Response: A Civil Discussion About Gay Marriage

One of my facebook friends shared a link on her feed today from the website United Church of God, offering a ‘respectful discussion’ (read: rejection) of the gay marriage debate, written by their contributor Heather Disher.

Heather, allow me to respectfully disagree with every single word you wrote.

Rhetorical questions such as “Why shouldn’t two people be able to spend their lives together if they love each other?” pull our heartstrings, but do not speak at all to the actual issue.

You state, quite rightly, that the law in most (western) nations does not impinge on same-sex couples living together if they love each other. That, however, is a very recent development – as recent as 2003 for some US states (Lawrence v Texas) and even that’s not the full story: Montana’s sodomy law, despite being declared unconstitutional for a decade, was only repealed last week. I doubt there’s many straight couples who fear that law enforcement will come bursting into their bedroom to arrest them for making love.

And that does not even begin to address the numerous countries around the world which criminalise homosexuality and impose penalties up to and including death on those found ‘guilty’. So the question you refute as irrelevant to the equal marriage debate is in fact the most pertinent one of all, at least where gay ‘activists’ (as you deem us) are concerned. It certainly isn’t rhetorical.

A marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman, and God. A Civil Union is a contract between two adults and a civil authority. So already, by definition, even the term “gay marriage” is indefensible. Asking the government to let you get married is like asking the Post Office for a library card: You are asking the wrong authority, it’s not even within their power to grant your request.

If one desires to get married in any nation in the west one needs a licence from the state, not the church. An ordained religious official can perform the ceremony, but without that piece of paper from the state it’s only so many pretty words. You are not married unless the state allows it. Indeed, your religious official cannot perform a marriage unless the state licences them to do so. At every stage and level of creating a marriage as that term is understood in its official capacity it needs the sanction of the government in order to be valid. So when I read that the government does not even have it “within their power to grant your request” I’m afraid I fell about laughing. It is solely within the government’s power to grant that request. 

Furthermore, there is a vast, vast difference between a marriage and a civil union. More than 1,100 differences, actually. They’re all the automatic federal rights granted to (American) heterosexual married partners but denied to gay couples – even those legitimately married in the eyes of their state. Maybe you didn’t pay attention when DOMA was being debated in the Supreme Court, but it has come about because the US government is suing a little old lady called Edie Windsor for $363,000 in estate taxes it claims she owes because under DOMA the US government does not recognise her lawful marriage as a lawful marriage. Were Edie’s partner of almost fifty years a man, she would not have owed that money.

 A person can change his own beliefs and his own behavior, but cannot force his expectations on others.

This point, forgive me, was a little convoluted. I think in essence what you were saying is that it’s irrelevant how visible homosexuality becomes in society, we cannot make you accept it. You perceive the ongoing battle for marriage equality to be part of some grander scheme to ‘normalise’ gay relationships and because – as you think – it won’t work we should just stop bothering. Right?

Firstly, I refer you to the above United States v. Windsor case. Honestly, we couldn’t care less what our neighbours think of us. You are free to hold your own position based on your religion, your personal beliefs, and for all I know the simple fact that you find what we get up to a bit squicky. No-one wants to change your mind. But because you disapprove or dislike something doesn’t mean that you can sanction everyone else who disagrees with you. You cannot deny us basic civil rights simply because of some vague, ill-defined unease at how we live our lives. That’s like outlawing the sale of donuts because you’re on a diet. Don’t be the dog in the manger.

Many will muddy this issue by linking it to violence, discrimination, or other crimes against gay people. This is also not a valid argument. Gay people already have rights. They are already citizens. If those rights are not respected, there are already laws in place to protect them and punish the guilty parties. If these laws are not upheld, that is an issue of enforcement, not legislation.

You’re quite right when you say that acts of physical violence are sanctioned under law, as are all crimes against the body. But do you know in how many states you can be lawfully fired from your job simply for being gay? Twenty-nine. Twenty-nine. You can also be evicted for being gay in the same number of states. And yet you maintain that we have rights and are protected under law; that we are citizens. Maybe we are, in the loosest sense of the word. Full and equal citizens we most assuredly are not.

