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A Less Perfect Union: Gay Marriage and the Subversion of the Republic

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Posted on Oct 24, 2008
married couple
AP photo / Tony Avelar

Newlyweds: Michael Allen, left, and Billy Iwing kiss after getting married in an after-hours ceremony at San Francisco City Hall on Oct. 21.

By Scott Tucker

(Page 5)

Hundreds of years ago, members of the Society of Friends (also known as Quakers) defied the power of priests, ministers and judges by declaring their marriages of their own free will in their own public meetings. This tradition became so well established in Quaker strongholds such as Pennsylvania that this small sect did much to advance so-called common law marriage. In this spirit—and in open defiance of unjust courts and of savage politicians—we, the people (of all sexual persuasions), have every human right to declare ourselves married, with or without the blessing of any priest or politician. What we then demand from a law clerk or justice of the peace is indeed contractual. As contractual relations between corporations and workers are often antagonistic, likewise the marriage contract will bear the social imprint of a class-divided culture. If you hope a walk up the aisle is an exit from capitalist reality, you may be ready for a honeymoon but not for a life in the United States of America.

When Barack Obama addressed the nation in a speech titled “A More Perfect Union,” he raised hopes that we might soon enter the long promised land of racial reconciliation and social justice. Obama’s speech was lofty and general enough to become an instant classic of American transcendentalism. But the speech was also specific enough to include his personal story of being the child of a Kansan mother and a Kenyan father. In his own way, Obama underscored the same evolution of constitutional law that the justices of the California Supreme Court acknowledged in their recent ruling on same-sex unions.

Obama stated that “words on parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or to extend equal citizenship to all men and women of every creed and color. What was needed was a struggle over many generations. …” The republic was safeguarded over time “on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience.”

He told this country “we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes … out of many, we are truly one.”

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It is no finicky point to argue that our unity is a menace to democracy if we do not defend substantive plurality in sexual life and in political beliefs. So the old resounding refrains are not necessarily wrong, but social democrats must insist that the corporate state is not yet a democratic republic of all workers and citizens. The democratic left, generously defined, has maintained a historical consensus in favor of secular principles in public life, and social democracy in essential goods and services.

An injury to one is an injury to all. That has been one of the hallowed calls for solidarity in the labor union movement. In principle, that is also the ethical foundation of any genuine social democracy.

A secular republic that lacks fair provision of housing, education and health care for all citizens is a distinct possibility, so we cannot assume that the values of secularism are necessarily the values of economic and social justice. We must also grant the possibility that a state regime based upon religious fundamentalism might provide certain elements of social welfare.

What happens when a republic founded on secular principles is also founded upon brutal ethnic nationalism? The example of Turkey might come to mind, or indeed the example of the United States of America. In both countries, the official secular principles of government now coexist with powerful fundamentalist and theocratic movements.

The regressive crusades of the far right often advance over political territory deliberately abandoned by too many self-proclaimed “pragmatists” and “progressives.” Proposition 8 is a theocratic and anti-democratic effort to overrule freedom of kinship. In the view of the far right, it is not enough to regard the homes and personal bonds of same-sex couples as a less perfect union. That, after all, is a matter of personal prejudice and of personal faith. The Bill of Rights protects the freedom to hold and proclaim such beliefs. But the vicious and regressive program of the far right is not simply personal and metaphysical. No, this program is expansive and political. This is the reason we must fight the good fight against a political movement that aims to make this republic not only a less perfect union, but also aims to force a political marriage of market fundamentalism and clerical reaction upon the United States.

Here is a good example of the public morality of Concerned Women for America, which issued this message in a press release on the same day that the California Supreme Court published extending the realm of legal marriage:

“If people who engage in homosexual behavior want to dress up and play house, that’s their prerogative, but we shouldn’t destroy the institutions of legitimate marriage and family in order to facilitate a counterfeit.”

No one can predict how these national stories will unfold over the 21st century. We can only be sure the dimming 20th century is still throwing long shadows over the present political landscape. In the United States, many leading Democrats cannot be counted upon to fight fair and square for secular values in public life. Career politicians have made many fateful “pragmatic” concessions to the corporate and religious right. The consequences in personal life are often painful, and in public life the consequences are often truly disastrous.

Scott Tucker, a writer, democratic socialist and Los Angeles resident, was a founding member of ACT UP Philadelphia and of Prevention Point Philadelphia, a harm-reduction and syringe exchange program. He is the author of the 1997 book “The Queer Question: Essays on Desire and Democracy.”


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By Inherit The Wind, October 29, 2008 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

Outraged, October 28 at 11:49 pm #

With this issue, it seems we should use the Republican tactic of…if there isn’t STRICTLY a law against it…. then it’s legal.

I see Prop 8 seeks to initiate conflict, a well-worn tactic of the RADICAL RIGHT.  Strange isn’t it.  Why is it anyone wants to GET MARRIED at all!  I did it.  It’s not all its “cracked up to be”.  This I can verify.

What we REALLY need is a Prop. # which seeks to qualify the supposed institution of marriage as something to be desired.  Marriage, civil unions, common law spouse….. this isn’t an aspiration I would consider a viable reality, GIVEN THE STATISTICS.  Why shoot yourself in the foot!

