Same Sex Marriage Postponed

Last night by a margin of about 53-47% the “Yes on One” group seeking to overturn the state legislature’s approval of same sex marriage scored a victory.   What might have been an historic vote to allow same sex marriage turned out to be just another setback.

Reading Facebook last night and this morning as the results became clear, the disappointment among so many students (and faculty) was evident.   Many said they were “ashamed of Maine,” wondered “how people could be so bigoted and closed minded,” and found it hard not to “hate the haters” who insult and degrade a segment of the population for no reason.   “Gay marriage will harm no one,” one person remarked, “but not allowing it harms families and loving couples.”  Many of these people were the same ones who were thrilled one year ago today when Barack Obama won an historic election for the Presidency.   Within a year they learn that political activism can inspire great highs and great lows.   So what happened, what does this election mean?

First, as I noted awhile back in the post Culture Shift, the very fact this election was so close is a sign that the world of 2009 is far different than the world of 1999, when Mainers rejected a law to end discrimination against gays in work, housing, and other similar circumstances.  At that time, a same sex marriage referendum would have had no chance.   The gay rights measure did get passed in a referendum a few years later, and its worth remembering how upset so many people were when the first attempt was defeated.   The game gets played again.

Go back even farther — though not much farther — and you can find a time when interracial marraige was seen with the same kind of disdain by a large part of the population that same sex marriage is today.  Yet over time that stigma slowly changed, and now we have a President who had a black father and a white mother.   That slow change, of course, came from political activism that suffered numerous setbacks, but yet slowly moved forward.

Not only do cultures change, but once change starts it’s hard to hold back.   Anti-gay efforts have become less ambitious in recent years.   In the 70s they wanted to fire gay teachers or anyone who helped them, in the 90s they wanted to stop civil unions, and this year the “Yes on One” people claimed that civil unions were a legitimate alternative to same-sex marriage.   Each battle is hard fought, such as the non-discrimination battles a decade ago, but movement remains inexorably towards equality.  Especially when one takes into account changing values amongst young people, I suspect within decades we’ll not only have same sex marriage, but an openly gay President.   People will look back at this form of discrimination the same way that we now look at bans on interracial marriage as odd.

Patrice in a comment to yesterday’s post ended with a five word sentiment many share:  “I just don’t get it.”   How can people be so cruel to others in our society, denying them equality, and acting as if their sexual orientation makes them inferior, evil, dangerous or second class?   That seems so profoundly ignorant and hateful. And, to be sure, there are bigots out there whose homophobia and hatred eats them from within.   It’s tempting to hate them back, but better to pity them.

That does not describe 53% of Maine, however.   Most who voted yes are not hateful bigots.   The “Yes on One” people approach the issue from a whole different perspective.  They are less concerned with the individual than with the collective cultural identity of the people.   Conservatism is at base a collectivist ideology seeing society as a kind of organic whole, held together by cultural norms and traditions.  True, in the hyper-capitalist United States conservatives have also embraced free market economics, creating a kind of schizophrenic collectivist libertarianism (whose consequences were seen this election in the 23rd district of NewYork).  But real social conservatives are at base worried about society over the individual.

To them, marriage is not just a legal status, but  a social institution built around the family which has shaped and defined the core of human existence since the beginning of recorded history.  And, though some cultures have embraced polygamy, child brides, and other things we abhor, marriage has never been associated with homosexuality until recently.  To them, this is a radical jolt to their understanding of the world and how it operates, and seems to be an unreasonable effort to change society in order to ‘appease’ the interests of a minority — a minority they often think are acting ‘sinfully’ or ‘unnaturally.’  I know many such conservatives who are not hateful people, and who grimace when told the impact their view has on gays — their intent is not to hurt.  They see same sex marriage as a radical upending of tradition and what they consider the natural order of things.  It seems like a minority is trying to change how their world operates.

