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Gay Marriage [May. 10th, 2012|07:09 pm]
[Current Mood |awake]

I've posted before about my stand on gay marriage; I've argued for the acceptance of gay marriage in church...and I think it's another of those issues which should never have become a political issue anyway.  I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, wrote to my Congresscritters (to no avail, as usual), and so far expressing my opinion has had no effect at all.

But here I am again.  Saying the same things again, with emphasis.  And congratulating President Obama for coming out in favor of legalizing gay marriage.   I am appalled at the continued efforts to make gay marriage illegal, especially since these efforts are based on false premises and equally faulty logic.

When someone says that X imperils Y,  they usually have a mechanism in mind, and--for physical things--can usually say what it is.   
Dropping a glass on concrete imperils the glass:  glass is brittle and will break when it hits a hard surface.   Some people claim that allowing gay marriage would imperil traditional marriage.   But they have no mechanism to display.  How--exactly, by what mechanism--is the marriage of two men, or two women, supposed to imperil the marriage of a man and a woman?   What does it do? 

A bit of boundary discussion here: who's responsible for what, and how that relates to marriages.   An individual is responsible for his/her own behavior.  Individuals who form a relationship (be it a marriage or a business partnership or a friendship) are both (or all, if more than two) responsible for the success or failure of that relationship.   The relationship will prosper, or not, as they invest in it the better parts of their character: honesty, courage, compassion, etc.   If three guys go on a fishing trip,  the success of that trip will depend on each one doing his part....and if one is a whiner, and one is a boaster and one didn't bring the food he promised to bring,  the misery they cause each other has nothing to do with the fact that in the next campsite three women are also on a fishing trip, having a great time,  and catching trout hand over fist.    Each group created its own experience. 

It's the same with marriages.   The success or failure of a marriage rests on the people in the marriage.   If the marriage tanks,  they blew it.    Not "society", not the in-laws, not the media, not the marriages of other people in the neighborhood or the social club or the church--not anything but the people themselves...male or female, in any combination that occurs.   The quality of a marriage is determined by the behavior of the people in the marriage. 

So....how, exactly, could the existence of gay marriages threaten traditional marriages, with the responsibility for the health of a marriage squarely on its partners?    Does accepting gay marriage mean that everyone has to have a gay marriage?  No.   No more than having traditional marriages means that everyone has to have a traditional marriage.  Does gay marriage mean that a straight marriage is doomed to fail?   No.  So...how does it threaten them? 

Clearly, it can't.   So those who oppose gay marriage have to leave the mechanism alone and take another route, the appeal to authority, what they say God said.    But the texts quoted do not say that gay marriages threaten traditional marriages...the closest they get is that God supposedly said marriage was between a man and a woman.   So the only legitimate approach to opposing gay marriages is to say that because God didn't sanction gay marriages, they should not exist.  

This is a very weak position.  God didn't sanction a lot of things--even if you take the Bible as the literal word of God, there's a lot simply not mentioned in the Bible.   Automobiles, trains, airplanes, nuclear submarines, electric lights, computers,  the stock market,  stainless steel,  coal mining, calculus, brain surgery, tectonic plates, science fiction, synthetic fabrics,  nail polish...the list is endless.   God specifically spoke against some things that you never hear gay-marriage opponents complaining about:  consuming pork and shellfish, for instance.   Creating economic burdens for the poor.   Flaunting your religion.   Judging others.    Failing to care for the poor.   In fact, if you take the Gospels as an expression of God's will (and if you're a Christian,  you're pretty much stuck with that)  there's no sign that God thought gay marriages were bad for people in traditional marriages...who were urged, along with everyone else, to quit being judgmental and leave the handling of sins to God. 

For those who aren't Christian, what the Bible says, or Paul of Tarsus is supposed to have said about homosexuality is immaterial--those beliefs aren't their beliefs and there's no justification for forcing those beliefs on someone who doesn't share them.   In a country with a diversity of beliefs--a diversity of beliefs that existed in the colonial period and throughout this country's history--there's a Constitutional right for each citizen to be treated equally--not to be forced to accept some other person's religious beliefs.  When the only underpinning for a law is religious--when there is no mechanism by which a different belief causes measurable harm to more than someone's sensibilities--then there's no justification for that law.   Religious practices remain in the religious realm;  law is political, and belongs in the secular realm.

