General Question

Poser's avatar

What's the problem with gay marriage?

Asked by Poser (7782 points ) September 17th, 2007

I understand that it’s supposedly an “affront to God,” in the eyes of many religious people, but why is it such a battle in this day and age, especially in America?

I’m not trying to start any arguments, I’m just curious why so many people seem to have such a problem with it.

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36 Answers

xgunther's avatar

because our constitution was founded by Christians?

hossman's avatar

I think I went through this on another thread. Putting my personal opinion aside, as a matter of law, I see no constitutional way to prohibit same-sex marriage, unless Congress passed legislation (and I think there is something like it pending) defining “marriage” as limited to one man and one woman. If such legislation was passed, I believe this Supreme Court (and the Clinton Court, for what its worth) would uphold such legislation as constitutional, largely under the premise that the Court merely determines constitutionality, and does not sit as a “superlegislature” to second guess the advisability of good or bad legislation. I believe making “domestic unions” available actually weakens the case for same-sex marriage, as it provides a viable legal alternative to marriage, and dilutes the argument that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples denies same-sex couples equal rights.

If federal legislation was passed specifically authorizing same-sex marriage, I think it would be the same result, the legislation would not be found unconstitutional (ignoring the possibility of some outrageously unconstitutional wording of the law in either direction). There are some questions that are simply up to the will of the people as expressed (or sometimes ignored) by their duly elected representatives. Since I doubt it even occurred to our Founding Fathers to address this in the Constitution, we have no idea what they would have said. Although many were ministers or devout Christians, they also largely believed Congress should keep their nose out of personal lives, so it would be interesting where they would have come down on this issue.

I believe Justice Scalia, possibly joined by Justice Thomas, would have a minority opinion similar to Scalia’s opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick (upholding a Texas prohibition on same-sex sex) which would be premised on there not being an “historical tradition” of same-sex marriage, but I don’t believe this opinion would have more than two votes regardless of which way Congress or the Court went.

As far as individual states addressing the issue, there are too many possibilities to be able to predict anything, but I do believe sooner or later Congress has to address it at a federal level, because state courts like Illinois are already having to deal with whether they will adjudicate a divorce between same-sex couples, where the marriage was legally granted in a jurisdiction permitting same-sex marriage, but the state hearing the divorce does not permit same-sex marriage. The general opinion of the judges and lawyers I’ve talked to, including those who are homosexual, is (with exceptions) that the divorce system is so clogged up now, nobody really wants a new load of cases. But that’s purely selfish reasoning.

I’m not sure today, even in the current Supreme Court,you will get very far by arguing same-sex marriage should be prohibited because it is contrary to traditional Judeo-Christian doctrine. I would prefer to see the civil legal concept of a “domestic union” wholly separated from the religious concept of a “marriage.” Let “marriage” be a purely religious concept without any involvement of the government whatsoever. A “marriage” would not create any sort of legal relationship between the two parties. Let the question of who can be “married” be solely up to the religious body certifying the marriage, without any government control. Let “domestic unions” be a purely clerical function of government, which would create a purely contractual relationship between the parties. It’s probably time we discard many of the concepts still somewhat present in divorce that derived from a time when women were considered property, like alienation of affections and dowry. Under the current system, almost no planning or legal work has to be done to get married, all of the legal work is done in the divorce. Let’s change that by front-loading the legal work. No domestic union of any form would be permitted until both parties have executed a “domestic contract” clearly setting forth the specifics of the contractual relationship of the parties, in essence, requiring everyone to have a prenuptial contract. Require a “cooling off” period of a few days, during which time each party would be advised by the government office to seek the advice of an attorney. Provisions would be required that would fully disclose the obligations of each party should children occur, through natural or artificial means, during the domestic union. Sure, none of this is very romantic, but at least everyone would know up front what they were getting into. If somebody was going to be a cheap jerk, the other person would know before they entered into the union. Then, we would no longer have divorce court, the parties would simply sue each other for failure to comply with the contract, just like any other contract action.

That’s the potential legal problem. As to religion, the issue as far as I can see for Judaism, Islam and Christianity is fairly clear. The Old Testament, New Testament and Koran all have pretty straightforward prohibitions against homosexual sexual conduct (not necessarily homosexuality itself), although this is not mentioned nearly as many times as the prohibitions against adultery and premarital sex. So if you are a follower of those faiths, you either believe that prohibition continues today, or you believe for some reason it is no longer valid.

Now the moral “problems or lack thereof” have a wide spectrum of approaches, too numerous to really get into.

awaytoolong's avatar

A small point of clarification: I think there are some good arguments out there that passages from the New Testament used to justify forbidding same sex sexual acts apply to male-male acts, not female-female acts, so lesbian sex acts are pretty safe scripturally speaking.

Also, in the Hebrew Bible, there are sexual prohibitions mostly related to male-male acts, not female-female acts. For example, there is a long list of sexual prohibitions in Leviticus, including “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. You shall not have sexual relations with any animal and defile yourself with it, nor shall any woman give herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it: it is perversion (Lev 18:22–23).” As you can see, there isn’t a reflexive statement about a woman lying with a woman as with a man. Women just can’t be with animals.

