blacks weren’t allowed to marry in some states and just as wrong. Sometimes one must say, “To hell with culture! What you are doing is wrong!”

  14. sav

    I just watched this. It’s a good speech. Interesting that she brought up the fact that the Catholic Church does not just marry anybody. It’s true. I’m an atheist but I was raised Catholic, and the Catholic Church has lots of little funny requirements for marrying people. I could make a long list, but I won’t.

    Senator Savino illustrates that marriage and the means by which people get there is already defined differently all around this country. So the “it’ll change the definition of marriage” argument is not a good one because it’s not true.

    I’m in a committed lesbian relationship and have been for almost 13 years. My partner and I have two children. We had to spend thousands and thousands of dollars just to protect ourselves–living trusts, medical directives, adopting OUR OWN CHILDREN, even though in my state, we’re both on each kid’s birth certificate.

    In Virginia, LGBT people are barred from even entering into any legal contract with each other–no living trusts, no medical directives. Talk about mean-spirited.

    In my state, we can’t get married, but if we want to dissolve our domestic partnership, we have to get a divorce. That makes no sense whatsoever.

  15. Erm, before what looks like a potentially long and hopefully fruitful discussion begins, I’d like to reiterate the point that got me started on this: there are reasons to oppose these laws besides bigotry, and it is not helpful to simply say “it’s a matter of rights, you homophobe!” and move on. A more constructive debate needs to be had (even if, admittedly, my kooky theories are in the minority for gay marriage opponents ;) ).

  16. Monkey Deathcar

    Adam, you’re out of your element. It’s equal rights for all or nothing. Most states don’t allow civil unions anyway, so you’re off base there as well. The state does stop people from getting a secular marriage, and that’s the whole damn point. So it is like banning birth control. So I say, if you’re not with us, you’re against us (I don’t like saying that for most issues, but for this one, it is what it is).

  17. Joran

    As always, I think the easiest, happiest “compromise” would be for the government to get out of the marriage business altogether. The government should issues licenses for civil unions and only civil unions; previous marriages will be considered civil unions. Civil unions will contain all the legal privileges and rights that marriages used to have.

    Marriages will then be a strictly ceremonial or religious term, subject to the terms of whatever religion or belief system you subscribe.

  18. +1 to what Joran said. +a lot, actually. What I was trying to get at, put a lot more succinctly :)

  19. Jay

    I live in NJ and we have had a civil union law for awhile. Now, there is a gay marriage law being voted on next week. Every (well, the vast majority) of polls in NJ show that more people in NJ support gay marriage than oppose it (It’s usually in the 45-40 (15 undecided) range).

    It needs to get to the Governor fast, though. Corzine said he supports it and will sign in. Chris Christie (who takes office in January) said he would veto it.

    Latest poll from NJ: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/11/majority_of_nj_residents_suppo.html

    “The poll, conducted between Nov. 6 and 10, found 46 percent of adult residents want to extend the right to gay couples while 42 percent oppose it. Still undecided were 12 percent of respondents.

    “While this tests opinion outside the intensity of a campaign to ban gay marriage, as occurred in California, there is more of a ‘live and let live’ attitude in New Jersey than in many other states that have dealt with this issue,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University.”

    “If lawmakers pass the bill legalizing gay marriage, 52 percent would accept the new law, while 40 percent would support a constitutional amendment banning it, the poll said.”

    So hopefully it gets passed fast, and if the poll is accurate (the people taking it largely told the truth), we don’t have to worry about a constitutional amendment overturning the law like in other states.

  20. David

    I don’t see the difference between banning gay marriage, creating national health care, invading other countries for no reason, smoking bans, the drug war, et cetera. We either embrace a government that makes moral decisions for us or we reject it. I support the true separation of church and state, which includes all moral decisions, all social engineering. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t act like spoiled children, building up power in the federal government while our side is in charge and promoting our right to make moral decisions for 300 million people, and then whine when the other side gets our power and makes their own moral decisions. We asked them to do that.

    We’re not all out marching against the government’s creation of a marriage status in the first place, a status that allows them to discriminate against minorities with a vote. We should be. Marriage is a contract between two people. We don’t need government involved.

  21. Richard

    Sorry, Adam, but that argument doesn’t fly. Marriage is a LEGAL CONTRACT between two consenting adults that confers SPECIFIC RIGHTS AND BENEFITS, and it is the state’s responsibility to make sure these contracts are equally available to all citizens.

  22. Monkey Deathcar

    Or instead of dissolving marriage we could take a more realistic step and fix what we currently have to include everyone. It completely unrealistic to think that we’re going to have some sweeping legislation to remove marriage and enact civil unions.

  23. Brandon

    I would argue that there is a difference between what marriage ‘is’ (culture-based), versus who can actually get married.

    The first, I would apply to what Adam is saying, in that if the state were to declare marriage as something other than a union of two people, then society would just ignore the ‘new’ definition, and nothing would change. Tthe cultural meaning is just a description of something assigned to a word that people use to communicate.

    However, the rights pertaining to marriage are what the state needs to enforce.

    If you ignore that the religious assume that ‘between a man and a woman’ is part of what marriage ‘is’, then I think what it is belonging to culture and the rights of who can get it needing to be enforced by the state makes more sense, to me.

  24. Richard, you have one way of defining marriage, I have another. That’s fine.*

    What I’m asking is this: which of our definitions makes marriage more *meaningful*?

    *If marriage really is JUST a contract with legal rights and benefits, then gay marriage advocates should have no problem with civil unions that confer the same rights and benefits. Obviously there’s more to it; that’s the heart of the matter.

  25. MHS

    Adam,
    This is not about subtleties. It is about the fact that certain rights are given to one group of people and denied to others. The details don’t matter.

  26. MHS, as I’ve said, if it were just about the rights, then gay marriage advocates would be fine with civil unions that grant the same rights. The fact that they (perhaps rightly) reject civil unions tells us we’re loaded with subtleties.

  27. then gay marriage advocates should have no problem with civil unions that confer the same rights and benefits

    I’m sure they won’t, as soon as straight people have to use the exact same laws. History shows us what happens when you have two separate sets of laws that apply to different sets of people.

    Obviously there’s more to it

    Yeah, that whole equality before the law thing.

    Are you married, Adam?

  28. Monkey Deathcar

    Adam, that’s not the heart of the matter. That’s called separate but equal as has already been pointed out. Of course the phrase “separate” is not equal. But I think you already understand that and really just don’t want homosexuality to be recognized by the state to be as valid as heterosexuality.

    “What I’m asking is this: which of our definitions makes marriage more *meaningful*?”

    What a nonsense, unquantifiable, question.

  29. Unquantifiable questions aren’t necessarily nonsense. I’m not sure if you’re married (to another question, I’m not, for whatever that’s worth), but if you are, I’m sure you find your marriage to be a meaningful thing. What I’m wondering is what gives that meaning. Somehow I doubt the fact that the government gave you a contract is high on the list.

    The heart of the matter is the word “marriage.” Yes, the government would be giving separate names for the same rights, and you can call that unequal. I also find it a pretty inconsistent equilibrium solution – as I said, ideally it would be all civil unions, leave marriage to the people. My point is that even if this sort of weird separateness exists, it’s not something horrible, since we shouldn’t be giving legitimacy to the government granting the word “marriage” in the first place. I suppose what I’m wondering is why folks care so much that the government *call* it marriage. Maybe I can be convinced, maybe people really do derive meaning from having a contract called a marriage contract from City Hall. But I have yet to know anyone make that argument.

    Also, please stop suggesting that I’m a secret homophobe.

  30. Bruce the Canuck

    According to the Wall Street Journal, “Science is Dying”

    As I was saying – climategate/swifthack is turning into a new Inquisition. This is the new front, replacing creationism.

  31. Evolyn

    So Adam, what are these reasons that gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed other than bigotry? I can’t fathom any logical reason to give gays “separate but equal” rights instead of just equal ones. Everything I come up with that isn’t bigotry is simply false.

  32. I’m not, for whatever that’s worth

    Fine. I assume, if you ever do get married, you’ll forgo the whole state-issued license, though, on the basis that it is not meaningful to your relationship.

    I suppose what I’m wondering is why folks care so much that the government *call* it marriage.

    They don’t. They care that everybody is being treated equally. Nobody cares if what the government has is called “civil unions”, as long as that is what everyone gets. Right now, the most efficient way to accomplishing that is by applying existing laws without discrimination.

  33. Joran

    @Monkey Deathcar

    More realistic perhaps, but I think the point that Adam is driving at is that for some people, marriage isn’t a legal matter but instead a cultural or religious matter. We’ve seen time and again that the majority of people don’t want to extend marriage onto homosexual couples. I find it mindboggling and my own father is one of those people, but this is the current state of society.

    I hope by dividing the legal vs. the religious and cultural issues, by granting the legal rights of marriage without using the name “marriage” to every couple, regardless of sexual orientation, we can get more people to support the cause.

    I’m not sure if this is a realistic proposition, but it seems like the easiest way to bridge the divide.

  34. Nope – I’d do the licensing because the rights are good ;) But if I waited until some time after my wedding to get the license, I certainly wouldn’t say that I wasn’t married. I think that’s a pretty consistent position, no?

    As for this equal treatment thing, if everyone gets the same rights but they’re called different names, is that unequal treatment? I mean…. I guess you could say it is, but I don’t see why one would care*. Again, that’s what I’m trying to figure out.

    *This is qualitatively different from the actual “separate but equal” where black students actually got a worse education for it.

  35. Jay

    The problem with civil unions is that they do not extend outside of the state. If you get civilly un—unied?…..if you get a civil union in one state, go on vacation to another state, and your partner gets injured and is sent to the hospital, that hospital is under no obligation to conform to the rights you have in the original state. With “marriage”, it does. If a gay couple gets a civil union in NJ, but have to move to Maryland due to job transfer, or a better opportunity, Maryland does not recognize gay civil unions and the couple loses all of those rights. If they got “married” in the eyes of the state of NJ, then Maryland would have to grant them marriage rights because of federal law.

    So in that regard, civil unions are not on the same legal footing as marriage.

  36. Joran – Yeah, that conclusion is the best compromise, because as you say it really does disentangle the state from the cultural, two elements which should have been separated to begin with. The problem with getting the State involved in cultural affairs is that then people start talking about rights, and then people start voting, and it becomes a real mess.

    Jay – Um, then have the federal government pass civil union legislation?

  37. tacitus

    The problem with redefining the government contract of marriage as a civil union is that it’s probably the least practical solution. While it may sound reasonable enough, it will be just as much opposed by the religious right on the grounds that it will dilute traditional marriage as gay marriage is opposed today. They will also be able to appeal to a wider audience by claiming that the government is, in effect, ending your marriage by turning it into a civil union. (The argument doesn’t have to be true to have an impact.)

    So while it may be a logical solution to the problem of equality, it won’t even get off the ground because the resulting debate will be about everything but logic.

    Simply granting gay people the right to get married is a far easier sell, and it’s beginning to work. One of the biggest arguments used against it is that it will damage or destroy traditional marriage. As more people actually get to know gay people that argument gets weaker and weaker (as can be seen in the younger generation today). If you suddenly start telling people that the government is going to redefine (or even just rename) the relationship with your spouse in an effort to reach equality, then that is a tangible impact to your marriage that the anti-gay marriage movement can and will rally people behind.

  38. JackC

    When people bring up Gay Marriage being “wrong” – as in “one man – one woman” wrong, I usually ask them this:

    “Don’t you mean one WHITE man and one WHITE woman?”

    If that doesn’t stop them in their tracks, I know I have a real problem on my hands.

    I am in NY. I was really hoping we would pass this. Gotta try harder… Sigh.

    JC

  39. Quatguy

    I love the fact that Canada (and many other countries) have already settled this issue and now allow gay marriage. The religous activists up here were screaming and making the same arguments about “preserving the sanctity of marrige” and all that BS. Guess what? The sky has not fallen in Canada and all of the heterosexual people are still just as married as they were before. In fact, it is my experience that in most circles in Canada, the whole gay marrige issue is now a non-issue, the way it should be.

  40. Tacitus, your post makes a lot of sense but I’m troubled by the underlying assumption; it comes out at the very end. The government isn’t redefining anyone’s *relationships*, it’s redefining a contract. What I’ve been trying, perhaps unsuccessfully, to say here is that no one’s relationships *should* be defined by the government. I cannot conceive of a couple whose relationship is, and when I try to imagine such a thing, I find a rather sad picture.

  41. Brian

    Adam,

    The state’s role in marriage is simple contract enforcement. If two people want to enter in a contract, then please explain to me why the state can discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

    The state does not and should not care who is getting married (with the exception of minors, and others who have been deemed unable to enter into legal contracts). They should spell out the rules for the contract, and enforce the contract when needed (asset division, alimony, child support, etc.).

    Keep in mind, most states do not have civil unions, and those that do are often significantly different from marriage (inheritance is different, no spouse recognition for employer benefits, no tax benefits, etc). Most civil unions are little more than a piece of paper printed at the courthouse.

  42. Robert E

    Sorry Adam, but Civil Unions given by states still do not equate to the benefits given by Federally recognized marriage. There are around 1,400 legal benefits a couple gets from marriage, and very few are given by civil unions.

    There is a distinction, which most people fail to recognize, between the religious aspects of marriage and what should be the civil aspects of marriage.

    And one can make a very good argument that the creation of two separate systems is what weakens traditional marriage.

    I also found it amusing (in an ironic sort of way) that the AUTHOR of DOMA [Bob Barr] has been married three times. So much for his respect of marriage.

  43. Geomancer

    I think Adam is more playing Devil’s advocate trying to push the discussion past knee-jerk ad hominems and the basic bigotry argument, and less trying to convince anyone that there is GOOD reason to oppose homosexual marriage. There may not be much there, past the ad hominems, but I think that people who are coming from those positions deserve to be heard, at least. The problem is that it’s really easy to rationalize bigotry in a way that prevents someone from recognizing their own irrational fear/hatred/dislike. This statement may apply to Adam, but it may also apply to some of the rest of us…regardless of the side we support. Don’t automatically assume people who are opposed to you are bigots…they can be ill-informed, coming from a completely different perspective, mentally ill, or deliberately misled. They may be opposing it out of dislike for the institution of marriage to begin with (a fool’s opinion, imo) or some other reason I can’t imagine atm.

    As has been pointed out the notion of “separate but equal” has failed in spectacular fashion in this country, and increasing political polarization would probably aggravate that problem. Joran’s suggestion of scrapping the whole state marriage situation and replacing it with civil unions for all (as a method of defining financial, estate, child-raising rights, etc.) is one I’ve supported for years, but I don’t see that gaining traction ANYWHERE. Despite the complete failure to get referendums passed on the issue, I suspect that homosexual marriage is actually more likely than converting the whole government system to civil unions and letting churches deal with marriages (ceremonial/spiritual).

    Beyond that, I think the argument for marriage rights being defined by our culture to be a poor one. If a crazy rich woman can leave millions to her dog, then people certainly deserve to be able to marry their partner, regardless of gender, regardless of cultural objections. I think people may have objected to Leona’s crazy, too, but she had the legal right…why don’t these couples? Certain inalienable rights…life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.

    That said, I really liked Diane’s speech, both for the points she made and her delivery.

    EDIT: Nevermind the first portion. Adam (#38) is arguing against the government defining relationships, which I think is fallacious. There’s “marriage the state of being”, which is the relationship between loving partners, etc., and there’s “marriage the social contract” which involves estates, trusts, taxes, etc. The couple defines the first, the government defines the second, and I think HAS to (given the messy ways estate battles can play out, how the tax system works, and so forth). So the big argument is whether or not the government needs to be even-handed or can just follow modern social whims. I think even-handed wins from the rational perspective.

  44. Brian, I’m not expecting you to read this whole thread, but I feel like I’m starting to post *way* too much here so I’ll try to make this the last time I repeat things I’ve said 20 posts up :)

    The State’s role in marriage IS simple contract enforcement. Yes! Nothing more. So the name of that contract clearly shouldn’t matter, right? The problem is that the name we give that contract carries connotations, deep-seated cultural connotations.

    And of course, I’m totally on board with civil union laws giving the same rights as marriage laws. But the push for marriage – explicitly a push for not-civil-unions – is what complicates this, and what puts me in the “against” column.

  45. Nope, Geomancer, I believe every word I’m saying :) Sorry.

    Also, being a radical libertarian doesn’t make me a closeted homophobe.

  46. For clarification, since maybe I have to make this explicit, I’m totally in support of gay marriages. People who want healthy, committed, lifelong relationships in a country with a 50% divorce rate? That’s actually great for marriage. I just disagree with the way it’s being handled.

  47. I’m not sure if this is a realistic proposition

    If, as you pointed out, “the majority of people don’t want to extend marriage onto homosexual couples”, then how you you talk them into to voting away their state-sanctioned marriage?

    Anyway, opponents of same-sex marriage also fight civil union laws with vigor. Even “separate-but-equal” legals protections are too much for them.

