Wednesday, August 04, 2010

California strikes down ban on gay "marriage"

I put marriage in quotes because we're really not talking about marriage. We're talking about civil rights.

If I told you "No insurance benefits because you're not Catholic" you'd be (justifiably) outraged.

If I told you "No, you can't adopt a child because you're Jewish" you'd be (justifiably) outraged.

If I told you "No, you're not the next of kin because you don't believe in the divinity of Christ" you'd be (justifiably) outraged.

As long as "marriage" is the measuring stick government uses to determine what people can and cannot do, we can not discriminate about who is allowed to marry. Once it's not just a matter of religion, but a matter of public policy, there's no place for a religious standard.

Marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic church but that doesn't mean only Catholics get to be married. That's an idea so ludicrous, you laugh out loud.

That is in effect what we are saying though when we say "marriage is a only for heterosexual couples." We are investing a civil right with a religious requirement.

As a practicing Catholic, I value my freedom of religion very much, thank you. I'm not in favor of returning to state sanctioned or mandated religious practice of any kind.

Your opinion may vary. Express at will. Personal or vile comments will not see the light of day.


Livia said...


jdh said...

I like the way the Danish do it. Everyone has a civil ceremony to make it legal. Then if you wish, you can have religious ceremony. That being said, I am in the process of converting to Judaism (and by G-D I will get my Jewish boyfriend under that chuppah one of these days).

Chris Redding said...

I'm glad they did. You don't choose who you fall in love with.

Colin said...

It does seem to be more the civil and social rights that come with marriage that are the issue, not the semantics of the word.

Calling it something else that carries identical rights in the secular world really ought to right the ship.

Scott said...

Thanks! You said it better than I could have . . . and it affects me personally.


Anonymous said...


ryan field said...

I couldn't agree with you more.

Steph Sinkhorn said...

Thank you. This is very much my position - "marriage" is a term that has been co-opted by the government to describe a legal union between a couple. The religious standard just flat-out doesn't fly if that's to be the case.

If it bothers people that much, I really have no issue with someone sanctioning that only members of X religion can get "married," and the rest can have "unions" or "partnerships." Or whatever. It's just semantics. The main issue is denying a portion of the populace LEGAL, GOVERNMENT-ENDOWED RIGHTS, and no, you can't posit that only some people are allowed those rights based on a word.

EDL said...

Nicely said.

Anonymous said...

"That is in effect what we are saying though when we say "marriage is a only for heterosexual couples." We are investing a civil right with a religious requirement."

This is the best comment I've ever seen on the gay marriage debate. Bravo!

Piedmont Writer said...

Thank you Janet.

Terri Coop said...

Janet - I'm with you 100% on this one. When the question comes up in conversation, I always respond, you've asked me two questions:

1. Do I support civil rights and equal opportunity and protection under the law?

My answer is yes. I support access to the civil/social contract we call marriage for all adults who are of age. The rights of children, self-determination, privacy, and property that are historically tied to marriage should be open to everyone.

2. Do I believe that the sacrament of marriage, as defined by each individual church, should be open to all?

The same constitution that guarantees equal protection says that each church is free from governmental interference, is self-governing, and has the right of self-determination. I hope every church sees the light about this issue. I know I wouldn't want to belong to a church that values one class of members over another.

Onto the Appeals Court and the Supremes!

The Frisky Virgin said...

Absolutely spot on. Well said.

RM Brand said...

I've always believed that government has no place in the marriage issue. Just as I believe the public doesn't have a right to dictate how a company should function. Freedom is freedom. The only power government should have is that of protecting our liberty and individual rights. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Rick Daley said...

Hard to do anything but agree...

Justin W. Parente said...

I don't think I've seen it explained so perfectly. Using backwards reasoning on those three examples, it shows just how ludicrous the ban of gay marriage is. Janet, you're a genius!

Anne-Marie said...

Beautifully said, Janet. As a citizen of Canada, where gay couples are allowed civil unions, I can't tell you how frustrating it is to know that many of my southern neighbours do not have access to what is a civil right.

I agree that we should all move to the model many European nations have adopted: everyone goes to the registry office or city hall for their legal ceremony, and then those who would like their union blessed in a religious ceremony go on to do so separately.

Best of luck fighting this all the way if you have to, California.


wry wryter said...

Bert and Ernie agree with you, so so I.

Richard Gibson said...

Thanks for saying this so well.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Thank you, Janet!

My wife and I are happy to still be married today now that the request to have our marriage denied has been set aside.

One more hurdle down.

Some day we hope to celebrate an anniversary where our marriage is not in legal limbo.

Lucy Woodhull said...

You betta preach! The sunshine in Cali feels especially warm, today.

Lucy Woodhull said...

Oh! And I saw this today. Of course, I thought of you:

The NoH8 Shark.

Stephanie Barr said...


Churches can make their own rules; that's OK, no one has to be a particular religion and churches no longer have the power to punish people who see things differently.

But, for a country that has espoused freedom of religion to prevent consenting adults from allowing their chosen lifetime companions (another consenting adult) to have all the privileges and rights of a spouse for effectively religious reasons, well, that's wrong.

I, for one, don't think the government should have the power to tell grown-up citizens who they can and can't marry.

Aimless Writer said...

Yay Judge Walker!!! Finally, a brain in California!
Do you think women would have the right to vote or slaves would have been freed if it went to a public vote?

dylan said...

Dear Ms. Reid

I agree with those who believe the government should not be in the sacrament business. The government is in the contract-enforcement business.

Civil RIGHTS! Rights are not subject to dim-bulb interpretation nor limitation.

Equal protection under the law for ALL citizens, life partnerships open to all in a civil contract. Straight, gay, even compatible asexual chiselers looking for tax advantage.

Then, and only then, when the contract is signed and registered, if you can get a church to marry you, best wishes. But whether you can or can't should have no effect upon your contractual protection, nor your obligations.

Now then. Are you really, really, really, SURE you wanna get hitched?


Leah Petersen said...

I couldn't possibly agree more. And I can never understand how people who value their civil rights don't see the absolute HORROR in thinking they have the right to deny civil rights to other law-abiding citizens.

Linda Leszczuk said...

