General Question

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Same Sex Marriages in the USA - Why Aren't They Legal?

Asked by Pied_Pfeffer (22049 points ) June 12th, 2010

Several of my friends are gay, and I don’t understand why they cannot legally marry in the US. Isn’t this a civil rights violation?

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111 Answers

marinelife's avatar

You would think so, wouldn’t you? However, Constitutional protections do not extend to people on the basis if sex. (That’s why there is not equality under the law for women either.)

Mostly, the answer as to why gays can’t marry legally is because people are fearful about it.

syz's avatar

If you type “gay marriage” or “same sex marriage” into the search bar, you’ll see some interesting discussions on Fluther.

It’s only a matter of time.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

It’s a state-by-state patchwork in the US. My state just legalized same-gender civil unions six months ago. It’s slowly coming around; but states are still not required to recognize the civil unions made in other states.

Seek's avatar

Because the Christians think it’s icky, and they have far too much power in our government.

lynfromnm's avatar

The “why” is that the idea of gay marriage evokes a primitive emotional response in people who haven’t learned to live their lives based on reason. In other words, if you try to discover any logic to substantiate the reason, there isn’t any.

The “why” compared to countries in which gay marriage IS allowed, is that the grip of puritanical forms of Christianity is historically respected in the US. Slowly people have let go of the Old Testament laws that are no longer necessary, such as requiring us to stone people who work on the Sabbath, and allowing us to sell daughters into slavery. I think the fear of gay marriage will follow someday. Sigh.

Fyrius's avatar

Short answer: politics.
Slightly longer answer: widespread closed-minded conservatism.

perspicacious's avatar

Differences of opinions on interpretation of the Constitution, as well as cultural and traditional attitudes and differences in the states.

roundsquare's avatar

Because people are too stupid to separate their religious views from a government institution.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Okay, I get the religious aspect and respect their right to support whatever they stand they take on this topic. Surely there are enough of us that support it that can convince reps/senators to do the right thing. Are we just not being vocal enough?

roundsquare's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I don’t respect their right to this at all. They can believe whatever they want. However they have no right to tell people that they can’t get their name next to another name in a government database which indicates things like tax benefits and who has the right to make medical decisions for them.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@roundsquare My apologies…I didn’t mean that a religious group had the right to deny the government from giving the green light. If a particular house of worship wants to ban it…so be it. There are others in town that practice the same religion that accept it.

prescottman2008's avatar

How about this? Over the past 15 – 20 years while the general public, according to numerous surveys were more than willing to vote “yes” on Civil Unions for homosexuals that wasn’t enough for the homosexual political organizations. Somehow, even though civil unions would give them all the same benefits enjoyed by married heterosexuals they demanded nothing less than the title of “marriage”. Well, polite society, again according to numerous surveys believe that “marriage” is too old of an institution and tradition to be messed with by minority political activitists. Now, due to having loud mouth activists, medias pundits and Hollywood do-gooders trying to shove it down the throats of an unwilling populace the general public has had enough. that’s why even in a state like California, not exactly known as a hot bed of political or social conservatism can easily and overwhelmingly vote down same-sex “marriage”.

Seek's avatar

@roundsquare

We still haven’t had a non-Christian president. That should tell you something.

“Marriage” existed long before Christianity, and has always been a method of exchanging property and ensuring that wealth remained in the family. In this day and age, there is no good reason that two men or two women cannot decide to exchange property for their mutual benefit, and adopt children with the intention of bequeathing property to them.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@prescottman2008 Wow…is that really the answer? Please tell me that this isn’t the case today.
@Seek_Kolinahr You have probably hit the nail on the head. So how do we productively move on from here?

syz's avatar

@prescottman2008 “too old of an institution and tradition to be messed with” It is indeed an old institution, one that until relatively very recently in the history of the institution operated as a mechanism for the exchange of property, i.e. a wife. Women were considered property, chattel, and since they we unable to own property, marriage was a method for the transfer of wealth and political alliance. The ‘sanctity” of marriage, my ass!

prescottman2008's avatar

I never used the word sanctity. I never mentioned religion in any form. I believe this is about the majority of the population getting tired of an extremely small minority of the population telling them that they’re stupid, backward,intolerant,hateful,and whatever other labels they like to use for people who don’t agree with them. The “Civil Union” concept is now in place in other countries, countries a lot more liberal than the US and it works fine without hurting people’s feelings. It’s currently in place in several states as well. My counter-question is why isn’t that good enough?

