Gay Marriage is a Human Right, not a Religious Issue

Gay Marriage is a Human Right, not a Religious Issue

Fellow blogger Tim Weaver agreed to cross-post this essay on his blog, Not So Subtle:  Radically Independent Politics.  I like his writing a lot, so you may too. 

Tim, thank you for the kind introduction.  Since you noted Lisa Miller’s Newsweek essay, I’ll take that as my starting point and say that religious arguments for and against legal recognition of same sex marriages (because this is what we are talking about, the marriage already existing in the hearts of those involved) are irrelevant for two simple reasons.  The existence of God or the Gods cannot be proven, and even if these Gods existed, they would not be human beings, still less would they be citizens of this Republic.

American gay and lesbian people are not only American citizens-which as a point of law we have so far refused to accept through the prism of military service-they are also human beings.  As such, in America, they are entitled to the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document strongly influenced by the United States through the person of Eleanor Roosevelt, recognizes that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State” and so “men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.”  Men and women are “entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution” and “marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.”

Whether or not sexual orientation is biologically innate is at best tangential to the legal recognition of marriages between people of the same sex (although the evidence is in fact overwhelming that there is a strong genetic component to sexual orientation):  this is a matter of fundamental human and civil equality.  If a man may marry, he may marry regardless of his sexual orientation.  If a woman may marry, she may marry regardless of her sexual orientation.  And that means whom they choose, provided they and their partners are of full age, and freely and fully consent.  To say that gay and lesbian people may marry but only people of the opposite sex is to say, 1., they do not have the same right to marry their freely chosen and freely choosing, willing partner that they would if only one or another of them were of another sex, and 2., since very few gay or lesbian people, given any rational choice, willingly marry someone of the other sex (let alone if they genuinely care for that person), they have no practical or ethical right to marry at all. 

In this context, this is what equal rights before the law means, not simply between men and women, but also between human beings more generally.  If it’s OK for a man to marry a woman who wants to marry him, it’s OK for a woman to marry a woman who wants to marry her.  If it’s OK for a woman to marry a man who wants to be married to her, it’s OK for a man to marry a man who wants to be married to him. 

Not everything that is good should be a right, no more than everything that is bad should be a crime.   The law can be a harsh and crude instrument, more suited for punishment than guidance or encouragement.

But the right to marry, which is to say, the right to have the law recognize your deepest, most important relationship with a person whom you love, honor, cherish and intend to cling to, forsaking all others, and with whom you hope and intend to spend the rest of your life, is central to the ability of each of us to create a secure, stable and dignified life.  And as American citizens and human beings, gay people are entitled to the equal protection of the laws, and including the recognition of their marriages, as an essential foundation for engaging in the individual human work of creating those secure, stable and dignified lives to which we are all entitled. 

To demand that people married to others of the same sex call their marriages something other than what they are-marriages-is to debase not only a language shared between Americans of all sexual orientations, but also the reality this language represents.  People who wish to formally, legally pledge their lives to other people of the same sex do not wish to be “civil unioned,” they wish to be married:  to take their place in the legal institution that literally gave birth to them, an institution they are heir to as much as their heterosexual brothers and sisters. 

For marriage is a legal institution, not a religious one:  it is not the priest or the rabbi, the pastor or the mullah whose words marry two people, but the vows of the individuals to each other, and their signatures on the marriage certificate.  The relationship is between them; the state not only recognizes the relationship that they have created between themselves, it also protects it in so far as it can (the state cannot do everything);  clerical sacraments merely bear witness on behalf of their congregants-not all the people, nor the Republic-and ask the deity they worship to bless that union.  (That deity may or may not.)  Neither churches nor individual clergy should be required to administer sacraments they do not believe are appropriate, no more than anyone should be required to attend a wedding or give a gift, except because they want to.  Many of us make these judgments about marriages between heterosexuals. 

However, for a majority to reserve to itself certain rights, which can only be exercised by the individuals concerned, preventing a minority from exercising them is nothing more than tyranny.  There is no more clearcut a case of the tyranny of the majority than the refusal to legally recognize marriages between people of the same sex.  There is nothing at all elevated about saying, as a matter of law:  having arranged our lives to suit ourselves, we will arrange your lives, too, as we please.   

To refuse to allow openly gay and lesbian Americans to serve in the military that is their military too, is to say that they are not citizens:  that they not only have neither the right nor the responsibility to participate in the common defense, but that they are forbidden to participate in that defense.  To refuse them legal recognition of their marriages is to say to them that they are not entitled to the fundamental human rights of marrying and creating families.  It is to forbid them from fulfilling the most basic emotional need in a legally protected and socially dignified way. 

If the words freedom, equality, and justice-which are not the same-mean anything, together they mean that each of us has only one life, which we may live as we see fit but in no way may we impose ourselves or our chosen life upon others.  The denial of legal recognition of marriages covenanted to by people of the same sex, whether that denial takes place under color of law, constitutional amendment, or judicial decree, is an act, not of freedom of conscience or the free exercise of religion, let alone of morality, but of illegitimately depriving sovereign adults of their ability to make utterly intimate and benign choices about their lives-in short, of tyranny.