To take a counter-example:  a law against underage marriage.   What's the basis for saying it's illegal to marry someone below a certain age?    A non-religious justification: quantifiable harm done to the underage person (usually female) by the physical, educational, and psychological consequences of  marriage at a young age.   This harm is quantifiable: interruption of education, limiting the fitness of a young person for later life, the physical damage that early childbearing causes, the increased likelihood of a complicated pregnancy and maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, the immaturity of at least one parent, which results in less effective parenting.    There is objective evidence that, in our society, the average young teenage girl  is not equipped for marriage and childbearing and parenting and that very early marriages are more likely to end sooner.   This decision comes not from religion (indeed several religions would permit marriage before the legal age of consent) but from the practical, observable considerations that it is better for society if those who marry are competent adults.

No such practical, observable, quantifiable consideration exists for gay marriage.  On the contrary, the lack of a recognized legal status for gay partnerships prevents practical, observable, and quantifiable benefits for society.,,the same benefits claimed for traditional marriage, in stabilizing relationships within a legal framework that makes clear the legal obligations of the parties involved, a framework that also provides young gay/lesbian people with a viable model of how they might choose to live.  

So  I support gay marriage.    And if one 60+ year old woman, brought up in a conservative small town,  in a traditional marriage for 40+ years, can come to the conclusion that gay marriage poses no threat to her or to any other straight people who are married, or want to get married....how then can some still be foaming at the mouth? 


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[User Picture]From: lighthawk
2012-05-11 12:35 am (UTC)
Great post as usual. I agree with you 100%. However I wish to reply in regards to your comment about Obama.

"And congratulating President Obama for coming out in favor of legalizing gay marriage."

I have nothing but contempt for Obama's speech on the matter yesterday. I was and am an Obama supporter and will remain so. However, I am a citizen of North Carolina, and his speech comes one day AFTER our disaster of a primary on Tuesday that resulted in a 22% landslide for the piece of excrement amendment one.

I found his speech to be nothing but a cowardly and ultimately meaningless token of support. If he supported gay marriage, then he should have put his political money where his mouth is. He should have condemned publicly and visibly amendment one and all related amendments that came to be under his watch.

He should have forbade the justice department from defending DOMA from the get-go. He should have made more efforts to stop enforcing DADT.

Now that everything is over and done with, his support for gay marriage has zero impact on any meaningful election anywhere in the country now. There may be some votes coming in the general, but that's too many news cycles away. It will be forgotten.

I have a personal interest in seeing amendment one struck down in the federal courts. It stripped what few benefits my sister and her wife had in this state. My brother also has a similar situation with his boyfriend. They at least had a domestic partnership recognized for some insurance and a few other things. Now even that is gone.

Obama's speech was nice and pretty. I'm glad he finally came out of the political closet and endorsed it. I'm just massively angry and disappointed he did that at a time when it serves no meaningful purpose and did nothing to help the people of North Carolina. If he had spoke out a week ago or a month ago, he may have been able to swing more voters to come to the primary. The 10% that misunderstood what the amendment was about (they thought it allowed, not banned, gay marriage) may have understood. That may have been a difference maker.

The whole time, my one and only thought for the matter was... "Too little, too late."
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[User Picture]From: caitlin
2012-05-11 01:21 am (UTC)
I understand your anger at Mr. Obama.

However, does this mean you will either not vote or vote for Mitt Romney?

From what I have heard and may have misunderstood on things, it is anger toward the President that had a lot of people staying home or voting Republican instead, thus giving the results from the 2010 election.

DADT is gone. Yes, it took longer to get it gone than a lot of people would have liked, but it IS gone. DOMA... well, that is another story.

I also have to wonder whether what happened in North Carolina was actually the last straw and made him realize that things were not right.

(I have also occasionally wondered whether he did not really want to influence people but instead wanted people to come to their own conclusions... except that it took him a while to actually figure out that a lot of people DO look up at the Office of the President for leadership and guidance.)