If two people of faith wish to be married, they go their house of worship and have a religious ceremony and they are legally married. If two people wish to get married without a religious ceremony or blessing, they go to a judge or a justice of the peace and they have a civil ceremony and they are legally married. If the whole point of no prayer in schools, no nativity scene on public property, etc. is the separation of church and state, and the state already recognizes civil marriage, how can we deny legal marriage to a same-sex couples is based on religious doctrine? What makes it more incredible - many churches will perform marriages for same sex couples even though they are not legally valid. Now we have a religious ceremony that is not recognized by the state because it's forbidden by religious doctrine. It makes no sense at all.

Fanfreakingtastic Flower said...

I, too, am a practicing Catholic. At a recent church retreat there were several sessions where intentions were offered up. "Please pray for my brother," etc.

Every time there'd be somebody who'd have to say something like, "Let us pray that the sanctity of marriage be upheld." And I would growl, but think, "yes, I will pray for that, and for what I believe that sentence means."

Occasionally you'd get a shot across the bow with, "Let us pray for us to open our hearts and minds."

It could get a little bit like battling banjos, only with quiet, solemn, prayer requests, heads bowed, in a semi-darkened room.

Although I have a strongly held opinion on the matter, I never voiced it there. I don't think the offering up of intentions is the proper venue for a pissing contest. (Even though the battling banjo thing was kinda amusing.)

Now, in round table discussions, I am more than happy to get my fight on. :D

Peaches said...

I don't have a problem with it if a homosexual or lesbian couple wants to commit to each other, live with each other, leave their stuff to each other, and basically live as a married couple. That's their business and their right.

The problem isn't that the government, or religious groups, or really anyone, wants to deprive homosexuals and lesbians of those rights.

The problem is that they want to completely redefine marriage. This isn't just a quaint religious custom. Our entire society, divorce rates notwithstanding, is built and based on the monogamous heterosexual marriage. By so drastically redefining marriage as 'anyone who wants to officially live together', there will be consequences in every level of our society. You can't pull the bottom block out of a building and be surprised when things fall.

Maybe marriage is outdated. Maybe it's going the way of the dinosaurs and people who don't have cell phones. Maybe all marriage is anymore is two people who want to officially live together.

I think it's something more. I think it should stay something more.

This is my opinion. I understand that your opinion is different. Thank you for inviting polite discussion of this serious issue.

Kay said...

Amen. I couldn't have said it better.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Good on you.

Anthony said...

What a lovely post! Careful Janet, or you might get associated with Libertarian Catholics.

"Your opinion may vary. Express at will."

I'll bite (get it, shark, bite... never mind).

Prop 8 sucked and I'm not saying that just from a political point of view, but from a 10,000-foot view. It sucked so very hard:

The constant missing the point "Government needs to give us the right to marry!"

Our system of governance doesn’t grant rights. They take them away. The Bill of Rights is a document outlining what the government can't do, not "granting" rights.

Or the man who because a US citizen, only to be harassed because he signed to put Prop 8 on the ballot, and it wasn't because he had an opinion, but it was because he was so fascinated that a group of citizens could actual vote on issues.

The suck included the vilification of the Mormon Church, when it was obvious that Prop 8 had broad appeal across many religions.

The suck included a real debate about why these religious groups would push Prop 8. Was it because they thought gays had cooties, or was there something deeper going on, such as watching families around them constantly dissolve and become broken?

Then there was Proposition 8 itself. As Janet so eloquently puts it, this wasn't about religion.

It was about power. Power over the state against people who want simply want to live their lives without government intrusion.

This judge's ruling leaves me bittersweet. I wonder if this is simply a battle won in a war to be lost. The lack of empathy on both sides of the debate was astounding. To me it seems the root of Proposition 8 is still there, all that happened was a trim of the blackberry bushes.

Debra L. Schubert said...

I love you, but you know that. You expressed this beautifully, especially as a religious person.

I couldn't be happier for California and hope the rest of the country soon follows suit.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Marriage has been redefined many, many times. I don't hear of too many cases these days where a female child is sent with a certain number of cows to live with her new husband chosen for her by her "betters". It was an exchange of property. Or rather a burden - the child - given with the offset of value - the cows.

However, I'm perfectly happy with the contract with the government being redefined for everyone and letting marriage be a religious sacrament with no legal standing. The issue that arises here is that there are churches who will perform marriage for gay couples. So do you then decide that only certain churches are allowed to perform a marriage?

jdh said...

Well regardless, I am getting ready to go to bed with Sean Ferrell. Well, with his book. Well, with his book on my Kindle.

Melanie said...

It seems that I may be the only one who feels differently about this. Choosing to express a conflicting viewpoint may be akin to swimming in shark-infested waters with an open wound, but here it goes!
Proposition 8 and the resulting Perry vs. Schwarzenegger are not issues of civil rights. Under California's Domestic Partnership Law, same-sex couples are already guaranteed "the same rights, protections, and married spouses." Two of the examples you cited (insurance benefits and next of kin rights) are already available to same-sex couples under the current law.
As far as adoptions are concerned, adoption agencies still have the right to refuse to place a child with same-sex couples. The reason for this has been substantiated by numerous studies that show that the combination of a mother and a father is in the best interest of the child. You may agree or disagree as you like but changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples would force adoption agencies (many of which are run by religious organizations)to put children into situations that they strongly feel are not in the best interest of the child.
I don't take issue with anyone's right to choose who they want to love but as someone once said, "Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins." As soon as this debate brings an innocent child into it, someone needs to defend the child.

Loretta Ross said...

I've never understood why a ban on gay marriage isn't a first amendment, free speech violation. "Free speech" has repeatedly been found to extend to anything that can be taken as a form of expression. What more profound form of self-expression is there than to declare your love for and commitment to another human being through marriage vows?

I was going to add that, to those who fear gay marriage threatens the "sanctity" of the institution, they should perhaps first find ways to outlaw adultery and divorce. But, since there's a woman facing death by stoning in Iran right now because she's been found guilty of adultery, I think such a snide remark would be ill-considered. Instead, I will say that rights are not rights unless they are shared by all, and that as long as one American is constrained by unjust laws, we all are.

Anonymous said...