27 thoughts on “Gay Marriage is a Human Right, not a Religious Issue”

  1. Applying this logic, wouldn’t you arrive at the same conclusion when it came adult, concensual marriage within the first degree of consanguinuity (blood relatiohsip)or polygymay?

  2. Yawn. Nice try, but this essay boils down to one thing repeated ad nauseum: right, right, right.

    Unfortunately, it’s nothing we haven’t heard before and it’s nothing that holds up as a matter of law.

    I want to highlight a statement with which you effectively open: God can’t be proven and even if he could, he wouldn’t be a citizen. You’re right on point: if he could be proven, he would not be a citizen. He would preside above it. Did you know that on the wall above the seats from which the Supreme Court issues its rulings is inscribed “In God we trust”? Above is the operative concept and was not unintentional. The United States legal system derives its moral guidance from scripture. Your personal views on the existence of God have absolutely no relationship with United States constitutional law. At best they explain the motive behind the position on gay marriage that you’ve taken.

    “American gay and lesbian people are not only American citizens-which as a point of law we have so far refused to accept through the prism of military service-they are also human beings.” I find this argument to be representative of your entire piece: this is a clear example of grasping. (Open) gays are not allowed to serve in the US military, along with the handicapped, the obese, men over the age of 26 unless drafted by an act of Congress, those with heart conditions, et cetera, et cetera. Are these people also not American citizens “through the prism of military service”? This entire line of reasoning is absurd.

    Next, you mentioned the 14th amendment. The 14th amendment covers naturalized citizenship, which has absolutely nothing to do with this debate. The citizenship of homosexuals is not at stake. The implication that some consequence of citizenship deprived therefore deprives citizenship is simply backward.

    Nevertheless, the 14th amendment has been conjured up a number of times to be grasped at by the “it’s a right” crowd. Let’s review the exact text of the offending article repeated ad infinitum and learn a thing or two: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    Phew, for a second there you might be worried, but don’t fret: it’s in there – the magic words – “life, liberty, or property”. Case closed, right?

    Wrong, I’m afraid. Let’s actually take that phrase in context for a minute. No state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property.” Where is the deprivation in this matter? Homosexuals are given the same rights to marry as heterosexuals. There is no constitutional deprivation here. If a gay man finds that his right to marry a woman does not suit him and therefore does not pursue it, he is not deprived a right, he is merely exercising his choice not to take advantage of it. Later in your piece you attempt to equate these two concepts, but it doesn’t hold up. Suppose I said to you that I want to marry a horse. You would scoff at me. Why? Well, because marriage talks about a man and a woman. Horses are not mentioned. Since the federal law which defines marriage does not suit me, have I been denied a right? By the way, you will note the glaring omission of “happiness” from the “life, liberty, and property” bit. Unless you want to argue that one spouse is the property of another…

    Isn’t it enough that you recognize yourself that by merely switching one attribute (gender) with another (species), you immediately side with me? That the illegality of marriage between a man and a horse does not offend you? Doesn’t that demonstrate to you that a group cannot simply take displeasure from laws issued by congress and then demand the same law only modified to its own terms? And then cry about deprivation of rights when those terms are not met by congress?

    While we’re on the topic, can you remind me where the constitution discusses marriage as a right? The best argument seen on this subject is not the 14th but the 9th amendment, which states: “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” This really should have been worded better because it begs this question: unless some freedom or privilege is specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights, is it not a constitutionally protected right and therefore the constitution cannot be invoked by any court to invalidate a law passed by elected representatives? As a matter of law, constitutional arguments cannot be made in this case unless you can establish that marriage is somehow a right. To do so you must define marriage in the constitution. This sounds fine, except that it abolishes a state right in so doing. Garnering support for such a (required) amendment is, as we’ve seen in California, difficult. Don’t forget that this is a democracy, Erin. Voters are allowed to be wrong. Speaking of right and wrong, who is it that determines that, exactly?

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Eleanor Roosevelt? As soon as you can establish the authority of either over United States law we can discuss this further. The fact that one was influenced by the other does not by itself confer any other relationship – certainly not an authoritative one. Did you know that the women’s rights portions of the Japanese constitution were written by one of the General’s secretaries? Does their constitution trump ours because it was influenced by ours? This entire line of reasoning is absurd.

    You do touch upon the core of the issue – all of this legal mumbo-jumbo is just a collection of fluff we eschew so that we sound smart. Use enough legalese and we’ll impress each other; hopefully people who read this will think we’re smart cookies and take our word for it. All the legalese in the world doesn’t change the fact that two people who both sound smart – and in all likelihood are smart – can disagree on this subject. If it were cut and dry it wouldn’t be a debate at all.

    To quote: “having arranged our lives to suit ourselves, we will arrange your lives, too, as we please.”

    Aha. As it comes. But isn’t that how our society works, Erin?

    Think about it. Why do we arrange that the lives of murderers and pedophiles and dirty securities commisioners are confined to federal prisons? Why do we arrange that children who don’t go to school are taken away from their parents? Why do we arrange that our society values money and material possessions more than compassion and art?