And, for that matter, we even have lesser rights when it comes to acts of physical violence. Homophobia is not, in many states, considered motivation for a hate crime. Moreover, ‘gay panic’ is still considered a legitimate defence in cases of physical assault, as seen in the recent case of the murder of Marcus McMillian.

Activists want churches and synagogues—and by extension, God—to proclaim acceptance of the gay lifestyle as a moral imperative…God’s love for us is a selfless love, and when He defines an action as sin, it is because it is harmful. God can love a person without accepting their actions.

You claim this is an argument ‘at the core of the issue’ – that acceptance and love are synonymous and what we’re really after, when we say we want to be able to marry, is God’s endorsement. You argue this is not the case, that you can, as it were, love the sinner but hate the sin. While in that you’re right, I’m afraid it is you who has missed the point. You’re equating marriage with God – specifically, a Christian god – when marriage is not the sole domain of Christianity. Marriage predates all the major world religions (and Christianity, for the record, is the youngest of them) by centuries. You do not have to be Christian to be married in America or anywhere else. You are entitled to a religious ceremony if you so choose, but it is not necessary to validate any marriage. Being married does not, therefore, automatically assume the blessing of a benevolent God upon the union.

And here we come to the crux of it: cold, hard, cash.

The only practical discussion about “gay marriage” would be this: Should the government recognize Civil Unions as it does marriage: with tax credits, next of kin rights, and other laws governing money and property?

Some would say yes, because our government should represent its people, and protect their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We live in a carnal world, and even if the law stayed as it is, our government and our population is already far from righteous.

On the other hand, history is made up of critical moments that can turn future events on their heads. Is this debate on “gay marriage” such a critical moment? Is it possible that if enough people learned God’s truth and sought Him that America as a whole could turn and repent?

What you’re saying – and I’m not sure you even recognise this yourself – is you recognise that gay couples are being penalised in matters monetary and legal. That we pay more taxes and have less rights than your average American citizen. You even accept that some people see this as unjust and – whatever their personal feelings about homosexuality – think this should be rectified. You, however, do not. You see the movement towards marriage equality as some ‘critical moment’ in the history of the US; a chance for national redemption and salvation. All you have to do is stamp on the gays to get through the pearly gates.

Forgive me, but that seems the least Christian response of all. What you’re endorsing is the perpetuation of the oppression of an already-marginalised segment of society in hopes that when Judgement Day comes, America will be found deserving.

Reality Check 101:

  • Not all Americans are Christian.
  • Judgement is not bound up with national identity. If it were, you need to move to the Middle East sharpish if you want to be considered one of God’s people. (Not bombing said people would also help.)
  • The Rapture has been predicted multiple times in the last 2,000 years. If we go back to Scripture you’ll see that in Revelations, John predicted it would be heralded by the fall of the ‘Whore of Babylon’. The Whore, FYI, was Rome. While Nero fiddled, Christians everywhere prepared to be Raptured. It didn’t happen. It hasn’t happened any year since, either. By this point, it might be a safe bet that it isn’t gonna happen.

But let’s assume Christian mythology has it essentially right: that Judgement Day is coming and one day the righteous will be Raptured. Firstly, we will all be judged on our own actions. Not those of our state or nation or race or socio-economic peers. Get your own house in order and let me worry about mine. I am inclined to believe that a benevolent God who made me in His image will be more than happy with my life. I do not judge others for that is His place and I do not presume to know His mind. I do not cast stones as I am not without sin (as, indeed, none of us are). I accept all of His creatures with an open and loving heart. I stand up for injustice even in the face of adversity. I am the voice crying in the wilderness.

If I am going to hell for that, so be it.

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50 replies on “Response: A Civil Discussion About Gay Marriage”

  1. HG says:

    Same sex union does not a marriage make. The differences that distinguish are too numerous to note in response. But if you stop to consider them, you’ll find more than you may care to acknowledge. Take the role the potential for procreation plays in marriage. It plays a primary role in attraction, love, intimacy and unity. A role impossible between two members of the same sex. These and many, many other differences distinguish marriage from same sex unions. Differences that are worth respecting and are respected in history, tradition, societies, and religion. Differences that define marriage. Differences that betray any “equality” arguments for the inclusion of same sex unions in marriage.