Those are legitimate perspectives.   One can’t just dismiss those who want to protect traditions as they know them by calling them names or labeling them bigots.  Most of them are being presented with perspectives that they did not grow up with, and which seem strange to them.  Some will never give up their opposition to change, but many if not most can over time be persuaded.

What the “No on One” campaign did so well is they humanized the issue.   They showed same sex couples and their families, and moved away from abstract reasoning to show those who are skeptical the human impact of discrimination.   They had lobstermen, pastors, Catholics, the elderly, and numerous people from every day life in their images and commercials.   This wasn’t about “changing marriage,” it was about letting other loving couples have marriage as well.   Traditional marriage was not under threat, traditional marriage is what same sex couples want.

So despite my disappointment — I really thought the ‘No’ side would win — I feel like this was still a small movement forward.   Even Ari Fleischer, former Press Secretary to President George W. Bush, said that while he opposes same sex marriage, he believes the culture is clearly heading that direction.   Civil rights movements always meet resistance, cultures change slowly, and there will always be those who use fear tactics and predictions of dire consequences to try to convince people not to let go of the status quo.   But things are changing.  And ultimately, I don’t think those who won the election yesterday will be able to stop the tide.   I would not be surprised if within five years same sex marriage is legal in Maine, and within 20 years young people will think it odd that it ever was not.

Other elections: Though I’ll have more on those and what Obama needs to do moving forward in coming days, the surprise victory of Owens in NY -23 is a gut punch to the “teaparty” movement, and made what was overall a bad evening for the Democrats not quite so bad.   They lost two Governorships, but gained a seat in Congress.   Still, I was hoping for the second year in a row to be writing about an historic election.   That’s not been canceled, just postponed.

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  1. #1 by patrice on November 4, 2009 - 16:30

    Scott, I hope your take is right.

    “This wasn’t about “changing marriage,” it was about letting other loving couples have marriage as well. Traditional marriage was not under threat, traditional marriage is what same sex couples want.”

    Exactly. This is what I just can’t fathom. How is allowing same-sex couples to be married going to “change” the institution itself?

    My friend Bob commented on Facebook: Why are we even deciding civil rights issues by referendum? If we had put segregation to a referendum would it have been ended?

    Someone else pointed out that this is the “downside of democracy”. Does *everything* need to be voted on in a democracy? (rhetorical question).

    Sigh. Again, I hope you’re right. And I think you probably are, long term. Not sure if it will happen as quickly as you suggest. But I hope so.

  2. #2 by Shawn B on November 4, 2009 - 16:38

    Bigotry can not be voted or legislated away. Eventually the Judicial system will follow the lead of its historical precedent (ERA, racism, etc.) and rule against Bigotry. Law will follow Judgment and tolerance will be mandated.

    Until then, I applaud those who continue to embrace the symbolic effort of achieving legislative rule.

  3. #3 by Lee on November 4, 2009 - 17:08

    Sigh. I was so sad at the outcome of the vote. I do understand the perception of some people who would voted against gay marriage. My BIL who I love dearly and who has always treated me with affection and kindness, refused to come to our wedding but would attend the small reception we had at our home. This is a now 40 y/o man who I have known since he was 9!!

  4. #4 by Josh on November 4, 2009 - 17:45

    Scott, I agree that same-sex marriage will probably be legalized in Maine (and across the country) some time in the future. It does seem like society is going in that direction.

    I also agree with you concerning those who voted Yes. Most are not bigoted individuals, and I hope they and those on the other side of the matter will continue to (and always) have respect for each other.

    With things like this, I always try to check my own beliefs and the logic of my beliefs as best I can. If I notice my logic is faulty, will I be honest enough to admit it and change? As long as folks do that, then I think society will be healthy no matter what laws get passed or not passed.

  5. #5 by Nancy B on November 5, 2009 - 00:20

    Hi Scott – I’ve been lurking since the Greenspan post and think now is an apt time to officially comment.

    I recently wrote a blog post about the shock this gave to my system, not just because of the abstract loss, but because of the real, tangible fact that 53% of people voted yes (that blog is on my facebook, if you’re interested – http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=182281797768&ref=mf).