I woudn’t agree that the issue regarding homosexuality/same sex sexual conduct and the church/temple is “fairly clear” from a textual point of view or from a historical or contemporary church/temple community point of view. Generally, the “straightfoward prohibitions” in the Hebrew Bible and NT are anything but straightfoward, with this issue being no exception.

hossman's avatar

By straightforward, I mean that the words themselves are relatively clear. “Abomination” certainly isn’t a fence-sitting sort of word. I am familiar with the argument you make, perhaps the foremost authority making that argument is Rabbi Jacob Milgrom, who also argues the prohibition in Leviticus 18:22–23 is also limited to gay Jewish men residing in the Holy Land. First, this argument is limited only to the verse you cited, not other prohibitions against homosexuality in the Old Testament, New Testament and Koran (Mohammed was pretty clear, but I lack my Islamic reference materials to give you cites to Surahs). Further, much of it is limited to subsequent Talmudic opinions interpreting the Torah, and thus only applicable to Judaism, and of lesser authority even in Judaism. The usual argument in response to your male/female distinction is that frequently the male gender is used when the intent is to address both genders, much as “man” and “mankind” is usually intended to refer to man and woman. The argument that a failure to mention both man and woman excludes women is based upon an assumption no more valid than the assumption the use of one gender referred to both genders by using “man” to refer to men and women, as commonly done both in the Bible and today. As an example, there are numerous events in the Bible in which only men are referred to when it is clear from other references to the same event that women were present. Neal Armstrong also only referred to “man” and “mankind,” I doubt he meant to exclude women.

Leviticus is not the only text with such a prohibition. See also 1 Corinthians 6:9–10: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor ***homosexual offenders*** nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” New International Version (emphasis added by asterisks not appearing in original text). Right now I’m house sitting, so I don’t have access to my research resources, but having researched the issue before, if I recall correctly, the gender of the original Greek here refers to both genders. The English translation here does not differentiate between genders. No argument can be made here that women are excluded by no specific reference, as the reference is to “offenders” which could be male or female.

If you’re looking for a text that specifically includes woman, see Romans 1:26–27: “Because of this God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

1 Timothy 1:9–14 also has a prohibition which only references male/male conduct.

One of the questions that is never brought up is if any form of homosexual sexual conduct (again, not homosexuality itself) is NOT prohibited, then why is homosexuality, which was certainly well known during Biblical times, never cited with approval? Why then would Genesis 2:24 say: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” That’s pretty straightforward. If homosexual sexual conduct or adultery or premarital sex was approved, why is the approval never mentioned? Why is it that historical figures known to non-Biblical historical sources as clearly engaging in homosexual conduct (e.g. Nero, Herod) are frequently the target of some of the harshest criticism in the Bible (I suppose an opposing argument could be if it was their homosexual conduct that was the source of their evil, that could be stated outright).

Those authorities taking the position the Bible does not prohibit homosexual sexual conduct are usually having to make a very long stretch in their interpretation. You may also see the statement “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.” He also said nothing about rape, incest, sodomy and bestiality. None of this, however, authorizes the condemnation of homosexuals. Nowhere is there any basis for homosexual sexual conduct to be categorized as some sort of “worse” sin.

Certainly there are many other experts who find the Bible and Koran clearly prohibit homosexual sexual conduct of both genders, including the current Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury. I have the feeling that no matter what words were used in the Bible and Koran, somebody would, on this issue, just like many others, argue either that wasn’t what was meant or that it no longer applied today. I also agree that there is quite a bit of hypocrisy among some Christians who condemn homosexuality yet turn a blind eye to similar Scriptural prohibitions against adultery, premarital sex and certain forms of divorce and remarriage. As an example, one of the most vehemently anti-homosexual Christians I know is in a position of church leadership despite his divorce and remarriage, at least by my interpretation, being prohibited by the New Testament and Jesus’ own words. EVERY SINGLE Christian, Jew and Muslim is a sinner, as clearly stated in their own religious texts, thus there is no “moral high ground.” I must differ from awaytoolong, who cites one passage while not mentioning others, there is a clear textual prohibition of homosexual sexual conduct. I believe you can argue the Bible and the Koran are wrong or unfair or fallible, but for anyone who believes the Bible or the Koran are infallible, it takes a real stretch to say homosexual sexual conduct is not prohibited. And I really wish I had my Greek dictionary and other research resources at hand so I could be more specific.

Regardless, it is my legal opinion what the Bible and the Koran say about this issue are not valid reasons under our Constitution to deny same-sex marriage. It is my legal opinon “marriage” means whatever the legislature decides it means. If “marriage” is defined to exclude same-sex marriage, I see no reason some sort of secular, civil contractual equivalent should not be available, regardless of gender, or even whether the parties have any intimate relationship, or even like each other. By blending the legal concepts with the religious concepts, we don’t do either a favor.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

@hossman: While awaytoolong quoted only once source, he quoted a source from the Old Testament, a source which you don’t take into consideration as the Bible of the Jewish people. You use examples from Corinthians, Romans, etc. which are only part of the New Testament and therefore do not apply to Jews or Muslims.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

@hossman: Sorry, I mean to acknowledge the fact that you quoted from Genesis which is part of the Old Testament but your argument there is that it does not approve of homosexuality, however, it does not prohibit, nor even disapprove of iit either with that passage.

gooch's avatar

Maybe for the same reasons men can not have more than one wife in this country?

hossman's avatar

I agree with omfg… that the texts from the New Testament would not be prohibitions for those Jews who do not accept the New Testament (which isn’t all Jews). Since Mohammed did incorporate much of the Old and New Testament into Islam, and had his own prohibitions against homosexuality, I’d suggest the New Testament passages are relevant to Islam. I just don’t have my copy of the Koran or any of my Islamic resources here, and I don’t want to trust to my memory, and I hesitate to trust an Internet searchable text of the Koran, if there is one in English. Thus, I can’t be more specific.