    • Kate Aaron says:

      If you’re going to argue that marriage exists solely to regulate procreation then why doesn’t the state or church prohibit marriages between heterosexual couples who are incapable of reproducing due to their age/health? Reproduction is not – and never has been – a requirement of marriage. Nobody’s marriage is rendered invalid if they choose not to have children. And no couple in the world makes love for the sole purpose of procreation. Married couples use contraception all the time. Married men frequently undergo vasectomies explicitly to prevent the chances of conceiving.

      The fact is, there is not – and has never been – one uniform way of ‘being married’.

      • HG says:

        I think you’ve misunderstood my argument. My point is not that marriage exists solely to regulate procreation, but that the potential for procreation plays a primary role in marriage which distinguishes marriage from relationships in which that role is not only absent but impossible.

        • Kate Aaron says:

          But your point is flawed – procreative potential is not a primary function of marriage (and one can argue from the ages the Bible reports some couples married, it never was). As I stated, were that true then there would be controls in place to prevent those heterosexual couples who categorically cannot procreate from marrying. There is no mandate to reproduce once you are married, and moreover one does not have to be married to have children – over 40% of all the children born in the US in 2012 were born out of wedlock.

          Stating that a procreative impulse is the ‘primary role’ in an act of attraction, love, intimacy and unity is to disparage and belittle the physical and emotional connection between all couples – gay or straight – who cannot or do not want to have children. It reduces marriage to nothing more or less than a method of regulating our biology and implies there is no greater impulse behind our ability to love and commit to a partner than there is between the basest of animals driven by their own biological imperatives to reproduce. Forgive me, I thought we considered ourselves a higher species in matters metaphysical!

  2. HG says:

    Still, you misunderstand.

    Procreative potential is no regulatory agent, but simply the nature of things. Infertility is an exception, not the rule. You continue your line of argument as if I have argued otherwise. Either you miss my point or you have ignored it.

    Homosexual intimacy knows no more of infertility than it knows of any potential for procreation. It is impossible, not an exception to a rule.

    Your line of argument appears to ignore this reality. This difference distinguishes marriage from same-sex unions. This difference, and many others, is why there is no inequality intrinsic in marriage.

    • Kate Aaron says:

      Let me be very, very clear.

      Procreative potential is no regulatory agent, but simply the nature of things.
      – By “the nature of things” you are talking basic animal reproduction, right? It is not, as we have already seen, the inherent nature of the marital state. I don’t deny when it comes to increasing the human population gay sex ain’t gonna cut it. Given that there are currently in excess of seven billion of us swarming the Earth, however, the need for any push towards reproduction seems at best a moot point.

      This difference distinguishes marriage from same-sex unions.
      – Here you make a huge leap of logic. You’ve confused biology with theology. That sexual reproduction is the method by which we increase our population says nothing inherent about the state of marriage.

      there is no inequality intrinsic in marriage.
      – If you see the above post, you’ll see I list a number of inequalities that gay men and women have to live with every single day. That is because I’m talking about marriage as it exists in the west today as a civil state licenced and regulated by the government.

      • HG says:

        Kate,

        Please remember that I have prefaced my arguments with great care so as to avoid some of the conclusions you’ve drawn.

        By the nature of things, I mean procreative potential, in general, plays a primary (not “the primary”) role in heterosexual attraction, love, intimacy, and unity. That exceptions exist such as infertility and deciding against children does not change the nature of things in general. But all of these are completely impossible with same-sex relationships. Same-sex couples do not miss out on childbearing due to infertility, but biology. Nor can they choose whether or not to procreate.

        This is but one huge difference between same-sex unions and marriage.

        “That sexual reproduction is the method by which we increase our population says nothing inherent about the state of marriage.”

        I think you’re sorely mistaken here. I’m not sure how you exclude this reality from marriage and the purposes marriage achieve.

        The inequalities you cite are not “intrinsic” in marriage but are the subject of laws and benefits gov’t adds to marriage. Marriage in no inequality just because it only recognizes the unique and beneficial union of two opposite sex persons. If legal equality was all you are after, then the laws can be changed without changing marriage to be something it just is not.

      • HG says:

        Kate,

        Thank you for the conversation. You’ve lived up to the civility you claim. I see you’re a best selling author — congratulations on your success. Be careful. Successful, articulate, and attractive — men will be lining up.