    I appreciate your analysis into the motives of people who voted Yes on 1 and agree with most of it. However, I have to say I am completely fine calling the opponents bigots. If you are hurting another human being or denying them rights because of an ideological, social or visceral response to who they are as individuals….well, that seems pretty steadfastly devoted to your own opinions and fairly intolerant of another conception of marriage. That’s the definition of bigotry (I looked it up!). Technically, no one has to subscribe to this definition of marriage; churches are welcome to hold steadfast to their one man-one woman platform. I think it is more than fair, even necessary, to consider where they are coming from, but refraining from being too harsh with our words is ignoring the thousand of real, actual lives which are profoundly affected by this decision. They certainly feel like the victims of bigotry.

    Effectively, I am saying individuals who voted Yes on 1 are being bigots, but that’s okay, and I understand, and we’ll all figure it out eventually and be okay and get along and have big ice cream parties and laugh about the days when Greg and Jake just had a civil union. I know obsession over words is what gets us into this mess in the first place (mawwiage!), but the argument “Look, I’m not a bigot or anything, I just think some rights should not be extended to certain groups of people” really allows people to hide from their own decisions and personal prejudices.

    • #6 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2009 - 00:41

      For me, because bigot is a loaded personal insult, I try to use that kind of term for cases where I think the intent was cruel, as well as the act. If I want to convince someone to change, I find it more effective to give respect to their rationale, and then try to show them they are wrong. (And to those grammar bigots who don’t respect my diversity, yes I’m using first person with third person plural and I don’t care!)

      So when I use provocative words, I prefer to use them to describe actions or outcomes, rather than as an adjective to describe the person.

      I think perhaps you are looking this with the eyes of a philosopher — you use terms according to how they are defined, and if that definition fits, then it fits! I look at this politically, you use terms pragmatically, to try to achieve particular goals, such as convincing people to change their minds, or avoiding emotional reaction to terms leading to anger and an inability to communicate.

      So philosophically and “just between you and me” (everyone else, stop reading!)…yeah, they are bigots. But I don’t want to call them that because I think they are usually good people whose bigotry is caused by ignorance, fear, and confusion. I’d rather appeal to their better nature and help them see their errors than to call them names and cause them to emotionally cling to their views with even more vehemance.

      Maybe that’s the difference between politics and philosophy. Philosophers are concerned with truth. For politics the concern is how to get particular outcomes. Thus, in politics you inject psychology and think about the emotional impact (as well as definitional appropriateness) of the terms being used. To be sure, I have seen signs and statements by people who are obivously and intentionally trying to be disrespectful and hurtful, and I have no problem calling them bigots.

      But more importantly, I’m interested in this ice cream party you mentioned…

  6. #7 by renaissanceguy on November 5, 2009 - 12:59

    Wcott, you wrote: “Go back even farther — though not much farther — and you can find a time when interracial marraige was seen with the same kind of disdain by a large part of the population that same sex marriage is today.”

    Interracial marriage is not equivalent to a same sex relationship. Opposition to it is not equivalent to the opposition to same sex “marriage,” either.

    Nobody says that interracial marriage is not really marriage; they just oppose such a marriage. The couple is still a man and a woman, no matter what races they belong to. The fact that they can produce children is one of the things that such people seem to disdain.

    People who oppose same sex “marriage” point out that it is nor really a marriage. It might be a wonderful, special relationship, but it does not meet the criteria of being a marriage.

    I also do not think that it is right to compare the superficial traits of “race” with a statistically abnormal behavior that many people of color find morally wrong. Most black people oppose anti-miscegenation laws, but they also oppose same sex “marriage.”

    It’s a bad comparison all around.

    You also wrote, “Especially when one takes into account changing values amongst young people. . .”

    That’s the problem with teaching values instead of virtues.

    “How can people be so cruel to others in our society, denying them equality, and acting as if their sexual orientation makes them inferior, evil, dangerous or second class?”