I'm nodding along as I read. I'm with you. For me it always boils down to one simple point: You can't dictate who a person can or cannot love.

Suzi McGowen said...

Thank goodness! When I heard the news today, I called my son and told him that it had been over turned.

Of course, at the time, I didn't realize that the judge also put a stay on it. So, it's over turned, but my friends still can't get married.

Joelle said...

We're Buddhists and there isn't a religious ceremony for marriage because it's believed to be a secular service. We had to write our own wedding ceremony to include our "beliefs."

And I live in Canada where gay marriage is legal and so far the country's still standing. In fact, if you want to emigrate to Canada, and you're in a same sex relationship, they WANT you to get married so the paperwork is easier.

Betsy J said...

Unfortunately, there’s a group not well-represented when arguments fly back and forth about marriage.

Single people are marginalized in many ways, yet they, too, are part of this culture. They help celebrate the life events of their married friends and family–and they enjoy doing it. They buy engagement gifts, shower gifts, wedding gifts, baby gifts, and anniversary gifts. They laugh and toast these happy occasions.

But how many married friends bring over a bottle of wine or flowers when a single person gets a dog or a cat, moves to a new apartment, or starts a new job? The implication is that single life is a half-existence.

Derogatory terms such as “spinster” or “old maid” are unthinkingly applied to older, single women. Single mothers are caricatured as deficient. Aren’t they the problem? Single parents produce kids who are addicts, school dropouts, or budding criminals, don’t they? Well, no, the research doesn’t show that.

Laws and policies at every level of society allow or even promote discrimination against single people. Single people:

can be refused housing by landlords based on their marital status

are charged higher insurance because of their marital status

can be refused residence in an area zoned for “single family” use

often pay higher taxes than a married couple (contrary to popular opinion)

are penalized in six states if they cohabit with someone of the opposite sex

This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 1000 laws that discriminate in a similar fashion.

But when married people pay lower taxes, single people have to make up the difference. When married people get discounts and special “family rates,” singles pay more. When married people get promoted or elected, some single person didn’t get the job. And when more people (gays) join the ranks of the married, the burden on singles is increased.

Sarah Laurenson said...

The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage
by Ted Olson

Bane of Anubis said...

While I agree with the sentiment wholeheartedly (I damn right better agree since I'm a married atheist), I am disturbed by the implications of the judgment, if that makes sense.

It concerns me that one judge can overturn something voted upon by millions, regardless of how detestable others might find it. Sure, the point may have been unconstitutional in this judge's opinion, but this should have been brought to the forefront prior to the vote.

I guess it comes down to finding the best synthesis of the 'Of,' 'By' and 'For,' which hopefully this will do in the long term, if not the short.

Lance said...

thank you.

bfav said...

I thought it was a risky move by the judge. This will push the issue to the Supreme Court, and legally I don't think the judge's arguement will hold. The Supreme Court's judgement will regulate the other states that allow gay marriage. So I don't know if this is a win.

I understand both sides, it is a mess of an issue. I don't think gov't should meddle at all. We'll see what happens.

Stephen Parrish said...

Nicely summarized. Thanks for taking a public stand.

Anonymous said...

Melanie beat me to the point I was going to make. Many times in discussing the issue, opponents of Prop 8 would often say that it's not right to rob civil rights from people "because of a word." Or, in Janet's words: "That is in effect what we are saying though when we say "marriage is a only for heterosexual couples." We are investing a civil right with a religious requirement." And in many states, I would agree with this sentiment. But in California, as Melanie mentioned, civil unions already grant all the same rights as marriage. All this commotion over Prop 8 isn't about civil rights. It's about semantics. Can a civil union of a homosexual couple be called "marriage," something that has existed for thousands of years as the union between a man and woman. It's about a political movement, and political power, not civil rights.

The underlying problem with resolving this issue to the satisfaction of all (at least in my opinion) is that for many people, the concept of marriage is inexorably tied to religion, and re-defining a fundamentally religious term based on secular politics is disheartening to many Americans. Personally, I don't think the government should have anything to do with the institution of marriage. Why not make every legal partnership a "civil union," available to all, and let the term "marriage" become a purely religious word, determined by each religion, each sect, each church, as they see fit. Civil rights for all, but religious connotation only for those who desire it.

Just my $0.02

TheLabRat said...

"Under California's Domestic Partnership Law, same-sex couples are already guaranteed "the same rights, protections, and married spouses.""

No actually, they are not. Marriage affords something like 1000 different rights. California domestic partnership, not even half of those (though Ill grant Californi's domestic partnership law did a better job than most). This fact won't change until equal marriage for consenting adult partners is allowed without discrimination at the federal level.

@Janet Thanks for the very informative blog. Someday I'll finally have the guts to finish my novel and my query will be much better because of your efforts here.

TheLabRat said...

"As soon as this debate brings an innocent child into it, someone needs to defend the child. "

Then more adopted children should be getting placed with gay couples since their kids seem to turn out better.

Mystery Robin said...

But we do "discriminate" about relationships and partnerships anyway. Two sisters who never marry, and set up house together, would not be granted the same tax breaks and other legal rights as a married couple. So do we penalize old maids?

If you make this argument, I think you need to take it farther. If "marriage" can be between anyone, regardless of gender, because it has legal ramifications/benefits, should those benefits be denied someone who never falls in love, or who never falls in love with someone who falls in love back.

That's a much more ephemeral hook to hang on benefits on than religion.

christine tripp said...

>I don't have a problem with it if a homosexual or lesbian couple wants to commit to each other, live with each other, leave their stuff to each other, and basically live as a married couple. That's their business and their right.<

Peaches, that is a large part of the issue in my mind, without that marriage license, gay couples in the US do not have the same rights as hetro couples. eg: Your partner of 20 years is in hospital and the option is to pull or not pull the plug..... you can not make that decision, you are NOT a family member. Your partner dies, leaves you all (which was always half of yours to begin with, god knows, could have been all of yours if you were the major bread winner) and the dead partners family comes along and contests the will..... and might win. These are just a few examples of why, living without marriage is not as simple as you make it sound. I wish it were.
Marriage is a legally binding contract, the Church can not issue a marriage license, they can only preform a "ceremony". There are many Churches, such as the United Church of Canada that preform same sex marriages (many of their ministers are gay in fact) but that does not make the union legal in the eyes of the law.