        • Kate Aaron says:

          You’re entirely welcome. And don’t worry, I am more than capable of fending off gentlemen admirers if they become too forward 😉

          “That sexual reproduction is the method by which we increase our population says nothing inherent about the state of marriage.”

          I think you’re sorely mistaken here. I’m not sure how you exclude this reality from marriage and the purposes marriage achieve.

          Here, of course, is where we disagree: on the role of procreation within the institute of marriage as it exists today. Setting aside religion for a moment (any religion), in the west marriage is an institute rewarded lavishly by the state. The rights and wrongs of that in itself can be debated ad infinitum. However, civil partnerships – and even lawful same-sex marriages – are not afforded those same rights.

          All other matters aside, it is neither right nor fair that same-sex couples should have to pay more tax each year because they are forced to file singly no matter how long they have been together or what ceremony the state has allowed them to unite as a couple. It is neither right nor fair that we should be crippled with inheritance tax our heterosexual counterparts are exempt from, or refused entry to our partner’s hospital sickroom (as happened this week), or not informed when the worst happens and they die.

          Could those things be rectified without affording us the title ‘married’? Of course. But they aren’t. Even when states vote to allow equal marriage, rather than CPs, federal law still prohibits the treatment of those marriages as equal.

          Plus, there’s also the psychological aspect to consider. Words are powerful. Equal in law or not, CPs are, and will forever remain, but a poor cousin to Married. Every religion and denomination uses that term. Secular heterosexuals use that term. It is the defining term for any official union of a couple, whether that be in the eyes of God or merely the government.

          • HG says:

            It sounds like your issue, and I agree with your points here, is with gov’t, not so much marriage.

            Redefining “marriage” may gain same-sex couples some psychological advantages within the realm of society but it will never be a marriage in the practical, traditional, biological, emotional and physical ways that the union of two opposite sex persons realize. Because they’re just not the same.

            Words are powerful. But they lose their power when they fail to communicate a commonly held notion or are obscured in their meaning.
            Redefining “marriage” will only diminish the power of the term.

            • Jade Crystal says:

              I hope you don’t mind my interjection here, but I couldn’t help noticing all the ways you mentioned in which opposite-sex marriage and same-sex marriage could never be the same.

              “…but it will never be a marriage in the practical, traditional, biological, emotional and physical ways that the union of two opposite sex persons realize. Because they’re just not the same.”

              I would love to hear you expand on this. Because I disagree with you on every single one.

              I am very curious as to what you mean by the practical aspect of marriage. Practical as in the application of a marriage to the everyday life of a couple? Because I don’t see how that would differ between opposite- and same-sex couples. As for traditions, we don’t always have to do things the same way that our forefathers did. When necessary we break away from tradition, and in the case of equal, human rights, it is necessary.

              The biological aspect has already been thoroughly explored between you and Kate, I think; though I would add that while a same-sex couple cannot reproduce without some sort of intervention, they can foster and adopt and studies have shown that children of same-sex couples fair just as well as children of opposite-sex couples.

              As for the emotional and physical ways, even as a straight woman I find it offensive that you say same-sex couples cannot share the emotional and physical connection of an opposite-sex couple. If the love is true and pure, then it is that of one soul loving another soul, not a body loving another body. It means that a person would love another person whether they occupied a male or a female body, and I assure you that two men and two women are just as capable of sharing that kind of love. And love is expressed in physical intimacy which is the joining of two bodies. Nowhere does it state how that must happen for it to constitute a marriage. Do you have any idea how many heterosexual couples engage in oral sex and anal sex? Those are not solely homosexual activities and do not have any bearing on a marriage.

              • HG says:

                Jade,

                It’s a simple matter of the practical, traditional, biological, emotional and physical ways the union of two opposites differ from the union of two of the same sex.

                Practical differences: Think for a moment of all ways in which men are different from women and the ways in which they relate often without the ability to empathize with the other. They are opposites and yet complement one another, again, in ways not required, and in some cases, not possible between members of the same sex. There are many, many books written on this very subject. One example — “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”.

                The emotional and physical differences should be considered in this same light. Not that same-sex couples cannot enjoy emotional and physical bonds, but that those share between a man and woman are unique and different is various ways from those shared between members of the same sex.