    For the same reason that California has arranged that gays should not be getting married: Culture. Culture with a capital C.

    No amount of logic, reasoning, rationality, fairness, or debate is going to change the Culture. Nor will a proposition on a ballot in a big state. Nor will a decree from 7 old robes.

    Culture is the reason that some benign offenses get jail time and some heinous crimes are not illegal.

    People don’t listen to reason or intellect. They don’t listen to law books or even the US Constitution. They make an instant judgment on the issue based on their own inner compass, and then stick to it. And they look for ways to justify it, and they mistakenly believe that a good justification is enough. It isn’t.

    You know why I’m against gay marriage? It isn’t because I think the legal arguments I provided here are compelling (even if I do believe they are accurate and true). It’s because I couldn’t bear to imagine how my life would have been if I had two fathers or two mothers. Simple as that. Because I don’t want that for myself, and children don’t get to choose their parents, I will do what I can to ensure they get the same chance that I did – to be raised as nature intended. It’s worked for a million years. Why change it now?

  3. Evan, huh? Yours is hardly a legal argument (in fact, you demonstrate little to no knowledge of the Constitution).

    One of the many problems with this post, is its complete reliance on illogical platitudes. The conflagration of “due process” and “equal protection” in support of the argument misses it too.

    The question I think is, “what is marriage as a legal versus moral doctrine?” Since this post fuses the two — it’s all about some subjective belief of what constitutes rightness — a waste of time if you’re trying to pursuade. Answers to the questions posed by Anonymous above would reveal that (which you get at with your man/beast marriage analogy that is too easily refuted).

  4. I just breezed through this post but i get your point.
    When I think about marriage of any sort, I like to think about the vows made.
    Do you promise to take _______ as your lawfully wedded _____ through sickness and in health, for rich and for poor to have and to hold as long as you both shall live?
    If you can answer this question truthfully, then marry the person you’re saying it too, even if it is a gay or lesbian marriage.

  5. Mr. Carlson:

    This is the best you, a lawyer, can do?

    It’s very simple. Either the US Constitution applies to gay and lesbian people or not. Either marriage is a fundamental human right (and while the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has no more legal standing than the Declaration of Independence, it is the foundation document on human rights) or it is not. If you believe the one doesn’t and the other isn’t, say so.

    Instead, you avoid the issue, which is, all other things being equal, such as full age and free will, granting to two people of the same sex what is granted to two people of different sexes, to raise the utterly unrelated issues of consanguity or polygamy. (Incidentally, cousin marriage, which over several generations is a really horrible idea, and polygamy, which is also a really horrible idea, particularly for men, are often not seen as in any way inimical to heterosexual marriage. Many societies permit cousin marriage and polygamy, to the detriment of healthy children and the ability of poorer and younger men to marry, while at the same time often being profoundly hostile to egalitarian relationships, let alone marriages, between people of the same sex.)

    Don’t worry, though. I won’t tell your firm about either yourrefusal to address the issue at hand or your apparent ignorance of the facts about cousin marriage and polygamy.

    Cheers,
    Erin Solaro

  6. Mr. Mach, I presume:

    If you need me to explain to you the difference between confining “murderers and pedophiles and dirty securities commisioners…to federal prisons” and withholding from two people of the same sex, of full age and consent, legal recognition of the marriage they have covenanted to, I can’t help you.

    Mr. Sombrero, I also presume:

    Above, see my reply to Mr. Carlson.

    Again, I really am sorry that this is the best you can do.

  7. Your presumption is correct. However, your attacks and name calling address none of the points and are not.

    Your supposed lesson on heterosexual, consensual cousin marriage or polygamy, that you admit is socially acceptable in some cultures, but not ours becuase it’s a bad idea, makes the point? Applying the same logic you attack is the best you can do?

    You tell us: is the fundamantal human right to marry applicable to all or not? If polygomy doesn’t count because it’s a “bad idea” or marriage between more than one individual is not “marriage,” how is that different from argument made against homosexuals (ie. the union of individuals of the same sex does not constitute marriage)?

    How about cousins — nice lesson, but so what? It’s bad becuase reproduction has bilogical consequences? How does that address the consitutional standard you recklessly invoke? It’s either a right or it isn’t supposedly.

    Your arguments hardly represent unassailable logic. It’s a shame you believe they do. Your name calling sure doesn’t address any of the points.

  8. Mr. Sombrero:

    I haven’t called anyone names, nor have I attacked them. I have chided those who refuse to address the two arguments I made, in favor of raising irrelevant “what abouts”. I argue that the US Constitution applies to gay people and that marriage is a fundamental human right. If you wish to assail those arguments, you must engage them directly. Only Cholegal has done that, and come, quite frankly, to the only rational conclusion there is.

    American Samizdat is not a place where you can say anything you want and have it taken seriously: I will respond to your comments and criticism as they deserve. If you are thoughtful and dignified, you will be treated with respect. If you are vulgar or offer irrelevant “what abouts” that you appear utterly ignorant of, you will be corrected.