If you wish to read a VERY interesting debate specifically regarding the difference in awaytoolong’s position and mine, I heartily recommend (although I don’t completely agree with) two very interesting essays on the topic. The two opposing viewpoints are on two separate webpages, I will link to the position contrary to my viewpoint, but suggest you read both. Each of the two webpages have a link to the other at the top of the page. http://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php

I think both of these essays are very well thought out and sensitive to the topic. Interestingly, both are written by men who represent themselves as gay Christians, yet take opposing viewpoints on the prohibitions against homosexual sexual conduct. The argument for “reforming” the Church’s “traditional” view against homosexual conduct is perhaps the best I’ve read, and certainly stimulated much thought for me, even though it ultimately failed to persuade me. I encourage anyone seriously interested in the topic to read BOTH essays.

hossman's avatar

omfg. . . I do take Leviticus into account, I simply do not agree (and neither do many Jews) with the interpretation given that passage by omfg and Rabbi Milgrom. I also do not feel that that is necessarily the strongest example, and as omfg covered it first, I didn’t spend as much time with it. I also didn’t spend much time with the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as I believe it to be the weakest argument in the Bible regarding homosexual sexual conduct, for a number of reasons. There are a few other passages that refer to “perversion,” but my memory does not recall the original Greek texts, and I don’t have my reference materials with me to be sure what that word is referring to. All I have with me is a searchable text of the NIV I have loaded on my cellphone.

xgunther's avatar

You’re all nuts.

hossman's avatar

Well, I have to give you kudos for brevity, xgunther, but if you don’t have anything substantive to contribute, you could skip the personal insult. This issue is very important for some people. I would imagine it would be very difficult to be Christian, or Muslim, possibly Jewish (I don’t know how widespread the Jewish position omfg described is) and also be homosexual. I’m sure those people would really appreciate being labeled “nuts.” Very sensitive of you.

hossman's avatar

Since brevity has been requested, in summary, my response is I have no problem with same-sex domestic unions, I think that concept should be separated from the concept of marriage, and I can see how those who believe certain religious texts are infallible also believe same-sex marriages should not be permitted, and sooner or later, this will have to be addressed by national legislation.

gailcalled's avatar

I am not a theologian nor a biblical scholar…however,

Two of the rabbinal students at my Synagogue (Reconstructionist) were the halves a male gay couple – a union and not a marriage. The Synagogue couldn’t afford to pay for an ordained rabbi, so these guys took turns coming up from the Reconstructionist Seminary in Philly to the Berkshires, twice a month. They had several open. discussions about the issues of being gay males as it related to OT scripture. The talk was lively, informed, courteous and useful. Of course, being Jews, we all shouted out loud and interrupted a lot, but other than that, it was fine.

“Reconstructionist Judaism is a modern American-based Jewish movement, based on the ideas of the late Mordecai Kaplan, that views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization.” “link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconstructionist_Judaism

hossman's avatar

Sounds like perhaps I should convert to Judaism. The doctrinal debate sounds a lot more fun.

syz's avatar

For the oft-quoted and fatuous response of “to protect the sanctity of marriage” I say that if you truly want to protect the sanctity of marriage, then divorce should be illegal and adultery should be punishable by death.

syz's avatar

Oh, and as far as for references to the Bible, I think we’ve all seen plenty of references to the ridiculousness of taking scripture literally.

hossman's avatar

Well, syz, that is indeed your opinion, but to refer to taking any religious text literally as “ridiculous” seems a tad offensive to me. While I don’t really mind if you were calling me ridiculous, I suggest it may be both offensive and rhetorically feeble to just disregard any person’s sincerely held religious belief as “ridiculous.” I don’t think an Orthodox Jew or many Christians who believe in scriptural infallibility would like you referring to their sincerely held religious beliefs as ridiculous, and that is a presumption on your part. I can think of several Islamic countries where a statement like you made could get you dead pretty quick. You wouldn’t find me calling an atheist ridiculous. Anyone’s religious beliefs, or lack thereof, should be treated with equal respect. Myself, regardless of which religion’s text it is, I find it at least rhetorically useful to start with a literal interpretation, otherwise, I don’t see why we would refer to a religious text at all. If a religious text can mean anything you wish it to mean, I don’t know why one would waste time with the text at all, and not just read poetry.

You may find a religious approach to this “ridiculous,” but a very similar approach was taken by Plato as well, see: http://www.well.com/~aquarius/serpent.htm for an interesting criticism, complete with cites to Plato’s texts, of Plato’s position that homosexual sexual conduct should be removed from “chaste” homosexual love (which is where the phrase “platonic love” derived). Plato’s position is not far removed from Paul’s, which isn’t surprising because Paul as a well-educated Jew inclined to rhetoric and philosophy of his time would probably have been familiar with Plato’s works. Is it “ridiculous” when it comes from the philosopher that can credibly be called the foundation of Western philosophy and ethics? Not to say these are my positions, but I disagree with calling Plato or Paul ridiculous, as well as those who are adherents to either of them.