I think it a better and more majority issue to look at it from the perspective (legally), which I sumise is at the heart of the issue, to configure FAIR cohabitation status for those who choose to cohabitate, irregardless of SEX.  Why do we keep MAKING IT A MARRIAGE thing…?  I’ve been “married”, ha…ha…ha… wonderful arrangement…works every time… obviously this personified perfection of marriage is “what everyone should do” and “wants”.

Like they say… It’s the Greatest Story Ever Told.

BTW, as for the “statistics”, that is assuming they are even legit, that: “Married people are happier…etc.” There are several “snags” in this supposed summation.  Firstly, did they ask any DIVORCED people…apparently they weren’t so enamored….ahem.  Secondly, WHY would anyone who’s still married put themselves in the position of saying, yeah…he/she is the biggest ass EVER when they HAVE to live with this other person…?!!!

For me the whole thing just becomes one of “let me do the dumb ass thing you do, it’s my right”.  Maybe you just want to have “it”, everyone else does… my advice… Be careful what you wish for.
****************************************

Outraged, you got me laughing with this one..and not at you but with you!  Didn’t Robin Williams say that Gays and Lesbians should have the same right to be miserable as Straights?

But most of us want a home, a family, a sanctuary and a partner who loves us, whom we can love and trust.  If you don’t have that, the marriage/union is doomed.  It will either dissolve in divorce or whither and die.  No union is perfect: Two people who communicate WILL have issues. 

Is marriage all it’s cracked up to be?
What’s it cracked up to be?  Did you believe it? It’s a fairy tale like little girls believe “Someday my Prince will come!”  Yeah, I had a dog named Prince…(good dog, too)

But to come home to your sanctuary and to love and be loved in return, to trust and be trusted in turn, means you can figure out how to handle all the other stuff.  We have divorces and unhappy marriages in my family—they are really obvious and close to me. None of our sibs (my wife’s and mine) have made a happy union.  Ours isn’t “perfect” but it is happy.  There is NOBODY I’d rather be with than her.

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By SkeeterVT, October 29, 2008 at 6:50 am Link to this comment

Scott Tucker’s article on Proposition 8 unfortunately failed to make clear what should by now be painfully obvious: This proposed amendment to the California Constitution is a naked attempt by the Religious Right to make an anti-gay religious doctrine the law of the state.

This is in clear violation of the First Amendment’s ban on establishment of a state religion and, as such, MUST be challenged in federal court if this measure passes.

The Religious Right has steadfastly failed to recognize that the civil institution of marriage is not the same as the religious sacrament of holy matrimony. The two are completely separate entities.

Civil marriage is a creature of the state, not the church. Just as the state has no constitutional right under the First Amendment to dictate to religious institutions that they must accord the sacrament of holy matrimony to gay and lesbian couples, religious institutions likewise have no constitutional right under the First Amendment to dictate to the state that they must deny civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples.

For the state to do so is to endorse the religious dogma that homosexuality is a sin that must be suppressed. It is a dogma that is not universally accepted by every faith—and indeed, is opposed by many faiths, including the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Society of Friends (Quakers), much of the Reform branch of Judaism and scores of other religious institutions.

The Religious Right, therefore, has no authority under the U.S. Constitution to have this particular anti-gay dogma of theirs imposed upon the whole of society through the power of the state. The Establishment of Religion Clause of the First Amendment clearly prohibits this.

Proposition 8 also violates a 1996 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Romer v. Evans (Colorado’s infamous Amendment 2), that declared that states cannot, under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, single out gay and lesbian Americans for exclusion from the civil and constitutional rights and freedoms enjoyed by everyone else—which is EXACTLY what Proposition 8 does.

Colorado’s Amendment 2 struck down all state and local laws that barred discrimination against gays—and barred the Legislature and all municipalities from passing any similar laws in the future.

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling written by conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, held that Amendment 2 was based solely on anti-homosexual “animus” that violated the due-process rights of gay and lesbian Coloradoans under both the Right of Petition Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth.

Proposition 8—along with every other state statute and/or state constitutional amendment now in place banning same-gender marriages—as well as the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996—are ALL unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and the Religious Right knows it. Yet the Religious Right, in their stubborn, bullheaded refusal to accept this constitutional reality, pushes on.

These homophobes’ crusade against same-gender marriage is as futile as the white supremacists’ crusade a half-century ago against the constitutional right of African-Americans to full equality under the law. Indeed, that the California Supreme Court invoked its 1948 ruling that struck down laws barring interracial marriages—a ruling that was adopted nationwide by the U.S. Supreme Court 19 years later in Loving v. Virginia—is no accident.

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By Outraged, October 29, 2008 at 12:49 am Link to this comment

With this issue, it seems we should use the Republican tactic of…if there isn’t STRICTLY a law against it…. then it’s legal.

I see Prop 8 seeks to initiate conflict, a well-worn tactic of the RADICAL RIGHT.  Strange isn’t it.  Why is it anyone wants to GET MARRIED at all!  I did it.  It’s not all its “cracked up to be”.  This I can verify.

What we REALLY need is a Prop. #  which seeks to qualify the supposed institution of marriage as something to be desired.  Marriage, civil unions, common law spouse….. this isn’t an aspiration I would consider a viable reality, GIVEN THE STATISTICS.  Why shoot yourself in the foot!