    Preserving marriage is not denying anyone equality. People are merely recognizing that there is something unique about a relationship between a man and a woman, which means that it is not the same as a relationship between two men or two women. Homosexual people still have full legal rights as citizens. They can get married just like anyone else, if they choose, or they can form a different kind of relationship with a same-sex partner, if they choose. (So could a “straight” person, for that matter.)

    You also wrote, “This wasn’t about ‘changing marriage,’ it was about letting other loving couples have marriage as well.”

    But they are not a “couple” except in the literal sense of the word. A couple, as most Americans understand it refers to a complementary couple, a couple who have interlocking equipment that can produce children. Sure, homosexual partners have a relationship. They can consider it analogous to marriage, if they wish. I don’t mind if they have a “wedding” ceremony or do whatever else they want to do. However, they still have something different from a marriage.

    “Traditional marriage was not under threat, traditional marriage is what same sex couples want.”

    If that is what a person wants, then he or she will marry a person of the opposite sex. That’s not a traditional marriage. That’s just a marriage.

    ———-

    Here’s my prediction. If same-sex “marriage” becomes de rigeur, then, first, people who are really married will come up with another name for their relationship, and, second, people will seek to end the practice of having marriages legally recognized and registered by the state and make them instead private and/or religious matters.

    • #8 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2009 - 13:07

      I disagree that interracial marriage is a bad analogy, I think it is a perfect analogy, and actually use it in my classes. People thought such a coupling unnatural, there were laws against it, it was seen as perverse and wrong. In fact, the vehemance against it was as great as against gay marriage now.

      Also, the literal sense of the word “couple” is “two things.” For people, the literal definition of couple is “two people.”

      Having gays marry threatens no marriage. How can it? That is absolultely absurd on its face, it is impossible to support a claim that this harms marriage at all. It is fear and bigotry — it is made of the same stuff as racism, and finally society is slowly waking up to that. There is no turning back.

      It is a virtue to support equality. Not to do so is a vice. Society is slowly becoming more virtuous.

      • #9 by renaissanceguy on November 5, 2009 - 13:34

        It might be a good analogy (analogies are always limited), but a marriage between people of different races is not equivalent to a “marriage” between people of the same sex. Reduced to its absurd extreme, you would be saying that being black is the same as being gay, and I do not think that most black people would take kindly to that notion. In fact, exit polls in California showed that the majority of black people there did not take kindly to it at all.

        I now the literal meaning of couple. I mentioned it. However, in regard to marriage, that’s not how most people understand the word. You know, words have connotations. When I and most of my friends say “couple” we mean a man and a woman.

        I never said that having people call a same-sex relationship a marriage would threaten a marriage. I said that it changes the definition of the word marriage. I think it does other harm besides, but I do not think that it causes any direct harm to any given couple’s marriage.

        I’m not afraid of gay people or afraid of their calling their relationships marriages. I have other motives than fear.

        I can accept the term bigot, as Nancy B uses it. I have certain core principles that I believe in and that I am not willing to compromise on. If that is bigoted, so be it. By her definition of the word, she is a bigot and so are you. So is everyone. Thus, the word uses all usefulness in describing true bigotry.

        I support equality. I support total equality, and I agree that it is a virtue. I would never deny equality to any man or woman.

        But a man and a man living together in a relationship is not equal to a man and a woman being married. Even if the law says so, the reality is that it is not the same. You know those little X and Y things that we have in the nuclei of our cells?

  7. #10 by renaissanceguy on November 5, 2009 - 13:17

    “How is allowing same-sex couples to be married going to ‘change’ the institution itself?”

    Patrice, re-read this question. And read it again. Apply whatever reading comprehension skills you have to it, and you might just get it. Going from a relationship between a man and a woman to a relationship between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is a ‘change’. If it were not a change, then why are legislatures having to act on it?