    Adam is aiming his comments in the wrong direction. The proponents of same-sex marriage aren’t demanding that the state give their relationships meaning by sanctioning them; homosexual couples are already accustomed to making their own meaning — they’ve had no other choice, after all! It is the opponents of same-sex marriage who routinely complain that their marriages will be less “sacred” if same-sex couples are recognized by the state.

  48. Sam

    I’m a bit surprised by this post – especially from this blog. Because someone doesn’t support gay marriage doesn’t mean they don’t like gays. Is that a straw man argument I’m detecting?

    Technically I guess you could say that everyone already has the same rights. Any man can marry any consenting (single) woman and any woman can marry any single man. If you want to play the “equality” card then you should also include polygamists (who are also consenting adults).

    I’m not so keen on the argument that gay marriage hurts the institution in general, but you should at least be able to understand the viewpoint. If your university started handing out degrees on daytime television for $19.95, would it not change the value of your own degree? I’m not calling it a valid comparison, but for people who have religious beliefs that call homosexuality a sin, it is a valid comparison.

    Personally I think the “state” should allow anyone to be in a civil union so far as they are co-habitating consenting adults who are organized in a family unit. Marriages should be performed by churches. That way everyone gets the same rights as far as the state is concerned and we can start arguing over whose marriage is more bettererer then whose based on what church performed it. See – back to college degrees it’s all about where it comes from.

    I read an article (by a gay male) in the student newspaper back in college where the author argued that there should be no gay marriage. He said basically that marriage was a religious institution and that there is no reason gay people should want it other than to shove it in the religious establishment’s face and to prove a point. If it’s rights they want then they can be obtained through a civil union – the same thing straight and gay couples should have access to.

    State = civil unions, church = marriages. Everyone is happy because those who want marriage can get it, and those who don’t want gay marriage can just claim that theirs is better and choose to not recognize gay-friendly churches’ marriages.

    (and of course the state only issue with civil unions would need to be changed to be all inclusive)

  49. @Naked Bunny With a Whip/tacitus

    Interesting points about marriage being easier to implement than a wholesale movement to civil unions. I still think as a matter of principle that the government should keep out of religious or cultural definitions like marriage. We do seem to agree on the end state: homosexual couples should have the same, exact rights as heterosexual couples. The rest is just implementation.

    Trying to inject some levity into the situation, I did end up getting legally married a month after my wedding. The Buddhist monks refused to sign our marriage license and we went on our honeymoon before we could get to the court house.

    Needless to say, we still considered ourselves married, despite not having the legal paperwork.

  50. Joe S

    Adam said, “One could make the rights argument the other way – the State has no right to change an institution which belongs to the culture, but rather should follow the culture.”

    That was a common argument to support the institution of slavery — an important cultural aspect of life in the US. Luckily, wiser heads ultimately decided that the State has EVERY right and the critical DUTY to look beyond culture, beyond habit, and beyond tradition. The State has a duty to serve its principles. Because the concept of equality is an essential principle of this State, slavery — the antithesis of equality — was banned and the rights of the individual (NOT the culture) were rendered.

    There were similar patterns of illogic to fight against broader suffrage, including the vote for women. That argument pattern has a long track record of being unconvincing. It’s a misplaced priority to put “the way we’ve always done it” ahead of the individual’s rights. But there doesn’t seem to be any awareness of the futility from those who use “culture” and “tradition” to defend blatant infringements of equal rights.

    Most people are ashamed that this country tolerated and endorsed slavery, stifled women’s rights, and tolerated segregation. I hope there will be a day when we’re embarrassed that there was a time when NY and other states actively fought to stifle the rights of people who wanted to have a unique personal relationship with one another on equal footing with the larger population.

    Shame on the NY State Senate, shame on the people who cheer their decision.

  51. So why not allow bigamy legally? I’m serious.

  52. Geomancer

    Sam:

    Regarding the equality card – personally, I don’t care who marries whom, as long as all parties involved are consenting (in the case of your proposed polygamists (-gynists or -andrists), that includes existing spouses) and adults. And human, I guess, since allowing animals, plants, objects, etc. the legal protections of marriage would create a whole cascade of issues (e.g. welfare payments to a lamp, because I love lamp).

    Your invalid comparison hurts your argument. The $19.95 marriage degree equivalent would be accomplished at Vegas wedding chapels, performed on two people that met while drunk the previous night…and I kindof agree that THAT is a bad thing, but it’s not the government’s job to stop it.

    Otherwise, though, your post makes good sense and is largely in agreement with my thoughts. Again though, it comes back to the problem that abolishing state “marriage” may be a greater problem than allowing homosexual marriage.

  53. Jim

    Adam — The cultural aspect of marriage is *already* covered. There’s nothing to stop a gay or lesbian couple from finding a sympathetic minister, having a wedding ceremony, treating each other as husbands/wives just as heterosexual couples do, etc. The problem is that currently it has no legal force.

    I agree that the distinction between legal-marriage and cultural-marriage is an important one to make, but arguing whether those legal benefits the state provides should be named “marriage” or not is basically pointless. As other posters have pointed out, civil unions as they currently exist are not yet good enough to be legally equivalent, so right now the name game is really not the biggest priority. Worry about getting equality written into law and we can deal with the nomenclature later.

  54. Geomancer, I seem to agree with Sam, so I find it interesting that you can’t conceive of my arguments as possibly being serious :) Anywho. If the government stopped granting marriages and called them all civil unions, that would absolutely not stop chapels in Vegas from marrying drunks.

    I agree with you pretty much completely – doesn’t matter who does the marrying as long as it’s all consensual – except for one thing: the State is a qualitatively different actor than a church or a secular institution or a Vegas chapel. Why? Because then you get into all these thorny questions of equality :) I’d suggest those issues are irrelevant to marriage, except in terms of the legal benefits. So, that’s all the State should be involved in: granting legal benefits.

  55. Jim – I agree with you, but the chronology is confusing. Why not sign GOOD civil rights bills into law instead of marriage initiatives?

    Well, the problem is that, as we’ve even seen in this thread, many supporters of gay marriage would find that an insufficient solution, even if it granted all the same legal benefits.

  56. From the NYT article Phil linked to:

    “Certainly this is an emotional issue and an important issue for many New Yorkers,” said Senator Tom Libous, the deputy Republican leader. “I just don’t think the majority care too much about it at this time because they’re out of work, they want to see the state reduce spending, and they are having a hard time making ends meet. And I don’t mean to sound callous, but that’s true.”

    Well, that certainly makes sense. It’s hardly the place of government to take actions which would help a minority of people if the majority don’t care either way, is it?

    Sam @46: “I’m not calling it a valid comparison, but for people who have religious beliefs that call homosexuality a sin, it is a valid comparison.”

    All the worse for their beliefs. For people whose religious beliefs call blowing up buildings a good thing, that’s a valid action. We can understand why someone feels a certain way while still condemning the decisions it causes them to make.

  57. sav

    As Adam keeps saying but still misses the point:

    And if it’s legal rights people are concerned about, then take the civil unions, they give the same rights. Call me old-fashioned, but what I find meaningful about marriage is not the legal benefits, but the participation in an ancient tradition granted meaning by our community(/ies), and that is something that the State, try though it may, can never give.

    I don’t have the same federal legal rights as you, no matter if I live in a state that allows same-sex marriage. So no, civil unions DO NOT confer the same rights as marriage does. I get taxed more for having my partner on my health benefits plan than, say, a wife does for having her husband on hers. I get taxed as a single person through the eyes of the federal government. Single people do not get tax breaks like married people get. (My partner claims our children.)

    Your argument is full of holes, and it’s no reason at all to tell same-sex couples to be happy with unequal treatment. It’s not equal.

    I can’t travel outside my state or country without all my family’s legal papers on me at all times. If something happens to me or someone in my family in Maryland, I have to prove to them that they are legally my family, solely based on the fact that my relationship status is seen as suspect. That’s not equal treatment. Not everyone has to prove this. I know this for a fact. I never had to prove I was my grandmother’s granddaughter when I went to visit her in the hospital. I never had to prove I was my sister’s sister when I visited her in the hospital.

    I can’t freely move about MY country the way others can. Just some food for thought.

    And another reason why your argument is weak, in my opinion, is that the same one was used to deny black people from marrying white people. That took an act of the courts to overturn. It wasn’t the “current state of society,” as Joran puts it to allow interracial marriage either. But did allowing it screw the whole marriage thing up? No. Did the world end? No. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to have the courts, which they have, make the same case for same-sex couples’ rights now.

  58. RAF

    It’s only a matter of time before gays and lesbians “aquire” the same marriage rights as the rest of us take for granted. I continue to be surprised at the lengths some will go to justify their hatred of anyone who is different from them. Can you imagine if aliens were to land and witness how we discriminate within our own species? I wouldn’t at all be surprised if they climbed back in their spaceship, left and didn’t come back until we had “matured”.

  59. Monkey Deathcar

    Joran,
    How do you propose government stays out of culture? Maybe your definition of culture is different from the rest of, um, everyone. If there’s a government, it’s part of culture.

    Adam,

    Would you say to a gay couple “You’re not married, you just have a civil union”? From what I can tell I presume you wouldn’t. Why should government be allowed to do so?

  60. Levi in NY

    Adam: Civil unions are not an acceptable alternative. Would you be in favor of interracial civil unions? Or civil unions for black people, but marriage for white people? History shows us that “separate but equal” doesn’t work, isn’t equal, and perpetuates the idea that certain people are second-class citizens.

    Besides, some churches, such as the one where my grandmother is a minister, believe in their culture that gay marriage is fine and dandy, sanctioned by God just like any other marriage. A government prohibition on gay marriage, like the one in place now in New York, unconstitutionally infringes on the rights of those churches to practice their religion as they please. That should be the end of the debate right there. But yet somehow…in America…in the 21st century…there are people who believe it’s okay to legally enforce the religious dogmas of larger churches on smaller ones.

  61. Sav, I’m suggesting that if completely fair civil union bills were put on the table, I’d support them, but not marriage bills. If the civil unions laws now are bad, then why go for marriage laws? Why not just support better civil unions laws?

    There was an Evangelical Christian on my campus today, proselytizing to anyone who would listen. He got a pretty large crowd of amused Yalies. He made the argument that evolution can’t be right, since Hitler used it to justify the Holocaust. Obviously this is false; good logic does not get disproven or made “weak” when it’s used to justify bad things.

  62. Levi – Correct me if I’m wrong, but does New York prevent your church from performing marriage ceremonies for gays? I don’t think so; my impression is these laws have no teeth. They prohibit the government from doing the marriages, but not cultural institutions.

  63. Alright kids! It’s just about dinner time here and I’ve already posted far too much on this thread. Grad school apps and quantum mechanics await tonight. I’ll stick around to take a couple more questions though :)

    Also, if anyone likes good music, whether you’re a homophobe or not, click the link on my name! (I’ve been here so long, I’m allowed a cheap plug, right?)

  64. Becca Stareyes

    Sam, I also know a lesbian couple who would be happily married in a church and everything, and then get the paperwork done there. There are gay religious folk. Even gay Christians.

    For that matter, as a non-theist, I say that marriage has a social/community aspect outside of religion. If I get involved with a woman for a committed long-term relationship, I want to use the term married for it, even if I don’t ever set foot in a church/temple/sacred grove/etc. If it is not a legal relationship, I’ll probably have to deal with smart-asses correcting me, as well as the lack of rights given my partner towards me. If it is, no one’s going to call me out on the fact it wasn’t done in a church (Except maybe my grandmother, if she were alive.) — we’d act like a couple and we got the paper to give us the legal standing as kin-by-marriage. (For that matter, heterosexual atheist couples generally don’t get called out to prove they are married.)

    Technically I guess you could say that everyone already has the same rights. Any man can marry any consenting (single) woman and any woman can marry any single man. If you want to play the “equality” card then you should also include polygamists (who are also consenting adults).

    Well, that’s still a level of discrimination based on sex. Why should the law mandate that my marriage partner must be male? I’m going to pull a thought experiment here, and let’s assume that there was a law that stated that a person could only be a legal guardian of a child of the same (or opposite) sex as they are. There’s no real legal reason this needs to be so*, and would disproportionately affect gay couples and single parents, so it would be ruled as discriminatory, despite the fact that it again restricts both men and women equally.

    (Actually, I am in favor of legal polygamy, but that’s neither here nor there, and I also think that the body of laws regarding the rights of a married couple will need to be revised if it was legalized, because there are assumptions built in that assume only one spouse at a time. Far more than those assuming there’s one spouse of each sex.)

    * I’m sure you could invent plenty of hypotheses, appeals to common sense, or whatever about why this needed to be so.

  65. Lorie

    I am in a domestic partnership in CA and I can tell you the difference from my point of view.

    First off, no one understands what it means. When people call my house for business and ask for my partner and I say we are “registered domestic partners,” after they’ve asked to speak with her husband, they won’t talk to me. We constantly have to explain our relationship to people — doctors, insurance, speech therapists, etc. Some may say it is the “same,” but it often isn’t treated the same.

    Also, it isn’t recognised by the federal government, so there are lots of “rights” we don’t have that we would have otherwise. Once our children are grown, I won’t be as concerned. But for now, I worry about a lot of things because our children might not be protected in the same way as they would be if our relationship and our parentage were recognised by the federal government and other states.

    Personally, I think the cultural and the governmental definitions of “marriage” are both important and meaningful. In different ways and for different reasons. Perception matters. And so does Social Security survivors benefits. We’d be worse off as far as taxes go, but shouldn’t that be our decision? Shouldn’t we be allowed to weigh the pros and cons and decide what is meaningful for us and make our own decision? I fail to see why not.

  66. Jim

    Adam — If those hypothetical civil union bills (in comment 57) really were completely fair and equivalent, then what exactly is the difference? Just call it marriage and be done with it. That way we don’t have to maintain two separate lines of legislation — every law that currently says “marriage” on it would just automatically start applying to gay married couples. Neat and efficient.

  67. sav

    Adam, why should I have to try for something different just because you don’t agree with how our government defines marriage? And not everyone defines marriage the way you or some other people do. Marriage is not just a religious term. It’s a legal term. By arguing what you’re arguing, you’re not considering reality. It may be your ideal, but ideals aren’t real.

    And I really don’t get what your saying about good logic not getting disproven when it’s used to justify bad things.

    I’m not trying to disprove anything here. I just think you have a bad argument.

  68. HvP

    The government IS in the business of marriage. Period.

    It’s in your tax returns;
    it’s in your social security;
    it’s in your next-of-kin rights;
    it’s in your Medicare;
    it’s in your divorce law;
    it’s in your custody arrangements;
    it’s in your spousal compensation rights;
    it’s in your insurance (if a government employee);
    it’s in citizen naturalization;
    it’s in your ability to view a spouses medical/birth/death records;
    etc, etc…

    To remove the government from this process and turn it into “civil unions” means to massively restructure how each of these options and many more will be handled on a state and federal level for hundreds of millions of Americans across many generations of various age groups.

    If you think public health care is tricky…!

    Meanwhile: Gay people have the same right to marry someone of a different gender in the same sense that black people had the right to marry someone of their own race, or drink the same water (from a different fountain), or get the same education (from a different school), or ride the same bus (from a seat at the back)…

  69. Because the word marriage carries connotations which civil unions don’t. I don’t support the government defining those connotations. More importantly, as we’ve seen, most of society today doesn’t agree with those connotations. It’s actually important to change their minds first.

    I’m no expert on civil unions legislation, but my sense is that if all the people pushing for gay marriage bills pushed instead for fair civil unions bills, they would happen, and since they lack the cultural connotation of marriage, they’d be a lot more likely to pass. But the gay marriage movement generally actively rejects civil unions, so they get thrown by the wayside. Please correct me if I’m getting any of the facts wrong.

  70. sav, you were saying my argument was weak because it had been used to justify not letting blacks marry whites. I’m saying that’s silly – good ideas get used to support bad things all the time.

    And I’m not saying you have to try anything :) I’m simply explaining why I would vote against this bill, and what could be done to change my mind. Nothing more than that. If you look 60 posts up (jeez!) you’ll see that this started as a simple reminder to Phil not to strawman, because there do exist non-bigoted reasons to reject this legislation.

    Anyway, that’s it for me. Whatever questions someone has, the answer can probably be found somewhere in my couple dozen posts, if my opinion really matters to them that much ;)

  71. Nija

    It’s simple – Can Person A and Person B do Action C?
    If Person D and Person E cannot do Action C, then there is discrimination, and discrimination [by the gov’ment] is not allowed.

    [Where Person is legally capable of consenting, ect]
    [And discrimination is stupid all around, religions do what religions do]

  72. bigjohn756

    This vote clearly demonstrates the bigoted arrogance of Christians with regards to the rights of others. If the Christians don’t like it then the chances of getting it are nil. I doubt that Christian mores will ever accept that the rights of others matter at all. But, don’t you dare to even suggest that they are wrong, or, that there is another side to the story or you will be rudely and endlessly chastised.

  73. HvP

    Here’s two analogies for you.

    “Black” is to “Race” as “Male” is to “Gender”.
    “Race” is to “Interracial Marriage” as “Gender” is to “heterosexual marriage”.