I think it a better and more majority issue to look at it from the perspective (legally), which I sumise is at the heart of the issue, to configure FAIR cohabitation status for those who choose to cohabitate, irregardless of SEX.  Why do we keep MAKING IT A MARRIAGE thing…?  I’ve been “married”, ha…ha…ha… wonderful arrangement…works every time… obviously this personified perfection of marriage is “what everyone should do” and “wants”.

Like they say… It’s the Greatest Story Ever Told.

BTW, as for the “statistics”, that is assuming they are even legit, that: “Married people are happier…etc.”  There are several “snags” in this supposed summation.  Firstly, did they ask any DIVORCED people…apparently they weren’t so enamored….ahem.  Secondly, WHY would anyone who’s still married put themselves in the position of saying, yeah…he/she is the biggest ass EVER when they HAVE to live with this other person…?!!!

For me the whole thing just becomes one of “let me do the dumb ass thing you do, it’s my right”.  Maybe you just want to have “it”, everyone else does… my advice… Be careful what you wish for.

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By Frank Cajon, October 28, 2008 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

I live in California and though a socialist and egalitarian, favor gay civil unions with full rights as non-gay marriages, but really don’t have a big problem with the change in the law by the Court. I opposed Prop 8 mainly as a church/state issue, but not ardently until several weeks ago.
That is when the GOP-backed proponents started a Big Lie TV campaign, which has become a California tradition in ballot initiatives: Step one, get enough signatures to get something on the ballot (this is the third time for this as I recall). Step Two, raise money from conservative, rich folks all over the country. Step Three, Buy TV adds that lie about what the Prop means-either tell people that a No vote really is a Yes vote, or like this time, that some other complete fabrication will happen, in this case ‘Churches will lose their tax-free status and second grade boys will be taught in school that men can marry one another’.
I voted against it because I am sick and tired of eight years of being insulted by lies.

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By cann4ing, October 28, 2008 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

Actually, Leefeller, the courts did not “handle this”—meaning a ruling protecting the right of gays to marry in the face of a ballot proposition redefining marriage.  The religious fanatics tried it previously in CA—lost handily.  Now they are making the false claim in their ads that the CA Sup. Ct. overturned the will of the people.  Not true, but then the lies in their ads are numerous.

I still think the tax exempt status of all churches should be eliminated.  Why should a church be exempt from paying taxes to the society in which they thrive?

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By Leefeller, October 28, 2008 at 6:37 am Link to this comment

Canning 4,

If they took away tax exempt status from churches, wonder how that would help bringing the bile out. Living in California, prop 8 has been a total waste of money and time, the moral police love these if not just to keep the people from looking at real issues that mater to them. 

Maybe the advertising folks create these useless ballot issues.  “Let’s, look for issues to rile up the ignorant religious folks”, find something divisive, always good for bringing in the money”.  Next time it will be illegals or guns on the ballet.  The more divisive the better.

The courts already handled this?

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By Phillip F., October 28, 2008 at 1:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I really don’t care what my, your or any church thinks of “gay” marriage. If they don’t want to allow it , Fine, gay people can avoid them.

What I DO care about is that the state somehow seems to be in the business of approving and regulating what is an essentially religious rite, marriage.

I say that government should, No, MUST no longer approve of or grant or regulate marriage! Government must approve and grant civil unions only.
These unions must be granted to ALL persons on an equal basis without regard to race, color, religious OR sexual orientation.
The “civil union” can be applied for by “married” people and they will then be granted the same rights as anyone else.
That way, everyone gets what they want, the religious get to control marriage, gay folks get equal rights & privileges under the law.

Of course this will only upset the ones that think they are entitled to control others rights and actions and I’m all in favor of that too!

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By cann4ing, October 27, 2008 at 9:31 pm Link to this comment

When prop. 8 is defeated, and it will be defeated, it will be the second time Californians have refused to narrowly define marriage so as to discriminate against gay couples.  Of that, I have no doubt.

The real issue is whether, when a church seeks to impose its narrow vision of morality upon everyone else by funding a measure like this, it should lose its tax exempt status.  Come to think of it, as an atheist, I have to ask why is it, if the First Amendment to the Constitution bars the “establishment” of religion, churches should receive tax exempt status to begin with.

Now there would be an interesting ballot measure to follow the defeat of this one.  End tax exempt status for churches.

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By mulattomilitant, October 27, 2008 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

the only reason abortion and gay marriage survived 6 years of a republican executive/legislature is because of their “wedge-issue” statuses. if the 2004 election was anything, it was a mandate by the far right to constitutionally ban gay marriage…and nothing happened.

in american politics, the greatest proponents of any issue is that issue’s opponents; without them there would be nobody to manipulate. so, as long as elections exist these institutions will never be completely banned or safeguarded.

god bless america and its banal, 2-party “democracy.”

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By mmadden, October 27, 2008 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment

This is just a form of discrimination. Not too long ago it was forbidden for the different races to marry. We must maintain the integrity of the races was what they said. A white person could not marry a black person. But now it is ok - some people still can’t accept it. Now we have come to same sex relationships. Frankly it is not society’s business to legislate morality.

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By BruSays, October 27, 2008 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

Well, we’re all preaching to the choir here, but I’ll throw in my 2 cents worth anyway.