I love your point Sarah, marriage has certainly changed from the days of a girl going to her new husband with 2 goats and a donkey (and the Bride is not usually 13 years old!)

To those that feel legalizing same sex unions will make a mockery of the sanctity of marriage, I say that was done a long time ago, when the first husband or wife broke the vows they took. Now, with over 50% divorce rate, it's really a moot point.

Marriage is a serious commitment involving a legally binding contract, and no adult should be denied the right to enter into a contract.

Tessa Quin said...

Gay marriages have been legal in Iceland for years and this year the priests can no longer refuse to perform the ceremonies in churches.

For a developed country, I honestly don't understand why the USA are still not allowing gay marriages.

Tessa Quin said...

...not that the priests were dead against it to begin with. What can I say, we're liberal here.

Emily White said...

I just wish we could wake up and realize the government should have NO say in marriage whatsoever. The only reason they started requiring licenses in the first place was to prohibit white and black people from marrying each other. It just seems like a complete violation of our rights for the government to have so much say in this.

Christine said...

I completely agree. This is a civil matter and two people should be able to get married regardless of race, gender or religious affiliation. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

LR said...

Great post. Well said.

April said...

As someone who grew up under the thumb of religious fundamentalism (my father was a Pentecostal minister), it has taken me a while to see gay marriage as a civil rights issue. Thankfully, I've come around, and I think it's fine that California has finally lifted this ban.

However, I think many churches in America are rightly concerned about the gay rights movement. Several ministers have caught flak for refusing to officiate gay weddings in the past, and there's an unspoken threat that ministers who refuse in the future might be legally reprimanded or punished.

While we do need equal civil rights for everyone, we still need to ensure that constitutional rights--such as freedom of religion--remain intact. As I've told my best friend (a gay rights activist) on occasion, I don't picket churches that preach against women having short hair and wearing pants; I just find a church where I'm already welcome.

Ministers refuse to perform weddings all the time for several reasons: second marriages, premarital sex, interracial couples, couple is not Christian/Jewish/Catholic, etc. That's their right. As long as preachers aren't inciting violence against certain groups, they should be able to live by whatever doctrines they choose.

adam.purple said...

Thank you.

Marjorie said...

I want to reply to this comment:
"By so drastically redefining marriage as 'anyone who wants to officially live together', there will be consequences in every level of our society. You can't pull the bottom block out of a building and be surprised when things fall."

What are the consequences? Why would the building fall? Maybe the building will be stronger because all the gay relationships I know are loving and fine examples of what commitment should be. Gay parents are excellent, too.

How many heterosexual marriages end in divorce? How many men cheat? That "bottom block" was pulled out of the building decades ago by straight couples. Gay marriage might actually work to make the building strong again.

Why shouldn't gay couples be able to receive the same opportunities that a legal marriage provides?

Why should one religion impact the rights of others? can two atheists get married? Where does it stop?

KO said...

A concept so obvious, even a shark understands it.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you. I wrote a more personal take on this in my blogoir.

Julie Weathers said...

I tend to agree with April. I also like the Danish concept. Everyone is allowed to have a civil ceremony, if they wish to have a religious ceremony later, that's their choice and churches should not be forced to perform gay marriages if it is against their beliefs.

Equal rights for someone should not be tied to a religious ceremony.

I do worry that ministers who prefer not to marry gay couples will be dragged to court in our law suit happy society. That should also be their choice.

My sister and her long-time partner went to Canada to be married last year. I'm sad they had to go to that extreme, but I am thrilled for their happiness and commitment. If anyone in this world deserves happiness, it's LuAnne.

Charlie Pratt said...

Very. Well. Said.

Thanks for your thoughts on this one.

Sarah Laurenson said...

My wife and I are married - in the state of California. We are one of the 18,000 lucky couples who signed a contract with the state during the window of opportunity when gay marriage was legal.

Our options for where to live, where to visit are extremely limited. We have legal protections that only exist here and in a handful of other states and one district.

I recently visited my family. It was understood that if something should go wrong, there could be legal and medical hassles. I was traveling to a state where our marriage was against the law and the constitution (as if one wasn’t enough). For a few days, I was no longer married, but my wife still was.

Before I left, I hand wrote a will so that she was protected should the worst happen. Before we can travel together to most of the U.S., we need to see a lawyer and pay to have our rights protected. And they still may not be. Not that long ago, a hospital in a certain southern state decided to ignore such legal documentation and deny a woman the right to see her dying partner.

We file taxes as individuals federally and jointly on the state level. I’m glad that’s someone else’s headache as the laws there keep drifting into a worse morass.

Those who enter into Civil Unions, or whatever they’re called in the individual states who have them, face these issues, too. I believe Washington state is the only one to have expanded the rights of registered domestic partners to include all of the marriage rights. But they’re still not recognized federally or in most of the U.S.

Separate but equal? I’m still waiting for the equal part.

Brenda B. said...

Thank you, Janet.

I live in Maine where a referendum vote last fall narrowly overturned a hard-won legislative victory on this issue.

Those who complain that the court has "overturned the will of the voters" are missing an important point. Our nation was not founded on the idea of majority rule. The Constitution guarantees all citizens equal treatment under the law, even if the majority disagrees with how that plays out sometimes.

The questions at the beginning of the post illustrate the wrongheadedness of bowing to majority rule on questions of equal rights. What if the ballot measure was "should Jews be permitted to adopt?" If a majority of voters approved such a question, would that make it OK?

Thank you for the opportunity to say my piece.

Brenda B. in Maine

Kay Richardson said...

I believe that everyone, regardless of gender, should be forced to marry someone of appropriate attractiveness at the age of, say, 30. Nothing annoys me more than a beautiful young woman stepping out with a guy whose face is like a toad. How do I go about banning such relationships?

PS I am very handsome.

Lily Cate said...

Well, we could go into all the long legal history of what is/was considered "marriage" by cultures around the globe and through time, but I'll just simplfy it.
Mr. Cate and I were married by a judge, in a garden. There was nothing remotely religious about it.

No church was forced to do or condone anything, and we were not forced to fall into line with the dogma of any religioius teachings we did not believe in, just to get the papers signed and stamped.