    The option to marry someone of any race is also a choice. A choice that is protected by constitutional law.

    The option to marry someone of any gender also falls under protected constitutional law. It will just take time for people to accept that.

  74. Levi in NY

    Adam: Whether or not the churches can perform the ceremony isn’t the point. If the government’s going to get involved in the business of marriage to begin with, it has to apply the law equally, to all people and all religions.

    The churches have the right to discriminate. The government doesn’t. How is it not unconstitutional to sanctify the marriages of some churches but not others, simply because of the sexes of the people involved? Would it be okay for the government to provide legal marriage to same-race couples but only civil unions for interracial couples, even though churches would have the right to perform non-official interracial marriage ceremonies? Obviously not.

    Most opponents of gay marriage aren’t even subtle about their intents. They openly proclaim that their opposition is because of their religious beliefs, and they feel the need to legislate those religious beliefs on everybody else. The only senator with the balls to speak about his opposition to the bill in the New York Senate yesterday, for example, took no shame in declaring essentially just that. It’s so obviously motivated by the religious dogmas of the major churches it isn’t even funny.

    Blatantly unconstitutional, yet sadly only a minority in this country cares. This will change, though, as my generation takes over and carries the baton of civil rights forward. The fight goes on.

  75. sav

    This is what I meant to say. I pushed the button too soon:

    Adam, why should I have to try for something different just because you can’t separate “marriage” the religious term from “marriage” the legal term? We aren’t talking religion here. We’re talking state-sanctioned rights. By arguing what you’re arguing, you’re not considering reality. And I would argue that people who don’t view themselves as bigots but vote to not allow same-sex marriage based on religious grounds are also not in touch with reality and don’t even understand (or refuse to understand) what we’re fighting for.

    I also happen to think the state should get out of the marriage business and, as someone mentioned earlier in the thread, make all current “marriages” civil unions, but that’s just not going to happen, and why not work within the same framework that already exists when we are seeking equal legal recognition under the legally binding term of marriage? It’s a word. That’s all. Make it mean to you what you want it to mean to you, but don’t project it on everyone else. I don’t want to work to make civil union laws better because why reinvent the freakin’ wheel? And again, why should I have to when something already perfectly suitable exists?

    And I really don’t get what your saying about good logic not getting disproven when it’s used to justify bad things.

    I’m not trying to disprove anything here. I can’t disprove someone’s feelings. That’s like trying to disprove something supernatural. I can’t disprove something that’s unfalsifiable. All I can do is make my case. I just think you have a bad argument.

  76. JJ

    I don’t believe this issue is as black and white as some may believe. The conflict occurs in the legal separation of church and state as previously mentioned. The government has no right to redefine the religious term of marriage, just as churches don’t have the right to declare civil unions unconstitutional. I believe the ideal way to handle the issue is to grant civil unions the exact same legal and tax benefits as married couples in all states. Therefore, the only difference will be the legal definition of marriage vs a civil union.

  77. tacitus

    @38:Adam:

    The government isn’t redefining anyone’s *relationships*, it’s redefining a contract. What I’ve been trying, perhaps unsuccessfully, to say here is that no one’s relationships *should* be defined by the government.

    I’m not saying what I think, I’m saying what the defenders of “traditional marriage” will say if there is a move to rename the government marriage contract to a civil partnership, and they will gain traction by going so.

    You may have noticed that the far right doesn’t need anything remotely close to logic in order to be effective in swaying public opinion. One glance at the nonsense they have been spouting during the healthcare debate (whether or not you believe it’s a good ides) should persuade you of that.

    You are espousing a purist libertarian position, I get that. But the problem is (as with many libertarian ideals) it has no hope of being implemented. In this case not because it couldn’t work if this was a new institution, but because it will be impossible to successfully counter the arguments of the social conservatives. As I said before, simply by renaming marriage out of control of the government, you are giving them all the ammunition they need since they can point to that change and say “See!! Look what equality has done to your marriage!!” (It’s nonsense, but it will work.)

  78. tacitus

    @JJ:76 The problem is that a large majority of the religious right and social conservatives in general simply won’t accept it. They may all claim to be for smaller government and for getting government out of their lives, but when it comes to anything to do with social mores they are the first to jump on the bandwagon when if comes to legislating morality. Any effort to get the government out of the marriage business will be decried as an attempt to destroy traditional marriage. Perhaps one day in the distant future it will be different, but today it’s as much a non-starter as the “Fair Tax”.

  79. Anthony O'Neal

    A shameful day for new York.

  80. Jim

    “Because the word marriage carries connotations which civil unions don’t. I don’t support the government defining those connotations.”

    Right. I’m sure “we can’t allow you to get married for linguistic reasons” is very comforting to all those gay folks out there.

    “More importantly, as we’ve seen, most of society today doesn’t agree with those connotations. It’s actually important to change their minds first.”

    Hooray for the tyranny of the majority.

  81. TheBlackCat

    @ JJ: Marriage is a civil contract supported by the state. No is is suggesting nor would it be legally possible to force a religious group to carry out same-sex marriages, just as it would not be legally possible to force them to carry out marriages between two members of another religion. That should not have any impact, however, on who can go down to their county courthouse and get married by a clerk or judge or whoever does marriages there. Religion does not have a monopoly on marriage in the U.S., and as long as that is the case religion has no right to tell the state what marriages the state can and cannot carry out, and vice versus.

  82. Cesar Hechler

    Rights issues have been under attack since the U.S. became a country. Fortunately, despite any religious or political pressures, the rights are eventually granted. As long as there are thoughtful and thinking people fighting for rights, the rights are eventually won. All that has been done by the Republican party (and the tiring core of Democratic career politicians more interested in re-election than change) in this vote is to equate themselves to the same throwbacks who voted against women’s right to vote, abolition of slavery, end of apartheid (in SA), the end of segregation in the U.S. south, etc. Ignorance is bliss for this special few, but it certainly isn’t universal. I find it most telling that it is usually for religious reasons people are inclined to feel such a way. If religion convinces people that others are slightly less equal than themselves you can surely question the ‘divinity’ of its source.

  83. Gary

    Mildred Loving who had to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to secure the right to marry her husband (she was black and he was white) had something to say about this issue:

    “My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.
    Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

    I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

    I am proud to say that in the State of Washington where I live voters last month approved a law that gives same sex couples all of the same rights as opposite sex couples. The new domestic partnership law actually takes effect today.

    All I can say to those who oppose marriage equality is it is going to happen. Same sex marriage will be legal in all 50 states within most of our lifetimes. Get used to it.

  84. Sean

    Religion. Fah! What an incredibly bad idea THAT was.

    Separate but equal just means you pay the same, but ride in the back of the bus. Bigotry is disgusting and inexcusable.

  85. Mike

    I subscribe to both your blog and the Advocate on my google feed, and so when I got this I thought I was reading an Advocate blog post. I was happily surprised to see that it was you instead. Good for you to go off the main topic of your blog for something controversial that you feel so strongly about. This is one of the issues that made me decide to give up religion, because of the ugliness of so many Christians. I agree with you, shame on those that would oppose equality.

  86. Richard

    Adam, you keep trying to make the case that “separate but equal” is still equal, but the decision in Brown v. Board wasn’t just about the quality of the education received; it was also about the negative social and mental effects of the segregation. Clark’s doll tests, where he asked black children to make judgments on black and white dolls, were a major part of the court’s decision. Segregation is bad for the health of a society.

  87. I think a lot of the conservatives who are against gay marriage are trying to distance themselves from their own closet degrees of gayness that scare them to death.

    If you’re comfortable with yourself and your own sexuality, why do you need to treat the sexuality of others as imperfect and unworthy of being recognized by the institution of marriage?

  88. Levi in NY

    Another thing to keep in mind here: a majority of New Yorkers support marriage equality. By voting against the bill, the New York Senate was not representing the will of the people.

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/06/gay-rights-are-popular-in-many.html

  89. MarkP

    When will Phil hold President Obama accountable for his bigoted beliefs as well?

  90. chris

    @ Adam, from #5 on… and on:

    If it is no longer a taboo for two homosexuals to dedicate their lives to each other publicly, then it is, by definition, culturally tolerated and it behooves a tolerant, modernized government to prod its culture along toward acceptance, offering gays the right of secular marriage with all those bells and whistles you seem to care so little for (like funereal rights, nevermind the tax breaks). It IS only an offer, as you can always opt out of the registration and license.

    Considering all the venom being spewed so loudly, the fact that there hasn’t been an American homocaust* tells me that true opposition to these changes has a bigger bark than bite, but that might not always be the case. The government has to seal positive cultural trends into law to protect and promote them in the same way a person tries to reinforce good habits and discourage bad ones. Despite your objections, I am pretty sure that 1960’s racial integration is a perfectly valid example of precedent, for reasons already well expressed here.

    *Too soon? Hope I’m not sent to a puncentration camp!**

    **Forgive me, literary Nazis. I have my papers, I swear! It’s just that “portmanteaucentration camp” is cumbersome, and perhaps, not a little unfunny.

  91. Brian Too

    Well stated Phil Plait! That’s the issue exactly.

    I’m no more interested in who someone loves, than how they love. It’s just not my business.

    In Canada we’ve had gay marriage for several years now. Net effect on hetero marriage? Zero.

    What IS my business is that gay couples are forming families and families stabilize society. When you change your perspective and realize that gay marriage actually promotes family values, it shifts your thinking. Families are important to our culture, to humanity. Our countries become stronger when we support families.

    Gay marriage = Family values. Non-traditional families yes, but families nonetheless.

  92. JJ

    It’s not discriminatory to abide by the law in keeping church and state separate under the Constitution. However, it is discriminatory to not grant civil unions the exact same rights as legally married couples. Things would be much simpler without religion. It just seems to get in the way and provoke controversy…i.e. Jihad, honor killings, fight over the Gaza strip, gay marriage…

  93. > If, say, a church wants to marry a gay couple, they can. It’s happened. I hope it
    > will happen more. I will be much more comfortable with these laws then. It’s just
    > that the State won’t call it marriage, and won’t grant some benefits (benefits
    > which, I remind you, come equally with civil unions).

    Just a minor correction here, Adam: when a member of the clergy marries a couple, he/she does so only as an agent of the government. (“By the power vested in me by the State of XYZ, I now pronounce you…”)

    In the U.S. only the State government can make a “marriage.” Clergy can solemnize & celebrate any kind of commitment ceremony, union, etc. that they want…but in order to be “married” a couple must have duly-executed government document.

    Maryland, where I live, does not recognize same sex marriage. It doesn’t matter that a Unitarian minister in Toronto pronounced my husband and I “married” — as soon as we enter the jurisdiction of the government of Maryland, we are not “married.” And we never can be, no matter how many churches, synagogues, and mosques say so, until the State law changes.

    Perhaps we do need a different word for religious union…but “marriage” is the word for a government-recognized union, enshrined in countless State and Federal constitutions, statues, and rules. Changing that would be absurdly difficult and expensive.

    Why do I care? Because my employer will only grant spousal health benefits to spouses who are legally “married.” My husband has no health insurance because we don’t make enough to be able to afford an individual policy for him (I am a public librarian…and if you think teachers are badly paid, you should look at our paystubs sometime). If he gets badly sick or is in an accident, we will lose everything we own and then he will be out on the street to die. That’s why it matters so much to me that we get that magical word “marriage.”

  94. Dan I.

    > but “marriage” is the word for a government-recognized union, and changing that would be > absurdly difficult and expensive.

    It’s only that way because the state used the word marriage. “Marriage” has been the term used by religious institutions before the state took it over.

    I would argue the opposite that the STATE should simply use “Civil Unions” for EVERYONE and leave “marriage” to the churches.

  95. JJ

    Well said Dan, that would make the most sense, but I doubt most politicians would ever think to push that idea. In my opinion that option is the most proactive, while the current approach is simply reactive. By reactive, I mean that because people became angry with marriage, the government “knee jerked” to redefine marriage instead of logically arguing those points.

  96. Okay, let’s say the best solution is to change the law so that the Federal government recognizes something called Civil Union, all States perform only civil unions, and “marriage” strictly refers to a religious/spiritual/personal union that conveys no civil rights.

    My question then is: what do my spouse and I do until this scheme gets past 50 state legislatures, the Congress, the President, and the numerous challenges in the Supreme Court? I’m 52 and he’s 48 — we’re not likely to be alive when all the dust settles. Should we then give up our dreams of no longer being second-class citizens?

    I’m not willing to do that. I want to be a first-class citizen and I want it now. Changing existing marriage laws is the quickest path.

  97. dre

    There are a lot of us out here that know from accumulated life experience that someone opposed to equal treatment because of sexual orientation is a bigot. That bigotry may be born of simple, passive ignorance, or it may be of an angry, willful, defensive ignorance, but it is bigotry all the same.

    It really is as simple as that. To defend inequality based on sexual orientation is bigotry, and all the rationalization in the world won’t change that fact. And just so we’re clear, bigotry is bad. You may convince yourself that it’s okay to be a bigot, but it’s not, not by any reasonable standard. It makes you a bad person by definition.

    The good thing is that ignorance can be remedied if the ignorant will allow.

  98. Andrew

    I am totally for same-sex marriage, but I’ve stopped approaching it as an equality issue. It just doesn’t change people’s minds!

    Here’s what someone argued with me: technically speaking, I have the same rights as a gay person. We both have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex of the legal age. Straight people can’t enter-in same-sex marriages either. We both don’t have the right to many “anyone” we want. I can’t marry a woman who is married to someone else, even if we are in love.

    Of course this sounds silly, but it is an argument I’ve heard made by the other side, and I could see how someone with that point of view could justify it in their mind.

    So, I’ve taken a step back from the “equality” argument and now just use the “how-the-hell-is-it-any-of-your-business” argument. If they say, “It’s just not right.” Just say back, “But how the hell is it any of your business?” They can’t really take the argument any further.

  99. HvP

    Andrew,

    The proper response to “We both have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex of the legal age.” is to point out:

    Before interracial marriage was legalized, black men had the same rights as white men to marry someone of their own race.

    And that argument was just as wrong in denying rights on the basis of race as it is to deny rights on the basis of gender. Period.

  100. RawheaD

    I’m with everyone here advocating the Civil Union argument.

    I’ve commented this here before, and I know some/many gay marriage proponents actually will be *for* it, but, if the state has to recognize gay “marriage” on the basis of equal rights, completely separate from its original, religious, meanings and connotations, then it similarly must recognize polygamy and other alternative modes of interpersonal unions. Like someone said, you’re either for it or against it. Can I safely assume that all gay marriage proponents are also for polygamous marriages and can I safely assume that you will all stand behind me in my support to pursue what I consider a fundamental human right, to marry as many beautiful women as I like?

    Now, I’m of the opinion that that is ridiculous (maybe you’ll all prove me wrong :-). Like Adam says, the term marriage is too loaded. I’ll bet many of you may have come to terms with homosexual “marriage” but haven’t come so far as to accept polygamous “marriage”––in fact I know this, anecdotally, to be a fact. Most of my friends who are gay marriage proponents are against polygamy. That’s why this issue gets so messy.

    I’m behind Adam and Joran in suggesting that if *all* gay marriage proponents got behind making civil unions 100% feature equivalent of state sanctioned marriages, it would be an easier fight than trying to redefine “marriages.”

    Everyone comparing this to “separate but equal” laws or to denial of interracial marriages or god forbid the ‘culture’ of slavery itself is, imho, dangerously close to playing the race card version of the Godwin’s Law. It’s a sensational, but false, analogy.

    Because you know what? This is the biggest difference between “separate but equal” and the civil union solution—-if we were to change the law in such a way as to make civil unions 100% compatible with what may be called “religious marriages,” there will definitely be some, if not many, *straight* couples who will choose civil unions over marriages. If fact, why don’t all the atheist straight people that frequent this site kick it all off? After all, why would you *want* to define your relationship with your spouse using religiously loaded terminology?

    With that said, if a ever it was proposed to ban gay marriage here in my great state of Massachusetts, I will vigorously fight it, and if I were to move to another state, I will always vote “for” gay marriages. At the end of the day, I don’t give a damn what it’s called, so long as gay couples get the same rights and benefits as straight couples. I just think it would be an easier battle if we all fought for civil unions ;-)

  101. TheBlackCat

    Lots of people claim that marriage was originally religious. Do any of you actually have anything evidence backing this claim? Looking at the fossils of Ardipithicus ramidus (a member of the human family tree that lived about 4.4 million years ago), suggests it may have already formed monogamous relationships. So do many other animals today (many form much stronger pairs than humans do). So what is the basis for the conclusion that marriage was originally religious and not originally secular?

  102. Andrew

    HvP,

    Thanks for the suggested response. You and I know this; unfortunately I still don’t see that changing anyone’s mind that still opposes gay marriage (some people I know still oppose interracial marriage!).