1. I don’t care if any organized religion does or doesn’t permit same sex marriages in their churches.
2. I don’t care if any religion forbids women from occupying their top-most positions or requires that only woman may hold those positions.
3. I don’t care if any religion requires all members to be white, English-born, titled men - or black, Swahili-speaking, women.
4. I don’t care what Jesus would think about any of this.

The point is, a religion is a club. If you agree with its beliefs and by-laws, fine - you join the club. If you don’t, then you don’t join.

I DO CARE WHEN:
1. A religion receives tax-free status. What’s with that, anyway?
2. A religion’s beliefs and by-laws restrict my rights or freedoms.

So let religions hold whatever beliefs they choose and their members practice whatever rites they choose. Just as long as they pay taxes and leave me alone.

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By Leefeller, October 27, 2008 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

Driving through Yolo County in Northern California, many people were protesting in support of proposition 8, keep family values, ect., ect.  Since I am against prop. 8,  I did not wave or honk.  A little further down the road, there was a bunch of signs saying, “no to prison”, “prison is going to be here”, “do not allow prison in our neighborhood”.  Now, for some unexplainable reason I believe this is a great location for a prison.  Am now Looking for my “support prison in Yolo county” sticker.

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By Sarah, October 27, 2008 at 6:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think anyone should have the right to marry no mater what their sexual orientation is… This should be a right anyone can have

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By Ron Ranft, October 27, 2008 at 12:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Part two:


Where is Jesus in all this? Well, didn’t he say to treat others as you would have them treat you? Why do some humans demand that they be able to act for God? Why not leave God’s business to God. Let God, if there are some or one then they’ll or he’ll or she’ll take care of it at their convenience. Personally, I am an atheist thank you and not gay but this whole trying to deny one segment of the population their human and civil rights is intolerable.

I find the whole idea of fighting this cause over and over to be annoying in the extreme. It is like having to explain how an airplane works over and over again to Euopeans from the 13th Century who think that it is the work of Satan.

I agree with everything the author has said and feel that he also left out a lot. He has left out the black clergy who gays supported in their efforts for racial equality but now the black community has put religion before their humanty. Several articles have said that Hispanics will be the key to the passage of Prop 8 and they will vote for it. They too will put their religion over their humanity and then afterwards will cry that they are oppressed because of their skin color and not understand the irony of it. As if hispanics couldn’t choose their skin color but gays did choose to be gay.

For a supposedly enlightened country we have more willfully ignorant people than any other place I have ever been. I am glad that we have at least progressed to a point where a man who is the child of an interracial marriage or even a woman can be President. But I am disappointed they they have no vision, no courage, no sense of doing the right thing. And I am disappointed that as a country we can’t get over who has sex with whom. Who cares and how is it any business of anyone eles if it doesn’t hurt any one and it is consensual!

I have reached a point that if these religious fools want to impose their way of life on me and other people then I will support their abolishment.

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By Ron Ranft, October 27, 2008 at 12:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anyone who knows how to ride a bicycle with no hands knows how easy it is once you relax and go with the flow. An airplane is self correcting and will fly straight and level with almost no effort. The effort is making the plane go in a direction it won’t go in without force. Civil rights, gay rights, human rights, those are the natural way of things. I don’t remember whether it is the Declaration or the Preamble to the Constitution that says that the rights enumerated in the Constitution are not the only rights that we have as humans. That we have all even those we may not have named but whatever they are, the burden of proving that we do not have them is on the government before we can be denied them. We do not have to prove that we have a right. That is what is meant by “inalienable rights!” Surely who marries whom falls into that category. It is as natural as riding a bicycle with no hands. Where the problem lies is that there are people, and groups of people who want to push us off the bicycle. They want to take the bicycle away from us and never let us ride again. If they could convince me that it somehow put them in mortal danger, disrupted their lives, caused global warming, then We could have a discussion about it. The problem is that the side arguing against gay marriage is dishonest. They want to tell me that my riding a bicycle causes volcanoes in Hawaii to erupt, that it causes perversion to be taught to children, that it forces people who don’t want to be black to turn black, that a movie made in 1892 created by an invisible producer says that bicycles will cause people to destroy each other.

It is all nonsense. It is their nonsense and while they claim it will force them to accept gays as human beings just like themselves they don’t want to say that because it is real, plausable, and desirable.  Just as true as the Emancipation Proclamation has forced people in this country to accept that owning people as slaves was also wrong. Something that religion also supported. The religious true believers are dangerous. They believe in stupid things. They don’t understand it when science says that gay people have as much choice about their being gay as Hetero’s have about being hetero! They prefer a 4,000 year old poorly written and translated book over modern science. How smart can these people be?

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By Outraged, October 26, 2008 at 10:42 pm Link to this comment

Re: G.Anderson

Well put.  I endorse your summation.  We are ALL The People.  WE can work it for the BEST of ALL, it is so easy, just like rolling off a log.

May THE PEOPLE be heard….and win.

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By G.Anderson, October 26, 2008 at 10:17 pm Link to this comment

The other day I saw two womeon kissing and hugging each other at the store and thought nothing of it.

In many other countries, seeing two men kissing and hugging wouldn’t cause a stir either.

It’s only in America, and a result of our own fundamentalist Christian heritage, that some people find it hard to accept, displays of physical affection in public.