To make it even more simple, we are not the kind of democracy where popularity rules absolutely. We are the kind that protects the rights of the minority opinion too, so that they are not trampled by the masses. That's what real freedom is - freedom for all citizens.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Actually, I know people who were told they couldn't adopt a child because they were Jewish. They weren't outraged. They were just sad.

As am I, over this whole thing. Love as Thou Wilt. Why do we have to regulate love?

Wild Orchids for Trotsky said...

Bravo! It's especially refreshing to hear this said by a practicing Catholic, as a reminder that the organized religions do not need to see gay marriage as a threat.

Twelve said...

Marriage is something special, something more. That's why gay people want access to it. How does allowing gay people to marry make marriage less special? It's allowing only certain people with the "right" sexual orientation to marry that makes marriage less special, in my eyes.

Re: the concern about one judge overruling the will of millions of voters, as Judge Walker said, "fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."

I encourage anyone who disagrees with the ruling to actually read the opinion -- it's thoughtful and thorough.

froggfeathers said...

Can't say I agree as wholeheartedly as everyone else.

For many years and for many people *marriage* has always been a sacred covenant between two people and their deity. Not just the Christian god either. Gay *marriage* is an deep and personal affront to that covenant.

Now, we have a case of deciding if one group's rights outweigh another's. Do gay couple have the right to violate that sacred covenant? Do heterosexual couples have the right to claim historical precedence over the term *marriage*?

In many states, including mine, gay couples have been offered legal civil unions, which allow them the same legal protection as *marriage*. As a rule, they don't want it. They see it as discrimination. Is it? I don't think so. I see it as mutual respect.

If I walked into a mosque, even though it would rub me to the core, I would would cover my head out of respect for Muslim beliefs. If I eat with Jews, I don't order pork. We live in a large house. We all eat at a large table. We need to respect each other's beliefs.

Do gay couples need the same rights and protections given to non-gay couples. Of course. But is there a reason why gay couples cannot respect the sacredness of the term *marriage* and allow a legal civil union to stand in its place?

Sierra Godfrey said...

Thank you for showing that us practicing Catholics aren't all against gay marriage. Marriage is beautiful, God is beautiful, love is beautiful, and I am so so so happy that gay couples can have their union recognized by the state. It is absolutely a civil right.

Barring any tiresome appeals, this is a great day.

Leah Petersen said...

"Under California's Domestic Partnership Law, same-sex couples are already guaranteed "the same rights, protections, and married spouses." Two of the examples you cited (insurance benefits and next of kin rights) are already available to same-sex couples under the current law."

Others have refuted this statement with the facts. I just wanted to say that I see this argument in its many forms and I see: 'Separate but equal is perfectly fine and fair' -- The White Male

Eileen said...

As was mentioned above by the wise Joelle, gay marriage has existed in Canada for some time and it appears to have had no impact on society in general. While I respect that other have other views I have not been able to understand how letting others, who happen to be gay, marry threatens society or marriage. Are you also threatened by couples who marry in las Vegas after a night of drinking? A Hollywood couple that marries for press? So it's okay if Heidi and Spencer marry so they can be in US Weekly as long as they aren't gay. It seems if we want to really "protect" marriage then we should look to be more careful about who gets married- regardless of being gay or not.

Marriage has changed. It used to be a property transaction (the wife was property exchanged between her father and her new husband.) Not that long ago in the US we defined that marriage could only occur between people of the same race. There were similar concerns that if we allowed blacks and white to (gasp) co-mingle there would be horrible outcomes.

I support a church's right to refuse to offer a religious ceremony to those outside their beliefs. I support someone's right to say they don't like (insert group of choice) and will never have them in their home. However, saying someone can have some rights similar to marriage and should be happy enough with that is similar to saying you can sit at the back of the bus what's your gripe?

jdh said...

I am totally willing to settle for legal civil unions. But for everyone, not just for homosexuals. The government should provide a legal service. Keep the religious part out of it. And on the flip side, ministers should not be given the right to make a committment legal.

That being said, my movement of Judaism (Conservative) DOES celebrate same-sex couples and marries them. You hop under the chuppah, you step on the glass, the whole megillah. Everything except being able to make it legal.

Bill Plante said...

You should plead the case before the Supreme Court. Bring your shark!

Patience-please said...

'bout time. About damn time.

Lynn M said...

Froggfeathers, I quote you directly, "For many years and for many people *marriage* has always been a sacred covenant between two people and their deity. Not just the Christian god either. Gay *marriage* is an deep and personal affront to that covenant." I ask where it is written that the "sacred covenant between two people and their god" specifies that those two people must be one of each sex? Why is it not possible for two people of the same sex to desire - and be permitted - a sacred covenant between their deity?

Honestly, the God that I believe in would never discriminate amongst his children for any reason - he loves them all equally. So when people decry the affront same-sex marriages are to God and religion, I'm always perplexed. After all WWJD? I think he'd give them his blessing and love. Who are we to think we are better to say otherwise.

Too, I always wonder exactly how people opposed to same-sex marriage are directly affected so much that they even care. If gay marriage is allowed, do those people so vocally opposed lose jobs? Are their children taken away from them? Does it lesson the love they feel for their spouse or diminish the rights they receive by being married themselves? Do they have to move from their homes, no longer have money to put food on the table, or must make any lifestyle changes whatsoever? Why deny others something that you have when it doesn't affect you at all? Love and marriage are not limited commodities. Giving same-sex couples the same rights doesn't mean there's less pie for heterosexual couples.

Sydnee said...

I was so happy when I found out about this. This is a big step towards equal rights for everyone.

Lorelei Armstrong said...

Beautiful! A splendid argument. It is a great day for civilization.

Joseph L. Selby said...

@bfav: If the supreme court overturns the decision (and that's a much larger discussion on its own), that will only affect those states that permit gay marriage based on judicial decision (such as Massachusetts). Those states whose legislatures passed a law allowing gay marriage (such as New Hampshire [go us!]) will not be affected by such a ruling.

Those states where the judiciary was the cause of the change will still require appeal and may not have the same outcome as prop 8.

On the flip side, if Prop 8 is upheld, those states that passed constitutional amendments against gay marriage (1/3 of the country to date) can be challenged for the same reasons prop 8 was shot down.