Parrappa's avatar

The reason is because religious fanatics think they should have a say in other peoples lives.

liminal's avatar

@prescottman2008 if heterosexual couples could have civil unions too maybe I could support them being ‘good enough’. It doesn’t seem fair to leave them out of the option though.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Because…. dont you know that if we start allowing same sex individuals to marry each other it will completely under-mind the whole meaning of marriage. Soon people will want to start marrying their pets dontcha know? Andddddd if all these same sex people all start getting married whoooooooo will have children to continue the human race?~~~~~

prescottman2008's avatar

@liminal Thank you for that calm, well reasoned response. If only everyone could speak out of reason and civility instead of going on the attack when offered an alternative opinion to their own.

syz's avatar

@liminal has a good point. Gays having the ‘right’ to civil unions and straights having the right to marriage sounds lot like “separate, but equal” to me. And we all know how well that worked for race relations.

lynfromnm's avatar

Federal government does not have the right to restrict people from getting married. It’s a right retained by the people. See the 9th and 10th Amendments:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

People make the mistake of thinking the government grants us rights. That is incorrect. We already HAVE the rights, inherently. The federal government’s role is to guarantee those rights. The State governments can restrict those rights. IF WE ALLOW. If the states have not restricted those rights, we the people have them. That’s the text, right there.

prescottman2008's avatar

Incidentally, so-called “common law “marriage”” is de facto “civil union”

Nullo's avatar

Because we of the more conservative persuasion believe that marriage ought to be a heterosexual event.

liminal's avatar

@prescottman2008 do same-sex couples have the option of common law marriage?

prescottman2008's avatar

@liminal , Not yet, or at least, not that I know of. My answer above was more in reference to heterosexuals having “civil unions”.

MarthaStewart's avatar

The most likely reasons are that religious right who consider it a “sin” are banding together with “fiscal conservatives” who want to avoid having to pay health insurance/partner benefits to another group of people. One of the ways this is being undone is by offering the same benefits to partners regardless of marital status. If your same or opposite friend can be covered on your insurance plan without marriage, suddenly fiscal conservatives don’t care whether or not you marry.

Nullo's avatar

@MarthaStewart That is an inappropriate use of quotation marks, as it infers that homosexual behavior is not a sin, when it very clearly is defined as such by the Bible.

MarthaStewart's avatar

@Nullo, don’t you dare try to lecture me or anyone else with your definitions of sin.

syz's avatar

@Nullo Which part of the Bible? I admit, it’s been years since I read it. The Old Testament, right? So, you follow and agree with all of the other tenets of the Old Testament? You know, selling your daughter into slavery, stoning your neighbor for wearing clothes made of two fibers, all that jazz? No?

Why do people who like to quote anti-homosexual rhetoric from the Bible think it’s ok to only follow the things that they personally believe in? Believe, or don’t. But don’t pick and choose the expedient parts that support your own opinions.

(Of course, that’s kind of a trick question, since I am happily and committedly atheist. As far as I’m concerned, the Bible is just a story book. But that’s a whole other argument.)

KatawaGrey's avatar

I think same-sex marriage is not legal in all states because there is always something perceived as more important than gay rights. At this point in time, I believe there are enough reasonable people in Congress for a bill making same-sex marriage legal to pass but with issues like the economy, health care, and various military actions Iraq and Afghanistan, same-sex marriage doesn’t have the support it should.