Physical affection is natural, and healthy and has many benefits to us all.

I wonder how many people become neurotic and judgemental because they were denied the physical affection they needed as children, and still need as adults.

Christians may want us to return to the middle ages, because in some way their continued existence depends on it.

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By Anna, October 26, 2008 at 5:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So many of the arguments, especially those opposing gay marriage, seem to assume that legalizing gay marriage will force churches to perform these marriages against their will.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Nothing forces a church now to marry a heterosexual couple if, for whatever reason, be it part of the theology of the church or simply an administrative “rule,” that church chooses not to marry the couple.  I know this first hand because the Protestant church in which I grew up refused to marry my husband and me.  All the Protestant churches in my hometown had decided that they would not perform a marriage ceremony for anyone who did not attend a pre-marital course they had created.  But they only offered this course twice a year.  That simply didn’t work for our schedule as we were moving out of the area, as was one of our families.  The church my husband grew up in in a neighboring town was where our marriage took place instead.  Another couple I know in which the woman was Catholic and the man Jewish wanted to be married in a Jewish ceremony; they had a very difficult time finding a rabbi in their area willing to marry them.  In another case, a Catholic friend was marrying a Protestant who had previously been married to a Jewish woman in a Jewish ceremony.  They wanted a Catholic ceremony but were told by her diocease that they could only be married in a Catholic ceremony if he first got an annulment of his previous marriage.  I know of several other cases where the couple’s “church of choice” refused to marry them for one reason or another.  All of these couples met the requirements of the state to be married and were eligible to receive a marriage license, but the state did not step in and tell the church that it had to perform the ceremony.

Marriage is a civil contract; the state authorizes several entities to preside over the ceremony during which the oaths of the contract are formally made before witnesses.  These entities include properly credentialed religious figures, but the ministers, priests, rabbis, etc., are free to refuse to perform the ceremony.  On the other hand, justices of the peace, as actual members of a local government, are most likely required to marry anyone who comes before them having met the requirements for marriage set by the state and having obtained a license.

Right now there are denominations that are willing to perform marriages for gay couples; other denominations are split on the issue; and some firmly oppose it universally.  Some denominations are already performing marriages that, although they have no standing in the legal sense, have meaning for the participants as it relates to their religious beliefs.

It’s unfortunate that the civil or legal aspect of marriage has gotten confused in the minds of so many peoplew with the religious meaning assigned to it by an organized religion.  It might help advance things if people kept these differences in mind and recognized that the battle for whether or not their own church will perform gay marriages can be fought out within the church itself even if gay marriage is legal in the eyes of the state.

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By Jim C, October 26, 2008 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment

Is it just me or does the guy on the left look like governor Patterson of NY ?

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By Da Bronx, October 26, 2008 at 7:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

fish

Our federal Constitution raises a barrier between church and state in that laws of this land must not be created to promote one particular religious point of view over any other.

Actually no such constitutional barrier exists. The Supreme Court expanded the Freedom of religion clause to mean what it has come to mean the Federal Government (With the ten Commandments on the door to the Supreme Court)sponsores a Jewish/Christian society.

In practice our government supports monotheism over polytheism, a belief in a single god over athiesm, and marriage to a single opposite-gender being over polygamy. I don’t know WHY any man would want multiple wives, BUT why is this (religious based) family model illegal? Because the government brought it’s idea of “family” from Europe, not Arabia. in a non/bias country, prayers would not be recited at government functions, Thre would be no chaple in the Congress, no precher would not be employed by the government, and “under God would not b printed on our (unholy) money.

Freedom to do it “my way” is not freedom at all. Consenting adults should be allowed to manage their lives in any way which does not DIRECTLY injure others. In this day and age, one wife to stay home, and two wives to go out and work might be a solution to juvenile delinquency and economic hardship. I never saw a poor polygamious family.

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By thebeerdoctor, October 26, 2008 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

Marriage as a function of a secular civil society, is a way to legally address the property, right of attorney, and health issues, between a couple who have decided to form a bond. This is a legal definition of marriage that does not have to have any church involved. Many lasting bonds have been created under the auspices of a justice of the peace, something that religious zealotry does not like to admit.
The stupidity of the political leadership, is that they now allow those who claim dominion over the invisible, to have a say in determining public policy, which only diminishes the country’s great secular strength. Claiming something as holy, the intolerant embrace homophobia, not only as a way to assuage their squeamishness towards “deviant” sexual behavior, but also to bolster xenophobia in general, that recently has begun to include simply everything they do not like.
The whole civil union as opposed to marriage, is a disingenuous wiggle in semantics, designed to appease those supplicants who believe that all marriages belong in a church. Never mind that in a country that is suppose to be based upon liberty, all churches and their activities are considered to be voluntary interactions between citizens; thus freedom of religion is accompanied by freedom from religion.
It is surprising that those so vehemently opposed to gay marriage refuse to see the economic benefits of this newly created industry. Especially strange now, when so many are beginning to talk to their pockets. You would think something as straight forward as a wedding and reception would and should be allowed to go forward unimpeded.
For those politically inclined who choose to make the distinction between civil unions and marriage, they are embracing a “separate but equal” paradigm that hearkens back to Plessy v Ferguson.