    I’ve just personally had better success at getting other people to shut-up and stop spreading hate when I stop talking about it as a gay rights issue and more of a freedom-for-everyone issue. What if I’m old and my wife dies, and me and a buddy want to move in together as hetro-life-partners? If we could have union we could file taxes and get benefits and make purchases together. I’ve actually got some anti-gay people (including some older religious ladies) to admit they would be ok with same-sex unions.

  103. JJ

    A glass filled with 50% of liquid can be deemed half full or half empty. People can argue which point is more accurate, but is either side right or wrong for disagreeing with the other point of view? Does it change anything about the amount of liquid in the glass? If civil unions were granted the exact same benefits of legal marriage, 100% of legal couples are equal under the law. The only difference is how you see it. For example, those in a civil union cannot currently file a joint tax return in NY, not sure about other states. I believe this can easily be changed because the argument doesn’t involve religious conflict. How can one argue that civil unions don’t deserve the same tax and legal treatment as married couples? This argument seems most effective and would expose obvious bigots. However, I’m not sure this is argued because the gay community seems set on only redefining marriage and this may not appease their base.

  104. MonkeyDeathcar

    JJ,

    We should have just done that for interracial marriage as well. “You’re not married, you’re in an interracial union.”

    Seriously though, as an intermediate step, civil unions might be acceptable. It’s just not equality until hetero and homo aren’t separate under law.

  105. Rick

    So if I’m reading this article correctly, Phil is also ok with the flavor of NAMBLA? You can’t have one without the other.

  106. Alexrkr

    I’m sure many people have addressed Adam’s ridiculous remarks (#11 specifically) that misses the point completely but I feel the need to say what I need to say because it is as I said, ridiculous.

    “It’s a matter of what the culture as a whole accepts; a very fuzzy point to measure, but one which (if the referenda are any indication) I’m pretty sure we haven’t reached yet.”

    Of course. That’s why slavery should have been left alone to the culture.

    “Also, no one is banning gay marriage. If, say, a church wants to marry a gay couple, they can. It’s happened. I hope it will happen more. I will be much more comfortable with these laws then. It’s just that the State won’t call it marriage, and won’t grant some benefits (benefits which, I remind you, come equally with civil unions).”

    What’s not allowed are the legal rights of marriage that are in the hands of the government. Only heterosexual couple are given the benefits and legal observance. This is what we are fighting for. You’re playing a semantics game with the word marriage. But even if we play that game you’re still wrong. The word is important because by not using the same word you’re admitting you’re so petty that you can’t let the word be what it has become (secular and wrapped in warm government goodness =/). It also creates a cultural dividing line between hetero and homosexual couples.

    “This is VASTLY different from banning birth control, where if you try to use birth control, the State will actually *stop* you.”

    Indeed. It’s more like the state allows only people without freckles to use birth control. People with freckles can still get condoms and other non-prescription prophylactics but allowing those with freckles into the pharmacy lines may upset cultural sensitivities.

    “Personally, I could care less if the State calls my marriage a marriage.”

    Not the word. The legal benefits, recognition and not having to feel like second class.

    “As far as I’m concerned, they have no legitimacy with regards to marriage; marriage is far older than our government, and marriage, a cultural institution, can’t possibly be up for vote.”

    Nope, but the rights can. Getting the point yet?

    “…if the government doesn’t give you some contract, you can’t enjoy a committed, lifelong relationship?….Does marriage only mean something if you also get a tax break? If you call it a marriage, your friends,…calls it a marriage, but City Hall doesn’t, is it not a marriage? Gimme a break.”

    Tax breaks, adoption rights, next of kin blah blah all that dumb stuff. Again these bills are enacting legal rights and not calling it marriage is disparaging to a group of people. Do I need to explain further or do you have basic compassion and empathy?

    “I would love to see people start to realize that the meaning of marriage does *not* derive from the State.”

    The only person I’ve ever say anything to that affect is you and a few other people who think they are being reasonable when really they are supporting the religious and bigoted agendas of a hopefully dying generation of ignorant f*@%s.

    But no go ahead, don’t put yourself in the shoes of others sort of kind of be ok with it and defend the idiots. Yes, idiots. Oh how ungentlemanly of me. I don’t usually do this nor am I gay or have any gay friends but I find it to be a simple matter of logic and compassion not semantics and social conditions.

  107. Hey Rick (#105): which part of “consenting adults” didn’t you understand?

  108. I don’t really have the patience right now to read through all the comments right now. I just wanted to say:

    Phil- wait isn’t this blog about astronomy! How dare you blahblahblah… etc.

    :-P Just kidding of course- I’m just surprised no one has harped on that old chestnut already.

    I just saw this at Feministe on my feed reader and thought something went screwy when I clicked on BA and saw the same video. Turns out that I’m just remarkably consistent in choosing to follow like-minded blogs.

    @Adam,

    I’m not going to call you a secret homophobe. I don’t think that’s fair: The fact that you’re a homphobe is no secret to anyone here. Just because you don’t self-identify as one, doesn’t mean you ain’t one. Racists also run around refusing to call themselves racists, it doesn’t enhance their credibility any. In fact, claiming over and over again you aren’t a homophobe is usually a good sign you are one.

    Methinks you need to reexamine your prejudices, and acknowledge the low regard you have for a subset of your fellow humans. I used to be a homophobe, and you may have other people (including yourself) fooled the way I used to be fooled into thinking there was nothing wrong with the way I was thinking. You can’t fool me though, I’ve stood where you stand and said exactly what you’ve said. Homophobia is often more subtle than outright hatred and the fact that you don’t go out into the night and hit gay people over the head with bats, or allow them to use your bathroom- is not to your credit.

    As for “changing a cultural norm via politics,” (I’m aware I’m not quoting you but that’s an appropriate summary) I have news for you: The norm is changing already, with or without legislative interference. Look at the numbers on the ballot initiatives that come out year after year, each time they’re put forward, the pro-gay movement finds more votes. The biggest reason you don’t want to be called a homophobe is that you are also buying into the cultural shift to some extent, you accept that it’s viable as an epithet, rather than an acceptable mainstream position. Trying to salvage the argument against gay marriage from the wreckage of its most obtusely bigoted elements is all rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I take great relish in telling you how this ends: Your side loses, and you will be remembered as the villains.

    To address some of the basic tenets of your argument that I have read:

    1. Your cultural “norm” is hardly universal. Marriage, sanctified by religion and community, between members of the same sex has existed in numerous cultures throughout the world. Read a little sumtin’ on basic anthropology. Categorically circumscribing a cultural practice because it is disliked is anathema to the egalitarian form of democracy we have the pretension to claim we live in. Meanwhile what about the cultural norms regarding miscegenation in the ante-bellum South leading up to and beyond the Civil Rights Movement? Surely that’s acceptable by what passes for logic in your mind.

    2. Are you familiar with the term, “Jumping the broom?” It’s what African-Americans in the pre-war American South called marriage. Marriage between slaves was not legally recognized, though they married each other in their own fashion using their own rituals. However it was, let’s say inconvenient, to recognize the marriage of slaves when it might lead to issues when you weren’t interested in selling a whole family. What use is marriage? It confers rights.

    3. You seem keen on the idea of abolishing the legal institution of marriage in favor of civil unions for all. Fine, I think that’s simply calling one familiar thing by a less familiar name, but whatever. What I don’t get is why, if as you’re so adamant to express, you’re not a homophobe; you’re so keen gay people don’t have the same rights in the interim while you work on your side project of what amounts to changing what the forms say at city hall?

    Addendum (In reference to another comment): I’m all for polygamy. I used to live in a country where it was coded into the law and I know for a fact it’s no biggie in practice. Bring it on. There can be reasonable restrictions on the number of wives/husbands the state can recognize if it becomes a bureaucratic logistical nightmare- but that’s simply not going to happen. Polygamy simply does not manifest itself in, for example, whole cities of people marrying others.

  109. Lawrence

    Clergy of my church were the first to perform legal gay marriages in Massachusetts. Where that isn’t legal we’ll be the first to step up and perform Civil Unions, and fight for the right for full equality. Gay, lesbian and straight folk are an important, vibrant part of our church community. The argument that gay marriage somehow “endangers churches” is thinly veiled bigotry. Shutting these folks out endangers everybody; if I don’t speak up when they come after the gays, who will speak up when they come after me? Unitarian Universalists don’t fear the gay community, we stand in solidarity.

  110. James B

    A problem I see here, is that many people seem to be separating marriage between a ‘Civil Union’ which is in the domain of government, and ‘marriage’ which is in the domain of whichever church carries out the marriage.

    Well I find this difficult to understand, as an Atheist, am I not allowed to consider myself ‘married’, only a ‘member of a civil union’? Maybe its because I come from a country where religion plays a much smaller part in governance and public opinion, but I find it surprising religion is brought into this so much.

    If you allow irreligious people to be properly married then the institution of marriage is necessarily separate from religion, and as such religion should play no part in this debate.

    If you don’t allow irreligious people to marry, we have yet another civil rights battle on our hands.

    I don’t believe marriage is a fundamentally religious term. It is a cultural, not religious, institution and should be available to anyone, black, white, straight, gay, enlightened or bigotted. The polygamy argument is facetious at best, at worst misleading and tiresome. Its the equivalent of throwing toys of the pram, “if you’re going to change this aspect, why have any rules at all!”. Taking that argument further, the next step is “If you let gays marry, why not let people marry livestock!”, which is just as unnecessary and misleading.

  111. Sorry, late to the party.

    Arguments based upon “tradition” are basically religious arguments in drag. Their proponents are just too dishonest to admit it.

    The “tradition” of marriage has changed dramatically throughout history. Men marrying multiple wives. Men marrying what today would be defined as little girls. Arranged marriages. Marriage only among your own race. And on and on.

    Even the hoary old canard, “yeah, but it’s always a male and female,” is false. The ancient Egyptians tolerated gay couples. Visit the tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep at Sakkara. You can see exactly how this same-sex couple were respected by the pharaoh himself.

    As to law following culture…nonsense. Utter bilgewater. Repeatedly, western culture has had to be dragged kicking and screaming toward the ideals of equality for all — race, gender, age — dragged by the courts and progressive legislation.

    People who say, “we’re not ready yet” should be honest enough to say, “I’m not ready yet.” And then they need to ask themselves, why?

    FYI, to no one in particular and for no reason other than to point out how nonsensical this issue is, my husband and I were married in Canada years ago, when that civilized nation finally realized that equal rights for all means just that. In the intervening years, has my marriage affected anyone else’s? Has it “harmed the institution?” If so, how? What is the causal connection between my marriage and anyone else’s? And why is heterosexual marriage so delicate it has to be “protected” by government fiat?

    Thanks, Dr. BA for the post. Rational thinking in one subject doesn’t always translate to rational thinking in others. I’m glad to read your dedication to clear thought extends beyond the aether stuff.

    Love on ya.

  112. Anodyne

    Wow. I’m astonished at how difficult it is for people to grasp the fact that a Civil Union is NOT THE SAME AS MARRIAGE. The problem is not that these men and women want it just to be *called* marriage. It’s the fact that there is NOTHING ELSE in this country that is the legal equivalent.

    All this “separate but equal” crap I hear either means you’re sadly misinformed (and really, how could anyone not understand why this is wrong??), or just a bigot. …no matter how you try to convince yourself that you are not.

    If there is no difference whether you get a civil union or a marriage, go ahead and get a civil union. Then talk to me after the person you’ve loved and cared about for decades is dying in the hospital, and you can’t even say goodbye or hold their hand to give them comfort in their final days. Tell me how that’s equal.

    How would you like it if the child you’ve raised from infancy and grown to love and cherish, the child that looks so trustingly to you for advice, the child whose life you know you would trade your own, was severely injured while playing with friends, or at school. How would you like to know that the morning you sent them off was the last time you would ever see them alive?? You have no rights to your little one, since you are not the birth mother. You can’t even be there for your OWN CHILD when they need you most.

    And tell me how being in a civil union, but still needing to spend ridiculous amounts of money on legal documents to guarantee that you would have access to some of the same necessary rights as married straight people, only to have them scoffed at and ignored, is fair? This not merely an example. This is REALITY.

    Now tell me again why “separate but equal” should be acceptable. There is no such thing.

  113. uknesvuinng

    I read about halfway through the thread, so I may have missed someone else making this point…

    Marriage has always been a legal institution. Some people throw cultural and religious details on top of it, but those are extraneous to marriage. Religions didn’t invent marriage. Religions have no say in the institution of marriage. The claim that marriage is religious is ignorance at best and a blatant lie at worst. Since the US constitution guarantees equal protection under the law, it seems very odd to me that anyone could pretend to make an informed argument against gay marriage. All that’s left is ignorance, bigotry, and/or stupidity.

    And civil unions are at best a step in the right direction, but by no means the end of the journey. It sucks that so much of the population is against freedom and equality that we have to do civil unions in the first place. It’d be worse to pretend they were somehow a solution.

  114. James B

    On another note, Does anyone have a non-youtube link to the Diane Savino speech? I live in China and youtube is blocked here, but I’d like to see the speech.

    @uknesvuinng

    Looks like we had the same idea a few minutes apart, I am constantly dismayed when religion specifically is brought into this debate. Good to see I’m not the only one.

  115. Finn

    Why is this such a problem in the US government? I mean in the government that is supposed to be all about the freedom of the individual?

  116. JJ

    I’m all for polygamy being legal as well. I also think prostitution should be legal to consenting adults, as well as medical marijuana. All of these issues fall into the category of individual rights in my opinion. You have the right to live your life as you please, as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights or safety of others. If the government knows what’s best for everyone, why not ban cigarettes and alcohol? As long as people understand the associated risks, they should live their lives as they wish. The government can never please everyone and should therefore refuse to intervene in issues of individual choice. The only thing the government should do is keep us safe and informed.

  117. The only thing the government should do is keep us safe and informed.

    Oh well.

  118. Donovan

    I am not for legalizing polygamy. Polygamy is a patriarchal and nearly universally abusive form of marriage. While I would concede that some women consent to a polygamous relationship and willingly share their husband, I am unconvinced that they are of sound mind and not coerced. I may be wrong, but I have never known of such a practice outside of cultures that raise their daughters to accept this fate or cultures that abuse religious authority to ‘brain wash’ women into consent.

    I am from New Hampshire. Shortly after moving home in 2006, I was happy to be able to join my friends as they entered into their long fought for Civil Unions, which had just been passed into law. But what had me almost rolling with laughter was just a short time later, New Hampshire granted full marriage rights to same sex couples. My friends (especially the stereotypical ones who have to make any event an EVENT) were rather perturbed they had to do it all over again. Still, once again, we’re happy for them.

  119. Donovan

    @kuhnigget

    Ah-HA! That’s why my wife was so mad at me! It had nothing to do with dishes. It’s because you got a civil union! I knew it! Bah!

  120. Laura

    A “civil union” or a “domestic partnership” or a “two chicks/two dudes thing” is not the same as a civil marriage, anywhere in the US. Anywhere. Because the federal government passed the “defense of marriage act”, no same-sex partnership in any state, including Mass., is equal to basic civil marriage. Anyone who says so is either ignorant, or lying.

    Can a couple from Boston file joint tax returns for Federal taxes? No. Can they collect each other’s Federal benefits? No. Will they be married if they move to Florida? No. If, while vacationing in Georgia, one of them is hospitalized, can they be sure the other will have access to their bedside, let alone be able to make emergency decisions? No. A hospital clerk can simply say, “you aren’t married HERE.”

    I was married in my synagogue, by a rabbi who is legally able to marry heterosexual couples. But I am not considered married. I was legally married in Toronto, Canada, yet while coming over the border through US Customs on Monday, I had a smirking officer of my government inform me that I was not married in MY country, so it didn’t matter that I was married in Canada. Apparently, gay people are automatically unmarried when crossing the border. Imagine telling all the heterosexual couples coming over from Canada that the US considers them legal strangers the minute they cross the border.

    And if anyone tries to say all we need are a few documents to duplicate a legal civil marriage, please tell me which document I can fill out that will allow my wife to inherit my property like a legal spouse. Because…there isn’t one. What document shall I show to allow me to collect her Social Security? We could barely find an auto insurance company that would treat us as a family. What document will allow a gay spouse to collect their military partner’s death benefits..oh, wait, that’s even worse. As we are not legally married, we are denied the process of divorce, with all the legal restrictions and rights; if one person just moves to another state where gay people can’t be married, try suing for a divorce. Pensions, Medicaid and Medicare, immigration, adoption, child status…there are over 1000 rights and responsibilities legally assigned to the civil action called marriage.

    Culturally, (and religiously) marriage has changed so much it is unrecognizable as a “tradition.” But that doesn’t matter AT ALL because this is a civil arrangement. It is a contract. Legally, it is the same as going into what is usually the same government office where you get a license to own a gun, or a tag for your dog or a permit to build.

    If you have a deep cultural/religious affection for what you think of as your perfect marriage, then GO GET ONE. But don’t stop other people from doing so just because it doesn’t look like the one you like best. It was also traditional for men to marry multiple women – still goes on all over the world. It was traditional for a woman to bring a dowry and pass from the stewardship of her father directly to her husband without any consideration for her property, liberty, or sometimes, her choice. It was traditional for only people of the same race to marry each other – and when Loving vs. Virginia was decided – forced on the nation, one might say – most of the population did not approve of blacks and whites marrying.