@Nullo: Without quoting the bible, can you tell me who homosexuality is hurting?

syz's avatar

@KatawaGrey I fear I am not so optimistic about the number of reasonable people in congress.

Nullo's avatar

@MarthaStewart My definitions of sin? I just said that these were the Bible’s definitions of sin.

@syz Lemme see if I can remember them all.
First, and perhaps most dramatically, we have Sodom and Gomorrah. Then there’s Leviticus 18:22. Then there’s Romans 1:26–27, and 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. I think that there’s another still, but I’ve run out of time.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@syz: What I meant is not so much that there are a lot of members of Congress who are actively fighting for gay rights but there are a lot who don’t mind and who would vote a bill in simply because there’s no reason not to. Without the active fighting, though, nothing much can happen. :(

@Nullo: Now, tell me in your own words why homosexuality is bad.

ipso's avatar

Because a majority of level headed tax paying citizens do not want to validate something completely outside their worldview.

Fuck the bible.

(~“Let them play with themselves; cats and dogs running together – fine – but don’t institutionalize it fer’ christ sakes.”)

Bottom line – the majority of people do not know an openly gay person – so they cannot empathize easily.

MarthaStewart's avatar

@Nullo, you missed some lines:
Judge not, that ye be not judged
-Matthew 7
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
-Romans 14:10
And perhaps the best advice for you comes from Mark 9:47
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out

jonsblond's avatar

It’s legal in Iowa. My sister and her girlfriend crossed the border from Illinois and had a beautiful ceremony in April. We are celebrating the reception today. I bet there will be tons of lesbians having sex in every corner of their house. ~

Seaofclouds's avatar

@prescottman2008 Just wanted to mention that “common-law marriages” aren’t recognized in all states. The last time I checked, there were only like 11 states that still recognized “common-law marriages” and they have very specific criteria that is more than just living with someone for a certain amount of time.

plethora's avatar

@Nullo Kudos to you. I was kind of speechless reading this thread. I will affirm. We of the more conservative persuasion think it’s a heterosexual event. Period.

syz's avatar

@plethora it’s always seems less a matter of conservatism and more a matter of bigotry to me, but that’s just my opinion.

What about marriage makes it exclusively a heterosexual event? Is it the multiple marriages? The 50% divorce rate (or whatever it stands at now)? Is it the celebrity “quickie” marriages that last a day? Drive through marriage chapels? Of course, it used to be illegal for people of different races to marry. Are conservatives on board with that? Is it because only straight people should be able to make end of life decisions for someone that they’ve shared a lifetime with? Or wait, is marriage only for the production of offspring? Would you support the dissolution of marriages for those that have opted against or been unable to pop out a few rug rats? Maybe we should make divorce illegal and adultery punishable by death! Where is the threat that gay marriage creates?

bolwerk's avatar

Marriage itself is a civil rights violation. Married people get privileges that non-married people don’t get and, at least in the U.S., the unmarried subsidize the married by paying more taxes to receive fewer services. Abolishing the whole stinkin’ institution is the best way to go. Anti-authoritarian gays and lesbians would do well to join their anti-authoritarian straight brethren in helping end state-sanctioned marital bondage.

Kayak8's avatar

As a lesbian, the major thing for me about gay marriage is the 1,138 benefits provided to those who are able to marry the person they love (e.g.,ability to make medical decisions on behalf of partner, the ability to take sick leave to care for partner, social security survival benefits, tax breaks, veteran’s discounts on goods and services, automatic inheritance, automatic housing lease transfer, bereavement leave, burial determination, child custody, crime victim’s recovery benefits, divorce protections, domestic violence protections, exemptions from property tax on partner’s death, immunity from testifying against spouse, insurance breaks, joint adoption and foster care, joint bankruptcy, visitation of partner’s children, wrongful death (loss of consort) benefits, and several hundred more). I could live with the label “civil union” if the other thousand laws are changed to make the benefits that accrue to the married apply to those with civil unions. The label is not the point for me.