I’m not fond of the phrase “to protect the sanctity of marriage” either, as our culture has done a pretty good job of destroying that already, well before same-sex marriage became an issue. Adultery is punishable by death in many countries. Divorce is illegal in some countries. Divorce brought by women is illegal in even more countries. You are certainly correct it would be hypocritical to treat divorce, adultery and premarital sexual conduct as somehow treated differently in these particular religious texts than homosexual sexual conduct, as usually adultery at least is usually included in any list of prohibitions that homosexual sexual conduct appears in.

I’m glad we don’t live in a country whose law is dictated by a specific religion. I can’t even conceive of life in a conservative Islamic country

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

I, like Gail, am Jewish and go to a synogogue (conservative) that has several gay/lesbian couples who are members and are not excluded from services or discriminated against in any way because of their sexual orientation.

Other than that, I think that same-sex marriages should not be an issue at all in the U.S. and should be legal hands-down since the only basis for any opposing views of this is based on religious reasons, and our government is supposed to be separated from religion completely….“separation of church and state”—remember that?

hossman's avatar

I can understand the desire of “traditionalists” (not my term, but one I’ve seen used, and I’ll adopt it for lack of a better term) to retain their “traditional” definition of “marriage.” That’s exactly why, if our legislature decides they want to somehow preserve the “religious nature” of the term “marriage,” then there needs to be some sort of secular legal equivalent called something else. Leave “marriage” to the Church or other religious equivalent, and “domestic union,” or some other term, to the state. Divorce, so to speak, the two concepts completely, and we can find a common ground position. Same-sex partnerships will still be an “issue,” as people are entitled to their view on either side, but only in the religious context, not the legal context.

Church and State can never be separated completely, as there is always some appropriate role for the State to regulate Church, and there is an appropriate role for Church to influence State through the votes of their adherents. I won’t start discussing the history and legality of the Church/State issue again, it can be found here: http://fluther.com/disc/2727/do-you-find-it-hypocritical-lieberman-romney-and-bush-were-criticized/

mistermister's avatar

as someone who is directly affected by this discussions topics I have been stewing for a day now deciding whether to address what I think is a callous and generally ill informed back and forth about a very sensitive issue. I guess I decided I would say something hey? there are bible thumpers in england, where i lived for awhile, and the country still had a relatively easy time passing civil unions regocnized by her majesty’s (their words, not mine) government. i believe the passing of a similar, federally mandated law is will eventually happen in the US when it decides to jump on the bandwagon of rational countries.
english society has not fallen, canadian society has not fallen, spanish society has not fallen as a result of same sex civil unions. however, because i am american and my partner of several years in english, we cannot marry and have federal rights in the US. yes, we could get married in massachusetts etc, but states do not control immigration, and thus marrying in the us gives us no immigration rights. this means that i, along with so many other gay people in binational elationships, have to choose between my partner and my family. It is not the right of any government to force this choice on me.
I don’t care what it is called, call it marriage, civil pertnership, civil union, call it golf buddies—what I care about is inheritance rights, the right to hospital visitation, immigration rights and adoption rights. this farce has gone on too long.

hossman's avatar

Ill informed? Then give us information. Really, because I have made these arguments for same sex civil unions in court, and I can always use more information. Callous? How about “bible thumpers?” Would you find it acceptable for anyone here to use one of the many uncouth epithets for homosexuals? OK, we see what you want, nobody here I can see is against that, so why the personal attack? Did anyone here say there should not be same sex civil unions? Save the steam for when there’s fire. Nothing here has been rude, it’s been a frank discussion answering the question asked. The question asked was why some people have a problem with same sex marriage, that is what was discussed. Governments don’t have rights, people do. It is my sincere opinion, as a matter of legal pragmatism, that it would be much quicker, since you seem to have a need for speed, for same sex couples to obtain federal legislation granting secular domestic unions rather than insisting upon the term “marriage,” which some people will always resist. Would you rather have some relief, or none at all? Would you rather see an argument made before Congress or the Supreme Court that has a chance of winning, or bet all the marbles on a long shot?

My goodness, if some of the religious people here used pejoratives the way some others do, you’d be screaming about bigotry. The worst and most vulgar personal attacks I have seen on fluther have been directed at Mormons and Christians for the views they sincerely hold, AND HAVE A CONSTITUTIONALLY GUARANTEED RIGHT TO HOLD, just because other people don’t agree. You assert you have rights as a homosexual, which the U.S. is moving toward at a pace slowed because it did not occur to our Founding Fathers to discuss sexual orientation. While we’re at it, how about not insulting people for exercising the rights that already are in the Constitution, like freedom of speech and religion. I suppose you could try to pass a Constitutional amendment to add protections for sexual orientation, but at this point in time, I don’t see that getting the votes it would need. How about starting with recognition of the right of any person, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, religion, etc., to enter into a contractual partnership which includes what you have discussed, as a good first step? Discrimination moves in many directions and censorship finds very odd company sometimes. Relax.