    “Look, I’m not a bigot or anything, I just think some rights should not be extended to certain groups of people”

    Nancy, I have never heard anybody say that certain rights should not be extended to certain groups of people. What I have heard people say is that the privilege of a state-registered marriage is given to people who meet certain criteria, one of which is that they actually have a marriage–a union of a man and a woman.

    It’s not a right to be have a state-registered marriage. It is one of the things that the state offers people to encourage stability in the family and to make family-law matters easier to sort out. It helps identify who is legally responsible for children produced by the union and also who inherits property in the event of a death.

    With fewer and fewer people getting married and stayin married, I’m starting to think that it’s time for the state to get out of the marriage business altogether. That would end this controversy.

  8. #11 by Josh on November 5, 2009 - 14:58

    I think Renaissance Guy brings up a good point. We are denying EVERYONE the right to marry someone of the same gender. That means Maine is denying myself and all other straight folks the right to marry someone of the same sex (in addition to homosexuals). Also, gay folks have every right to get married to an individual of the opposite gender, just like everyone else. So, it seems to me that everyone has equal rights when it comes to marriage.

    I would like to know if anyone thinks this is illogical. If it is, I want to know why it is not logical, because I want to understand the truth of the matter.

    Also, I agree with Renaissance Guy about the “bigot” thing. Before anyone uses the word, they should examine themselves first. Personally, I have no problem being called a “bigot” because I am one. I’ve been selfish, hypocritical, and bigoted since birth. I’m human.

  9. #12 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2009 - 15:04

    I’m sorry if I sound strident, RG, I appreciate your measured reply. I have a strong sense of moral certitude here that I am representing the moral, ethical position, just as I would have been if I were fighting for civil rights in the 60s. I understand you have a different perspective.

    Look, let’s say the state decides to use the term “civil union.” Couldn’t that term be applied to everyone? People could all — same sex or different sex — call themselves married. They do so already. “Civil union” would be the legal “state” term. Rights and responsibilities for everyone joined that way will be the same. Marriage can be the popular term, and the term used for religious ceremonies. I have been to a Christian gay marriage here in Maine. It was a religious ceremony, in that sense a true marriage. Legally, they had to go to Vermont for state recognition.

    Gays have families. They adopt, a lesbian couple will have a child from one of the women sometimes, or they may have children from a failed heterosexual marriage. They also have spouses they love and care for. These families should be supported equally to other families, they are just as real, just as human. They need family law to be sorted out, they need stability, they need inheritance issues covered.

    But logically — how can this threaten marriage? Already gays call themselves married, live together, adopt, have families. How will that change anything for anyone else if they simply have the same protections on inheritance, family law, and the like as other couples? Who will be hurt?

    I know gays are hurt by this inequality. I do not know who will be hurt if the state agrees to equal treatment for same sex couples. That is what gives me my sense of moral certitude.

  10. #13 by Shawn B on November 5, 2009 - 15:35

    RG: “renaissanceguy Says:

    you would be saying that being black is the same as being gay, and I do not think that most black people…”

    Let’s replace Black with Albino and now perhaps it is more appropriate. Albino’s are a statistical anomaly as is the homosexual orientation.

    How about religion? In the past it was illegal for people of certain countries to marry individuals outside their faith?

    Or perhaps that it was once permissible for Catholic Priest to marry, but now it is not.

    Legal Homosexual unions have existed in the pantheon of time, just not here and now.

    The objection to gay marriage is an artificial moral stance. Gay marriage does not promote any adverse effect on society not already present in straight marriage.

    I would agree however that the State should revamp its laws.

    Preserve “marriage” as a social action with no legal merit. Once the term marriage is remove from having legal attachments (benefits, taxes, etc.) then the legal system has no say over how the term is employed. At that point churches such as the Universalist can marry same sex couples if they choose, but then people can still look down their noses and call it not a valid marriage.

    States should only support Legal Unions, which include any two individuals regardless of religion, race, or sexual orientation. There should be no legal barrier to same sex “unions” and they should receive all the benefits and drawbacks as such.