Nullo's avatar

@MarthaStewart I judge nothing; I leave that for the Judge. The Bible speaks for itself, and your conscience, it seems, pricks at you now and then.

@KatawaGrey Homosexuality is bad because it is a perversion of a system that God instituted. I do not believe that “who does it hurt” is an especially good means for determining the rightness or wrongness of things. I try to base my morals on God’s.

tinyfaery's avatar

Because even though the US claims to be a democratic country based on freedom and liberty, it’s really just a big lie. This country now belongs to religious bigots and corporate robber barons. This is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. We are now the land of the fearful and the future home of a plutocracy.

Nullo's avatar

@tinyfaery Funny, we over here feel like the country’s been hijacked by a bunch of Marxists.

tinyfaery's avatar

That’s because you are ignorant and don’t know what Marxism is.

perspicacious's avatar

@prescottman2008 Common law marriage is a marriage in every sense and enjoys all of the benefits of marriage.

DominicX's avatar

1) Because of Christianity
2) Because people don’t like change.

I still find it interesting that a country like Spain, which is overwhelmingly Catholic, now allows gay marriage.

DominicX's avatar

@prescottman2008

“Too old” is not a good enough reason to not change something. There were people who probably thought voting restricted to men was “too old” to “mess with” and yet it got “messed with”, for the better. Just because something is traditional, doesn’t mean that it’s good and shouldn’t change. Of course no one considered allowing gay marriage in the past because being gay was not accepted by anything even close to the majority of people. While it still isn’t, acceptance is increasing rapidly, especially evidenced by the fact that several states allow gay marriage.

Also, many proposals of civil unions were not equal. They still couldn’t adopt kids, there were tax issues, there weren’t hospital visitation rights, etc. Separate but unequal. And why should it be separate? Maybe we should have separate but equal schools for black children because the general public isn’t ready to “handle” black people…but we’re not going to do that because we’re going to prevent tyranny of the majority.

I’d say this has a lot more to do with conservatism and Christianity than it does with those “no good loud-mouthed activists.”

@others

Atheists get married, Jews get married, Satanists get married, Wiccans get married. Numerous other non-Christian societies around the world have marriages. Marriage is not restricted to Christianity. If you want to get married in a Christian church, then that is your choice and more power to you; no one is trying to take that away from you. But that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be able to get a legal marriage outside of the Christian aspect of it. No one is going to force churches to perform gay marriages if they don’t want to; that’s ridiculous. That’s completely up to the church to decide for themselves.

syz's avatar

@Nullo If you believe in God, and you believe “Homosexuality is bad because it is a perversion of a system that God instituted”, then why has God made approximately 10% of all humans gay? There are plenty of arguments about exactly what the percentage is, but the point is that it is a naturally occurring rate across all economic, religious, and ethnic boundaries. That means 1) your interpretation of God’s message for homosexuals is wrong or 2) God fucked up.

DominicX's avatar

@syz

But God doesn’t make us that way. We choose it, remember? ;)

syz's avatar

@DominicX Riiiiiiight. I forgot. Every homosexual down through history, whether tortured by Nazi scientists or beaten to death by bigots was there by choice.

syz's avatar

@Nullo Have you read this? What happened here was evil, and I never use that term. It really doesn’t matter if this was a case of a bureaucratic screw up or the result of bigotry and hatred. The fact of the matter is, if gay marriage had been legal, something like this could never have happened. From my point of view, gay marriage has the potential to end or eliminate some truly bad things that happen every day in our society. What truly bad things will gay marriage create? How does it harm anyone?

Kraigmo's avatar

The kind of Christian (or Jew or Muslim or other) who needs Mommy Government to protect the sanctity of marriage…. Is a Christian (or Jew or Muslim or other) who is pathetic, and has no faith in God whatsoever, and just clings to their inherited ideology out of desperation to belong to a group that is comfortable to them. Such people must also have fragile, empty marriages since they are so vulnerable to gay people destroying such marriages, and since they need the codification of law to cement their vows, lest they be lost in a sea of meaninglessness with their spouses.

plethora's avatar

@Nullo Sorry I don’t have much time today. You are doing well with this bigoted group. Keep at it and have fun.