    For example, you wrote, “How about cousins — nice lesson, but so what? It’s bad becuase reproduction has bilogical consequences?”

    You’re right, reproduction does have biological consequences. Marriage, however, is not reproduction, as many married and unmarried heterosexuals can tell you.

    Meaning, in addition to directly engaging the ideas presented in any essay, you must also get your facts straight.

    Cheers,
    Erin Solaro

  9. Indeed. You must get your facts straight if you are going to engage a point. So too is the point you which you seem to miss, then take offense and claim is irrelvant.

    As I stated: “The question I think is, ‘what is marriage as a legal versus moral doctrine?’”

    Marriage, of course, has a different meaning and construct under the law and in the church (any church). Sweeping aside the religious (or moral) and your presumption that heterosexuals and homosexuals are similarly situated, your argument of course focuses on the issue as one of civil rights.

    From a legal standpoint, marriage is a highly regulated relatioship that the “State” is willing to recognize. State recognition of marriage is not, nor has it ever been, founded on some inalienable human right.

    To the original point, I believe all states prohibit first cousins from marrying, I do know that all prohibit marriage of closer blood relatives (even if sterile). In all states, polygamy is illegal and in some states people suffering from syphilis or other diseases are npt permitted to marry. Simply put, homosexuals are not the only people to be denied the right to marry the person of their choosing. Many groups and types of people are denied this union.

    Show me where under any law marriage is deemed a right belonging to all couples who feel they are in love and committed. You cannot becuase no such law exists.
    What you fail to see is that my comments were intended to draw the discussion towards “why” that is. How you might consider that vulgar, irrelevant or ignorant is beyond me.

    In recognizing a marriage, the State confers benefits many of which are costly, such the right to collect a deceased spouse’s social security ebenfits, health insurance coverage under the spouse’s employee sponsored plan, tax exemptions even after death etc. Historically, this was so because marriage between two unrelated heterosexuals is more likely to result in a family with children — e.g. the propagation of society in which the State finds that it has a compelling interest.

    While I disagree, it is not unprusausive to argue that homosexual relationships do absolutely nothing to serve the state interest of propagating society. Unless these marriages serve some other “state” interest, there is no reason for the state to confer the same economic and contractual benefits as a heterosexual couple (provided that the rational is one of propogation and childrearing).

    In other words, what State interest do homosexual marriages serve? There is nothing stopping homosexuals from living in committed relationships. Nor is there anything preventing homosexuals from making the “utterly intimate and benign choices about their lives” that you refer to — unlike incest (consensual) and polygamy both of which are illegal and socially proscribed in this country (but not others).

    You admit, as you must, that there properly exists limitations on marriage even when the couple is of age, and fully and freely consent (which in turn defeats Mr. Mach’s observation about marrying a horse — a horse can not, among other things, consent to marriage). My comments were directed at that.

    As you were chiding me for whatever reason, you failed to read my comment about cousins and “biological consequences” carefully. The point being that we are in agreement that marriage is about more than reproduction. The question I attempted to raise is, “if so, what is it?” Perhaps that will complete your argument, but far be it for me to say so . . .

    For the record, I do not believe that we should exclude homosexual marriage, but not for any of the reasons you cite. Sorry that’s so offensive to you.

  10. Mr. Sombrero:

    Let’s take this point by point, American Samizdat being a place where the old buttons have been disconnected.

    I have written that marriages between people of the same sex deserve legal recognition because 1. the Equal Protection clause of the US Constitution applies to gay people as individuals, and thus as pair-bonded couples composed of individuals and 2. marriage is a fundamental human right. Sexual relationships between cross-sex couples are equivalent to relationships between couples of the opposite sex because morality is a matter not of biology or Jesus Died So I Can Tell You How to Live but of how we treat and relate to each other.

    Since I have never argued that marriage, like any other fundamental right, is unlimited (the conservative value of prudence), I have not discussed, beyond the issues of age and consent, when one might humanely and sensibly restrict one individual’s right to marry to another particular individual: to use the examples you insist on raising, such as a close cousin or multiple partners. Marriages between people of the same sex, like marriages between people of differing sexes, simply involve two individuals who intend to make a life together. The pool is about half the species, not, say, half a dozen cousins. Nor, for that matter, people of diminished mental capacity or violent criminals, all of whose marriages the State has far better grounds for regulating, and even in some instances prohibiting, than it does marriages between people of the same sex. But again, I am not writing about the prudent restriction of a fundamental right.

    There are good reasons no healthy society tolerates cousin marriage or polygamy, but since I’m not writing about genetics or demographic balance, I will simply say that Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states are Exhibit A. Cousin marriage and polygamy raise entirely different issues from recognizing marriages between people of the same sex—which, all other things being equal, raise issues no different than recognizing marriages between cross-sex couples.

    Not content with insisting I address entirely unrelated issues, you proceed to being wrong on an extremely important fact.