juicyful's avatar

As someone that is ‘married’ under civil partnership law (in the UK), it’s very interesting to read all of your comments. As a married ‘gay’ i feel much better protected lawfully should my partner leave me, or die. It is also a way to show commitment both to each other and those around us. I really don’t understand why people see a ‘problem’ with gay marriage.

hossman's avatar

Do they call it “marriage” in the UK, or something else? Is it called “civil partnership?” I think it would be a lot easier to obtain the votes to permit same-sex “civil partnership” than to permit same-sex “marriage.”

breedmitch's avatar

I know this is an old question but I’ve been pondering it and I think I now am ready to respond.
Things change. We (humanity) evolve. I think most enlightened people would like to believe that we will evolve as a species to a state where all are respected as equals. I highly doubt that those who oppose equal marriage for all (a better term than gay marriage since gay marriage is just marriage. it needs no qualifier) would wish to revert to an age of racial or gender inequality.
Ya know, the other day I saw a old piece of news footage. Remember when those black girls were just trying to go to school in the what? the 60’s? The courts said they could and yet here were all these protesters shouting horrible things at them and trying to prevent them from their rights. Remember those white boys yelling. Ugly.
The people who protest against equal marriage rights are going to look like that in 40 years. The people who hold up signs that say “God hates Fags” are going to look like those bigoted youth when we see old news clips in the future. Ugly. Hateful.
I feel sorry for those who oppose equal marriage rights for all God’s creatures. It must be scary for them to see the world changing all around them. They should catch up.
Evolve already.
Thanks for listening.

hossman's avatar

breedmitch, you paint with a pretty broad brush. Not everyone opposed to gay marriage is the sort of person who would hold up such an offensive sign. Some are opposed due to their genuinely held religious or cultural beliefs (opposition to gay marriage is not just a religious issue), and it’s just as ethnocentric and bigoted of you to accuse those people of being less “evolved” as it is for someone to discriminate against you for your beliefs.

To suggest someone who fails to agree with you on this or any other issue is the equivalent of those who opposed civil rights, or to suggest they are less human suggests to me a certain lack of “evolution” in and of itself. Or does your evolved society lack the freedom to disagree?

In a legal sense, one of the difficulties of treating sexual preference of any type as a protected class is that protected classes have in the past largely been composed of readily perceived immutable physical characteristics. Thus, it is much easier from an enforcement standpoint to punish discrimination against those classes. As an example, if a landlord refuses to rent to a potential tenant, it is readily obvious in most cases the landlord perceived that person as a woman, or Hispanic, or perhaps a member of a religious practice that requires certain clothing, as those characteristics are readily perceived. Sexual preference, on the other hand, is frequently not a readily perceived immutable physical characteristic. This creates difficulty in enforcement and application of the law. For instance, if sexual preference is a protected class, would an employer discriminate if they fired an employee the employer THOUGHT was homosexual but the employee is in fact heterosexual? The plaintiff is not a member of the protected class, but the conduct is the objectionable conduct the law seeks to prohibit. What if an employer fires an employee, who claims they were fired because they are gay, but the employer claims they were never aware of the employee’s sexual orientation? Unless there is some documentation or uncontroverted evidence, it might be difficult to prove. Obversely, it would be difficult for an employer to claim they were unaware the employee was a woman, or black, or an Orthodox Jew.

I do have a problem with using the phrase “equal marriage for all.” Do you really mean all? Because words do have power. Some posters here have had a problem with the “slippery slope” argument that legalizing gay marriage would be a step to even more expansion of marriage, but the phrase you choose bolsters that opinion. Would you really want “equal marriage for all?” ALL? Because there are other minority groups (I use that term loosely) that would like to take that phrase and run with it. “All” could include removing those awkward age based barriers. After all, who are we to interfere in the right of a 12 year old to choose to marry a 50 year old? That would be opposing “equal marriage for all,” and 80 years from now, we might be viewed like those unevolved apes that opposed gay marriage. But I guess it’s just plain ugly and hateful for me to require a modifier like “legally competent to consent.” While we’re on that track, there is a 19 year old man in this area who was just convicted of impregnating a catatonic woman bed-ridden in a nursing home. Perhaps he is just waiting for “equal marriage for all.” 120 years from now, I’ll probably be seen as primitive for insisting on “consciousness” as a qualifier. Or perhaps I’m just unenlightened for insisting that parent/child marriage should be prohibited, after all, that would be included in the phrase “equal marriage for all.” Such a dangerous, but apparently innocuous phrase that is. While I doubt breedmitch meant all of that, somebody out there does, and using that phrase gives them power, and paves their path to respectability and legality.

As I’ve expressed above, I see no constitutional basis, simply on the basis of sexual preference, for denying some form of civil domestic partnership contract that would convey legal rights to its parties. For that matter, although I do see potential public policy and social arguments for denying civil domestic partnership on the basis of the number of parties, once it is extended to same sex couples, those arguments are substantially weakened as a basis to prohibit polygamous partnerships of any nature.