DominicX's avatar

@plethora

Yeah, because “I don’t agree with you” = “bigoted”. Right. Isn’t that the very same thing you’re accusing “them” of?

syz's avatar

Bigot: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance. Who’s the hater?

breedmitch's avatar

I laugh at the idea that equal marriage rights for all is an affront to God’s law. There are plenty of things in this country that conservatives support (many legal) that are against the “laws” of the Bible.

I’d like to have the ability to marry the man of my choosing.
And God (and the bigots) are just gonna have to sit there and take it.

bolwerk's avatar

@breedmitch – indeed, capitalism is probably an affront to the teachings of Jesus.

lynfromnm's avatar

Indeed, this is not a theocracy. As I said earlier, why do Christians only want to follow this particular “God’s law”? The rest of the laws from that era have been abandoned, like legalized slavery, stoning people who work on the Sabbath, eating meat from animals with cloven hooves – why hang on to just this one?

As with most private decisions, if you don’t like it, no one is making you do it, so don’t. Change the channel, move on, and don’t force your religion on others.

loser's avatar

I think the reason is fear based. People are afraid of what they don’t know or understand. Latent homosexual feelings, perhaps?

plethora's avatar

@syz Looks like close-minded bigotry to me. Virtually every post on this thread, as usual on this subject. Lots of people with lots of excuses for their position, all the fault of the hated conservatives. Wish we were that powerful.

DominicX's avatar

@plethora

So you don’t think it’s because of conservatism that gay marriage isn’t legal in more places? The very nature of opposing gay marriage is conservative. It’s a new change that people don’t want. That’s called “conserving” the past and tradition.

While some people are a bit bitter, I think you are mistaking disagreement for hate.

Kayak8's avatar

There is a really wonderful fable from Aesop. There is a hound chasing a rabbit and the rabbit gets away from him. All of this is observed by a wise old owl up in a tree. The owl scolds the hound saying, “You couldn’t catch a rabbit?” The hound, pausing to catch his breath said, “You don’t understand, I was running for my dinner—he was running for his life!”

I don’t have time to hate conservatives (or anyone else for that matter). When I can fill pages with the names of GLBT folks who have been killed (or have lost any number of other civil liberties), just for who they are perceived by others to be it can be a bit more difficult to feel sympathy for someone who has lost no obvious rights but is choosing to label themselves as a victim for their political beliefs.

There are some gay folks that you can tell just by looking, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t born-again Christians who chose to be celibate as their method of reconciling who they are from what they believe. When they run the same risk of being injured or killed because of someone else’s perception of who the other THINKS they are, that is hatred.

When many of these same people dislike others because of the color of their skin (usually much easier to identify), their long beards and yarmulkes, or see others as objects that exist for their pleasure (women), there are some serious concerns.

In an environment like Fluther, when your very words tell me you are responding with rhetoric rather than thinking from your heart, when I see that you selective quote a book you indicate as the foundation of your principles, or when you assert that someone “hates” or is a “bigot” simply because they disagree with your rhetoric . . . well, it is pretty easy to sort the hounds from the rabbits.

Seek's avatar

See… this (points above) is exactly the reason I’m talking about.

This is a discussion on the reasons a civil rights violation cannot be put to rest, and magically the discussion has turned into one person hijacking the tread, with his fingers in his ears, babbling about why his God is right and you are wrong and that’s the way it is and you should all just accept it because you’re going to hell.

When the conversation goes from “Why can’t these productive members of society be granted the same benefits as other productive members of society?” to “You don’t agree with my magical sky-zombie so you’re a hateful bigot” nothing gets accomplished.

wilma's avatar

Why can’t everyone have the right to have a civil union, and all the legal benefits and responsibilities that legal marriage has had? All people who want to be joined together legally would get a civil union. Then save the term “marriage”, for a religious or other spiritual type decree, I’m not sure that is the right word, for those who want to have that traditional “only between a man and a woman” arrangement? Some men and women would not opt for the traditional “marriage” and go for just the civil union.
The civil rights would be the same, the traditionalists would keep the “sanctity of marriage” and same sex spouses would have all the same rights as traditional marriage affords.