    Heterosexual marriage is not closely regulated. Here in Washington State, to get my concealed carry permit, I had to be finger printed and pass a background check. To get my driver’s license, I had to pass an exam. To marry, I had to…be older than 18. Although I couldn’t marry my cousin, neither my husband nor I had to provide identification papers, proof or even attestation that we weren’t cousins or that we were divorced of our previous spouses, or that we were free of infections, even deadly diseases. Tangentially, there are no quotas on cross-sex marriages—neither within companies nor states nor the Republic, nor are the benefits which companies or the state confers or permits restricted to heterosexual marriages with or planning children.

    You wrote, “The question I think is, ‘what is marriage as a legal versus moral doctrine?’” which if you mean that marriage is one or the other, is also factually wrong because marriage is neither. Marriage is the legal recognition of a specific relationship, sometimes mutually exclusive, and in fact sometimes not (for example, some cultures do not consider male infidelity to be adultery) in order to ensure the orderly transmission of property, the raising of “legitimate” children for inheritance and citizenship purposes, and a companionate human relationship. Different cultures, including this one, have emphasized different aspects at various points in their history, depending on such issues as incidence of maternal mortality, women’s employment and education, and expected lifespan of both parties. Cross-sex marriages take place for reasons as crass as Anna Nicole Smith marrying a man who was at least senile, if not demented, or as elevated as widow I knew who married her dead friend’s husband (with whom, sadly, she was unhappy) in order to care for her dead friend’s children.

    Transmission of property (including provision for children and the woman who bears them, but again, this is a property issue) has always been the primary concern of marriage, and not the raising of children, for property and property rights are transmitted regardless of either childbearing history or even capacity, while different cultures have reared children very differently. And property interests can be very brutal—what is this widow’s dowry? How great is his estate—or very elevated—I want to care for and provide for this person; I want this person making my decisions for me if or when I am incapacitated. The State does not enquire, while the bride or groom’s kin may or may not—and if they do, it may not be for humane reasons.

    In fact, the State does not ask why cross-sex couples marry, or even require them to be of age to bear and raise children—much less that they actually reproduce. It accepts at face value that cross-sex couples, to borrow from Cholegal’s comment, “promise to take _______ as your lawfully wedded _____ through sickness and in health, for rich and for poor to have and to hold as long as you both shall live?” This, then, is the State’s compelling interest in marriage itself—whether for the cross-sex couples that are in most states the only relationships legally recognized, or between same-sex couples who for the same reasons want their relationships recognized.

    Marriages are only been between those involved. This is true whether those involved have married to 1., to express our devotion (there are no property requirements for marriage), 2., to administer or attempt to administer our property and benefits in event of our death or incapacitation (for we may provide for our espoused under cover of law whether or not we have borne children together) and 3. to raise children (I am unaware of there ever, in any culture, being a marital requirement for fertility of either party, much less together, although infertility in women and impotence, not infertility, in men, have often been grounds for divorce). The State’s compelling interest in recognizing marriages between same-sex couples is exactly the same in its recognizing the marriage of couples who do not or cannot have children together, or those marriages of fertile couples after they have ceased to be fertile.

    The State derives its authority from its citizens, amongst whom are gay and lesbian people. If the State is to have any legitimate moral authority over gay and lesbian people, it must deal with them as it deals with heterosexual people: as citizens and as human beings. I am delighted to see that legitimacy at last being questioned, for example by those who are calling for the withholding of taxes: this is the ancient right of the citizen. I should also love to see widespread gun ownership and active shooting by the GLBT community for exactly that reason.

    In fact, the only compelling state interest in not recognizing marriages between people of the same sex would be if sexual relationships between people of the same sex were intrinsically and significantly harmful in ways that similar heterosexual relationships are not. They are not, but I find it interesting that you failed to even attempt a fact-based, rational argument for a compelling state interest against recognition of marriages between people of the same sex.

    We are all entitled to our preferences, no questions asked, but opinions should have facts to back them up—and we are not all entitled to our own facts.

    Good day, sir, and good luck elsewhere.

    Erin Solaro

  11. I find that my arguments are rarely actually challenged. “Your arguments are wrong.” Oh really? Why is that, exactly? How about addressing them?

    I find your latest statement here rather telling, Erin. We aren’t entitled to our own facts, this is true. But one would would never ever guess that from reading anything you’ve written on this blog. Unless you come out and declare it, of course.

    Facts, Erin, are as useless as arguments, because unfortunately there’s a nasty concept called interpretation which allows two people when faced with identical facts to reach entirely opposite conclusions. When two people interpret the facts differently their basis as premises in any kind of rational debate is worthless. I’ve seen nothing but that in this entire post and all its comments.

    No argument is going to change your mind, nor will any other change the minds of the people who disagree with you. This is not a rational issue, it’s an emotional – and dare I say religions – one.