I do see a number of constitutional reasons for maintaining many of the other prohibited partnerships, including on the basis of statutory age of consent, legal and mental ability to consent and consanguinity (although I’ve seen some medical studies suggesting our cultural taboo of marriage between cousins to be overblown as a medical matter). I also believe there are valid reasons for some people to be sincerely opposed for religious, social and cultural reasons to any further extension of the concept of “marriage.” In fact, I know several African-Americans who do not practice any religion who are vehemently opposed to gay marriage. This is consistent with several studies I have seen that suggest that statistically, African-Americans are more frequently opposed to gay marriage than Caucasian Americans, regardless of religious practice. Would that make your opposition to their cultural view racist? Nothing makes your opinions more valid than theirs. Their opinion does not make them ugly, hateful, or unevolved, no matter how useful those labels might be to your side of your issue. In fact, I see little difference between those labels and the sign you mentioned. I may be making far more of breedmitch’s message choices than he intended, but I find some of the concepts those words compose to be as offensive as the conduct of which he complains, whether he intended them to be such or not.

“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

I feel sorry for those who insist on personal attack rather than polite discourse, regardless of what side they take on an issue, including myself when I get out of hand. It IS scary to see the world changing all around us, but that is nothing new. I have found that our issues really don’t seem to change through history. Marcus Aurelius decried the rising frequency of abortion, crime, alcohol and drug use, disrespect for elders, atheism, sexual immorality, teen delinquency, the breakup of the traditional family unit, and the growth of the welfare state. If we haven’t solved these problems since the Roman Empire, I assert we only think we are evolving. I’m not sure I agree with the perhaps inadvertent inference by breedmitch that we have achieved an age of racial or gender equality.

Sometimes “catching up” is overrated. Sometimes, what is new is not the same as what is best.

breedmitch's avatar

I love how you smack me down and build me up and smack me down and build me up. I really mean it. You’re a great wordsmith.
I respectfully agree to disagree.

hossman's avatar

Didn’t mean to smack anything. Just found it a little presumptive for you to assume your position is more “evolved.” Not everybody on the religious side is a bigot. Not everybody on the humanist side is evil. Your imagery just smacked vaguely of an insult, or condescension. If I’m wrong, I apologize. Part of me feels the same way you do, and it is at war with other parts of my mind, and it would be much easier for me if I could just go with your position. I respectfully agree to disagree as well. Perhaps that was what I sensed, perhaps incorrectly, a modicum of disrespect.

I do enjoy your posts, however, and your gracious and well thought out direct comments as well. I apologize if I also seem harsher than I intended. I really hate having these discussions in text, as you can’t pick up on all of those physical signals that help clarify exactly what is meant.

breedmitch's avatar

true dat.

nerfmissile's avatar

As a recovering heterosexual ( now gay ) Green Imperialist with disused combat boots, a deep affection for good things like Buddhism and Christianity and Mormonism, good beer, good men and good women, I still suspect that hossman is a Scorpio.

And I’m not quite sure why either side—gay or straight—gets so emotional about the matter of gay marriage. Defensive straights : you’re protecting a dead institution. Me-too gays : there’s nothing left to be jealous about. Real marriage is a spiritual decision, made daily, to remain with someone. State-sanctioned contracts and government documents are just pieces of paper. If you really need your partner’s money when s/he dies, get a trust fund or a Swiss bank account. Being with someone in spiritual accord is marriage… it doesn’t matter if you’ve signed something and with regard to the divorce rate, paper contracts don’t do much, if anything, to make relationships more sound.

Why is marriage dead, and why is this entire debate moot? Because “heterosexual marriage”, with gays feeling left out, is predicated on the basis of society having more than one gender. It pretends to, for the amusement of some and to the detriment of others, but it no longer does. Do you think it does? What can a male do that a female can’t? What can a female do that a male can’t? Your list is bound to be just a few items long and almost entirely plumbing-related. True, one of our sexes tends to bleed periodically, lives longer and is protected from the draft. But these are the last vestiges of what was once, culturally, a vast difference between the genders for which marriage was designed as a container to help reconcile the differences within the bounds of complementary, specialized roles : male protects and serves female with money, female protects children and serves family with food.

We no longer have specialized gender roles or two distinct and complementary genders : just female men and male men who compete for the same jobs and can’t cook.

Honestly, people. Ancient manuscripts advocating death to Philistine babies by dashing them on the rocks and not coveting thy neighbor’s goat aside, gender is part cultural and part biological and most of us float somewhere off the poles of the Kinsey scale. There’s a little bit of gay and a lot of straight in most of us, but the recipe varies from person to person. Who cares if the acting-hets don’t want to give us marriage? Last time I checked, 60% of their marriages end in divorce and the Mormons are the only remaining reproductive group of Caucasians. If we’re going to be forward-thinking, and I think we should be, then we gays should start making friends with the Mormons and Latin-Americans now… and stop worrying so much about what Mr. Divorced Right-Wing WASP thinks. He no have babies to carry on his grudge.