That's my opinion. That and $5 will get you a decent drink at Starbucks or Panera...
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[User Picture]From: controuble
2012-05-11 12:40 am (UTC)
Excellent post!
I especially like the bit about, "there's no justification for forcing those beliefs on someone who doesn't share them."
Wish we could get that through a few* peoples' thick skulls.

*as in a few million
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[User Picture]From: paksenarrion2
2012-05-11 01:53 am (UTC)
Excellent post.

I too wonder why so many people are so eager to judge others. The last time I checked, God was the one who was supposed to judge you and your sinning ways. So what gives anyone the right to judge someone else for the state of their own personal grace? Shouldn't they be worrying about their own? I think some of these people need to go back and read their bible. Specifically Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:36-37 and John 8:7. Glass houses people, glass houses.

I live in Washington State and the next several months are going to be interesting-and I don't mean in a good way. The Senate and House passed a gay marriage bill and Governor Gregoire signed it but Referendum 73 was filed to overturn the law. They have until June 6 to collect 120,577 signatures. Initiative 1192 was also filed and they have until July 6 to secure 241,153 to get that on the ballot. Either or both would overturn the law. Sometimes I love living in this state-being so politically active-but other times? Not so much.

As for the people in WA that are all RAWR, if it isn't overturned I am going to move out of the state. Please don't let the door hit you in the a$$ on the way out.
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[User Picture]From: kengr
2012-05-11 02:00 am (UTC)
Actually, if these folks were being consistent, they couldn't use St. Paul either. Seems that in one of his letters he told folks complaining about the immorality of their neighbors that if those folks weren't members of their church, it was none of their business.

Just wish I hadn't misplaced the cite years back. :-(

Then again, the whole *point* of things like the Reformation was that the priests shouldn't tell you what to believe, that you should read the Bible and decide for yourself.

Yet the churches that are really big on this are all into "trust the preacher, don't try to figure out the bible on your own".
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[User Picture]From: kkatowll
2012-05-24 08:27 pm (UTC)
1 Corinthians 5
but I don't know how much help that would be -- it says they should get rid of the "evil" people and not associate with them, but let God judge them. I'm a little hard-pressed to understand how the exclusion actions are an example of not judging the evildoers.
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[User Picture]From: xrian
2012-05-11 02:26 am (UTC)
I've come to think that the (or at least *a*) major reason that gay marriage is thought to "undermine" heterosexual marriage is this: if two men or two women getting married becomes normal, then society will come to understand marriage -- and by extension, other relationships -- as voluntary and collaborative, rather than automatic and authoritarian.

If a man and a woman marry, you can, if you wish, imagine that the man is the head of the couple and the woman is submissive -- whatever the facts of that particular relationship may be. If two people whose social status is equal marry, there's no getting away from the fact that it has to be a collaboration of equals for it to work.
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[User Picture]From: starshipcat
2012-05-11 03:02 am (UTC)
That's pretty much Doug Muder's assessment in Red Family, Blue Family, in which he contrasts the Inherited Obligation and Negotiated Commitment models of family. It's a very interesting article, and rather than try to summarize his arguments, I'd suggest that everybody take a little time read it in his own words.
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[User Picture]From: harvey_rrit
2012-05-11 02:33 am (UTC)
The only POSSIBLE objection to legalizing gay marriage that I can see is that it'll increase the business of divorce lawyers by 25%. I don't find that a reason to refuse people a chance to be happy and secure.

--And anyway, up until the Middle Ages, the only business religion had with marriage was, literally, business: rich people sometimes paid to have a blessing said. Marriage was a private pact.

I realize the current Bible says different-- but it also mentions plowshares.

Which also didn't exist before the Middle Ages.
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[User Picture]From: redvixen
2012-05-11 10:21 am (UTC)
Oh wow, you think it will increase business for divorce lawyers by only 25%. That's way better than the numbers I hear quoted - which usually are people claiming it will double the business.

I sat down and thought over the couples I know and realized something. I know a lot of people in secure relationships. The split is close to 55-45 straight-gay relationships since some of my friends are in the States and can't legally marry. Of those couples, only a very small percentage have been in a relationship of less than 10 years.