    “American Samizdat” is nothing more than a soapbox for you to broadcast your interpretation of the world and the opinions you derive from them. And its comments section is just high IQ trolling. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

  12. Mr. Mach:

    One cannot say to a person who begins his comment with, “You’re right on point: if [God] could be proven, he would not be a citizen. He would preside above it.” and ends with, “You know why I’m against gay marriage? … It’s because I couldn’t bear to imagine how my life would have been if I had two fathers or two mothers. Simple as that. … It’s worked for a million years. Why change it now?” that he is wrong. For he (you) is making neither intellectual arguments nor moral ones (and the more I study the issue of evil, the more I am convinced that the two are entwined, an observation Gitta Sereny also made in her biography of Albert Speer), but emotional arguments, and base ones at that. I feel this way, therefore, Christ Died So I Can Tell You How to Live.

    The issue posed was a simple one. If gay people are citizens and human beings, they are to be treated equally with heterosexual people who are similarly situated, and since we express our sexuality with others, this means treating same-sex couples in the same way we treat similar cross-sex couples. Including for legal recognition of marriages and military service (participation in the common defense as part of the community to bear arms has been an intrinsic right and responsibility—the two are entwined—of the citizen since the Greek city states and was probably ancient even then). If gay people are not citizens and human beings, then they do not need to be treated equally, and one should have the integrity to say so. Disquisitions about murder, cousin marriage, pedophilia, polygamy and bestiality (those who pick horses as an example know nothing of the animal) are not only irrelevant, they lead me to believe the disquisitor is speaking about himself.

    It is impossible to answer emotional arguments with intellectual or moral ones, so I do not even try.

    You wrote on your blog, “[M]ost of the people who read it and take the time to comment are idiots. Yes, they are idiots because they disagree with me.” That sums up what you have to offer.

    Good day and better luck elsewhere.

    Erin Solaro

  13. Ahem,

    I have no facts, just well thought out opinions.

    1. People past childbearing age are allowed to marry. People incapable of childbearing for other reasons are allowed to marry. Cousins are not allowed to marry because of their childbearing. If they are certified infertile can they get a waiver to marry?

    2. People who cannot have children are allowed to marry. Marriage is therefore not just about childbearing. And inability to have children is a nonsensical argument against homosexual marriage.

    3. Men are allowed to marry women. Women are not. This is a legal difference which may in the long run form a basis for discrimination, by itself.

    4. Hermaphrodites, presumably, are permitted to marry the gender of their choice. A right the rest of us are denied.

    5. While it’s not completely mind-boggling that this is an issue, in the present day, in 20 years it will be mind-boggling that it was.

    6. Marriage is a civil right. It is also a religious institution. The two are not one. Granting the civil right does not include the granting of the religious one. Indeed, separation of church and state will eventually form the grounds for ending this discussion. By itself.

    6.B. Just as gays and lesbians, (nevermind bisexuals), presumably cannot be accepted in the Catholic church, they still could not be even if they were married. (Married in some other church). There is no non-religious justification for the 1 man 1 woman policy outside of religion. (Actually, there isn’t even one ‘inside’ religion either – read: recent Newsweek)

    7. Let gays and lesbians marry, in a church that will accept them, or not in a church at all, as they choose, (atheists are allowed to marry). Just keep your religious values intact by refusing to let them be members of your church. They can come to mine.

    Case closed.

    Terry

  14. Dear Mr. Rosen:

    Your “opinions” are actually facts.

    It is an interesting kettle of fish when fact, logic and rationality, as well as morality are on the side of those who support legal recognition of marriages between same-sex couples, not those who oppose it.

    Although the Newsweek essay was frankly terrible.

    Re: (first degree) cousin marriage.

    What people rarely udnerstand about cousin marriage is that we’re not talking the odd pair of cousins here and there falling in love and getting married and having kids. In societies where people typically marry outside their immediate family (1st degree cousins, etc.), the gene pool is more than open enough to support occassional line breeding like that.

    But cousin marriage (and even beyodn the first degree) is actually a strategy to preserve resources and cement political alliances, to the detriment of the larger society. Do this on a societal basis for more than a few generations, and not only do you close down your gene pool (bringing a lot of nasty recessives to the fore) but you also have a clan-based society that is not responsive to modern political structures. (Exhibit A in both respects: many countries in the Middle East. You might also take a look at pre-modern Europe.)

    So the prohibition against (first degree) cousin, aunt/nephew, niece/uncle marriage is partially genetic and partially political.

    I do not know if infertile cousins would be allowed to marry in a state that, like Washington prohibits marriage of first degree cousins. (I would guess, probably not.) I do know that neither my husband nor I were asked to provide any documentation, or even swear, affirm or attest that we were not. I would imagine that as long as the names on the drivers’ licenses or birth certificates were different, no one would even bother asking. America is simply not a society in which cousin marriage is part of the socio-political landscape.

    Interesting legal question you asked. Perhaps a lawyer could provide a legally definitive answer for your state :-)

    Best,
    Erin Solaro

  15. Erin,

    I acknowledge your opinion of the Newsweek article, but would like more feedback than that. I liked it for a few reasons.

    First, it gave an informed opinion outside the mainstream, and had a cover dedicated to the topic. (Unheard of in my experience)

    Next, it related in specific terms the relationship of gay marriage, or being gay in general, to multiple wives, slavery, male dominance, incest and others as accepted norms in the context of biblical science. Things we mostly no longer ascribe to as acceptable, thus we do not take every aspect of the bible literally, thus we have adapted it, thus we can make a new rule.