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By purplewolf, October 25, 2008 at 11:46 pm Link to this comment

According to what I read in Theology classes, didn’t God say for people to love one another? I never read that God said to love only those of the opposite gender. Not trying to defend any religion, as I feel they are the basis for the majority of, if not all the ills of the world.

In fact if all religions were banned or dissolved, the world would probably run a lot better for everyone concerned.

And just what kind of a threat to “straight” marriages do gay people create? That never gets explained. Wouldn’t it make more sense to feel threatened in your “straight” marriage by another “straight” person, rather than from a gay person? And what about that divorce rate, last I read it was 50% and still climbing.

Government also should stay out of peoples personal and private relationships between consenting adults. Why are these types obsessed with other peoples sex lives? Is their own sex life so boring they feel they need to invade other peoples intimate lives to stimulate their own? It is none of their business. Heterosexual people may be married and there may be nothing holy or sacred or in the best interest of one or both of those people. Does that make them fair game to selected out for denial of their relationship? Probably not. And besides who makes all these gay people whom society and the churches fear so much? Oh my, heaven forbid they are created by HETEROSEXUALS, no doubt from a traditional male/female marriage. WOW!

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By Outraged, October 25, 2008 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment

I’ll admit…. I didn’t even read the article yet, but…BUT… that PICTURE!!!!!!!  Is that a black guy with a white guy….????!!!!  Is that acceptable…?

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, October 25, 2008 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

Come to think of it, why does the state/fed or insurance cos. even make a distinction between single and joint or family?  What’s that about?  In matters of joint ownership, no consideration I know of is given the gender or even the number in “joint.” 

It’s all sex.  Power people don’t like thinking about what people do with their private parts.  How can we ever progress?

“It’s OK for any two or several people to jointly own something because I can wrap my mine around that joint ownership without going to sex.  I know Phil doesn’t tap Harriet because Phil’s an upstanding Christian.” 

This fucking world drives me nuts!  You’d think that after 67 years, I’d let it go. I really need to get some help.

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By dihey, October 25, 2008 at 11:40 am Link to this comment

Inherit the Wind: you are correct. In every European country where the “Code Napoleon” became the base of its legal system, non-secular organizations commit a crime if they “marry” a couple before their marriage was concluded before a secular magistrate.

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By dihey, October 25, 2008 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

For opponents of gay marriage, “marriage” is merely a word or else some sort of concept. It is neither. The marriage I am talking about is a legal contract freely entered by parties before state governments.

Unfortunately, proponents of gay marriage too often allow themselves to be lured into the never-never world of discussing nonsense such as “marriage is traditionally for one man and one woman.”

Traditional marriage actually started out “for one man and many women” and that was certainly the case in the world of Jezus Christ whose father could have married several women.

The only fundamental questions one must ask the anti’s (and perhaps one-self) are: “can a state government constitutionally deny a contract to a gay couple?” “Can a state official constitutionally deny “marrying” a gay couple?”

To me the answers are two resounding no’s.

All other questions related to this issue are red herrings.

Obama and Biden obviously will commit perjury when they vow next January “to uphold the Constitution of the United States.” I have not the foggiest idea which constitution they will then uphold. Sarah Palin’s diluted?

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By Inherit The Wind, October 25, 2008 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

jackpine savage, October 25 at 6:13 am #


Marriage is a social/financial contract between two people. At the legal level, it is completely secular. The complications come from the fact that if you get married in a church, the church is given the authority of filing the secular contract with the state. But you can get married at City Hall and there’s no mention of God whatsoever. In some European countries you must go through both processes separately…and only one counts.

Like most philosophical arguments, defining the terms is of primary importance. Do gay couples want the secular recognition of their social contract and all the benefits that the contract entails, or do they want to be recognized by churches? If they desire the former, then dropping the word “marriage” would be their best strategy. After all, a “marriage” at City Hall is really just a civil union.

****************************************
TheRealFish says beautifully what I’ve been saying.
Social contracts under law are different than religious observances.

To me, each religion or organized group defines what it considers marriage.

But the secular state should only have the power to create civil unions. 

I have no objection to continuing to allow priests, ministers, rabbis and mullahs to be able to seal the civil contract in their marriage ceremonies, though I think the contract signing should handle the civil side separately.

We are hung up on the word “Marriage” because it evokes deep, primal, fundamental emotions, but, in fact, is merely a dramatic phrase adorning a civil union.

Why should religions be allowed to define “marriage” as they see fit? Because they are a religion.  But I don’t think they should be allowed to define it legally.

Then there’s the obvious joke: Gays and Lesbians should be forced to suffer through bad marriages just like the rest of us!

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By TheRealFish, October 25, 2008 at 9:05 am Link to this comment

I am going to admit right up front that I did not read this whole post, that I only read the first page, but suggest that I don’t have to read the whole post based on what I *did* read.

The whole argument over pro-gay/anti-gay unions and using state or federal constitutions to settle the issue is not so complex.

1. “Marriage” is a primarily *religious* construct. Civil union, on the other hand, is merely a contract between adult individuals where they choose to codify interpersonal obligations and a sharing of each other’s holdings. That is a legal choice separate from any given religious orthodoxy.

2. Our federal Constitution raises a barrier between church and state in that laws of this land must not be created to promote one particular religious point of view over any other.