Of all those relationships, the ones that have broken up have been straight.

That's right, straight.

Not a single one of the same-sex couples I know have ever split and they all say their relationships are going strong.

Now I realize I know only a very small section of the population and most of the couples I know have stayed together, which throws off the stats, but it still shows me that gay marriages appear to be stronger than straight marriages.

Maybe that's why they are so threatening to their opponents.
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[User Picture]From: desperance
2012-05-11 02:47 am (UTC)
Bravo, Elizabeth. This is a fine and clear statement, and one to be grateful for.
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[User Picture]From: fluidsparkles
2012-05-11 03:56 am (UTC)
I so hope and Pray. Btw thos lound people with issues we just need to ignore them they are not the magority any longer. Love You and Your Guts Miz Moon and stormsdotter.

My thought is those people are un diagnosed suffers of Borderline personality dis order.
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[User Picture]From: gifted
2012-05-11 06:40 am (UTC)
Well said, Elizabeth.
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[User Picture]From: catsittingstill
2012-05-11 10:11 am (UTC)
Hear hear!
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[User Picture]From: msminlr
2012-05-11 11:49 am (UTC)
The only way I've ever been able to see that same-sex marriage would threaten heterosexual marriages is very indirect.
If one's kids decide to marry same-sex, the potential for grandchildren goes waaay-down, and thus one's own potential for being "grandparent of the bride/groom"
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From: etumukutenyak
2012-05-11 03:59 pm (UTC)
I am a lesbian. I have a son. When I do get to marry my lovely girlfriend, her daughter will be my folks' step-granddaughter. In comparison, my mother's sister married once, with no kids, and remains committed in a long-term relationship with a man.

It seems to me that there is still the same potential for grandchildren no matter what kind of partner the kids have, and the same potential for being the grandparent of the brides/grooms.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-05-11 04:17 pm (UTC)
One of the worst things that closeting has done, IMO, is to produce marriages in which one person is gay and has had to lie to his/her partner (and children.) There is this theory that marriage will "cure" homosexuality--which it doesn't--can't--but it can be devastating for the family when the admission comes after years of commitment and children, and a huge strain on the closeted person trying to act a role in all parts of his/her life. Far better to be able to safely admit one's sexuality (requires a society that doesn't sanction attacks!!) and then form a life plan and relationships in accord with it. An apparently traditional, hetero marriage with one gay/lesbian partner has a lie at its root.

And churches that promote hetero marriages as a way of containing or 'curing' homosexuality are promoting dishonesty--and are immoral. My opinion.

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[User Picture]From: purplebookfairy
2012-05-12 04:39 pm (UTC)
I must admit I'm not a huge fan of the term "gay marriage". I can stretch to "same sex marriage" (I would not turn gay if I should marry a woman, I'll still be a pansexual), but I feel the right term should be "marriage".

Love is love. I'm fortunate to live in a country with an equal marriage law. I can marry whomever I want, should it be a man or a woman. Same law.

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[User Picture]From: 90sbondgirl
2012-05-13 03:10 pm (UTC)
Same-sex marriages don't threaten my marriage at all. Exactly what you said, the responsibility for the success/failure of a marriage rests solidly on the people in that marriage. And we definitely have a Marriage of Equals; he has his strengths and weaknesses, as do I. Hopefully we end up strengthening each other (sometimes, like with housework, not so much unfortunately).

We'd be very happy for all our gay/lesbian friends to be able to marry, with all the legal protections and possibly insurance and other benefits that we enjoy automatically. And I'd really like it if my kids had no idea it had been any other way, by the time they're old enough to marry themselves (next 10-12 years, tops).

What really amuses me is when multiply-divorced people start fussing about "the sanctity of marriage." Especially the ones who were carrying on with Spouse #2 (or 3) while still married to Spouse #1.
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[User Picture]From: Mj69Catz
2012-05-24 12:40 pm (UTC)

You are so awesome!

You are so much more than just my favorite author right now. I love reading about your knitting - and this stance on gay marriage pretty much says exactly what I feel. Thank you so much for putting into words what I could not.
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