    To this day, a significant number of people would agree.

    To have people – people who supposedly represent me as well as those who “don’t agree” with gay marriage, whether religious fanatics or, I dunno what – well meaning people who just don’t think I deserve what they get? – actually stand up to say that marrying my wife is a danger to society – is akin to having sex with ANIMALS, is somehow right because their parents didn’t do it that way…

    It’s sad. It’s hurtful and discouraging and you have no idea how much pain you inflict when you say those things. I’m not asking to get hitched in your house of worship, I can pick a friendly one, thank you very much. All I want is what a tax-paying citizen of this country should get – equal access to the rights and responsibilities my straight neighbors and friends get. Not one iota more. And not one iota less.

  121. Ack! Sorry Phil, I used a naughty, naughty, word. I’ve been away from commenting on this blog for a while (no particular reason) and I got used to more liberal commenting policies.

    My bad, won’t happen again.

    (I can haz bowdlerized comment approved pleez?)

  122. ndt

    3. Jerry Says:
    December 3rd, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I agree.
    The argument I hear from my parents is one of protecting churches. They think that if gay marriage passes that gay people will go out and start suing churches if they don’t marry a gay couple. Pretty lame argument.

    Just like all those people who successfully sue churches who refuse to marry people of other denominations. Wait, that never happens.

  123. ndt

    5. Adam Solomon Says:
    December 3rd, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Phil, at least give the opposition more credit than that. It’s perfectly possible to be against these laws for reasons besides “you don’t like…gays.”

    I have yet to hear one.

    And if it’s legal rights people are concerned about, then take the civil unions, they give the same rights.

    Take them? They’re not being offered.

  124. Derdogger

    Regarding the chemists comment about Adam #108…

    “The fact that you’re a homphobe is no secret to anyone here. Just because you don’t self-identify as one, doesn’t mean you ain’t one. Racists also run around refusing to call themselves racists, it doesn’t enhance their credibility any. In fact, claiming over and over again you aren’t a homophobe is usually a good sign you are one.”

    At this point in your post you lost your credibility Mr. Chemist. You have decided that Adam is a homophobe. I do not agree with gay marraige and I have posted nothing. Will you conclude that I am a homophobe also, knowing nothing about be me other than I disagree with you?

    Can you keep to the debate chemist without the personal attacks? Or shall I conclude that you are a left wing extremest pushing an unpopular agenda contrary to the wishes of the majority of the country? See how useless that is????

  125. Smith

    Shame is not a strong enough word for it. The opposition deserves zero credit: they are an embarassment to civilization.

  126. Lachlan Moss

    IMHO….

    Marriage exists right across the world, it spans race, religion and culture. It’s always called marriage. No sub-group has any right to define marriage for people outside of that sub-group.

    A legal entity that constitutes nothing more than ‘gay marriage’ makes no sense. Denying the normal formalization of love and commitment to certain members of the community is cruel.

  127. @ Derdogger:

    I do not agree with gay marraige (sic) and I have posted nothing. Will you conclude that I am a homophobe also…

    Unless you can come up with a decent argument for why you “don’t agree” with gay marriage, and why your “disagreement” should affect the lives of strangers to you, yes, that would probably be a valid conclusion.

  128. TheBlackCat

    I do not agree with gay marraige and I have posted nothing. Will you conclude that I am a homophobe also, knowing nothing about be me other than I disagree with you?

    In a word, yes. I would be happy to change my mind if there were any valid arguments against gay marriage besides homophobia, but I have yet to hear any. Feel free to, though.

  129. James B

    I think kugnigget and TheBlackCat hit the nail on the head.

  130. As long as you go to the government for a marriage license, it shouldn’t be able to discriminate based on gender.

    When the government no longer has anything at all to do with it, and all the married people no longer get special rights (make sure to use that phrase as much as possible – it kicks the legs out from under one of the favorite homobigot arguments), the churches who are so very, very vocal about how terrible it is for them to not have to change anything because it doesn’t frigging affect them can discriminate all they want – and I’ll still be free to tell them to go to hell.

    But until then, equality is the word of the day.

  131. Or shall I conclude that you are a left wing extremest pushing an unpopular agenda contrary to the wishes of the majority of the country

    You are correct. You say that like there’s something wrong with it, but unlike you or your ilk I don’t deny a label that makes a fair bit of sense most of the time. (I say “most of the time” because obviously I’m not a left-wing extremist when I’m playing Spelunky, for example.)

    I would only point out that “extremist” is defined by wherever the ever-shifting center happens to lie, and at the moment I doubt that’s apt vis-a-vis my views on gay marriage. It’s still true no doubt that I am an extremist, but that has more to do with my other views on liberty and foreign policy. As I’ve stated before about gay-marriage: We’re winning, whatever the outcome of the past few skirmishes. At a little less than 50%+1, my view is downright mainstream.

    I do not agree with gay marraige (sic) and I have posted nothing. Will you conclude that I am a homophobe also

    If a homophobe votes against a gay candidate because he’s gay and no one sees her/him, is she/he still a homophobe? Sorry, but the George Berekely “tree” question was the first thing that came to my mind. Are you against gay marriage? Then in my mental shorthand, yeah, that pretty much makes you a homophobe. I’ve heard all the arguments against it, and all of them seem to be grounded in one form of irrational willingness to discriminate against the LGBT community or another. Unless you, unlike the rest of humanity (myself clearly included), happen to actually have thought a thought that has not yet been thunk, and have come up with a brilliant/not-so-brilliant reason to deny the LGBT community full rights but somehow is not based on the blindness of privilege or your failure to give them the same considerations other groups have. Meanwhile though, unless you state your case, I have to assume you’re as insipid as anyone else discussing an issue that has been explored quite thoroughly.

    I would consider you a homophobe as readily as I would consider someone who stood against miscegenation racist, or someone who stands against the creation of a nearby job placement center a worthless NIMBYist. Still, as I’ve pointed out to others on numerous occasions, people can only make determinations about you based on what you say, you can ask that they not- they will anyway. I’m open about them to myself and others. I see no reason to be shy in expressing what I think of you while I demolish any defense to my accusations you may have.

    I did not accuse the man of being wrong because he was a homophobe. I called him a homophobe and then explained why his arguments were weak. I suspect yours are equally weak, since you did nothing to distance your view from his, and didn’t bother making them. If your argument is to be, “Well if you have already formed an opinion of me, why should I bother?” (Which I sense is where you’re headed) My answer is, “I don’t know, why?” In the marketplace of ideas, to quote the twice fictional Tyler Durden, “You decide your level of involvement.” If you choose to leave the discussion because people form opinions of you based on your statements, then perhaps engaging in the public discourse is not the best activity for you.

  132. Wayne on the plains

    I’m for equality – ban ALL state-sponsored marriage (seriously). Phil claims to have libertarian leanings, and so do I. It’s not the government’s business to regulate what is essentially (originally?) a religious covenant. Any two adults should be able to enter into any sort of legally binding agreements they want, just reserve “marriage” for a religious ceremony and call the legal union something else (“civil union” might be tainted at this point, but it works for me). That way, “gay marriage” is left strictly up to individual churches.

  133. Jeffersonian

    It amazes me that people even here do not understand the difference between a rights-defining legal contract and a religious ceremony.

    @Jerry Says:
    “The argument I hear from my parents is one of protecting churches. They think that if gay marriage passes that gay people will go out and start suing churches if they don’t marry a gay couple. Pretty lame argument.”

    They don’t understand the term “marriage” then. By their view, nontheists can not be married, correct? Ask them if they understand that “marriage” is a legal contract provided by the state. Ask them if it’s possible to be married without ever having stepped into a church in your life. Ask them if a Japanese-American couple can be legally married.

    @Adam Solomon Says:
    “Also, no one is banning gay marriage. If, say, a church wants to marry a gay couple, they can. It’s happened. I hope it will happen more. I will be much more comfortable with these laws then. It’s just that the State won’t call it marriage, and won’t grant some benefits (benefits which, I remind you, come equally with civil unions). ”
    Yes, they are banning gay marriage in NY. Whether or not a church performs a ceremony is not the issue. The issue is the rights that come with the legal contract of marriage. CUs have more rights in some states than others. Why does it take the recognition of churches for you to be comfortable? Churches do not define legal contracts. By this definition you would be equally uncomfortable with Japanese-Americans as with gays. You do know that Animists, nontheists, etc, get married…right?

    “I would love to see people start to realize that the meaning of marriage does *not* derive from the State.”
    The opposite is true. Marriage is a legal term defined by the state.

    “There are reasons to oppose these laws besides bigotry, and it is not helpful to simply say “it’s a matter of rights”
    It’s exactly a matter of rights. It’s about redefining the legal contract of marriage so that the rights it allows are more inclusive of us all rather than exclusive. America is not set up to be exclusive with its rights. But please explain these other reasons for opposing the redefining of the marriage contract to include same-sex couples that does NOT come from bigotry.

    “no one’s relationships *should* be defined by the government.”
    That’s what marriage is and always has been; the government defines the legal nature of your relationship with your spouse. It’s a 3-way contract. Think about divorce laws.

    @ David Says:
    “Marriage is a contract between two people. We don’t need government involved.”
    How do you define a legal contract by law and not get the government involved? The lawmaking body is an entire branch OF the US government and contract law involves another branch.

    “But if I waited until some time after my wedding to get the license, I certainly wouldn’t say that I wasn’t married. I think that’s a pretty consistent position, no?”
    No. Marriage is defined by the state you live in. You are married when the state says you are. Example. In Colorado, a common law state, you’re married upon cohabitation and can be sued for divorce after cohabitation occurs. You had a wedding but you weren’t married.

    @Jay Says:
    The problem with civil unions is that they do not extend outside of the state. If you get civilly un—unied?…..if you get a civil union in one state, go on vacation to another state, and your partner gets injured and is sent to the hospital, that hospital is under no obligation to conform to the rights you have in the original state. With “marriage”, it does.”
    This is not necessarily legally true. It’s purely up to the state. States do not automatically have to recognize a common-law heterosexual marriage from another state either, and CUs can be recognized by some states other than the original contract state.

    @Brian says
    “The State’s role in marriage IS simple contract enforcement. Yes! Nothing more.”
    Nope. The state has more roles than contract enforcement (what the Judicial branch is for) . There’s also the Legislative branch which defines marriage.

  134. James B

    @Wayne

    I’ll repeat myself from earlier: Religion should have no claim on marriage and nothing to do with marriage if the couple wishes it to be so. By leaving any marriage strictly up to individual churches, you are ruling out marriage for the entire irrelegious section of society.

  135. Jeffersonian

    @Adam Solomon Says:
    “The problem is that the name we give that contract carries connotations, deep-seated cultural connotations.”
    Yes! People are very ill-informed and don’t understand the difference between “marriage” as a legal term and “weddings”. An ever-shrinking group think marriage has to be recognized by religious authorities. It does not. You can’t define it by religion because that excludes all the people not of your religion to begin with (and not just S-S couples). Nontheists and people of non-Abrahamic religions would not be allowed marriage if it were defined that way. But such is not the case: marriage is not defined by religion. Ergo, laws should not be based on said religion because that would be exclusive and rights-infringing to begin with, hence the problem with banning gay marriage based on religious beliefs.

    @Sam Says:
    “If your university started handing out degrees on daytime television for $19.95, would it not change the value of your own degree?”
    Not a valid argument. It does change your degree’s worth if someone gets one without the work that earned it. But if a gay couple gets married, it does not change your marriage’s worth. By this argument, marriages would achieve validity based on their earned worth but, as stated in the video, any two people can get a marriage contract even if they’ve known each other for two minutes. You can’t get a degree in two minutes so marriage does not have the legal connotations assumed in the argument. It has no earned value, unlike a diploma, which is a statement of earning and, more importantly not a legal contract.

    “Personally I think the state should allow anyone to be in a civil union so far as they are co-habitating consenting adults who are organized in a family unit. Marriages should be performed by churches.”
    But you don’t have to be organized as a family unit to be married and you don’t have to co-habitate. You can marry somebody you’ve never met and then never live with them. It’s common and perfectly legal. Churches perform wedding ceremonies (and give out marriage certificates only as agents of the government and as a convenience – the two are separate functions). This is not what’s being debated, however. It makes more sense if churches were to stick to the word “weddings” and let the state continue to offer marriage contracts.

    @Jim Says:
    “I agree that the distinction between legal-marriage and cultural-marriage is an important one to make, but arguing whether those legal benefits the state provides should be named marriage or not is basically pointless. ”
    I’m not so sure. Civil unions (which in some states, at the state level, will carry the same rights as when the term “marriage” is used) may be a necessary interim step in the long term. Once gay marriage is accepted under this term for a number of years the term can be dropped and further rights granted. It takes time for culture to change. You can have a civil union and then use the term “married” in social situations. Do any same-sex couples say “we’re not married per se, we’re unioned”? A male same-sex couple doesn’t (in my experience) use the term “wife”, so some unique terms have to be used anyway. It appears that CUs are a necessary cultural step (in America).

    @Levi in NY Says:
    “A government prohibition on gay marriage, like the one in place now in New York, unconstitutionally infringes on the rights of those churches to practice their religion as they please.”
    It this were true then it would have been legally challenged on those grounds years ago. You’ll have to give an example of the law preventing churches from practicing their religion in this case. It just doesn’t grant a same-sex couple from having a valid marriage contract. It’s a different argument.

    “How is it not unconstitutional to sanctify the marriages of some churches but not others, simply because of the sexes of the people involved?”
    Because the marriage contract doesn’t “sanctify the marriages of churches” in the first place. In a free country, marriage law is not about religion. Marriage occurs in the eyes of the law, not the whims of the church. If it did, how would nonthiests, Shintos, etc. be married? Your definition of marriage would never have been constitutional in the first place.

    “Another thing to keep in mind here: a majority of New Yorkers support marriage equality. By voting against the bill, the New York Senate was not representing the will of the people.”
    They do this because they are afraid of not getting re-elected in their district and for fear of losing party backing by not backing the platform (not doing so puts tons of money at stake). There are some non-progressive districts in NY. The majority of supporters might not = the majority of districts.

    @JJ Says:
    “The government has no right to redefine the religious term of marriage.”
    Nor is it trying to. If there’s a religion that “defines marriage” as a man sitting in a chair eating a bagel. That’s fine, but it is not the issue here.

    @Dan I. Says:
    December 3rd, 2009 at 6:36 pm
    “I would argue the opposite that the STATE should simply use Civil Unions for EVERYONE and leave marriage to the churches.”
    I agree that it’s a problem of definitions that confuses the cultural non-progressives. But how ’bout if churches just stick to the term “weddings” and not let them have powers (in states where they do) as agents of the law to fill out marriage certificates? The term “marriage” is historically the legal term and “wedding” is historically the ceremonial & religious term. Being “wed” is not necessarily interchangeable with being “married”.

    @TheBlackCat Says:
    “So what is the basis for the conclusion that marriage was originally religious and not originally secular?”
    The oldest known marriage law is in Hammurabi’s Code, (ancient Mesopotamia). The term did not predate the rise of organized civilization. The reason for defining marriage has always been legality. Ancient man had no reason to define marriage before the invention of a governed civilization. Before that, you just had a preferred partner. Could have been same-sex.

    @Anodyne Says:
    “I’m astonished at how difficult it is for people to grasp the fact that a Civil Union is NOT THE SAME AS MARRIAGE.”
    It depends on the state – the scenarios you describe are NOT true for CUs in all states that have them. Check out Hawaii, for example.
    ncsl.org/IssuesResearch/HumanServices/CivilUnionsandDomesticPartnershipStatutes/tabid/16444/Default.aspx

    There will always be some differences at the federal level until DOMA is repealed because DOMA states that a) It’s up to the states to define marriage b)Same sex marriages will not be recognized at the federal level.

  136. Ian

    Why would two people of the same sex want to consent to having sexual intercourse when it is not capable of producing life? Surely man and woman are designed (whether you believe in a Creator or not) to pro-create.

    What you ask for ‘equality’ is not equality, because it is not honest to our design as man and woman.

  137. James B

    @136 Very funny Ian. By that same argument I assume you are against contraception, and be against any sexual intercourse that is not carried out purely for procreative purposes?

    I also take issue with the use of the word ‘design’. I do not believe in a creator and thusly do not believe men and women to have been ‘designed’. If you are just referring to the shape as defined by our genetics, then what about the strong evidence to suggest homosexuality is part defined by our genetics? If someone is born with a strong predisposition towards homosexuality, surely engaging in consensual homosexual sex is in fact conforming to their design?

    Either way, I’m afraid, you do not make a strong case to anyone.

  138. So then, Ian, infertile people and the elderly cannot marry. Good to know you’re a bigot towards old people.

  139. DigitalAxis

    @Ian: Because they love each other?

    And men and women are `designed’ to do more than procreate; good thing too or the computer you typed that note on wouldn’t exist.