    I get the genetic issue with cousins, (Pharohs…), but I’m not sure I get the socio-political angle. Is this argument kind of a “keep the money in the family” argument?

    ***

    Upon further thinking, I wonder. Is there even a single case in the bible of a woman having more than one husband? Even if caused by the death of the first? There are, clearly, cases in the bible of men with multiple wives. On the other hand, I’m not religious enough to care about the answer.

    In civil terms, it seems very clear that marriage is what we all agree it is. Whatever we agree, as a state, or a nation, do we expect other countries to recognize the status of marriages the way that we do? Very few will recognize gay marriages, right now, no matter where they took place. (I was surprised to learn this).

    But, combining two things I said before,

    If a state allows civil unions, (at the civil level), and a church allows gay marriages, (at the religious level), then I see NO material difference in the rule to differentiate it from gay marriages being legal. Meaning, if I were gay, (or bi), and both of those were true in my state, I’d be satisfied with that.

    Which directly leads to the next question.

    Is the right to gay marriage a state or national issue? Since I view it as a religious difficulty, I think it’s a religious issue, thereby negating federal jurisdiction except in the negative, i.e., states cannot design rules of marriage in a way which forces one religion on the masses due to separation of church and state.

    In my opinion, this also covers states restricting civil rights for certain groups of people, any groups really. Any groups who really need the rights curtailed should have much better reasons other than the fact that they are merely ‘different’, such as the width of one’s nose, or the color of one’s skin.

    The ‘sense of one’s humor’ might be a reasonable distinction though.

    -Terry

  16. Mr. Rosen:

    The Newsweek article is a poor article for two reasons.

    First, when we discuss religion in public life, the starting point is very simple: whether or not God exists, God is neither a citizen nor even a human being, although if God or the Gods exist, they are certainly not entirely divorced from what it means to be human, or for that matter, animal or vegetable.

    Since the Gods are not citizens, nor human, nor anything but a matter of faith, they have no say and should have no influnce in how we arrange to suit our polity for ourselves and those who do actually live here.

    Second, Miller’s article, while it does make clear the Bible’s condemnattion of homosexuality exists in a context of sexual cruelty, does not make quite clear just how great that cruelty is. Parts of the Bible would cause a scandal if publicly preached.

    In short, Miller’s article is bad because it is weak and timid. Too timid to adequately address the cruelty of the Bible, particularly sexual, too timid to assert that when we are talking about authority over human beings and citizens, to be just, that authority must be derived from our shared status as human beings and citizens.

    “Thus saith my God” is no different than “Thus saith my tree.”

    Cheers,
    Erin Solaro

  17. :-)

    Ah.

    While I agree with everything you say….

    It’s easy enough to argue precedent in legal terms. And once we value precedent in court, we avail ourselves of the beliefs of those who came before us. This leads us to grasp at common law in the extreme which was based on beliefs of a vast majority of the citizens of the early America’s having come from traditional Christian based faiths.

    Bluntly, the founding fathers may have believed in the ‘Christian faith of your choice’ and might not have acceded to devil worship, (did not in fact, given witch burnings).

    So, culturally we’re faced with the difficulty of how to manage civility borne from so much godliness.

    Never mind the claims of the religious right to enforcing christian beliefs on everyone politically.

    Also, we must ignore the penchant for conquerors to grant only themselves citizenship.

    Anyway,

    I enjoyed the article not from the standpoint that it clarifies gay marriage in civil terms, but that it serves to downgrade the nonsensical bastions of traditional christian values toward homosexuality. As well, it presents us a view of ‘changing’ religious norms, values altered to suit the present circumstance.

    This idea flies in the face of, “It says so in the bible, in no uncertain terms…” All the terms of which are of course uncertain.

    In short, it negates the logical fallacy of, “My pastor said it, so it must be true.” A necessary precedent to separating people’s civil beliefs from their religious ones.

    Being Buddhist, I simply do not have this problem. And being civil, neither do you.

    Is it disturbing that so many people, of every faith, think that civility (and morality) must necessarily flow forth from religious belief? As though atheists cannot, by definition, behave morally, ethically, and of course, civily?

    Thanks for your response.

    -Terry

  18. Will somebody please explain how a man and a woman can be married as heterosexual relations if gender, mating, and baby, all have absolutely nothing to do with the Institution of Marriage. So, am I to conclude a man and a woman can be married as non-heterosexual relations? So, am I to conclude equality like beauty is in the eye of the beholder? And if same sex marriage advocates are wrong then what are the consequences and why should those consequences be re-evaluated? So, am I to conclude the claim of infallibility for same sex marriage is based on personal faith? Nobody, but, nobody has the right to be liked. Nobody, but, nobody has that Royal Prerogitive. The case against same sex marriage can be made with out calling anybody any names. There’s an old saying, “Winston! We do it for the power”! Air tight!

  19. Mr. Rosen:

    One of the issues facing America is, how to construct a culture in which no race, religion, gender, way of life is the norm, or at least the model all the rest of us must aspire to? We are in the process of creating this acentric civilization, and a couple of the major issues are the status of women and the status of gay people.