3. The federal Constitution or any of the subservient state constitutions should never codify a religious perspective. Therefore, *any* amendment regarding “marriage”, for or against would, by definition, be forcing those constitutions to promote a religious point of view.

As a matter of equality of civil rights, on the other hand, if any specific population is being prevented from forming a legal contract based on a religious prejudice where those contracts do no direct harm to rights and liberties of others, constitutions *should* be able to address holes in the law that allow such prejudice-based suppression of individuals’ inherent right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Votes on constitutional amendments that restrict the rights of others based on religious traditions should always be “no.” Likewise, amendments that allow people to practice a specific religious tradition should also receive “no” votes.

But if an amendment is required to allow all people to enter into contracts with similar outcomes to those that only one portion of the population derives benefits, such an amendment—based only on a legal principle of equal rights for adult citizens—should be created and passed, if only to stop the practice of religious-based discrimination.

The concept of allowing civil union sidesteps all the constitutional traps and keeps the instrument of constitutions focused where their focus belongs: On the law.

And whether the individuals who enter into civil unions choose to call those unions “marriage,” want to hold their union ceremonies in some church, can find a minister, priest, shaman or rabbi to perform a religious ritual over them, toss out bouquets or whatever is all up to them.

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By G.Anderson, October 25, 2008 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

This whole thing is insane, and cleary demonstrates that the right wing of this country is the number one threat to our civil rights.

If their attempt to limit civil rights succeeds, don’t expect them to stop there.

The actions of these religious groups are beyond shameful, and should encourage protest against their deluded religious views.

Clearly, all relgious grade schools, high schools and colleges, should not be allowed a free hand to decide the curiculums of their students but instead, they should be required to teach state mandated classes on evolution, genetics, science and classes on human sexuality.

Society’s only protection against their attempt to pervert our rights, is reason and rational thought, and they are in sore need of a healthy dose of it.

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By Robert, October 25, 2008 at 8:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Marriage is not marriage because of churches.  Thus the idea that churches have to support marriage in order for gay couples to have marriage is not true. Someone wrote, “Why gay couples would want the blessing of a church is beyond me,,,”  Not sure I understood it right, but it seems he is saying he can’t understand why gay people want marriage since marriage is based on churches???  I think that because of this preceding line:  “If they want to be recognized by churches, then there isn’t much that can help them.”

Folks, Mormons,  Catholics, Baptists and evangelicals aren’t the only churches in the world.  They aren’t the only ones that perform marriages.  This isn’t only a matter of civil rights, but it is a matter of religious freedom.  Where did we ever get the idea that the Mormons and others who oppose marriage can tell the Unitarians and others that support it that they cannot perform legalized marriages because they (the Mormons and others) oppose it? 

This is one big reason for me that civil unions aren’t sufficient.  It allows the misperception out there that religion was unified in opposing this ‘evil,’ when in fact there are plenty of religions out there who support these blessed commitments.  Mormons, Catholics, Evangelicals.. and all the other bastions of oppression should not and would not be forced to perform or recognize gay marriages.  But neither should they be allowed to prevent other religious traditions from performing and recognizing gay marriages.  And the legal benefits of marriage through church performed ceremonies should be available to all people.  For those gay people who belong to these oppressive religions, through secular means such as a justice of the peace.  For those gay people who belong to gay supporting churches, by their ministers. 

Civil Unions and marriage is sort of like what existed in the south in the 50s.. where whites had whites only drinking fountains, and blacks were provided a hose.  Both dispensed water, just as civil unions and marriage both dispense rights.  But it is the perception that racists had that they were better and thus deserved their own special water dispenser that is the same perception those opposing gay marriage have.  That heterosexuals have a right to marriage exculsively because their love is better… their attractions are more approved of by God, etc. and etc. 

There isn’t a whole lot of difference between the epithat of ‘uppity N*%%er’ from the 50s, and ‘militant homosexual’ today.  Both terms were used by those who saw their group as superior to describe those from the oppressed groups who dare to demand equality. 

Shouldn’t we all be past that by now??

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By troublesum, October 25, 2008 at 8:02 am Link to this comment

I know that having a black man as leader will have an impact on the collective psyche of the nation.  The other as leader has implications which have not been considered.  What we are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg.  No longer will any minority be afraid of backlash.  Every man and woman has a voice now and nobody’s going to shut up.  Re: Joe the plumber on this page.

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By Don Watkins, October 25, 2008 at 7:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s a made up issue by the Republicans and their allies on the religious right. Theology and religion have no official place in our society and that’s as it should be. We have no state religion nor should we. If two men or two women want to marry each other, so what. If someone wants to marry their dog or cat who cares. Many people are married to their employers whether they care to admit it or not.

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By Joeseph Schmoltz, October 25, 2008 at 7:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The best idea would be to get “The State” OUT of the marriage business. The State issuing marrage licenses is an out dated practice, and since most states no longer require ANYTHING to obtain a Marriage license execept money their function is unnecessary.

Let the churches marry people
\
get your Joint taxation permit from the State.

Let people define “families” any way they wish!

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By jackpine savage, October 25, 2008 at 7:13 am Link to this comment

I don’t know, the whole thing seems like a lot of sound and fury signifying very little beyond the sound and fury.