  140. Chris P

    @136 Ian: My mother was unable to have children (I was adopted). Are you saying that because the marriage between my father and my mother would not result in children that it should not be allowed? What if a hetero couple chooses not to have children. Should their marriage not be allowed? What if a hetero couple decides to have children, yet do not wish to get married? Should that not be allowed?

    Procreation and marriage are not the same thing. Do not confuse the two.

  141. ZERO

    Neocons are real a*sholes, aren’t they! >:-(

  142. John Sandlin

    Kudos to NYS Senator Diane Savino. Brilliant speech.

    For those arguing civil unions vs. marriage: The was a mention of letting secular institutions perform marriages and let government stay out of it. Which secular institutions do you think are performing weddings now? It’s governments! Judges, Mayors, Justices of the Peace… these are all government officials given the privilege to perform secular weddings.

    Also, real Civil Union legislation as proposed that redefines the secular portion of the marriage contract will be as virulently opposed by the same people that oppose gay and lesbian marriage now. It isn’t about keeping the term marriage religious (people were getting married before Jews, Christians, or any extant religion existed). It’s about defining marriage with the Christian definition as if that is the only definition available.

    As a non-Christian, I couldn’t get married in a church (because all the churches we approached denied us or put requirements and conditions we couldn’t meet). I got married by the mayor of a city in a purely secular ceremony, by a government official. Don’t tell me the government has no role in marriages.

  143. Ry

    I honestly don’t see how “gay marriage” is an equality issue. Lotsa people are denied marriage certificates for seemingly irrelavent issues. Incestuous couples, for instance.

    I approve of the ban against incestuous couples marrying, and I suspect most people would agree with me on that. But I don’t hate anyone who falls in love with their immediate family member; I just don’t believe that the state should recognize their union as a marriage.

    Does that make me an “incestaphobe”? Does that make me a bigot?

    If not, then why is it reasonable for me to oppose incestuous marriage but not reasonable for me to oppose homosexual marriage?

  144. Michael

    People who practise homosexual sex have exactly the same rights as everyone else. One can consider homosexuality a harmful, or less than ideal social phenomenon and prefer that it is not legitimised by the state, and certainly not be something to qualify one for adoption, and other such rights where it may become illegal to discriminate, or to exclude when teaching sexual education to children, or in selecting literature for study. This is presumably the same reasoning used by those who oppose polygamy.

    The error is considering homosexuals to be some separate, oppressed race of people, rather than people like everyone else, with the same rights as everyone else.

  145. Ray

    My feeling is that the State should not be defining marriage as that is a religious ceremony and I don’t think that marriage in a church should have any legal standing.

    The State, however, should be defining legally binding contractual relationships between consenting adults.

    Take religion off the table or we’ll never get anywhere on this.

    If anyone – gay, straight, curved, whatever – wants to enter into a legally binding contractual relationship then stop by the State license office and fill out the form.

    I just think we need to separate the religious aspects of marriage from the civil aspects of legally binding contractual relationships. Until we do that, the religious right will oppose everything.

    For the record, I’m one of those evil conservatives, but I don’t have a problem if Bob and John want to get married. They aren’t hurting me and they have the same right to live, eat, be happy, vote, etc that I have.

  146. @ZERO #141: Yes, but there are plenty of centrists willing to throw a portion of their constituents under a bus as well.

    @Ray #142: The religious right also opposes civil union laws. The religious right opposes anything that has a whiff of “mainstreaming homosexuality”.

  147. NYS has made me sad this week. I expected more. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did. Stupid, stupid, stupid, hateful, stupid.

  148. Robert

    Okay, as a Canadian, let me see if I understand this…

    The Republicans (and the so called Blue Dog Democrats) do NOT want the government bureaucrats to come between a patient and their doctor as is alleged will happen if the government ultimately runs health care, like, say, in Canada (which does not happen, by the way – government interference, that is).

    Hmm! Remind me what happened in the Terry Schiavo case? And what about a woman’s right to choose when it comes to abortion? I know! I know! That’s different! That’s health care. But yet, the Republicans (and the aforementioned Democrats) DO want the government to come between a same sex couple that loves each other, and a Justice of the Peace or a Minister, to prevent them from getting married. I thought they were against government getting involved in people’s lives? What gives? You can’t have it both ways!

    From an outsider’s point of view, American politics, if nothing else, is incredible to watch. I just feel for the citizens of the “greatest nation in the free world” who do not have access to health care, or same sex couples who cannot get married because, well, because they are of the same sex. Bottom line, who cares what the sex of couples are? Does it really matter? Does it really affect your life? Same sex couples are Americans too. They are fellow citizens. They are fellow human beings. They should be treated as such.

    But what do I know. I’m just a Canadian.

  149. Thank you for your support, Phil. I too am dismayed by the cowardice of the Democratic NY senators for voted this bill down, especially when so many of them initially indicated that they supported it.

    But I still take comfort in knowing that sooner or later Gay and Straight couples in the U.S. will be treated equally. Whether they’re called marriage or civil unions doesn’t concern me, only that law-abiding, taxpaying Gay Americans are not longer treated like second-class citizens.

    And when that happens, I promise that it will have precisely ZERO impact on anyone’s life, marriage, your church, or children. Churches will never be forced to marry Gay couples, any more than they are forced to marry non-Christian couples. Public schools will not be forced to “teach” about Gay marriage, any more than they are forced to teach about Straight marriage.

    And at last, Gay couples will finally be able take part in the legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities that our tax dollars have been helping to subsidize throughout the history of this country.

    It may or may not happen in my lifetime. But it will happen.

  150. Lawrence

    I do get tired of people continuing to bring “religion” into this argument. When my wife and I were married, we (and everyone else) were required to get a marriage license from the State. We were married by a Justice of the Peace – no church involved.

    Since ours was a “civil” ceremony – what right does the government have to deny that same right to another two consenting adults? And, you get away from the whole polygamy thing (and anything worse) by going back to the “Two Consenting Adults” solution.

    Seriously, people need to get over themselves and realize that this is plain old discrimination, no more, no less.

  151. Daffy

    Ry: “If not, then why is it reasonable for me to oppose incestuous marriage but not reasonable for me to oppose homosexual marriage?”

    By your argument, ALL marriage should be banned.

  152. @ Ry:

    If not, then why is it reasonable for me to oppose incestuous marriage but not reasonable for me to oppose homosexual marriage?

    The state, i.e. the society we choose for ourselves, rightly or wrongly, has an interest in preventing the biological consequences of incestuous marriage.

    There are no such biological consequences for homosexual marriage.

    Again I emphasize, rightly or wrongly because this argument against incest no longer applies when children are not involved. As far as I’m concerned, society can debate whether or not to sanction incest, if it chooses to so debate. Ditto multiple-spouse marriages.

    But the debate is not about those issues right now. The debate is about gay marriage. That being the case, you have to come up with an argument against homosexual marriage that stands on its own merits, not one that is propped up with lazy inferences to other forms of marriage that are also proscribed.

  153. @ Lawrence:

    I do get tired of people continuing to bring “religion” into this argument

    But that is all they have, Lawrence. There is no other argument, other than poorly concealed religious bigotry.

    It’s bad because Yahweh says it’s an abomination. Of course, he said the same thing about shellfish, but you don’t see these irrationalists demanding the government ban clam chowder.

  154. Quiet Desperation

    And there, distilled into one word, is the real reason these people oppose gay marriage.

    Eh? It was just a joke about the flavor comment.

    I don’t oppose gay marriage. Voted against Prop 8.

    ObSheesh: Sheesh!

  155. I’m not entirely upset about our country yet.

    In good news : http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/01/AR2009120101265.html : our nation’s capital has decided to approve same-sex marriage, 1st of 3 steps to make it completely legal and approved, but it should go through.

    I’m a straight, single guy here in DC. I used to be a Christian, now I confess atheism, and the one topic that caused me pain was the same-sex marriage issue. My church was vehement against anything related to homosexuality, and it came to a point where I seriously questioned everything related to it.

    I had a lesbian friend in Canada, who told me that it sucks to be told that your love is a bad thing, to be told that it’s okay to be attracted to girls, but you can’t have sex or get married to someone you love. Listening to her arguments, and hearing her crying over religious persecution broke my heart.

    I couldn’t be a part of a church that claims love and compassion as their primary purpose, but in the same breath makes a very good friend of mine cry.

    Speaking of which – I ought to see if I can get in touch with her again, it’s been a terribly long time since I’ve talked to her.

  156. Gonzo

    Adam said: One could make the rights argument the other way – the State has no right to change an institution which belongs to the culture, but rather should follow the culture

    Nonsense argument is a nonsense argument. Marriage may have cultural aspects but the fact of the matter is it is a legal contract. What part of your world allows your government to deny the right for consenting adults to enter into a legal contract?

    The right answer is none. The bigoted answer is the one you gave.

  157. @ Gonzo:

    Another way of countering that silly “it belongs to culture” argument is to bring up the teensy little point that “culture,” like the state, is a human artifact. We choose to shape our culture any way we want.

    Again, I just wish those opposed to gay marriage would be honest enough to come right out and say, “I don’t choose to grant those queers the same rights I grant others.” That sort of intellectual bravery is scarce amongst their ranks.

  158. Eric

    I don’t have the energy to read all these responses…has anyone suggested that the real solution is not to have government-sanctioned marriage in the first place? A marriage license serves little purpose except to collect another tax from the people. Lawyers can handle all the legal aspects of civil unions without the government being involved. That way, anyone can enter into a “relationship contract” of their choice. This includes consenting polygamy, which should also be legal.

    I sometimes wonder how many people supporting gay marriage also support consenting polygamy. There’s no difference between any of these relationships and the old-fashioned heterosexual model.

  159. PeteC

    I have a serious problem with the whole “civil unions” for the state and “marriage” only for religions.

    As I understand it, some are claiming that “civil unions” should be the norm, with “marriage” reserved for churches. I presume that by that standard my “wife” would become my “registered partner” or similar, and many peoples’ second husbands/wives will change in nomenclature to being partners. But this raises one big question:

    Which churches will be allowed the privilage of “marrying” people rather than performing civil unions?

    The subtle implication to my somewhat cynical mind is that Christian Evangelical or Baptist churches will be allowed to marry people; maybe, perhaps, a dispensation for the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches might be granted. Or would this extend further, allowing Bhuddist, Islamic and Hindu marriages to be recognised?

    Will the government handle the licensing? Will they select which religions are allowed to marry, as opposed to perform civil unions? Or would any group be allowed to do so? Would an athiest organisation be allowed to marry people? Or the Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster?

    If the government doesn’t sanction and regulate which religions are allowed to marry people, then the whole point is moot anyway. The state issues its civil unions to all; any church or institution that wishes to “marry” gay people can do so; they can then claim to be married just like any heterosexual couple married in a Baptist church.

    But then, that’s not the point really, is it? The point is to find a way to stop gays from being “married”. It just hasn’t occured to some that “religion” can mean more than “my Christian church”.

  160. Lawrence

    Not true – a goodly number of polygamous relationships aren’t necessarily voluntary (see FLDS for example) & there are good reasons not to have them recognized by the State.

    Also, why should Lawyers determine what constitutes the legal obligations of marriage? As soon as you throw “legal” into the mix, the government has the get involved (because the Courts get involved).

    Married couples get a ton of benefits that are solely determined by the government (taxes, life/death medical decisions) that aren’t currently offered to homosexual couples by Civil Unions. Given how most heterosexual couples treat the “institution of marriage” I have to laugh when they get all up in arms about two gay people wanting to get married.

    As far as I am concerned, if homosexual couples want the privilege of having to go through divorce – more power to them. This is an equal rights issue & this is a right they need to have.

  161. @Eric:

    It’s been said many times. The problem with that has also been replied to many times.

    If you get rid of state-sanctioned marriage and call it a civil union, then the religious right is STILL going to complain about it. The sanctity of marriage is their buzz-word. I contend that no religious person against same-sex marriage is against it because somehow their own marriage will be invalidated or cheapened, but because it’s “two guys or two gals gettin’ hitched.”

    And on your second point, polygamy I’m still a little squicky about (being recently de-converted,) but if it’s a real love between two or more women and two or more guys, then yes. If it’s a guy trying to more or less make a harem, then no. Unfortunately, the latter seems to be the case, with all the abuse and inequality therein.

  162. PeteC

    As for polygamy, the Bible is rife with it. Pretty much every major Biblical character in the Old Testament had multiple wives and concubines.

    The jump from “two consenting adults” to “polygamy, incest, bestiality, dogs and cats living together!” is quite a stretch. It’s like announcing you can’t allow gays to serve in the military because what next? Allowing animals? Enemies? Terrorists? It’s little more than shrill nonsense.

    In all honesty, I’d have no problem in theory with multiple-group family units. If three men and four women want to form a family unit and combine work, income and family rearing duties, that doesn’t hurt me at all. Of course, the reality is rarely like that, and that’s where it breaks down. It’s hard enough to maintain a good one-partner relationship; the problems, infighting and jealousies that can erupt as the number of people goes up is exponential. Groups like that are unlikely to be stable. The one man-multiple wives “traditional” polygamy is too often abusive, and very often linked to cult indoctrination and brainwashing. Last of all, there’s the practical aspect of inheritance and so on. So it’s probably best to leave the state-sanctioned pairings to “two consenting adults”.

  163. Rick In TX

    I read this blog for interesting stories on astronomy and for amusing stories about people like Richard Hoagland that pretend to know something about space related topics.

    I would rather you stick to those topics than antivaxxers and politics.

  164. PeteC

    Actually, one of the most amusing things I find in all this is the unspoken assumption from the religious right that “if only we can keep them dirty gays from getting married, they won’t be having all that dirty gay sex and maybe they’ll all become straight!”

  165. @Rick In TX

    Over on the right-hand side, under Blog Roll is a link titled “Politics and Religion”. Please go and read that.

  166. Colin

    As an act of protest, I propose that anyone that is for equal rights just not get married in NY State. Wait and see what that does to the system.

  167. andyo

    The “I’m not a homophobe but…” arguments are expected, and unsurprisingly disingenuous as always.

    Sam at #48, parroting all the fallacious talking points of organized homophobes, is actually not a homophobe. He says so! Bonus point: the use of “straw man” without really knowing what a strawman argument actually is.

    Any man can marry any consenting (single) woman and any woman can marry any single man. If you want to play the “equality” card then you should also include polygamists (who are also consenting adults).

    100 points!

    Why would you make a gay man marry a single woman? What exactly is wrong for them to marry another man? You’re not addressing why that’s so bad. Polygamy? Yeah, and after that it will lead to bestiality and necrophilia as well, right?

    If your university started handing out degrees on daytime television for $19.95, would it not change the value of your own degree?

    So you’re now saying that homosexual marriage is “cheaper” than hetero marriage. Oh wait! But you are not calling it a valid comparison. It’s those pesky religious that are. So they’re the homophobes.

    What was that again about considering people’s views because not all are homophobic? Where in that example is the non-homophobic argument?

  168. andyo

    And Adam, the culture argument… Screw culture and screw tradition. They should be, at the most, innocuous amusing tourist traps, NEVER trump morality.

    You realize the “tradition” and “culture” argument is why people in Latin America and Spain justify bullfighting? Countless examples abound.

    As Woody Allen so eloquently put: “Tradition is the illusion of permanence”.

  169. whb03

    #144 Ry:
    “Lotsa people are denied marriage certificates for seemingly irrelavent issues. Incestuous couples, for instance.”

    Maybe in your neck of the woods, Kooter, where family trees can accurately be represented by flag poles. But out here in dat dar civilizashun, where we actually care about the scientific reasons for keeping the genetic pools healthy… Incest is relevant. And disgusting. Why find a good woman when you got a perfikly guuud sister? Because she’s your SISTER, stupid.

    @Michael #145: “This is presumably the same reasoning used by those who oppose polygamy. The error is considering homosexuals to be some separate, oppressed race of people, rather than people like everyone else, with the same rights as everyone else.”

    Uh… Wow. First, people who “oppose polygamy” are generally called “normal”. Not as in mob-rule normal, as in… ah never mind. But to the point of considering homos some separate race, no… The point is they are not some separate race, rather the same race, with the same rights as everyone else to experience the blissful misery of marriage. Except those rights are not thusly extended.

    Both yall – PLEASE don’t marry anyone, sounds too dangerous to the rest of us.

    Who call out the hillbillies? I’m starting to hear banjos.

    Geeze.

  170. @Ray,

    I think you hit the nail on the head as to the main problem. Churches and other religious institutions don’t want the government telling them how they should practice their religions and for the most part I agree. I know I wouldn’t want the government to tell me that my temple had to use a “government approved” religious book for services. Separation of Church and State should run both ways. Government should (for the most part) stay out of religious institutions just as religious institutions should stay out of government.

    However, on the other side of things, government does get to define marriage for purposes of tax collection, inheritance, medical decisions, etc. We could grant gay couple “civil unions” with all of the rights of married folks, but that’s creating a “separate but equal” scenario. That didn’t work for “white sections/colored sections” and it wouldn’t work here.