So, here comes the legal fight of this generation. It won't be Bush v. Gore like we thought it would.

Joseph L. Selby said...

@froggfeathers: I think New Hampshire's law is the perfect boilerplate for other states. When the legislature first brought up the matter, the (democratic) governor said he would veto. The law, as it was originally written, made no concessions on who was obligated to perform the marriage. There was the chance that a couple could sue a church to marry them despite the position of the church's doctrine.

The current law that was passed and signed says that two men or two women can marry in full effect of the law, but religious faiths that do not support such a decision are not obligated to conduct the joining.

I think it's the perfect middle ground.

ApexPredatorChum said...

The government will use any excuse, including religion, to quash same sex marriages because it's all about the greenbacks. Think about the millions of dollars the IRS could no longer collect if marriage for all people became reality.

Government has no business dictating who may "marry." Love is rare. If two people are fortunate enough to find each other, they should be allowed to legally "marry" and enjoy all benefits associated with that union.

Anonymous said...

"Under California's Domestic Partnership Law, same-sex couples are already guaranteed "the same rights, protections, and married spouses.""

No actually, they are not. Marriage affords something like 1000 different rights. California domestic partnership, not even half of those

Since the top quote here is from my last post, I would like to back up my statement with direct facts. Please refer to the following website, which takes text directly from the California Family Code: . To quote a small snippet from this code: "Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses."

There are those who have responded rather bluntly to statements from myself and others here that California domestic partnerships afford the same rights (at a state level) as marriage. But hopefully the quote and link above correctly show the simple facts. Now, clearly, since this is a state law, this does not apply to federal benefits of marriage. But the point I would like to make is that... neither does Prop 8! Prop 8 is a California state law, and has no impact on federal laws one way or another. If one is concerned with true civil rights for homosexual couples in California, the real focus of your attention should be enacting a similar civil union / domestic partnership law at the federal level, to give equal federal rights to gay couples. Once again, I maintain that the issues around Prop 8 are not about fundamental civil rights.

I think foggfeathers stated the issue much more eloquently than I could. Vying for the term "marriage" at the state level, when civil unions grant the same rights (by definition in the california family code statute), is taken by many religious people as a direct affront, akin to the example of walking into a Mosque and refusing to cover your head. What's wrong with giving gay couples identical civil rights, while maintaining the historical, cultural and religious connotations of "marriage" as something as something between a man and a woman? (And as I said before, letting each religion/church decide for itself if gay couples can be considered married).

Josh said...

Your premise is right, but not your contention.

Many states and companies offer insurance benefits regardless of state recognized marraige...same goes for adoption. Certain forms for Power of Attorney grant the same authority for medical purposes.

A stand need not be the conniving 'Un-American' religious conservatives unifying church and can be people seperating their emotion from an ethical belief.

Rick Anderson said...

A guy in a pink leotard walks into a biker bar, orders a glass, and a bottle of civil liberties.

The leather clad bikers fall silent and watch him confidently break the seal then carefully pour the precious elixir against the frozen cubes.

The bikers sense something revolutionary is happening before them, but like domesticated cattle, the more they push their limits the bloodier the barbed wire becomes. Eventually the pain of possibilities repel them and they regroup in the safety of the collective.

After a long, slow quaff, the man cradles the glass in his hands, says a prayer to freedom, then stands and exits into the dark, endless night.


Drink up before the burqa brothers come and beat you with wooden canes...nah, that will never happen.

Linda Pendleton said...

You are correct. It is about civil rights. As a native Californian who was shocked when Prop 8 passed, I was happy to see the ruling yesterday. It is all about equality and civil rights. I was moved to write a blog about it again last night. It is nice to know that people who have been opposed to gay marriage or even civil unions are now rethinking their previous stand on the issue. Progress is good and if we look back at other civil rights and women's rights issues, we can say, "it is about time."

christine tripp said...

The "sanctity" of marriage was compromised when the first married spouse broke their vows ( in church, to God, in front of witnesses)
With an over 50 plus % divorce rate, marriage, thanks to many straight couples, has become somewhat of a joke.
Gay couples need, more then straights living together, that legal paper that states they are united. Without being recognized as married, a gay couple risk family contesting wills along with many other legal and benificial rights straight married couples take for granted.
The United Church of Canada will preform gay marriage, A number of its ministers are gay. it's legal in Canada and I am happy to see the US finally coming into this century and practicing the freedom it preaches. Now, if only they had universal health care like the rest of the first world countries.

suzie townsend said...

This is just one of the 29485749875 reasons I love you.

Hugs for the Shark all around.

Alaina said...

Truthfully, no one should be able to tell someone they can or can not marry. Whether they are the same sex, opposite sex, or even those who practice plural marriage.

We need more peace in the world and we will only learn that by being tollerant and loving to one another regardless of our gender, race, creed, wealth, or even sexual orientation. We all deserve the same rights, and those rights should not have to be dicated by a government. We should naturally allow all to have equal rights, as we are all the same, *human*. If we all spoke as one, and supported one another, this wouldn't even have to be debated.

It saddens me greatly that out of all my international friends, this country seems so unaccepting. We have so many different belief structures here, shouldn't that include the rights for gays to marry or adopt without all the fight? I even read someone on here saying that sometimes a gay couple are not as healthy as a sraight couple for adopted children. Really??? Are you serious? I say this with great love, I do... But come on. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with whether children are in a safe environment, it is all about love. How much love and support their parents give them.

The friends I have that were raised by gay couples are much more accepting and kind than those of hedo relationships. Just my thoughts. :-)

Stephanie Barr said...

For many years and for many people *marriage* has always been a sacred covenant between two people and their deity. Not just the Christian god either. Gay *marriage* is an deep and personal affront to that covenant.

(a) So, if atheists wed, it's not a marriage? Sounds like a null argument, but wait, there's more.

(b) Who speaks for God? You mention, "their deity" - GOOD - my mother-in-law is an ordained pagan priestess. Her goddess recognizes gay marriage as exactly that. The couples fighting for this right recognize their commitments as exactly that - that's why "civil unions" isn't good enough for them. Nor should it be.