I think like @prescottman2008 mentioned, this may have been proposed, but wasn’t good enough. Why would that be? I don’t get it.

Kayak8's avatar

@wilma As I stated above in some detail, no problem with the label if all the other laws that benefit the married can accrue to those with civil unions.

wilma's avatar

@Kayak8 sounds very sensible to me.

plethora's avatar

@DominicX There is no hate involved from my perspective. I do believe that marriage, by definition, is a heterosexual event and that it’s roots are deeply and exclusively religious. Ergo, there is no argument for it that is not a religious argument.

laureth's avatar

@plethora – You’ve heard of St. Serge and St. Bacchus, right?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@plethora Marriage is defined as a union between either opposite sex or same sex couples.
And marriage isn’t exclusively religious. You can read its history on Wikipedia.

Kayak8's avatar

@plethora By the way, marriage predated Christianity . . .

Marriage is not “exclusively” a religious event, nor are its roots. Just look up marriage on Wikipedia and you can learn more about that as @Pied_Pfeffer indicated. Ergo, there are a lot of arguments for and against that are not founded in a religious context. Among other things, marriage allowed men to “control” paternity of their children for the purposed of passing on property (including titles, etc.). To some degree or other, marriage also offered women some protections. Marriage was a practical convention to control what belongs to someone and to control the sexual behavior of the masses. I want gay marriage for the former reason and perhaps you might consider it for the latter.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@bolwerk As a single person, let me be the first to say: “Right on, bro!”

bolwerk's avatar

@Kayak8: you mean, look up marriage on Wikipedia to learn about how it relates to Family Guy?

plethora's avatar

@laureth Oh..my mistake. Have not read “The Gospel According to Liberated Christians”

plethora's avatar

I do believe that marriage, by definition, is a heterosexual event and that it’s roots are deeply and exclusively religious. Ergo, there is no argument for it that is not a religious argument

Repeating myself here, sorry. Please refer to wikipedia

Is there anything in here that contradicts my statement above? I have read it carefully. Perhaps I missed something. I seems, however, that the judeo-christian belief system, according to this, has always defended the same point as I noted above.

laureth's avatar

@plethora – Then the Judeo-Christian belief system can do so now (with the exception of, well, the instances like the one I mentioned above, where gay Christians were married with the full blessing of their peers.)

However, not everyone in the U.S. is Judeo-Christian, nor is the government a Judeo-Christian theocracy. Perhaps the people that aren’t part of your religion can live as they see fit, with some added rights to make them equal to the rights that most people already have, and the people of your religious system can live in their way, neither controlling the way the other group marries. I think this is one example of the separation of church and state.

lynfromnm's avatar

I agree with Laureth – Since when does the Judeo-Christian definition of marriage prevail in a country which separates church from state?

The marriages of hetero couple A and hetero couple B rarely resemble each other. People interpret the marital oaths and execute the marital contract in whatever way suites them as individuals. Putting wrapping paper around Judeo-Christian marriages and tying it with a big red bow is disingenuous.

Let’s make it right for all of these marginalized Americans who are deprived of their rights because of their sexual orientation. Define marriage as a domestic contract between utally consenting adults, and then hands off.

plethora's avatar

@lynfromnm @laureth Ok….I think we have a difference of opinion in the meaning of “separation of church and state”. However, I’m busy now and not sure we want to go there anyway.

Seek's avatar

It’s not really a topic that’s up for debate… it’s pretty self-explanatory.

Church =/= state. Church – no matter what church – has no right to dictate law. Period. Church is not above law, either (which is why I’m totally opposed to churches being tax-free institutions, BTW).

plethora's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr As I said, we have a difference of opinion in the meaning of “separation of church and state” as defined by the founding fathers.

