Tag: gay marriage
Jay Michaelson delivers some inconvenient news to those who claim that marriage has always meant one man committed to one woman:
Time to break out your Bible, Mr. Perkins! Abraham had two wives, Sarah and her handmaiden Hagar. King Solomon had 700 wives, plus 300 concubines and slaves. Jacob, the patriarch who gives Israel its name, had two wives and two concubines. In a humanist vein, Exodus 21:10 warns that when men take additional wives, they must still provide for their previous one. (Exodus 21:16 adds that if a man seduces a virgin and has sex with her, he has to marry her, too.)
But that’s not all. In biblical society, when you conquered another city, tribe, or nation, the victorious men would “win” their defeated foes’ wives as part of the spoils. It also commanded levirate marriage, the system wherein, if a man died, his younger brother would have to marry his widow and produce heirs with her who would be considered the older brother’s descendants. Now that’s traditional marriage!
I would add that even in modern times, “marriage” means serial monogamy–being committed for life to one special person, until you get tired of that person and then move on to being committed to a different person forever.
Tom Ackerman has an provocative approach for dealing with a constantly simmering problem here in America: gay marriage. Whenever someone mentions their husband or wife (or their “marriage”), he makes a blunt statement that he “doesn’t recognize marriage.” His reason? “[N]obody should have marriage until everybody does.” That gives people who have been privileged with the ability to marry a bit of the perspective of those are aren’t allowed this privilege. Here’s how he does it:
Yesterday I called a woman’s spouse her boyfriend.
She says, correcting me, “He’s my husband,”
“Oh,” I say, “I no longer recognize marriage.”
The impact is obvious. I tried it on a man who has been in a relationship for years,
“How’s your longtime companion, Jill?”
“She’s my wife!”
“Yeah, well, my beliefs don’t recognize marriage.”
Fun. And instant, eyebrow-raising recognition. Suddenly the majority gets to feel what the minority feels. In a moment they feel what it’s like to have their relationship downgraded, and to have a much taken-for-granted right called into question because of another’s beliefs.
Anyone who has been following the 2008/2009 contest of California’s Proposition 8 (constitutional prohibition of marriage between people of the same sexual preference or same sexual identity) knows that it was submitted and promoted by Salt Lake City. The paper trail is clear. Arguably, Salt Lake City isn’t even in California. But that was not the issue, because the Utah money did persuade California voters.
Recently, the California Supreme Court upheld the amendment. But Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta posted Am I a Bad Person If I Think The Prop 8 Ruling Was Correct?. His point is that this ruling will make it harder for anti-gay activists the next time around.
States are beginning to domino into accepting marriage between those of same gender much like they did for those of different races in the mid 20th century. Conservatives have a valuable role to play; they fear and resist change. They function as a drag anchor to force those who would move ahead to work out iron-clad methods before change is implemented. Our legal system therefore resists implementing anything new from the grass roots direction until it is acceptable to at least half of the voting population. Very frustrating, but a historical necessity. When the process is short-circuited, we get embarrassments such as the 18th and 23rd amendments to our Federal Constitution.
This week marks another turning point in gay rights (go Maine, and we’re hoping New Hampshire’s Governor signs, too). A little reminder that there is still a lot of opposition from certain quarters, but with friends like John Stewart I’m certain things will continue to work out!
I present without (much) comment the following from the governor of Maine, John E. Baldacci:
“I have followed closely the debate on this issue. I have listened to both sides, as they have presented their arguments during the public hearing and on the floor of the Maine Senate and the House of Representatives. I have read many of the notes and letters sent to my office, and I have weighed my decision carefully,” Governor Baldacci said. “I did not come to this decision lightly or in haste.”
“I appreciate the tone brought to this debate by both sides of the issue,” Governor Baldacci said. “This is an emotional issue that touches deeply many of our most important ideals and traditions. There
are good, earnest and honest people on both sides of the question.”
“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions,” Governor Baldacci said. “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.”
Welcome to the inevitable progress of American society.
Cue wingnut outrage in 3, 2 …
One of the more ludicrous statements made in the recent NOM Gathering Storm ad was the claim that legalizing gay marriage somehow takes away freedom from those who oppose it.
Here is an eloquent response to that claim. This clear and well made video exposes some of the myths and mis-information about the threat that gay marriage poses to religious freedom. In fact, the host makes the argument that only WITH gay marriage can we have religious freedom!
Based on a unanimous ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court, Iowa has become the third state in the nation to allow gay marriage (joining Connecticut and Massachusetts). The following excerpt is from the Desmoine Register:
Iowa’s gay marriage ban “is unconstitutional, because the county has been unable to identify a constitutionally adequate justification for excluding plaintiffs from the institution of civil marriage,” Cady wrote in the 69-page opinion that seemed to dismiss the concept of civil unions as an option for gay couples.
“A new distinction based on sexual orientation would be equally suspect and difficult to square with the fundamental principles of equal protection embodied in our constitution,” Cady wrote.
The ruling, however, also addressed what it called the “religious undercurrent propelling the same-sex marriage debate,” and said judges must remain outside the fray. . .
“Our constitution does not permit any branch of government to resolve these types of religious debates and entrusts to courts the task of ensuring that government avoids them,” the opinion says.
The ruling explicitly does not affect “the freedom of a religious organization to define marriage it solemnizes as unions between a man and a woman,” the justices stressed.
Although I haven’t yet read the opinion, it sounds like the Justices are pointing to a common-sense compromise to the gay marriage dispute: The civil ceremony applies to any two people and the state must not discriminate as to sex by requiring those two people to be of the opposite sex. The state-sanctioned marriage will endow all couples equally with all of the legal benefits of marriage. On the other hand, religions are free to define marriage as they would like. A conservative church would be free to reject an application to marry same sex couples. I think that this is the best way to approach the national divide. If your religion is really important to you, go ahead and let your religion (not your government) define marriage. In the meantime, don’t try to deny government benefits to others based upon sex differences.
When I read the opinion, I’m interested in knowing how the Court found discrimination. After all, the traditional government definition is not anti-woman or anti-man. In a sense, it’s even-handed. From the perspective of any gay person seeking to be married, though, that definition trods on what I would agree to be fundamental liberties such as the right to associate. After I review the opinion, I’ll add a comment.