If I walked into a mosque, even though it would rub me to the core, I would would cover my head out of respect for Muslim beliefs. If I eat with Jews, I don't order pork. We live in a large house. We all eat at a large table. We need to respect each other's beliefs.

Say what? What you're asking for is the equivalent of not eating pork indefinitely because others are Jewish. You don't see marriage as possible between homosexuals so they have to live out their lives to suit your narrow view. Who, exactly, is being disrespected?

Remember, this country and these states aren't just "our" home - the home of heterosexuals - but "their" home, too - the home of homosexuals. And, by refusing to let them see themselves as they see themselves, as a married couple, they're the ones being disrespected. In their own house.

Each marriage is individual and unique. Someone cheating on their spouse two houses down has no effect on your own marriage.

Neither does the affection and commitment of a pair of same sex partners who love each other so totally they want to be a married couple.

Rowenna said...

Agreeing with jdh--it's standard French practice as well. What happens in a church isn't legal, what happens in a courthouse does nothing for your immortal soul. Makes sense to me. I'd honestly prefer that the state NOT issue me a "marriage" certificate, because marriage to me is a covenant with God and the state has nothing to do with that covenant. Please, give me a Legal Union certificate instead.

As a Christian, I firmly believe that the Bible tells us to worry about the planks in our own eyes first, and to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Guess what--I don't care if you think homosexuality is a sin--you've got plenty of sins of your own to worry about first. When you're sinless in God's eyes, go ahead and start casting stones. And legal marriage, per the state? That's Caesar's business. The Bible never, to my understanding and interpretation, encourages us to do a darn thing about laws or social norms outside the Church.

But--a final thought. After reading that court document, I am not at all pleased at the reasons under which the Prop 8 was struck down. I didn't feel the case against the constitutionality of Prop 8 was strong enough to make this a final decision. It will be appealed, and this court battle will be alive for quite some time.

Kay Bigelow said...

Your comments were elegant and powerful in their simplicity. It take courage to take a stand on these kinds of issues. If you only change one mind, you've served the world well.

RCWriterGirl said...

Interesting discussion.

My main problem with Prop 8 is that it is voted on by the people. Not that I believe that the people can't make good decisions, but I believe very firmly that when it comes to civil rights, the people often make the wrong decision. I wonder how well that Brown v. Board of Education would have turned out if it were voted on by the people of Kansas (who had actually segregated the schools)?

Having the majority vote on laws that affect the civil rights of the minority often doesn't work out well. Imagine the Nazi people voting on rights for the Jews. Wonder how that would work out?

I'm not saying the people of California are bad people, but I think people bring their own prejudices with them and vote accordingly, and you can't have a free society where the majority's prejudices leave the minority unfairly treated by law (we can never change personal interactions; but we can certainly prevent discrimination by law).

In Virginia, there used to be "antimiscegenation" laws. That meant the races couldn't mix through marriage. No marriages of black and white people. The people of Virginia thought that was peachy. If you'd asked them to vote on it, the answer would have been, "that law is peachy." The judges in Virginia even thought it was peachy. It took the Supreme Court to say, no, "marriage is OK between the races." I think it's right for the federal courts to tell the people of California they are as wrong as the people of Virginia were so many years ago.

I think marriage is a wonderful institution, and should be afforded to any two adults who wish to partake in it, whether they be homosexual or heterosexual.

Robin Ruinsky said...

The Germans who were looking for a scapegoat to pin their troubles on enacted The Nuremberg Laws one of which is like both Prop 8 and the equally heinous Defense of Marriage Act. Marriages between Jews and Citizens, meaning those deemed to be of pure German blood, were forbidden.

The case in Virgina was "Loving v The State of Virgina" in which the court stated:

"Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."

I think this can be easily extended to include gay citizens. It is equally unsupportable to deny same sex partners their right to marry.

There are already gay men and women in the US who have married n the few states enlightened enough to understand marriage is a civil right.

To any heterosexual who can't abide that tell me how it personally touched you.
Still get up in the morning? Still eat your toast? Argue with your spouse? Make love to make up?
Did your marriage license suddenly explode into flames?

Steve Stubbs said...

It seems to me nobody has addressed the real issue here. If the issue is separation of church and state, as the judge says it is, then the government has to get out of the marriage business. A secular state has no more business regulating marriage than it does the Eucharist, baptism, or any other sacrament.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Janet for voicing your opinion. You have a terrific voice and your insights touch people daily.

How wonderful to lend voice to so right a cause.

Cats! said...


Marjorie said...

Any two consenting adults, regardless of sex or sexual choice, should be able to marry. It is not government's business or the business of religion to monitor marriage like a form of marriage police.

The NYC Dept. of Education permits a heterosexual "significant other" to be entitled to the benefits of "the other" without marriage in place. Marriage gives couples huge benefits such as health insurance and tax status and pension plans.

Sexuality and sexual choice should have no determination on the requirements for marriage at all, because it opens the door for all sorts of requirements for marriage in terms of sexuality.

Suppose two celibates of the opposite sex wanted to get married? What about two opposite sex asexuals? What about a gay man and a gay woman? Is that OK? It's OK because they are of the opposite sex?

Any two people who want to marry should be able to marry to receive all the benefits of marriage, of which there are many.

Marriage is not just a statement regarding a love commitment. Be fair. Let everybody share the perks.

froggfeathers said...

@Stephanie Barr and others
Say what? What you're asking for is the equivalent of not eating pork indefinitely because others are Jewish. You don't see marriage as possible between homosexuals so they have to live out their lives to suit your narrow view. Who, exactly, is being disrespected?

Take a deep breath.

One thing that I believe I need to clarify is this, if my gay friends want to get married, then yay for them. I don't care. If they want to live as a couple instead, yay for them still. If my heterosexual friends want to get married, I will still try to duck the ceremony, but I will be happy for them. If not, okay.

My opinion isn't based on my personal view of marriage or sexuality or sin. It is based on an understanding of the deeper conflict. This isn't a fight for rights. If it were, civil unions would solve it. (love the Dutch solution, BTW) This is a fight to allow a large majority of the people to maintain the integrity of what is FOR THEM a sacred covenant.