Seek's avatar

Yes, yes, I’ve heard that copout far too many times. Welcome to 2010. 1784 was a long time ago. We even let women vote now. Even if the “founding fathers” had wanted the US to be a Christian Theocracy (and there’s no real evidence that they did. Thomas Jefferson was a proud atheist), that is not what it is today.

The irony is that so many Christians call America “the greatest country in the world” because of the religious freedoms granted to you, while they use that very religion to stifle the rights to liberty and happiness to so many others. And you wonder why so many people hate your god and its followers.

bolwerk's avatar

“Separation of church and state” was never defined as an official policy by the Phounding Phathers. The term comes from a letter Jefferson wrote to a Baptist congregation (it’s called the Danbury Baptists letter) – the phrase was specifically wall of separation. The two clauses of the constitution dealing with religion are found in the First Amendment, and they protect free exercise and proscribe the federal government from establishing an official religious practice.

Nothing in the original constitution proscribed the states from having established churches, and many did at one time. The practice didn’t go out with a bang either – it went out with a whimper. By the 1820s or so, they all simply realized it was stupid and disestablished the churches.

So the moral of the story? Many Americans today are less mature about religious matters than they were in the 1820s. That’s frightening.

plethora's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr @bolwerk ummm….I have the feeling I am getting the atheist’s perspective here, which is fine. But I do not have time now to do anything but a line or two. Jefferson, btw, was not an atheist. He was a Theist, which is to say he believed in a Supreme Being, but wasn’t quite sure what kind of Supreme Being.

Seek's avatar

@plethora

It seems Jefferson self-identified as a Deist, upon research. Fine. Whatever. He was certainly a champion for religious freedom, and not a supporter of the notion of a religion-based government. Read his words below:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

In short – the government is wrong, and we have not only the right, but the responsibility to change it.

Seek's avatar

Also:
[Our] principles [are] founded on the immovable basis of equal right and reason.
—Thomas Jefferson, to James Sullivan, 1797. ME 9:379

An equal application of law to every condition of man is fundamental.
—Thomas Jefferson, to George Hay, 1807. ME 11:341

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
—Thomas Jefferson, letter to Archibald Stuart (1791)

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add “within the limits of the law” because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
—Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac H Tiffany (1819)

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.
—Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

The] best principles [of our republic] secure to all its citizens a perfect equality of rights.
—Thomas Jefferson, Reply to the Citizens of Wilmington, 1809. ME 16:336

Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.
—Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781–82

[N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
—Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779), quoted from Merrill D Peterson, ed, Thomas Jefferson: Writings (1984), p. 347

I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.
—Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, 1799

Seek's avatar

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!

Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.
We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.
—Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808) ME 16:320. This is his second kown use of the term “wall of separation,” here quoting his own use in the Danbury Baptist letter. This wording of the original was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause: Reynolds (98 US at 164, 1879); Everson (330 US at 59, 1947); McCollum (333 US at 232, 1948)

bolwerk's avatar

@plethora: Jefferson was Deist who was uncomfortable with Christian theology, as were many Phounding Phathers to varying degrees. I’m not really interested in politician’s religious views, except insofar as they respect the religious rights of other people.

There is absolutely nothing “atheistic” about favoring separation of church and state. Heck, most people in the U.S. probably do. Likewise, I think you need to do better than argue that public policy that you perceive as infringing on your faith is automagically bad public policy. If gay marriage is a bad proposition, there needs to be a better reason than something found in the Bible proscribing it.

plethora's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Thank you for being a scholar re Jefferson. I don’t think the US is in any danger of having a religious based government and I would be opposed to it if it were. More accurately, if anything, the government is hostile toward religion. It is the American people who are not hostile to it and it is, in my opinion, the American people who hold the politicians back from crossing the same sex marriage line. Support for marriage as a heterosexual event has about 90% grassroots support.