                Again, the point is that significant and respectable differences exist that are intrinsic in marriage and absent in same-sex unions.

                • Kate Aaron says:

                  Actually I believe the premise of that book is that men and women suffer from a fundamental disconnect when it comes to their desires; and most significantly communicating those desires. Ergo aren’t a same-sex couple, who are fundamentally the same in matters psychological (at least according to that theory – I find it is not always true in practice!) actually more compatible than a heterosexual couple could ever hope to be?

                  • HG says:

                    Well, nature disagrees, and so do I.

                    What’s truly amazing and almost miraculous, is the way of men and women. That two opposites can so perfectly complement each other confounds us to some degree. At the same time it opens the mind to a paradigm that is very much a part of our experience and a reality worth taking notice of.

                    Since you’ve mentioned religion in your post, I’ll reference a quote from a biblical writer who said that one of the things to wonderful to comprehend is “the way of a man with a maid”.

                    • Kate Aaron says:

                      I’m curious in what way nature disagrees? I would say that compatibility has far more to do with personality than genitalia or chromosomes. Hence why so many people (gay and straight) spend so long trying to find Mr or Mrs Right!

                • Jade Crystal says:

                  So, if I understand you correctly, the fact that there are differences between men and women is what constitutes a marriage and the fact that there aren’t those same differences between two men or two women means that they are denied a marriage and, consequently, equal rights? It makes no difference the level of commitment between the partners?

                  I’m sorry but that is just ludicrous to me. Because I agree with what Kate said in her response, it seems (in a very broad sense) that having that sameness would make for more relatability between the two partners and would strengthen those bonds.

                  But since the issue at hand is the civil rights granted by marriage, a marriage is an commitment between two consenting adults. The office granting marriage licenses doesn’t ask how well two people relate to each other or how well they compliment each other. It asks if they are of legal age and if they consent to the commitment. If it is simply the word “marriage” that you don’t want given to same-sex couples, then we should get rid of that term and call every union, opposite- or same-sex, a civil union. Then we will all be equal and you can still have your way.

                  • HG says:

                    “So, if I understand you correctly, the fact that there are differences between men and women is what constitutes a marriage and the fact that there aren’t those same differences between two men or two women means that they are denied a marriage and, consequently, equal rights? It makes no difference the level of commitment between the partners?”

                    That is one part of my argument, yes. And yes, the level of commitment is important to marriage as well. I agree with Kate that the ease of which people enter and exit marriage disparages marriage. But to suggest that same-sex couples value commitment more than heterosexual couples is demonstrably false. Numerous studies suggest the exact opposite. The number of partners homosexuals boast far, far exceed heterosexuals.

                    • Jade Crystal says:

                      “The number of partners homosexuals boast far, far exceed heterosexuals.”

                      I don’t know what studies you are referring to, but this as a broad statement is incredibly, horribly wrong. There may be some homosexuals who claim to have many partners, I won’t argue with that, but that isn’t true of all homosexuals. On the opposite side of the coin, there are many heterosexuals that claim to have many partners as well. Promiscuity doesn’t discriminate, and you can’t make a judgment against an entire group of people for the actions and choices of some.

                      I never said that same-sex couples “value commitment more than heterosexual couples”. Please don’t put words in my mouth as I would never say that. What I am actually saying is that both both kinds of couples are equally capable of the sort of commitment a marriage requires. Although I would argue that those same-sex couples who do want to get married and have it federally recognized have a greater appreciation for their marriage as they are having to fight for it, whereas opposite-sex couples are simply handed the license.

  3. I totally agree with you, Kate. Every person in a country needs to be granted the same rights, including the right to marry who they love.

    Equality should truly be a leading principle in legislation. Same sex unions just do not offer the same kind of rights as marriage does, no matter how much some voices say the opposite. Too many horrific events shared on the net prove it again and again. All it takes is to take time to read them with open heart to understand the issue.

  4. Kate Aaron says:

    Redefining “marriage” may gain same-sex couples some psychological advantages within the realm of society but it will never be a marriage in the practical, traditional, biological, emotional and physical ways that the union of two opposite sex persons realize. Because they’re just not the same.

    Words are powerful. But they lose their power when they fail to communicate a commonly held notion or are obscured in their meaning.