During my ten years of dating women, I just got tired of being with—usually short-haired, pants-wearing and plaintive—female men who refused to pay for their fair share. It wasn’t fun or inspiring for me, but to each his own. Switching for me wasn’t so much a choice—always thought the male men were a lot cuter—but after making it, I suddenly realized that it was pragmatic. Obviously one has to be careful in any relationship and choose someone halfway caring and respectable—but if you’re into having fun and things in common, then you might want to think twice before hating and ostracizing your own sex or legally limiting your own choices, guys. Not that I particularly care on the issue of marriage, but when Mr. Het Gayhater votes against homosexual marriage, he’s voting against his own power of choice and he’s voting for the standard broken paradigm of buying a house for a woman he doesn’t like and being denied visitation rights while paying child support. Women figured out the power, usefulness and historical basis of actually loving and appreciating their own gender about a hundred years ago and decided to make it fashionable, and that’s why they get all the good press, stay-out-of-jail free cards, medical research funds and special attention these days. Kudos to them. Now, go forth observing, learning and applying lessons.

My advice : don’t rely on government documents to legitimize your feelings or your lifestyle. If you’re a male man, then learn to hug, compliment, associate with, talk to and appreciate your own gender in venues outside foosball… the ladies are well ahead of you in that 50% zone of what’s necessary to lead a complete and enjoyable life.

nerfmissile's avatar

“Marcus Aurelius decried the rising frequency of abortion, crime, alcohol and drug use, disrespect for elders, atheism, sexual immorality, teen delinquency, the breakup of the traditional family unit, and the growth of the welfare state. If we haven’t solved these problems since the Roman Empire, I assert we only think we are evolving.”

Marcus had his head on… correctly. I was going to say straight, but that would have seemed off somehow, coming from me. Unfortunately, the traditional family is dead and gone among the educated, thanks to the end of traditional femininity and the dual-income demands of modern life.

However, not everything has changed. America is great in many ways… among them, when one demographic group fails, there’s another ready to swoop in and pick up the slack. WASPS have stopped breeding, but I have Mormon friends… and while organized/corporate religion is by nature unsettling and based partly on misguided zealotry and partly on awkward fantasies, know a tree by its fruit. Those ummim and thummim might have been the wrong prescription after all, but hey, Mormons have big, happy, long-lived families and they still have community, unlike the rest of us non-Latinos. IMHO Mormons and Latinos are the coolest, “most likely to succeed” kids in the gene pool class of 21st century America. The best virtues of Latin culture? Family values, knowing how to party and joy for life, of course. What the hell happened to WASP joy for life? Was there ever any?

I am gay and my favorite candidate is Mitt Romney. There. I said it. If he’d married a Latina, I’d probably vote him in for king of this “democracy”.

It’s a foregone conclusion that 1) there is a God and 2) we aren’t capable of perceiving or understanding God very well right now. Why: either via intra-continuum means ( spontaneous linear evolution of life to intelligent life to civilization to interstellar civilization to post-tech/post-temporal civilization to Godhead ) or extra-continuum means ( God said “Let there be light, and there was light” ), there’s bound to be a nucleus of consciousness somewhere that makes us look like ants at best and can do pretty much whatever it wants. This universe is set up to breed intelligent life and Earth isn’t the only terrestrial planet out there—nor is it even orbiting the type of star most propitious for life, that being the red dwarf. So yes, God is real and is probably a very ancient alien that established most of the rest of intelligent life in the universe via seeding instead of a Jewish grandpa with a flowing white beard. Does that surprise anyone?

So, can’t respect atheism for its fervent assumptions. Can’t respect the religious zealots with their supposed red phones to God/need to be especially special much more. I get the noble objectivity of agnostics and spent some time in their camp recently enough.

So, this brings me around to my problem with gay marriage. It is feared as a viral meme, probably instinctively on some level, because most of us are programmed to want to have babies for the common good and if everyone went gay, well, we’d better take up cloning extra quick. So, between now and the opening of Clone-Marts in every good-sized town, natural heterosexual reproduction is it. To all you falsely-accused men in prison (and the substantial number of correctly-accused): it’s a raw deal, buddy, but it’s all you got.

Just keep in mind, though, homophobes : homosexual genes increase in a population in a measure directly correlated with homophobia. Translation? If you fear it, it will breed. Yes, forcing gay men to have babies via natural reproduction actually transmits those vile and wretched ( not actually, usually ) gay genes! But letting them marry other fellas? And letting lesbians read sweet Sappho to each other as brides kissing brides? Presto. Takes the gay right out of the gene pool within just a few generations. Isn’t biology ironic?

Let’s just try to inflict as little suffering on each other as possible while we’re here, and remember that we’re much more alike than we are different. Even those freaks who get up on the floats during Pride to deliberately scare people… counterproductive, probably juvenile, wouldn’t do it, but I guess it takes guts? As a gay man, I’m hoping that my culture can grow up a bit, stop celebrating the foul and calling it fair, and awaken to a good spiritual role for society that goes a bit beyond the tired veneer of promiscuity, superior home decorating and fashion-forwardness.

hossman's avatar

Wow. I’m not sure how nerfmissile and I come to so many of the same conclusions by completely different paths, but I’m not gonna mess it up by trying to overthink and analyze it. Excellent posts, nerfmissile, while obviously I don’t agree with a surprisingly small part of it, this is the kind of post I love to see, well thought out.

Re taking “the gay right out of the gene pool,” while I’m not sure I agree homosexuality is genetic, I do know that the Human Genome Project is getting pressure from some gay activists to NOT find an answer to that question, as they are concerned that if a “gay gene” (and I can’t help but giggle as I have an old friend, Gene, who is gay, and loves to say he is the empirical proof there is a “Gay Gene”) is found, a test for the “gay gene” may be developed.