  11. #14 by patrice on November 5, 2009 - 16:55

    RG, this has been an interesting discussion, and I appreciate the points you raise, but I take issue with your tone. You don’t have to be so condescending. My reading comprehension skills are fine. Perhaps my words could have been chosen more carefully. Allowing same sex marriage will change the dictionary definition of marriage (depending on what dictionary you’re looking at), but I still don’t agree that it will change what marriage actually is. Not the way any two people experience that marriage. Just because my friends Pam & Susan got married (thankfully it is still legal in my state for them to do so) does not in any way shape or form change the nature of my marriage to my husband. It has no legal, emotional, spiritual, financial (etc…) bearing whatsoever.

    Josh, you’re correct in the most literal sense that rights are being granted or denied to everyone equally (RG’s point that marriage isn’t a “right” notwithstanding), regardless of their gender and sexual orientation. But to the extent that marriage also contains that emotional component of loving one another and wanting to be another person’s life partner, these laws do discriminate by denying that right to same sex couples.

    • #15 by Josh on November 5, 2009 - 21:30

      I appreciate your kind response Patrice. It seems to me that one could think of this as discriminating against relationships rather than the individuals themselves (since everyone is equally being denied same-sex marriage and everyone is equally allowed to marry someone of the opposite sex).

      • #16 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2009 - 21:39

        Of course, with interacial marriage, or really racial discrimination of all sorts, the same argument was made: whites can’t drink at black fountains, blacks can’t drink at white ones. Everyone is equally denied the right to drink at the other’s fountain. Blacks and whites can marry within their race, but they are equally denied the right to intermarry. Since the APA and AMA are clear that sexual orientation is not a choice but something people are born with, and biologists find it common in all species, the evidence strongly indicates that this is discrimination based on sexual orientation of individuals. People can say that the APA, AMA and top biologists are not infallible, but in terms of public policy, you gotta go with the science.

      • #17 by Josh on November 5, 2009 - 21:58

        So I have to ask myself, what is the most logical way of thinking about this? I think many people believe (partly because it is advertised this way) that gays are specifically being discriminated against. It seems to me that they are not, it is the actual relationship that is. Is it okay to discriminate against relationships just in terms of marriage?

        I guess I’m still unsure how the term “marriage equality” makes sense.

    • #18 by renaissanceguy on November 6, 2009 - 12:44

      Patrice, I apologize for having a condescending tone. I should not have done so, and you are right for telling me.

      I mistakenly thought that you were being purposely obtuse. Please forgive me.

      • #19 by patrice on November 6, 2009 - 14:37

        Thanks RG. Appreciate the note. No hard feelings.

  12. #20 by Jay Burns on November 5, 2009 - 18:05

    Shawn B wrote – “At that point churches such as the Universalist can marry same sex couples if they choose, but then people can still look down their noses and call it not a valid marriage.”

    Yep, and they could still do so even if the state recognized the marriage. Rguy mentioned in his first post that if gay marriage becomes legal, “straight” couples would change the name of what they do to something else. I would. In fact I am an advoctate that the state get out of the marriage business all together. I am married because that is what God shows as His example. Not because of some state benefits.

    Scott, you metion that gay people already get married, have children… etc. So what is it that you want? The state to recognize it as a marriage. As I pointed out, even if they do, the majority of “straight” couples still won’t recognize it as legitimate. You want the benefits that married couples receive from the state? Odd that a person would need the benefits or approval of the state to feel like their marriage is real.

    Take away my marriage license. Call it revoked. Whatever. My marriage was a cerimony before my friends, family and God. I don’t need a peice of paper, or the authority of the state to legitimize it. Why do gay couples need that I wonder.

    I’m not trying to be sarcastic here. I’m serious. I don’t care what the state says about my marriage, and I can’t figure out why anyone would.

    • #21 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2009 - 18:25

      To answer your question, what they want is equal rights. This feels like they are being treated as second class citizens. Yes, that means guarantees in terms of family law, inheritance, and all that. But there is a stronger sense that as a minority which has suffered considerable repression and discrimination over the years, equal rights is the main goal.