    Redefining “marriage” will only diminish the power of the term.

    Do you know how many times marriage has been redefined over the centuries? Countless. We redefined marriage when we allowed women to choose their own husbands; when we didn’t mandate the enforced marriages of rapists and victims, or of family members; when we outlawed polygamy and when we legalised interracial marriages. The sky has yet to fall down 🙂

    Indeed, given that as of 2009 the US marriage rate was a measly 6.8 per 1,000; the highest demographic of married individuals (white women) stood at only 51% (and the lowest – black women – at 26%) and 50% of those end in divorce…I’d say the more people who want to get married, the better for marriage as an institution it will be!

    • HG says:

      Many disagree with that opinion. Including Masha Gessen, a writer and same-sex advocate.

      “It’s a no-brainer that (homosexual activists) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. …(F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.
      The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist.”

      • Kate Aaron says:

        I didn’t say that the institute of marriage wasn’t going to change; merely that it has changed numerous times in the past, and yet survived. There is no reason to suppose that expanding the definition of marriage to include couples of the same sex would damage it. There is plenty of evidence from nations where SSM has been already legal for years to suggest otherwise.

        • HG says:

          Of course marriage will survive. But just running down the exclusivity of marriage connotes a negative that casts marriage in a poor light. We should decry the lack of fairness and equality in the laws but we don’t have to disparage marriage in the process. Their is no intrinsic inequality in marriage for its exclusivity. It is the laws added to marriage that are unequal.

          • Kate Aaron says:

            To whom is marriage exclusive? Heterosexuals, that is all. Anyone else of any creed, colour, race, religion or socio-economic background can marry. This isn’t the Old Boy’s Club, this is a basic civil right (as per Loving v Virginia) that is being denied to one minority segment of society.

            And I see the legalisation of SSM not as ‘running down’ marriage, but as expanding it. There is no disparagement – indeed, if anything marriage is being elevated in the common consensus to something aspirational, when if it were left as the sole preserve of heterosexual couples to take or leave as they see fit, the evidence suggests rather that as an institute it was well on its way to becoming obsolete. This debate has put marriage front and centre again in the public imagination, it has reignited feeling that had long grown ambivalent and reminded everyone that yeah, it is a pretty special thing.

            • HG says:

              Yes, marriage is exclusively heterosexuals. Which happen to be the vast majority of people by many estimations of about 98%-2%. It is exclusive to those who by nature are the only means of procreation. Of begatting and begetting. Of forming blood relatives that provide a strong sense of belonging, so strong that most adopted seek out those connections later in life. Heterosexuality is clearly the preference of nature and the ideal for family and marriage.

              I agree that societies have disparaged marriage by entering in too lightly and leaving just as easily. And I agree that this discussion has elevated and emphasized the special and important role marriage has in society. But I disagree that including same-sex unions in marriage will be beneficial to either marriage or society.

              • Kate Aaron says:

                So as long as it’s only a small minority that’s being discriminated against, that’s okay? As I mentioned earlier, we are hardly suffering from a population crisis – more an overpopulation crisis. So why should we privilege those who can (potentially) procreate? Given the advances in science, is not the ability to conceive naturally somewhat redundant?

                And this says nothing about the quarter of a million children that the last US census showed were being raised by same-sex parents. Don’t you think their familial bonds are every bit as strong and loving as those of heterosexual parents? What about heterosexuals raising adopted children? And what, for the matter, of all those children given up for adoption (or aborted)? What happened to the blood bond there?

                Heterosexual reproduction may be the way we have evolved to procreate, as is true of most mammals. That does not, however, mean that we have all evolved to maintain monogamous, lifelong attachments to one partner. Many animals in fact raise their young as single mothers or as tribes of females. The married way is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the ‘natural’ way. Nature is far more brutal 🙂

                And marriage was initially instituted as a means of determining paternity – something fundamental to the organised running of a patriarchal society. Go back to the year dot, and that was its purpose. Nothing more or less.

                • HG says:

                  “That does not, however, mean that we have all evolved to maintain monogamous, lifelong attachments to one partner.”

                  You suggested earlier that is entering and exiting disparages marriage. I fully agree. So why even make this point?