    Those who screech that people who do not believe in God (and it’s usually their God) are fundamentally immoral do this as an intimidation tactic, and they do not generally give the impression of being good people. One man told me that atheism led straight to the Gulag; his presence made me want to give my brain a shower. By the same token, I remember an exceptionally kind and good woman who drew great strength from her religious faith—and who simply assumed other people would find what they needed.

    Both, incidentally, were devout Catholics.

    *****

    “vladseventysix”:

    I don’t normally chide people for bad grammer or spelling. I make enough typos, and sometimes write very Germanic sentences. As in, there’ll be a verb there soemwhere, probably at the end.

    However, your post is so incoherent I find it exceedingly difficult to understand what your point is. I think you have one. I think you’re opposed to same sex marriage, but after several readings, I’m still not sure. The more so since no one has been called any names here.

    I am extremely hard on people who comment on threads without having read them, as you appear not to.

    To reprise: the issues of equality, state regulation of marriage, and the purpose of marriage have all been dealt with previously.

    Given all the stupidity, cruelty and exploitation that have taken place under the guise of legal recognition of cross-sex marriages, gay people can’t do any worse. Most will do well, a few will do very well and a few will do very badly. Like their parents, brothers, sisters, and, yes, children.

    Please do not respond unless you can do so coherently—and sign your real name.

    Erin Solaro

  20. Vlad,

    Whew, tough read.

    Yes, you are to conclude that mating and baby have nothing to do with the institution of marriage.

    Elderly people, and infertile people, are never restricted, anywhere, to my knowledge, from marrying. And in my memory, of three marriages so far, and a rich cinematic habit, there was never once a mention of children in the vows.

    As for gender,

    Indeed, this is the crux of the argument.

    But, as we have shown, neuter people, meaning people incapable of childbearing, can marry, each other. This would include, I should think, women with hysterectomies, and men who have through whatever cause lost their penises and or testicles.

    If we allow such people to marry, without question, then we are preventing gays from marrying solely on the basis of the ‘word’ describing their gender on the certificates of birth. Or, in the present world, a gene on one of their chromosomes.

    So, as a civil union, the issue is the discrimination of couples based purely on gender, or rather not gender, but rather combination of gender. After all, gays and lesbians are being discriminated against equally, as far as I know.

    But as a religious union, it’s a more interesting question. For some churches allow same sex weddings. Google it.

    In case you were lazy:

    http://www.babble.com/CS/blogs/strollerderby/archive/2008/10/29/separation-of-church-and-state-same-sex-marriage.aspx

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4651803.stm

    In fact,

    This is another issue that will, eventually, by itself, defeat the ban on same sex marriages.

    If someone can say, “my church allows and supports same sex marriage”, then they can claim religious discrimination and a violation of the separation of church and state.

    I may not have said it well, or quite correctly, but I think the principle will stand.

    Of course the religious stalwarts will claim non-religious reasons, just as they do in the case of evolution vs. Intelligent Design. But no one, anywhere but Kansas, was dumb enough to fall for that in large numbers.

    -Terry

  21. Can we agree a man and a woman can be married? Can we agree a man and a woman can be married as heterosexual relations?

  22. “vladseventysix”:

    You have clearly read neither my original post nor my expanded commentary. Thus I have no reason to respond to you.

    Better luck elsewhere.

    Erin Solaro

  23. I stumbled across your blog by chance. Why the hostility? You completely berate well reasoned responses for no partiuclar reason (that I can tell). Why are you so abrasive and rude to people that have engaged point that you published?

  24. Ms. Serena:

    1. Since I write under my real name, and have a valid email address, I have little respect for people who provide neither.
    2. If you want to engage me as a writer, you must address the issues I raise, not bring in irrelevant issues. Which is what a number of correspondents did—and were embarassingly ignorant of the issues they raised.
    3. Since I commonly address people by Mr. and Ms., even when they lack that courtesy, your definition of rudeness seems to include the common definition of basic civility.
    4. Quoting people accurately and expecting them to get their facts straight is not berating them, it is basic to, oh, good scholarship.
    5. Hostility? No, but then having covered two wars, I have a different (and more realistic) definition of hostility and aggression than you appear to.

    I do not coddle people, either intellectually, or, which is very closely related, morally. And as a woman, I do not suffer from the common female malady of needing to be seen as “nice.” I am a serious writer who treats people seriously and I expect them to behave that way. If you write foolish things on my blog, you will receive an appropriate response.

    Erin Solaro

  25. What an interesting response. I read a good number of things you’ve written. I find nothing about what you’ve said about yourself that rings true. Nor do I see the “facts” you refer to as lacking. What I do see is profound insecurity arising from your obvious academic and intellectual shortcomings. Since you can’t seem to cope with anyone that doesn’t stroke your ego, you really shouldn’t blog.

  26. Still no legal name or valid email address, I see.

    I’m sorry I can’t give you the arguments you want, so I don’t think there’s any further reason for you to post here.

    Erin Solaro

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