      • #22 by Jay Burns on November 5, 2009 - 18:58

        Can they not get those same guarantees in terms of family law, inheritance, or anything else through normal contract law?

        Yes it is an extra step. So what. Extra paperwork is what happens when you go about any legal proceedure in a manner outside of established norms.

        Again it seems to me that what is really being looked for is to be seen as legitimate by the masses. No law or ammendment will make that happen. Besides as you said, gay people already marry, have kids, adopt. Seems to me they already have everything I have except the state saying they recognize it. The state recognizing it will not cause ANYONE else to recognize it. Those who oppose it now still won’t recognize it. What then? We force everyone to sign a document saying that we all accept gay marriages as legitimate.

        It may “feel” like a second class citizen situation. That is because it is outside the norm. Anything outside the norm is uncomfortable. Laws won’t change that.

  13. #23 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2009 - 19:15

    The point is that they are not having equal rights if they have to do separate paper work. Separate but equal is not valid for how we treat minorities. We should not make minority groups second class citizens. Denying same sex marriage is the moral equivalent of making blacks sit in the back of the bus.

    It’s like the civil rights movement. No one demanded that whites give up racist ideas or accept blacks as equal. All that was demanded was that the state laws treat them as equal. That’s the principle in play here.

    And the core question remains: how does allowing same sex marriage HURT anyone? It does real harm on many levels to gays and their families that they do not have equal rights. It hurts no one if we were to do the moral thing and give them equal rights. If no harm is done, why not do it?

    • #24 by henitsirk on November 21, 2009 - 04:09

      Well, in many cases there is no “separate paperwork”. This applies to same-sex marriages as well as domestic partnerships on the local, state, and federal levels depending on the circumstance: no tax benefits, no decision-making rights when the partner is in the hospital, no health insurance through the partner, etc. Unless you have a state-issued marriage certificate, no dice.

  14. #25 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2009 - 19:23

    By the way, there is zero movement in places that allow same sex marriage for people to suddenly come up with a different term to call their union. That seems laughable. Why would people do such a thing? I mean, why does it matter to a married couple if a gay couple is married too? It doesn’t affect them abit. There is something I’m missing here, no one is hurt, straight couples are unaffected, no one gets harmed, yet there seems to be this visceral resistance to the idea. It makes no sense.

    I’ve talked to a lot of parents who are explaining to their children the vote, and kids can’t understand either why people would deny that right. At a fundamental level, there is no logic to it.

  15. #26 by Jay Burns on November 5, 2009 - 22:32

    Scott,

    I didn’t say we treat gay people separate but equal. I said that any time you go about a legal process outside of the established norms, which this clearly is, you should expect to jump through hoops. If I build a trailer, I have to do additional paperwork to have it classified as such so that I can tow it on the roads. According to your argument that is somehow violating the rights of the minority who build their trailers as opposed to buying them.

    But in reality it isn’t discrimination, it is simply outside of established norms. Are we discriminating against United States citizens who marry Canadians? They have to jump through way more hoops than a gay couple.

    Secondly, there is zero movement for marriage to be called something else amongst straight people because we don’t need the governments blessing to do so. There will be no ballot refferendum We will just do it.

    I find it hard to believe that you don’t understand why this offends people of a conservative religious background.

    Marriage means something special. It is ordained by God. There is a clear example of what that is. It doesn’t include the joining of one between two men and two woman.

    • #27 by Scott Erb on November 5, 2009 - 22:40

      Marriage is ordained by God, Allah, and various religious entities world wide. The US, however, has separation of church and state, and many non-Christians and atheists get married as well. We shouldn’t get in the way of religion doing what it wants, no one should be forced to marry gays. But the state shouldn’t impose the values of a particular religion. The meaning of marriage for you isn’t altered by the state allowing same sex marriage; you are not hurt. You seem to be saying that it offends people that other people might be allowed to do something. That isn’t really hurting you, though. So my question is still who is really hurt by the state allowing marriage equality?