                  • Kate Aaron says:

                    Because I’m talking marriage – which is supposed to be a lifelong commitment – vs nature – which is brutal 🙂 The fact of the matter is, there is nothing ‘natural’ about marriage at all. It is a social construct.

                    • HG says:

                      I only said heterosexuality is preferred by nature, not that marriage is natural. Of course marriage is a social construct. On defined and distinguished by heterosexuality.

  5. Jade Crystal says:

    I agree wholeheartedly, Kate. It infuriates me to no end when people insist on discriminating on the basis of sexuality, since sexuality is only one facet of an entire human being…and we are all human beings. It boggles my mind that there are those out there that just don’t seem to get that.

    Marriage is a legal institution. There really is no more to it than that. The love and commitment and various other aspects of most marriages are endorsed by religious institutions, but the institute of marriage at its most basic level is entirely a legal and civil matter. You can get your marriage license and then walk down the hall to be married by a Justice of the Peace without ever leaving the courthouse.

    What about arranged marriages? Or mail-order brides or grooms? As long as such unions are consensual, they are considered no less a marriage than high school sweethearts who wed. Then there is the issue of common-law marriage. Sometimes people get married for the financial or legal benefits, like taxes or health insurance coverage. Two people can make a legal arrangement of commitment even when there is no conventional sense of love involved. So what is so wrong about those two people being of the same gender?

    Sadly, I fear that many of the people who use faulty religious beliefs as a defense, or a crutch, or in some cases as a weapon, simply will never be convinced otherwise. Yes, our country (the United States) was based on religion, but there is separation of church and state and we operate by our Constitution, not the Bible. Religion is not a valid reason to deny anyone basic human rights.

    In fact, religious people, especially Christians, should be the ones fighting the hardest for equal rights if they truly believe what their Gospel preaches. In the New Testament book of Matthew, Jesus Christ said that the most important commandments were 1) to love the Lord God with all your heart, and 2) to love your neighbor as you love yourself. He gave no exceptions to those two commandments. He didn’t say only love someone if (insert prejudice here). He just said to love, so where is the love?

    • HG says:

      Jade,

      We see the issue, just not from the same perspective. It is not an equality issue that marriage is the union of a man an woman. All have the same access to marriage, all are restricted alike. We have gender exclusive bathrooms, clubs, institutions, schools, sports, etc., etc. because respectable differences exist between males and females. We also have different unions because respectable differences exist between a marriage and a same-sex union. One significant difference I’ve argued in this thread. Respectable differences allow for distinguishing on the basis of gender and sexuality where appropriate. Marriage is one of those.

      • Jade Crystal says:

        All have the same access to marriage, all are restricted alike.

        I respectfully beg to differ. Perhaps all have the same access to marry an individual of the opposite sex, but that is not the same as having the same access to marriage in general. Having the same access to marriage (i.e., the ability to walk with your partner into the courthouse and obtain a marriage license without obstruction) would mean that anyone could walk into the courthouse with anyone else to get that marriage license, with the restrictions being that it is consensual by both parties and both parties are of legal age.

        “Respectable differences allow for distinguishing on the basis of gender and sexuality where appropriate. Marriage is one of those.”

        Alright, I’ll admit that men and women are different. I don’t think that anyone could really argue that once you strip a person down to his or her most basic biological parts. However, if the difference you’re referring to having argued is that of procreation, then I’m afraid we fail to see eye to eye. No, a couple made of two men or two women cannot reproduce without some intervention; however, neither can a opposite-sex couple that physically cannot conceive. Same-sex couples are no less capable of physically expressing their love for one another or of raising healthy, well-balanced children.

        As for the phrase “where appropriate”, who decides what is appropriate? If I’m a vegan, I may not think it “appropriate” to eat meat, but that does not give me the right to force my belief on anyone else. You may not think it “appropriate” for a man and a man or a woman and a woman to be able to legally marry and receive state and federal recognition and all of the benefits that go along with it, but that does not give you the right to try to force that on anyone else. A marriage is a civil and legal commitment between two consenting adults. Whether or not you think it appropriate that they have the same genitals has absolutely nothing to do with their civil rights to make a commitment to whomever they please.

        • Jade Crystal says:

          Oops. Forgot to end the italics, lol. Sorry.