Seek's avatar

@plethora
“Support for marriage as a heterosexual event has about 90% grassroots support.”
Source?

plethora's avatar

@bolwerk No kidding??

bolwerk's avatar

@plethora: yes, I’m sure most heterosexuals support heterosexual marriage. Support for heterosexual marriage doesn’t negate support for homosexual marriage, and most likely most homosexuals support heterosexual marriage as well.

But, please, connect the dots: why should heterosexuals give a shit if gays get married? I can’t even see anything remotely interesting about the sexual practices of people I’m not interested in having sex with to begin with.

El_Cadejo's avatar

” why should heterosexuals give a shit if gays get married?” good luck getting an answer to that. All i ever seem to hear is “because its icky” or “because the bible says so” never a legitimate answer. never. OHHHH wait…. thats because there isnt one.

Seek's avatar

Good luck getting an answer to anything. I can’t even get my current opponent to support his own claims (regarding separation of church and state, or statistics on opposition to gay marriage, or likely anything else for that matter.)

bolwerk's avatar

@uberbatman: not being gay myself, I personally find the idea of sticking my penis into another man’s orifice rather “icky.” But then, uh, I don’t do it, and if I did, I would only have myself to blame.

Likewise, I find Biblical proscription against the act perfectly acceptable. What I don’t find acceptable is telling others they’re proscribed from it because a book they don’t believe in says so.

It is possible to be religious and intellectually honest.

tinyfaery's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I love the way you stick to it when everyone else has given-up. You go girl.
Though in this case, I dare say, it’s not worth it.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@tinyfaery I haven’t given up…the people on this post have provided all the answers needed to give direction on what is the next step.

DominicX's avatar

@uberbatman

“because its icky” or “because the bible says so”

Pretty much the two main reasons at the base of any anti-homosexual sentiment. While most anti-homosexual sentiment is religious in nature, non-religious people against homosexuality will cite “it’s gross” as the reason for their opinion.

@bolwerk

Just thought I’d point out that not all gay guys have anal sex. My boyfriend and I (in a relationship of 11 months) are sexually active, but both are pretty much repelled by the idea of anal sex and have yet to do it.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Friends, we are getting off-topic here.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
laureth's avatar

@plethora – You seem to imply fairly often that people who do not favor using only the current Judeo-Christian view of marriage as law of the land to be “bigots” or “hostile to religion.” Is this true from the way you see it? We either have to adopt your policies or be called an unfriendly bigot? (If we do accept only the Judeo-Christian views and eschew all others, would that not be “hostile” and “bigoted” towards all other faiths, creeds, or lack thereof?)

In short, I ask you: Is there any middle ground between these two extremes? Is there any way we can avoid making U.S. law strictly Christian-based, and yet not be considered hostile to Christianity?

I already suggested one, I thought – allow Christians to marry as they please, and allow everyone else to marry as they please. I fail to see how allowing Christians to keep their faith is hostile to Christianity. Is it the part about allowing non-Christians to marry as they please that you consider to be a hostile, bigoted affront to Christianity?

breedmitch's avatar

Those poor persecuted majority. ~

shilolo's avatar

[mod says] Off topic quips removed.

plethora's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Sorry…..I have another life I have to attend to on a fairly regular basis. I get back here when I can. Usually quick looks. Later.

Seek's avatar

::sigh::

This isn’t the first time you’ve ducked out of a debate, and I’m certain it won’t be the last.

El_Cadejo's avatar

like i said. ill never ever get a real answer…..

syz's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr One would think that @plethora has in indefensible stance, hmmmmmm?

Seek's avatar

But God said that…. oh.
But the Founding Fathers said…. oh.

Yeah, I can see why he’s having problems.

bolwerk's avatar

Any argument based exclusively on the opinions of a bunch of long-dead people (and I’m counting the Phounding Phathers amongst these, nevermind the much-longer or never-existent characters in the Bible) is immediately specious. Laws don’t affect the dead. They affect the living.

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