Marriage is a social/financial contract between two people. At the legal level, it is completely secular. The complications come from the fact that if you get married in a church, the church is given the authority of filing the secular contract with the state. But you can get married at City Hall and there’s no mention of God whatsoever. In some European countries you must go through both processes separately…and only one counts.

Like most philosophical arguments, defining the terms is of primary importance. Do gay couples want the secular recognition of their social contract and all the benefits that the contract entails, or do they want to be recognized by churches? If they desire the former, then dropping the word “marriage” would be their best strategy. After all, a “marriage” at City Hall is really just a civil union.

If they want to be recognized by churches, then there isn’t much that can help them. If that is the case, this is not a matter of civil rights but rather a matter of cultural acceptance. Why gay couples would want the blessing of a church is beyond me, as i don’t really understand why secular straight couples bother with a church for the purpose of marriage.

I think that homosexuals should be afforded every civil right that heterosexuals are afforded, but if that’s what they’re after i also think that fighting for “marriage” doesn’t help them much. In fact, i find it counterproductive because it always whips up this backlash that then seeks to amend constitutions and the like.

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By Purple Girl, October 25, 2008 at 6:50 am Link to this comment

Some have spent Decades appeasing these ‘Dark Ages’ advocates’Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ was the first real indication they were more Politically motivated than Public Servants and Bearers of Our Constitutional Rights and Freedoms.
Pelosi’s taking Impeachment off the table another big ‘Fuck You’ to her supposed constituency
If Teddy didn’t make it clear enough by throwing th eGauntlet directly at the Clintons head, le tme simplify it. The DLC has NOT acted on the behalf of the Democrats, Nor any citizen of Our Free Democracy. They have also Proven Twice they are UnAble to ‘Seal the Deal’ with their Own ‘base’.
The Corp Whore Stench is so rancid many of US had to hold our noses to even vote for you,forget campaigning for you. Regardless of How he is viewed now- he Sucked, And Kerry was even worse- Both DLC’ers. But it’s no real surprise, They were ‘Reagan Democrats’...More accurately disenfranchised Republicans who couldn’t stomach the Invasion of heresy by the ‘Moral Majority’.Funny havin glived Through the ‘80s and been Politcally engaged, I NEVER heard that Term ‘Reagan Democrat’ Until Hillary started Running. If you want to see WHO the DLC Works for TOO…Review their ‘Third Way’ ie the Corportionist Way.
But not all the ‘Fat’ required the ‘boost’ by the DLC, some have had their own Sweet Deals for Decades, ah Carl? Michigan Wants to Give You a Huge ‘Thanks’ for Working so hard NOT to get us Out of the last Recession in the ‘70’s!!!!MF’er should have been demanding more fuel efficiency, alternative fuel research, at least more than 2 model yrs of ‘compacts’ before returning to gas guzzling Lead Sleds SUV’s! We don’t just have empty factories decaying into the Ground We have Cities (Flint). Levin is at least One Dem who will be skipped on My ballot! Even if You are Not as Corrupt as You appear, you are certainly inept and ineffectual.To bad your Cohort on the Armed services didn’t ‘win’ that nomination after all the work you Threw into Rigging that Primary for Her, Ah? Of course I could be wrong your other Buddy on the USELESS Armed Services Com (Con) is still running isn’t he? RETIRE CARL!

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By troublesum, October 25, 2008 at 6:12 am Link to this comment

Throughout history human beings have been unable to organize society without scapegoats.  This is the source of the opposition to gay marriage -  American society is running out of scapegoats.  A black president, gay marriage…  not surprising that illegal aliens are becoming the new target of oppression.

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By hippy pam, October 25, 2008 at 5:36 am Link to this comment

I do understand why people want a “piece of paper-proof” that their union is stable and lasting….even tho-in this time-most STRAIGHTS do not/will not last…My question???WHOS’ BUSINESS IS IT of WHAT SOMEONE DOES IN THE PRIVACY OF THEIR HOME/BEDROOM and WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE IF THEY GET TAX BREAKS AND INSURANCE?????[oh-yeah-THE RELIGIOUS people are the ones who gotta have their fingers IN THE PIE”[they are the perverts]Child Molesters have more protection-under the law-than people who live together-pay bills together-take care of each other-love each other…..

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, October 25, 2008 at 3:35 am Link to this comment

@Dave24

“Marriage is a notion created by humanity.  We made it up.  To lock it in stone is antithetical to progress, especially when the evolution of morality threatens the authority of dogmatic belief systems.”

Absolutely.  So, why do you think it’s o.k. for churches to reject, and teach it’s o.k. to reject, gay marriage?

People are not apt to learn to think for themselves until churches finally die out, and I doubt that’s going to happen any time soom, especially when the sorry states of governing in the world leave hope seekers little alternative but to resort to myths and superstition for assurance.

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By Dave24, October 25, 2008 at 3:25 am Link to this comment

Denying equal rights to all people is discrimination and bigotry.  If churches reject gay marriage, fine.  Such organizations have murdered innumerable amounts of people throughout history for perceived heresies, so their lack of progress is no surprise.  But we as a secular society must protect all people, especially those with minority positions. 

Marriage is a notion created by humanity.  We made it up.  To lock it in stone is antithetical to progress, especially when the evolution of morality threatens the authority of dogmatic belief systems.

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