The problem they foresee (and I bet they’re right)? Is that parents would test for homosexuality and selectively abort “gay fetuses”, much as many parents selectively abort fetuses with Down Syndrome today. Thus selectively breeding homosexuality out of the gene pool.

nerfmissile's avatar

Trying to be straight was a choice for me… but succeeding wasn’t. It was a false choice because my attraction circuits happen to gleam like a Festivus pole when a hot man is around and offer very little response, if any, to hot women. Having experienced this firsthand since I began forming coherent memories, I wouldn’t give a second thought to homosexuality not being genetic, proteomic or fetal-hormonal in nature. Let me turn it around. If you’re straight, and most viewers of this thread probably are, do you have the choice whether to be straight? Some of you will say yes. That’s because you’re bisexual.

I don’t doubt that a lot of parents would selectively choose to abort fetuses diagnosed with perceived undesirable characteristics. In this country that would probably include the following conditions: male gender, major genetic diseases including retardation, homosexuality and psychosis. In parts of Asia, the list would be different: female gender, lack of longevity and lack of intelligence, perhaps.

Few things are preserved in the DNA as junk, or arise as a well-distributed and globally consistent biological phenomenon or behavior without having good use. IMHO, homosexual affections are preserved in the gene pool in order to promote cohesion and peace in a population. It probably would have been harder to slay the Iraqi army if: 1) the Iraqi army happened to be all hot, shirtless men and 2) the majority of our army was gay. It would be like asking straight men to slaughter an army of hot, topless babes who didn’t stand a chance against our superior weapons and tactics.

How many straight men entertain fantasies of being the “last man on Earth” and take comfort in the idea of exterminating all male competition? Well, that scenario is becoming ever-more possible. But if we all happened to have powerful affection for both sexes, then we couldn’t so easily objectify/dehumanize the enemy.

Men are dying so much younger than women, on average, largely because they dehumanize and disregard each other. By contrast, women learned a century ago to indulge in their affections for their own sex. The result: longer lives, higher quality of life, more choices, draft dodging by birthright despite the right to vote, superior legal protection and superior health care.

So, as for aborting all the homosexual fetuses: if society is too stupid to figure out that the outcome of such a Pogrom would be even more crime, warfare and instability ( am I mistaken, or are neighborhoods that have a high concentration of gays usually more peaceful and desirable than average, with superior aura and property values? ) , then it deserves to collapse under the burden of its own dead weight. Civilizations reap what they sow.

artemisdivine's avatar

there is no problem with gay marriage. regular heterosexual people tend to HATE change. they dont want to upset the balance. thank God since Ellen coming out and tv shows and the L Word etc most people are WAY more open minded. you love who you love. that is just the way it is. and one one should be able to tell you different.

oh and Canada has legalized gay marriage a few years ago and there are NO problems at all because of it. luckily the religious right has no hold up here due to our mass diversification. if the USA permitted gay marriage it would not be a huge deal to the heteros but the gays deserve it. i mean if you dont like gay people, then you dont associate with them already. i think gay people can be way cooler than straights.

spendy's avatar

It really seems as though everyone is far to hung up on themselves. And I don’t mean everyone, as in, everyone responding to this thread. I mean everyone, in general. Maybe it’s not fair to generalize, but for arguement-sake, let’s. Wouldn’t life be a little easier if we all concentrated on ourselves and recognized who and what we are as people? By that I mean, people…full of life, put here on this earth to coexist. People…with the ability to make choices without letting them define who we are. People…with not only the ability to cast aside our differences and allow room for the beliefs of others, but with the ability to empathize and understand. Why does there need to be a reason for someone to be robbed of their ability to committ fully, officially, legally to a person they love and choose to spend their life with? Who are we (not only as a general public but as beings on this earth) to place limits on that? I guess I’d like to think we’ve evolved beyond this type of limited thinking. If our religion prevents us from allowing it, or our society frowns upon it and that’s enough to throw up the stops…then why not re-evaluate those factors. For the record, I find nothing wrong with any one particular religion and believe everyone is entitled to their opinion/beliefs. That having been said, I also believe that identifying too strongly with your beliefs (even with your own religion), does nothing but feed your own ego. You start to see the religion as part of who you are…and you start to make others wrong for not believing the same (even if only in your own mind). And it’s when you start making others wrong that the collective religious ego grows (no matter which religion you’re a part of), and the battle will just continue. Is anyone being hurt when two men or two women who love each other fully make the decision to committ? If you feel angered by their liberty to do so, then it’s likely that your ego has gotten it’s grubby hands on the loud-speaker button again. Just my opinion…but a very open, understanding, liberal, accepting one. I would never intend to disrespect anyone’s beliefs (be it religion, sexual conduct, etc.)...and would hope that soon we will all be able to live together in harmoney w/o judgement. Not likely, but worth hoping for anyway.

hossman's avatar

While I understand the desire and need for the legal aspect of marriage to convey certain property rights (which we don’t need the title of “marriage” to convey), I’m surprised so many people of any type wish to have a marriage. I thought marriage was considered old-fashioned and out of favor today.

allengreen's avatar

Marry anyone that you wish too, and enjoy!

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