With respect to those who want to qualify the validity of marriage by quoting statistics and siting examples of what could be collectively categorized as marriage atrocities, please don't. Neither you nor I are qualified to define for someone else what is sacred and what is not. Besides, people often discover their lost faith in times of trial, sickness and death. Sounds like marriage to me :0)

In short, we have available to us so many ways to express our love - commitment ceremonies, hand-fasting, bonding rituals. Why not adopt civil unions for legal purposes and allow those who revere marriage as sacred to have it? As so many have pointed out, who is it hurting?

Stephanie Barr said...

I'm pagan. To me, marriage is a sacred covenant - for any two consenting adults committed to each other. That's my point. There is only faction (and it doesn't matter how large it may be) that feel it's restricted to heterosexual couples.

They can feel that way and demonstrate it by only marrying someone of the opposite gender. I'm married to a man myself. What they should NOT be able to do is tell another couple that their marriage is not a sacred covenant. They can believe it but should not be able to inflict that belief on the unwilling couple.

See, civil unions aren't the same as marriage for the reasons you stated. The legal rights aren't all of it; there's also the ability to have one's commitment as a marriage, even though there are churches that will sanction and sanctify it. Yet, if a church does so, in many states neither the state or other people will acknowledge it.

That's the problem.

April said...

Just for informational purposes, I'd like to explain why religious fundamentalists are opposed to gay marriage.

First of all, there are scriptures in the Bible that appear to condemn homosexuality. In Leviticus, God forbade the Israelites from partaking in gay sex. "Thou shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." In Romans, which is in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote that "homosexual offenders" would not "inherit the kingdom of God." Second, many cities in the Middle East at that time used gay sex to worship pagan idols. Third, God destroyed the cities of Soddom and Gomorrah, which were known for rampant gay sex, claiming that their wickedness was too great to allow them to continue to exist.

Now, fundamentalists believe that the scriptures I mentioned refer to the practice of homosexuality itself, no matter if it is part of a loving relationship or not. They also believe that God not only judges and punishes individuals based on their sinfulness, but also regions, countries, nations, and ethnic groups (as evidenced in the Old Testament). So they believe that a nation that sanctions homosexuality through marriage (along with allowing abortions, teaching evolution, spewing bad language on TV, etc.) is inviting God's destructive judgment. They also believe if they allow such activities to continue unopposed, God will judge THEM for not taking a stand. And since marriage has traditionally been tied to religion since the beginning of civilization, fundamentalists view gay marriage as spit in God's eye.

Just to be clear, I do not subscribe to this view. I merely hope to show that religious opposition to gay marriage is not simply a matter of hate. Also, for fundamentalists in the heat of 'rooting out evil', the lines between church and state often become blurred. They forget to "render to Caesar what is Caesar's." In their eyes, a wayward Caesar brings God's wrath upon everyone.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Thank you for the explanation, April.

My issue with this though is it takes pieces of the Bible and not the book as a whole.

If we take the Bible as a whole, there are millions of people who need to be stoned to death and almost no one who can pick up that first stone.

The Lutherans formed a commission, over 20 years ago, to study gay references in the Bible. They decided Soddom and Gomorrah was about violating guests' rights and not about gay sex. So there you have two different Christian interpretations of the same part of the Bible.

Another point on equality:
Domestic Partner benefits (medical, etc.) are taxable in both the state of CA and federally. Companies had to create a new HR category to cover this. Covering your spouse at work in CA is not a taxable benefit. Neither is it taxed federally unless you're not married in the eyes of the federal government.

So, my company decided nto to spend the extra money to create a third category for those of us who are married and taxed federally but not in the state. Instead, they have to manually pull our W2s and alter them when the time comes. Actually what they have to do is issue corrected W2s when I tell them they can't tax the benefits in this state. It costs them money either way.

PT said...

Just a small correction to jdh's comment:

Denmark is not a country where you have to have a civil ceremony to make your marriage legal. Several religous groups (including the state-sponsored Lutheran church) can perform the wedding seremony so that it gives marriage a legal status.

I haven't been able to find a complete list of countries to require a civil ceremony, but examples include countries like France, Germany, Turkey, Argentina, Lithuania and Russia.

Denmark was the first country in the world to have domestic partnerships. However, Denmark does not have same-sex marriage. Seven European countries legally recognize same-sex marriage, namely Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

Stephanie Barr said...

Ah yes, Sodom and Gomorrah, where the example of righteousness, Lot, offered his virgin daughters to angry mobs to do with as they would that his guests would not be disturbed.

Good times.

Is it any wonder why not everyone wants to be governed by the literal word of this document?

I DO see why people feel they have the right to determine what's sacred, what's "right", what's allowed for other people. I just think they're wrong and that the reasons are, gasp, self-serving. And I'm not willing to be a man's property or to live in the bronze age to suit them or anyone else.

Stephanie Barr said...

(Ironically, I feel just as strongly about standing up for what's right as the most ardent fundamentalist, in this case, allowing no group of people to be treated as inferior.)

pensees said...

An acquaintance recently told me that she is in a committed, polygamous relationship. It shook me for a bit, but I've been thinking about her as I've read through these comments.

Comments define "marriage" again and again as between two people. If we believe that everyone should have the right to love whomever they choose, why do we still define it as "two"? Why not three or four or more? Use the same arguments listed in these comments and I think you'll have a difficult time defining why these freedoms should apply in same-sex relationships and not polygamous relationships.

And truly, what limiting definition is acceptable then? Mother-son, two sisters, etc?

Things to think about.

Jen said...

Grr. There is a lot of argument about this in Australia at the moment, most of it ill-informed and bigoted. The way I see it, there are two separate issues here: church and state.

If two consenting adults wish to marry in a civil ceremony performed at the local courthouse or park, then it's no business of the government's if they are hetrosexual or homosexual. It should still be considered a legally binding marriage.

If two consenting gay adults want to marry in a church, then that's an issue for the church to wrangle over. They'll catch up, sooner or later, just like they caught up on mixed race marriages, or allowing divorcees to remarry in church services, or letting people who had "lived in sin" to marry in the church.

What I don't understand is the people that believe that if the two boys next door (who both have good jobs, by the way, and pay more tax than I do) get married, it will somehow devalue the sanctity of my marriage. I really do not understand that at all.