        • HG says:

          Jade,

          You ignore the difference between a couple who cannot reproduce due to infertility and a couple who cannot reproduce because they are identical biologically. That is a big, big difference. On the one hand the couple dealing with infertility is an exception to the general rule that a man and a woman possess procreative potential. On the other hand it is impossible for any same-sex couple to ever procreate. You can’t compare the two honestly and subsequently it is not a valid counter.

          • Jade Crystal says:

            You ignore the fact that this is not an issue of the ability to procreate vs. the inability to procreate. We do not have a need to procreate anymore. Our species has done that too well. It doesn’t matter the reason why the couple cannot reproduce. All that matters, as far as that particular argument is concerned, is that the couple cannot reproduce.

            And procreation is not a valid argument for marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Many opposite-sex couples chose not to reproduce…as in they make a choice not to, not that they are unable to do so. So if we are basing our arguments on procreation, then those couples should be denied the right to marry as well, should they not? So why deny a same-sex couple the right to marry? They can make a choice to create a new life with the help of medical science or even just a really good friend, or they can make a choice to adopt or foster a child.

            • HG says:

              I’m sorry, but I cannot accept an argument that defies human nature.

              • Jade Crystal says:

                Because we as sentient beings are incapable of going against human nature?

                Do you mean that procreation is human nature? Just because it may be human nature to reproduce does not mean that we are all required to do it or that we all should do it. I’m sorry but I don’t understand what part of my argument you cannot accept.

    • Kate Aaron says:

      Jade, absolutely. There are numerous examples of ways in which society at large devalues marriage – from drive-thru chapels to celebrity 20 minutes marriages to media competitions where the winners marry total strangers in return for cash and holidays. If couples who actually respect and value the institute want to be part of it, I don’t see the problem.

  6. Anna Obermayer says:

    I’m just going to throw my two cents in here.

    As a Christian I believe marriage a covenant between a committed couple and God, witness, tested, affirmed and celebrated a community of believers.

    But in the United States legal marriage between a man and a woman, as completely separate from their commitment to God or each other, defined and bounded by legal statute is privileged in many different ways. Because marriage as a legal institution is defined by and encountered in civil law it must therefore be treated like all other civil institutions and subjected to the same level of scrutiny. In our society civil institutions should not and generally can not be discriminatory. People can and do make cases why they think (or usually feel) legal marriage must remain a discriminatory practice for reasons having to do with procreation and the best interests of the child. I think, and judges are beginning to rule this way, that these arguments are in our changing world not standing up to a legal review of reasonableness and rational basis.

    If marriage was simply a religious based covenant then it would be up to individual religious denominations or other branches of religious traditions proceed to be guided in how to proceed. In my personal case, given my close reading of the Bible, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit of course, along with my denomination’s theological history and traditions I see no reason to deny same-sex couples full access to a covenant with each other and God. Plus I am not alone in this many, in increasing numbers, of ministers, religious leaders, and scholars are being moved thus as well.

    So that’s my thinking.

    • Kate Aaron says:

      Thanks for commenting. I agree with your rationale wholeheartedly. Just as the state cannot and does not impinge on matters of religious freedom, neither should religion seek to control the state. What one church is prepared to condone or bless it entirely up to them, but no religion should be allowed to curtail an individual’s civil rights.

  7. HG says:

    “I’m curious in what way nature disagrees? I would say that compatibility has far more to do with personality than genitalia or chromosomes. Hence why so many people (gay and straight) spend so long trying to find Mr or Mrs Right!”

    Nature prefers heterosexuality by somewhere around 98%. If the same sex were as compatible as you imagine, that would not be the case.

    • Kate Aaron says:

      Actually nature by far and away prefers asexuality 😉

      • HG says:

        This has been very good conversation. I wish these type of discussions could be the norm. Honest, fair and spirited debate on this issue is exactly what is missing in the current political climate. I would bet 90% of my arguments on this subject are countered by arguing that I am a racist, bigoted, homophobe. It’s pathetic. On the other hand, religion alone is not a convincing argument. Logic and reason must accompany arguments on both sides. I think we did that here. Thanks.

  8. “Human nature” includes heterosexuals, homosexuals, trans people, and everyone along the spectrum.

    Let’s make this simple. Take “marriage” out of the equation.

    Equal rights to ALL humans.

    End of discussion.

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