    • #28 by Jay Burns on November 5, 2009 - 22:41

      Sorry Scott, I wasn’t ready to post that yet. I just got a new computer and the mouse pad is a bit touchy.

      Lets pretend for a moment that I create a new religion. It is nothing like Hinduism. Yet I call it Hinduism. Those who actually practice Hinduism would be upset. They would write me a letter explaining the differences between what I teach and actual Hindu doctrine. But instead of understanding that, I continue to simply say that I am Hindu and what I teach is Hindu. Couldn’t you see people getting upset.

      Religious people see marriage as something God created. He created it one way. Only that is marriage. The rest isn’t, no matter how much you insist.

      In the end I don’t see a resolution to this other than taking the state out of recognizing marriage at all. Which I would be perfectly fine with.

      • #29 by languagelover on November 7, 2009 - 05:16

        Jay,
        That’s a nice argument. Very nice comparison. How about this continuation: I could create a religion called Satanism. In my religion, I could say that Satan blesses unions that we have decided to call marriage. It’s only between a man and a woman. This would still be legal and recognized by the state, right? (I’m actually guessing here, so correct me if I’m wrong on this) Would this be less offensive than a same sex marriage?

        My point is this: Any religion can call a heterosexual union a marriage, Christian or not(Hinduism, for example), and that doesn’t dilute the meaning of marriage for Christians. Why does a same sex union do so?

      • #30 by languagelover on November 7, 2009 - 05:17

        (Jay, I posted before I was done proofreading. My first comments should not seem sarcastic if they do. I was being honest and then offering a counterpoint)

      • #31 by languagelover on November 8, 2009 - 14:09

        The more I thought about it, the biggest question I have is this: If people are really about protecting the traditional meaning of Christian marriage, why aren’t people trying to ban marriages between atheists? You said, “Religious people see marriage as something God created. He created it one way. Only that is marriage. The rest isn’t, no matter how much you insist.” An atheistic marriage would seem to be completely against that. Why is there more opposition to gay marriage than atheist marriage?

  16. #32 by Jay Burns on November 5, 2009 - 22:49

    Just to muddy the water a bit further, I am a big supporter of states rights. So, if the residents of Maine or any other state want to legalize same sex marriage in their state I support their right to do so.

    That is one of the great things about this country is that each state can determine for itself (for the most part) what is “acceptible” in their state. Then if you like or don’t like it, you can move to or out of that state.

    • #33 by Scott Erb on November 6, 2009 - 01:53

      Two things I can agree with you on, Jay: a) decentralization or devolution of power to the states — I agree on that; b) keep the state out of the marriage business — I’m fine with that, and it would resolve this.

      I understand that to some religious people marriage must be understood one way. I do know that there are divisions within Christianity on this, one of the first committed gay couples I ever knew went to mass every Sunday. The one gay wedding I attended was a Christian wedding. But there are also secular understandings of marriage, as well as understandings from other faiths. Should the state be guided by religious views?

      I do think that there is a difference between being discriminated against and often truly hurt on the one hand, and not liking what others do on the other hand. But what harm does it really do the religious community if gays get married legally? Maybe the best answer is to get the states out of the marriage business.

      • #34 by henitsirk on November 21, 2009 - 04:16

        I think this issue is so complicated because of the mix of religious and secular aspects. “Marriage” means something in both realms. I don’t think most people really want to foist their religion on others, but they also don’t want their govt. offending their religion.

        But that’s where I start to have problems relating: why all the concern with being offended? Why does what other people do affect me and my relationship with God and how I manifest that relationship? I go to a relatively conservative church; I would never expect it to sanction same-sex marriages. I wish it would, but it doesn’t change my spirituality.

        I don’t think you can “get the states out of the marriage business” when states link benefits and laws to whether someone is married. Those laws and benefits (insurance, taxes, community property, etc.) would have to fundamentally change if there were no state-recognized state of marriage.

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