    My proposal would be that any two consenting, non-related (i.e. no incest), non-married (i.e. no polygamy) adults could get married, but there would be no government mandate that religious institutions had to perform such marriages. So Bob and Bill might not be able to go to their local church and marry, but they could go to the local Justice of the Peace and get married. Then they would have the same rights as any other married couple.

    Religious groups could call this “civil marriage” if they want to and could think that their “religious marriage” is much better. That’s their right, just like they have the right to think that their religion is better than other religions/no religion. However, religious beliefs wouldn’t be allowed to interfere with the rights that “civil marriage” couples have. (e.g. A Catholic hospital wouldn’t be able to refuse to let Bill make medical decisions should Bob be incapacitated.)

  171. @Ian

    “Why would two people of the same sex want to consent to having sexual intercourse when it is not capable of producing life? Surely man and woman are designed (whether you believe in a Creator or not) to pro-create.”

    I know a straight couple right now that for years have been trying to have children. They’ve tried multiple invasive, unpleasant and expensive procedures, but nothing worked. By your definition, should they divorce or, at least, never have sex again?

    For another example, my wife and I have two children. That’s all we want to have. I’ve considered getting a Vasectomy to help ensure no “oops” happens. If I did get one, sexual intercourse with my wife would be incapable of producing life. So, of course, that would mean I’d never want to sleep with my wife again, right?

    The purpose of sexual intercourse is not only procreation. Yes, it can lead to that, but that is not the sole reason for sex.

  172. TheBlackCat

    My proposal would be that any two consenting, non-related (i.e. no incest), non-married (i.e. no polygamy) adults could get married, but there would be no government mandate that religious institutions had to perform such marriages. So Bob and Bill might not be able to go to their local church and marry, but they could go to the local Justice of the Peace and get married. Then they would have the same rights as any other married couple.

    That is all anyone is suggesting. No one is saying that churches should be forced to recognize or carry out these marriages, and it would unconstitutional to try.

  173. Sheldon

    I vote that we make Adam leave our country. What kind of idiot thinks that cultural rights outweigh human rights? There are cultures where women are regularly beaten, have their clitorises cut off with rusty blades, and are forced into marriages while still children. I guess Adam would rather we wait for a cultural shift, rather than encouraging that those women be helped through the passage of laws? Being a man, it’s easy for him to make that statement. Being straight, it’s also easy for him to make a similar statement about MY rights.

    I think the problem is that people aren’t always aware of their own prejudices. People like Adam are just as homophobic as the religious zealots. They’re just afraid to face the demons within, so they use euphemisms and couch their hatred in terms of “culture.” Infuriating, and sad.

  174. Marge

    Nobody thinks about how children feel on this issue. I asked my 12 year old what she thought of two of the same sex marring. She told me she would worry about how a child is brought up in that kind of relationship. Who would be the Mother? Who would be the Father?

    I have two kids. I know children need security and I see insecurity in raising kids in same-sex unions. Likewise the procreation issues arise. Who will be the surrogate parent(s)? Sperm donor? Nature needs a Male/Female pair to procreate. ( My 12 year old knows that!)

    Marriage is not a right but a contract between two of the opposite sex that wish to procreate and raise children. No one is denied marriage. It just has to be of the opposite sex. Children need to be nurtured and given secure role models of a Mother and Father. Can gay marriage can do that?

  175. Darth Robo

    Marge, would there be “more security” for the child if it was raised by two same-sex adults or a single parent? Why?

    Also, heterosexual couples can marry and not have kids if they don’t want to.

    The only procreation “issues” that may arise that I can think of would be if someone thinks “I don’ fink my kids should know about teh GAYNESS!”

  176. Darth Robo

    Rick in TX

    >>>”I read this blog for interesting stories on astronomy and for amusing stories about people like Richard Hoagland that pretend to know something about space related topics. I would rather you stick to those topics than antivaxxers and politics.”>>>

    Skip this thread then. See how easy that was? (shrug)

  177. Patricia

    @Marge, your daughter might find the idea of two same-sex parents puzzling because she has little or no experience with such families, but she cannot speak for all children. The numerous children I know being raised by gay and lesbian parents do not find their situations the least bit confusing. When each parent is committed to and deeply loves the child, the sex of that parent is unimportant. Their is no inherent reason why one parent must be called Mother and the other Father.

    I agree with you that children need security, but that is all the more reason why lesbian and gay parents need legal marriage. Gay families are already here. Legal marriage and legal recognition of the rights of non-biological parents allow for the continuing support of the children of same-sex parents even in the case of the death of a parent or the break-up of the parents’ relationship. Same-sex marriage does not make children less secure; it makes them more secure.

    However, the “wish to procreate” is not an inherent part of marriage. Many of my straight, married friends have no desire to make babies or raise children and have gone to considerable lengths to make sure that does not happen. Should their marriages be invalidated by the state? Are their marriages shams?

    What my straight, married, happily childless friends do want and expect from their marriages is mutual love and aid, including emotional and financial support and even physical support as they age and experience illness. Surely these elements of marriage carry as much weight as the desire to reproduce.

  178. Marge, that argument has been the standby for bigots since time immemorial. Hell, it’s still used by people who oppose interracial marriage.

    Your whole post is a flurry of old, overused bigot arguments. If you have nothing original to contribute, then kindly begone.

    Also, for the people complaining about “HOW DAER YOU SAY SOMETHING THAT ISN’T BOUT ASTRONOMY ON UR PERSONAL WEBLOG”, this has been addressed before. Don’t like? LEAVE. It’s as simple as that.

  179. PeteC

    Marge, do you really think that it’s better for a child to be brought up by an unmarried gay couple than a married one?

    Remember, this is a discussion about gay marriage, not gay adoption or whether or not a gay parent should win custody of an existing child.

  180. Nobody thinks about how children feel on this issue

    Marge hauls out the last step of a desperate bigot: Nothing else flies, so….FOR GOD’S SAKE, THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

    A question, Marge. Do you base all your opinions on the wisdom of twelve year-olds? You might want to tell her that there haven’t been any studies that conclude children raised by gay parents face any more difficulties other than those that “normal” kids face…except the constant hostility of bigots such as you seem to be.

    Now go back to taking care of your daughter. It’s lunch time. I’m sure you’ll feed her sugary junk and potato chips…the diet most 12 year-olds think is the perfect meal.

  181. Ross

    You don’t have to be a homophobe to oppose gay marriage.

    But it helps.

  182. adam

    issue isn’t black and white. this isn’t about denying gay people anything, it’s about denying couples something. the question is what is that “something.” is it a right guaranteed us by the Constitution, or is it a benefit extended to us by the government?

    there is no clear cut answer here. it depends on your interpretation of precedent court cases (Loving v. Virginia, for instance) as well as the Constitution and the relevant Amendments. depending on how you phrase and approach the question, marriage is one or the other. if it is a benefit, then there is nothing morally, legally or Constitutionally objectionable about the refusal to extend a benefit to gay couples that has been, in our society, predicated on opposite-sex unions of two people–same as how we don’t legally marry one man to more than one woman at a time.

    if we take marriage to be a right, then the government’s refusal to grant it to gay couples is unconstitutional on the same grounds as Loving v. Virginia (interracial couples).

    so, for example, if it’s not a right but a benefit, the government doesn’t have to deny permission for couples to get married, it simply has to refuse to recognize them because the benefits are not extended. the fact is that while the Supreme Court has upheld the right of all people to get married, there is absolutely no constitutional compulsion for the government to recognize all marriages and extend the accompanying benefits.

    at any rate, religious groups like the LDS Church have every right and reason to attempt to block the legal recognition of gay marriages–they believe homosexual activity to be immoral, and to allow gay marriage is a blanket sanction of homosexual activity–hence, a legitimate, moral objection. whether or not it has a legal basis, again, depends on the questions above.

  183. Ry

    153. kuhnigget @ Ry

    Again I emphasize, rightly or wrongly because this argument against incest no longer applies when children are not involved. As far as I’m concerned, society can debate whether or not to sanction incest, if it chooses to so debate. Ditto multiple-spouse marriages.

    But the debate is not about those issues right now. The debate is about gay marriage. That being the case, you have to come up with an argument against homosexual marriage that stands on its own merits, not one that is propped up with lazy inferences to other forms of marriage that are also proscribed.

    That is absolutely correct. I was not supposing that my comparison of gay marriage to incestuous marriage constituted a refutation of the pro-gay marriage arguments. I was not, as some commenters seem to infer, trying to make a “slippery slope” argument that gay marriage inexorably leads to incest marriage.

    I really had a far more modest point in mind and that point was this: The dominant point of view in this thread is that opposition to gay marriage equals hatred of gay people, but I think that one can in fact oppose gay marriage without hating gays just as one could oppose, for example, incest marriage without hating people with incestuous tendencies.

    I chose incest as my example because I figured that that was a practice so repellant that the vast majority of commenters on this thread would have an aversion to it.

    kuhnigget seems to think it not so repellant so long as “children are not involved,” so maybe I made a miscalculation there.

    But then again maybe not. kuhnigget says, “As far as I’m concerned, society can debate whether or not to sanction incest, if it chooses to so debate,” which supposes that kuhnigget believes (if he thinks there could be a real debate) that there would be people opposing incest marriage who are not, in fact, bigots motivated solely by bigotry.

    Which is more or less the point I was trying to make. Except that I was trying to analogize that hypothetical situation to the current real-life situation insofar as to point out how ridiculous it would be to charge an opponent of incest marriage of gross bigotry the way people in this thread seem so readily willing to charge opponents of gay marriage of such bigotry.

    You see, I basically agree with kuhnigget on the root issue: that “as far as I’m concerned, society can debate whether or not to sanction” this or that practice. Just so; we do live in a democracy. However, just because a debate comes up does not automatically mean everyone who debates on the “not” side must necessarily therefore be bigots.

    But, then again, maybe I am a bigot. I was forced to consider the possibility after reading whb03’s post at # 170

    Maybe in your neck of the woods, Kooter, where family trees can accurately be represented by flag poles. But out here in dat dar civilizashun, where we actually care about the scientific reasons for keeping the genetic pools healthy… Incest is relevant. And disgusting. Why find a good woman when you got a perfikly guuud sister? Because she’s your SISTER, stupid.

    PLEASE don’t marry anyone, sounds too dangerous to the rest of us.

    Who call out the hillbillies? I’m starting to hear banjos.

    Geeze.

    What really resonated with me was the way whb03 eschewed my handle “Ry” and called me by my christened name, “Kooter.” How did whb03 know to do that? It’s as though whb03 knows me personally and can therefore speak to the validity of my beliefs, discarding those whb03 knows to be only prejudices of my own and forcing me to adhere only to the conclusions whb03 knows I have come to by reason alone.

    Also, when whb03 told me not to breed because it was “too dangerous,” that really won me over. Ad hominem works every time for you intellectual people! Good job!

    At any rate, whb03 opposes incest marriage because, “incest is relevant. And disgusting.” So then whb03 admits that it is then relevant. And furthermore, whb03 opposes it because it is disgusting. But that does not make him a bigot, does it? That’s because whb03’s disgust has no bearing on the validity of whb03’s argument against incest marriage, since those are based solely on the grounds of cold. hard, factual based logic.

    Which is really all I’ve been trying to say all along.

  184. @ Ry:

    While I appreciate your attempt to reason out a clarification of your position, I think you missed the key point of my counter.

    I think that one can in fact oppose gay marriage without hating gays just as one could oppose, for example, incest marriage without hating people with incestuous tendencies.

    Forgetting about the charged word, hate, for a minute, let’s look at that comparison again. My point was, society has (or had, depending on whether biological offspring are taken out of the picture) a valid reason for not sanctioning incestuous relationships: they weakened the genetic stock and thus weakened society itself. No such reasoning exists for homosexual couples. Their parenting skills are no better or worse than other adoptive parents, and their offspring — assuming the donors/surrogates are not related to each other — do not produce inbred babies.

    So the comparison really isn’t valid. The only reason it’s used, and used a lot, is that it produces the expected “eww” factor. Knowing that, it’s only fair to conclude that continuing to use it equates to willing bigotry on the part of the arguer.

    BTW…

    kuhnigget seems to think it not so repellant so long as “children are not involved,” so maybe I made a miscalculation there.

    Nice attempt to attack my character there, Ry. I stated no such thing, only that the biological argument cannot be applied if children are not an issue. I have not stated my own personal opinion about incest, therefore you have no way of knowing my views on the subject. In any case, those views are irrelevant.

    Just so; we do live in a democracy. However, just because a debate comes up does not automatically mean everyone who debates on the “not” side must necessarily therefore be bigots.

    Perhaps not deliberately so, but if the fallacies of their arguments are presented to them and they still hold on to them, what is one left to conclude?

    BTW#2: I agree with your reaction to whbo3’s comment. This issue tends to bring out the worst in people. Now imagine going through your whole life with that sort of vitriol aimed at you. Is it any wonder some of us cling so passionately to the simple desire to be legally married to our partners? Safe haven in the arms of another.

    Peace on ya.

  185. Laura

    @Marge; Your twelve year old daughter would also like a sparkly vampire boyfriend riding in on a unicorn.

    Of course, when I was 12, I was being molested by my “father.” In a nice, heterosexual marriage, too. I love how everyone becomes so worried about “the children” swearing that kids are safest, happiest, etc, in a two parent, differently gendered pairing – when it is in those houses where abused children are most likely to GET abused. And neglected. It is those houses that toss their gay or trans children out, full of Christian compassion, no doubt, so they can experience the solid heterosexual value of being abandoned and rejected.

    How would they know which is mommy and daddy? I dunno? How did my friends raised by single parents somehow manage to survive? Kids raised by the grandparents or aunts or uncles?

    And by the way, what shall we do with the children being raised by gay parents NOW? It happens that there are plenty – and somehow they have also managed to survive. Shall the state remove them because some people can’t imagine the difficulty of growing up not knowing what to call their parents? Don’t those children deserve the protection of the law in cases of adoption, all the legal connections with the people who love them most?

    But really, the answer is that children are IRRELEVANT to the discussion of civil marriage. Until such a time that the country requires child raising licenses – and sometimes, I do think that might be a GRAND idea – what we are discussing is a contract between two consenting, tax paying adults who supposedly have access to the same system of rights that every other citizen has. Whether they can, have, or will reproduce is not in that contract *anywhere* – the state neither asks if they can or intend to.

    Nor does the state ask a 12 year old to guide contract making laws.

  186. Randy

    OOOOOOOOOOOOK THEN

    I am a man in a long term relationship with another man, We have been registered domestic partners for five years now. Right now is open enrollment for health care plans. Although i have a great job, I cannot get my partner health insurance for one simple reason, HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS DO NOT RECOGNIZE CIVIL UNIONS! Under the health care provider that I use, If i get hit by a bus tomorrow and am a total vegetable, my partner is NOT allowed to make the decision to pull the plug or not.

    I have no problem with civil unions, the word matters very little to me. However, the term “marriage” Means a lot in the bureaucratic world and it is safe to say that their will never be equality for same sex couples until our relationships are recognized as the same as married couples.

    And again, i can drive to Vegas tonight and pick up a hooker off the streets and marry her in less than a hour. Yet for some reason i have to pay higher taxes (yes, gay couples pay higher taxes) because the person i fell in love with happens to be the same gender as mine.

  187. andyo

    Yeah, listen to Randy. Every time this particular issue is mentioned, the “just get a civil union” people are suspiciously silent about it.

    And Ry at #186 said:

    I really had a far more modest point in mind and that point was this: The dominant point of view in this thread is that opposition to gay marriage equals hatred of gay people, but I think that one can in fact oppose gay marriage without hating gays just as one could oppose, for example, incest marriage without hating people with incestuous tendencies.

    Nice, now “homophobic” also implies “hate” of gay people. So as long as you don’t want to beat a gay with a baseball bat, you’re not homophobic?
    To all people who “are not homophobes, but…” Stop saying that there are non-homophobic and non-religious arguments without providing one!

  188. Darth Robo

    >>>”I really had a far more modest point in mind and that point was this: The dominant point of view in this thread is that opposition to gay marriage equals hatred of gay people, but I think that one can in fact oppose gay marriage without hating gays just as one could oppose, for example, incest marriage without hating people with incestuous tendencies.

    I chose incest as my example because I figured that that was a practice so repellant that the vast majority of commenters on this thread would have an aversion to it.”<<<

    So in other words, incest = "Eww!" and homosexuality = "Eww!" That is your argument.

    Gotcha.

  189. Sam

    Becca Stareyes: I’m not so sure I agree that qualifying marriage by saying it can only be between two people of the opposite sex is discrimination based on gender. Don’t get me wrong – I think if two gay people want to be together and have protections granted by the state then good for them (doesn’t bother me). But there is this whole issue of reproduction. Unfortunately nature is not as hyper-sensitive to equality sexism and racism as we are. Nature has not granted us equality to reproduce as we please. Do you think there is a valid argument that a couple that can reproduce can be more valuable to a society than one who can’t? A gay couple can’t produce fodder for out wars, can they?

    Okay – that’s a silly way to say it – and obviously gay couples can contribute in a lot of ways to society (including raising children), but it’s still a real question. Should someone who can’t contribute by having children in the same way be rewarded the same way? Or does the level of contribution matter at all?

  190. Ry

    I said @ kuhnigget that he “seems to think it not so repellant so long as “children are not involved,” so maybe I made a miscalculation there.”

    # 187. kuhnigget: Nice attempt to attack my character there, Ry. I stated no such thing, only that the biological argument cannot be applied if children are not an issue. I have not stated my own personal opinion about incest, therefore you have no way of knowing my views on the subject.

    I was not trying to smear your character. I misinterpreted what you said, and I apologize for that.

    But thank you for your kind words. And I mean that.

    190. andyo Says:
    To all people who “are not homophobes, but…” Stop saying that there are non-homophobic and non-religious arguments without providing one!

    That is fair enough.

    I am in favor of the traditional view of marriage. Opponents of my view have commonly responded that the idea of marriage is ever-evolving and that the idea of “traditional marriage” is a myth. The three most common pieces of evidence that the idea of “traditional marriage” is a myth are:

    1) There used to be laws against inter-racial marriage.

    2) Polygamy used to be commonplace, and in some parts of the world is still commonplace.

    3) Divorce laws have done more to damage the idea of “traditional marriage” than gay marriage could ever do.

    I respond to 1): Inter-racial marriage is very common throughout human history. It is only when there are political objections for “keeping the races pure,” or whatnot, that artificial laws banning such unions arise. Under normal circumstances, when any random culture encounters an exotic race, they tend naturally to breed with that race.

    I respond to 2): Even under the practice of polygamy, the norm is still that marriage is between one man and one woman. The man may marry Sue on Monday, Jane on Wednesday, and Sally on Friday, but each of those ceremonies were between the one man and Sue, Jane, and Sally, respectively. Sue, Jane and Sally have no spousal relation to each other. When Sue dies, it has no bearing on Jane’s and Sally’s marriage to the one guy.

    This is not to defend the practice of polygamy, which I consider merely tolerable in the conditions that existed in ancient times. I only intend to make the point that marriage was between one man and one woman, even back then, under such conditions.

    I respond to 3): That I agree entirely. As Phil says in his post, “The idea that somehow gay marriage harms hetero marriage is one of the dumbest arguments ever, and is clearly simply a smokescreen for bigotry (unless they support this guy as well).”

    So the guy on the post Phil links to is making “a satirical point.” So what. I agree with it.

    “No Fault” divorce has been absolutely devastating to the institution of marriage. Phil seems to agree with that, NYS Senator Diane Savino apparently agrees with that in the above YouTube video.

    All of us apparently agree with that except I think that the solution is to go back and fix that false step, not compound it by further loosening the definition of marriage.

    Because I think that the definition of marriage is important. It is something we have had for 10,000 years and probably more. It is nothing less than the basic building block of all human society. And if we do away with this fundamental building block, then I expect society as a whole to tumble.

    And that’s why I oppose gay marriage.

  191. andyo

    Because I think that the definition of marriage is important. It is something we have had for 10,000 years and probably more. It is nothing less than the basic building block of all human society. And if we do away with this fundamental building block, then I expect society as a whole to tumble.

    Please explain why that is not religious and/or homophobic. You’re going for the semantics “argument” and then saying it’s DOOM if some word’s definition is not followed by some totally arbitrary (and religious) standards?

    The fact that interracial marriage was “very common” (disputable at best) does not negate the argument that there used to be laws against it and there aren’t now cause thankfully, we know better. BTW gay marriage is also known throughout history. But you know what? That’s not an argument. The argument is NOW, why do homosexuals deserve less than heterosexuals?

    You’re responding to a major moral issue with semantics? REALLY?

  192. whb03

    Nice try at attempting to skirt around my harsh sarcasm, Ry, but my point, in case you try to nuance your way around it, is simple: trying to equate “seemingly irrelevant” [your words] incestuous relationships with “anti-traditional” gay marriage is a completely irrelevant argument. The two have no place on the same side of the equation. Don’t try to squirm your way out of this one. What you said is as “disgusting” as the concept you attempt to relate to your “non-traditional” view of marriage.

    In short: STFU.

    Hope my sarcasm is now understood.

  193. @ Ry:

    Thanks for the correction. Now to your argument, and I’ll respond in similar fashion.

    As I’ve stated before, the typical arguments against gay marriage fall into several predictable categories: the argument from authority (this or that god says so), the argument from tradition, the argument from the “eww” factor, and when all else fails, the argument basically summed up as “For God’s sake, think of the children!”

    Your view is of the traditional sort: Marriage has “always” been defined as male and female. At least you admit there have been vast variations in that basic tradition: age, quantity, race, etc. But as Andyo, myself and others have pointed out, the tradition has not “always” been just male and female.

    But be that as it may, the core problem with your argument is that it conveniently ignores the fact that traditions are not set in stone. They are not unchanging. They are not handed down from on high or down low complete and intact and untouchable. Traditions change dramatically over time. Bluntly put: traditions are human inventions and humans mold them continuously to meet the needs of a constantly changing society.

    This is a truism for all aspects of our culture (which is, itself, a human invention). The tradition of slavery is almost universal in human history, existing far back into recorded – and presumably pre-recorded – times. Yet today, we find it repellant and outlaw it. Ritual slaughter of sacrificial victims, animal or human, also goes back as far as we can see into our past, and is firmly grounded in religions of all different sorts. Yet now, we have largely eliminated it from our culture.

    Society is what we want it to be. Laws are what we want them to be. Definitions relating to our culture, our traditions, are way of life, are what we want them to be. Gradually, slowly, modern western society is changing, and our views on marriage are changing, too. They are changing because we are changing them.

    All of us apparently agree with that except I think that the solution is to go back and fix that false step, not compound it by further loosening the definition of marriage.
    Because I think that the definition of marriage is important. It is something we have had for 10,000 years and probably more. It is nothing less than the basic building block of all human society. And if we do away with this fundamental building block, then I expect society as a whole to tumble.

    Sorry, I missed one more category: the argument that somehow one person’s marriage has the ability and power to affect everybody else’s marriage, that straight marriage somehow has to be “protected” from gay mariage.

    That is utter bilge, Ry. Please demonstrate the causal connection between my marriage and yours (if you are, indeed, married). Please show how the event of my marriage ceremony in Canada has impacted yours, or anyone else’s marriage. (It’s had over five years to work its evil, so I’d guess the impacts are quite obvious by now.) Please illustrate why, if your marriage is so weak that the desire of other people to get married threatens it, that the problem doesn’t lie with your marriage, not anyone else’s marriage?

    And finally, how, if marriage is the bedrock of society, does the addition of more people joining in that storied institution do anything but strengthen it?

  194. whb03

    kuhnigget, I gotta give it to you, you’re a better man than I. While I arguably lack class and inarguably posess a complete dearth of patience towards those who attempt to “legitimize” such entities as this nonissue, racism, Christian superemacy, ID in place of science, etc., it is nice to see someone show the constraint and clarity of thought you show in dealing with Ry. Still offering no apologies to the likes of Ry, I must admit that my kneejerk reactions sometimes do more damage than good. Anyway, good responses.

  195. @ whbo3:

    Trust me, my knees have twitched all-too often!

    Unfortunately, this is the type of issue that triggers very basal responses…from both sides. I dare say I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone actually change their mind based on any argument of mine. Usually they just go away, eventually presenting their same arguments in some other forum when the issue comes up again.

    Sadly, that changing society I mentioned above usually comes about as one generation passes on to the next. I seriously doubt I will ever see gay marriage accepted by the majority of Americans in my lifetime. But my metaphoric kids will, I am sure of that. And by the end of their generation, the issue will seem quaint and all the pain and struggle all but unimaginable.

  196. whb03

    kuhnigget – I’m not so sure we won’t see these things change within our lifetimes. For all their alleged shortcomings, the ‘Me generation’ seems to think these nonissues (some of which have been around since the birth of the western world) are just that – nonissues. And despite what we may hear about the alleged laziness of this generation, they seem to be at least as hard working as my X-generation (while knocking us out of our jobs – but that has little to do with the generations and lots to do with the elitist philosophy that age is unwelcome, something they will also face before too long). I’m seeing the changes all around, even here in bass-ackwards ‘Me-too’ Missouri. They hear about the nonissues, kinda shake their heads, and ask what’s next on the agenda (expecting a legitimate answer, not ideological rhetoric). They simply don’t see these as issues – rights for all, think with your brain not with your Bible, pretty simple stuff, what’s the issue again? So I think the upcoming generation is about to make a huge part of these “issues” obsolete. At least I hope so… Meanwhile, our generations still gotta deal with the turkeys. Ah well.

  197. Ry

    196. kuhnigget Says:

    Your view is of the traditional sort: Marriage has “always” been defined as male and female. At least you admit there have been vast variations in that basic tradition…But be that as it may, the core problem with your argument is that it conveniently ignores the fact that traditions are not set in stone… Bluntly put: traditions are human inventions and humans mold them continuously to meet the needs of a constantly changing society.

    Meh. I guess you could say that my view of marriage is something of a “tradition.” If you consider things like “breathing oxygen” and “eating protein” to be “human traditions,” then, yeah, I do consider “male and female propogating the species” to be “tradition” as well.

    “Male and female union” alone can propogate the species. That is suddenly now a very controversial statement to make, apparantly. Possibly homophobic. I don’t know why.

    Eff it all, I say. You can find all “flavors” of love throughout all human history. Any one of them can strike your fancy at any time, but nobody can deny that it is when one male and one female get together with the intent to make a family that civilization is actually possible.

    Now, I don’t care who loves whom. The very basic experience of having the human condition tells us that we have to make the one-on-one, male-female union special in some way, different from all other kinds of human relations. No matter who you are or what your state in life, you HAVE to agree with this or else agree to human extinction within the next generation’s lifetime.

    Sorry, I missed one more category: the argument that somehow one person’s marriage has the ability and power to affect everybody else’s marriage, that straight marriage somehow has to be “protected” from gay mariage.

    That is utter bilge, Ry. Please demonstrate the causal connection between my marriage and yours (if you are, indeed, married)…

    I never argued that your marriage hurt my own. I never argued that any one person’s marriage was the cause of the total disintegration of marrige, or of even a possible source of harm to others.

    My only argument has been that making same sex marriage the same as male and female marriage changes the definition of marriage.

    Does anyone want to argue with me that it doesn’t?

    Now, on to that other guy:

    whb03 Says:
    Nice try at attempting to skirt around my harsh sarcasm, Ry, but my point, in case you try to nuance your way around it, is simple: trying to equate “seemingly irrelevant” [your words) incestuous relationships with “anti-traditional” gay marriage is a completely irrelevant argument… Don’t try to squirm your way out of this one. What you said is as “disgusting” as the concept you attempt to relate to your “non-traditional” view of marriage.

    I didn’t try to skirt my way around anything as far as I can tell. I quoted you in full and roundly mocked you to the best of my ability. Is there anything I left out of your post that made my mockery unfair?

    Still offering no apologies to the likes of Ry, I must admit that my kneejerk reactions sometimes do more damage than good.

    Now, whb03, I have to say that you do me injury in making the assumption that I WANT an apology or that I take anything you have said against me personally. You hate me, a guy (if I am actually a guy) you have never met, and formed your opinion based solely on my political opinions on this one issue. I can respect that, and the last thing on earth I want is for you to take anything back.

    Indeed, it’s the one thing I know about you that’s authentic. That’s really the only human connection I have to you. I don’t know who you are except for your opinions on this one topic. Indeed, if there’s a thin line between love and hate, then maybe I should try to make you hate me as much as possible. Maybe then at last you’d love yourself as much as I love you.

    **totally gay hugs & kisses @ whb03 **

    But I know those hugs and kisses will never be returned, so long as you are saying Final Solution stuff like:

    So I think the upcoming generation is about to make a huge part of these “issues” obsolete. At least I hope so… Meanwhile, our generations still gotta deal with the turkeys. Ah well.

    Or agreeing with kuhnigget when he wishes for the death of all who disagree with him saying…

    And by the end of their generation, the issue will seem quaint

    Ah well. I’m sorry to be one of the “turkeys” you people have to deal with. I’m sorry to be just the guy that you have to wait to die off so that history can presume.

    It cannot be THAT bad. Y’all seem VERY sure that history is on your side. I cannot imagine that I am doing very much harm to the cause of “Progress” when I do my level best make the case for tradition. In fact, one could even argue that the more strenuously I argue for “tradition,” the stronger I make the casefor “progress.” If “progress” really is the best option, then my arguments for “tradition” can only strengthen it.

    So what’s the problem, officer?

    Don’t I at least have a place at the table?

    It’s all I’m asking.

  198. papageno

    Ry:
    Meh. I guess you could say that my view of marriage is something of a “tradition.” If you consider things like “breathing oxygen” and “eating protein” to be “human traditions,” then, yeah, I do consider “male and female propogating the species” to be “tradition” as well.

    “Male and female union” alone can propogate the species. That is suddenly now a very controversial statement to make, apparantly. Possibly homophobic. I don’t know why.

    Eff it all, I say. You can find all “flavors” of love throughout all human history. Any one of them can strike your fancy at any time, but nobody can deny that it is when one male and one female get together with the intent to make a family that civilization is actually possible.

    Now, I don’t care who loves whom. The very basic experience of having the human condition tells us that we have to make the one-on-one, male-female union special in some way, different from all other kinds of human relations. No matter who you are or what your state in life, you HAVE to agree with this or else agree to human extinction within the next generation’s lifetime.

    Poppycock!

    Animals and plants do not need marriage to propagate the species. And, biologically, neither do humans: sperms and eggs do not start working only after you put your signature on the marriage certificate.

    Yours is just a variation of the “Think of the children!” argument.

  199. Okay, Ry. Now I side with whbo3. You’re apparently an a_____. fill in the blanks.

    Or agreeing with kuhnigget when he wishes for the death of all who disagree with him saying…

    Jeebus, are you stupid? I’m talking about the natural passing of generations, one to the next, not wishing anybody dead. Is your world view so clouded with hate you can’t see that very clearly stated point? This is twice now you’ve deliberately twisted someone’s point to make your own spiteful comment. Sad, Ry. Really, really sad.

    Any one of them can strike your fancy at any time, but nobody can deny that it is when one male and one female get together with the intent to make a family that civilization is actually possible.

    Civilization is possible without a male and a female procreating. Civilization could quite happily go on with artificial insemination. If you extend your argument to its (il)logical conclusion, only people who breed should get married. Thus you have precluded from marriage a huge percentage of people who actually do get married right now. Are they not really married, Ry?

    My only argument has been that making same sex marriage the same as male and female marriage changes the definition of marriage.
    Does anyone want to argue with me that it doesn’t?

    And all along people have been telling you that the definition of marriage has been changing throughout human history. Reread my posts. Or is your vision too hazy to do so?

    It doesn’t matter how “tradition” used to define marriage in the past. What matters is how we choose to define marriage here and now. Because marriage, like all traditions, is a human invention and we can do with it what we please.

    I never argued that your marriage hurt my own

    Yes you did, repeatedly if indirectly, by stating that gay marriage will somehow “redefine” the word and implying that this is a bad thing. You further imply this by bringing up the unsupported notion that male/female marriage is the bedrock of civilization, and thus implying that the inclusion of male/male or female/female couples into this group will somehow bring civilization down.

    You imply as much again and the very end:

    So what’s the problem, officer?
    Don’t I at least have a place at the table?
    It’s all I’m asking.

    Who has been arguing that you won’t have a place at the table, Ry? Who has stated that only gay people can get married now, and that straight people have to move away from the table?

    Nobody, Ry! Not a damn one of us!

    Once again, your arguments betray the fear and bigotry you are hiding beneath good manners.

    What are you afraid of? Seriously?

    And I reassert my original and most basic question: HOW DOES MY MARRIAGE IMPACT YOUR MARRIAGE IN ANY WAY?

    Answer that, Ry. Forget the semantics, forget the arguments about tradition.

    HOW DOES MY MARRIAGE AFFECT ANYONE ELSE’S MARRIAGE AT ALL?

    I will guess that you cannot answer it, because to do so would reveal how your pleas to tradition ring hollow. Nobody’s marriage will crumble because of gay marriage. Civilization will not founder. People will not stop procreating. Bigots will not stop hating.

  200. Ry

    Okay, Ry. Now I side with whbo3. You’re apparently an a_____. fill in the blanks.

    Let me preface this by saying at the outset that this post is not sarcastic in any way.

    I am sorry for my half cocked rant. I should not have published it.

    I Godwined myself and that automatically disqualifies me (in my mind) from making any further contributions to this discussion.

    I behaved like an ass, and I will not be commenting anymore here.

    I apologize to kuhnigget and to whbo3. As well as to anyone else who might be reading this and was offended by me.

    I will think about the arguments kuhnigget and whbo3 have presented me. I cannot promise that I will change my opinion, but I will think about what you have said.

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