November 4, 2009

Not on the Ballot

Here are some of the things I think there's more than one way to think about, and everyone can make their own decisions---no agreement necessary from one person to the next:
  • what to eat
  • how and where a baby should sleep
  • bottle-feeding vs. breastfeeding
  • what religion to follow
  • public school vs. private school vs. homeschooling
  • whether to participate in advanced education
  • alcohol consumption, yea or nay
  • premarital sex, yea or nay
  • whether to use birth control
  • whether to have children
  • whether to marry
  • fixed-rate vs. variable-rate mortgage
  • how clean to keep the house
  • a good name for a baby


Here are some things I think there's more than one way to think about, but that a community needs to make a decision about as a whole---not deciding "right" from "wrong," but just deciding for consistency what can be done when:
  • driving age
  • truancy age
  • drinking age
  • marrying age
  • voting age
  • speed limits
  • public park curfews


Here are some of the things I think there is only one way to think about and are not open for community vote, because human beings have not been given that kind of power over other human beings:
  • whether skin color changes a person's rights
  • whether ethnic origin changes a person's rights
  • whether sex changes a person's rights
  • whether sexual orientation changes a person's rights


(As Craig Ferguson says whenever he makes a controversial remark: "I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR LETTERS.")

156 comments:

Annika said...

I am delighted that you spelled yea correctly. At the risk of inciting a riot, it drives me insane when people write "yay or nay."

vague said...

Swistle rocks - and that's something we can all agree about!

Sue @ Laundry for Six said...

I have four letters for you: WORD!

Joanne said...

This is true, true, true. Eff fallout, this is perfect.

Chez Bacon said...

If this was on facebook, I would hit the "like" button 100 times.

Also, I like that you've addressed that part of the issue: not that the good folks of Maine voted the way they did, but that human rights should never, never, never, ever, be put to popular vote. How long would we have waited for the schools to be desegregated if it had been a referendum instead of a Supreme Court decision?

shriek house said...

I agree, but would make this addition to the last list: whether religious beliefs change a person's rights.

And possibly this: how to load a dishwasher.

Snoopyfan said...

Fallout, shmallout (and I love that you quoted CF-I think I have a tiny crush on him). I agree across the board!

Cassie said...

I totally agree. I wish more people were as open minded as you seem to be. the next time I hear someone use the word "gay" when referring to something they didn't like, I may just stab them. I'm not, but it pisses the hell out of me that people are so intolerant of what is different. ARGH!!!!

Linda said...

Yes.

Alice said...

I LOVE YOU. and i agree with you 100%. and i will answer any snotty letters you get. OH JUST LET ME AT THEM.

and you & chez bacon are right: it's not even how maine voted, it's that we are PUTTING CIVIL RIGHTS UP FOR A POPULAR VOTE. how is it possible that we're letting the majority decide whether or not american citizens are allowed to have funadmental civil rights?! i'm sure asking men to "vote" on whether women should get the vote would have worked out REAL GREAT for us, right?

Left of Lost said...

I don't think you are going to get fallout, honey. I think you are gonna get lots of I AGREE's. And I agree with shriek house: religious beliefs should be added to that list.

She Likes Purple said...

My admiration of you just shot through the roof. A-fucking-men. (Can I say that in your comments section?) (Just in case: a-effing-men.)

Anonymous said...

Amen, Sister!

MzEll said...

You are right, you are honest, and you are loved. No worries about anything else!

HollyLynne said...

All pretty logical to me . . . if you get flamed for this one I'll be really surprised.

Clarabella said...

Right on, Swistle. Well said.

Swistle said...

Shriek House and Left of Lost- I wondered about that, too. I left it off because I wanted to stick with "ways people are born and can't change"---but some religions are born-into as well as chosen, so...it's tricky.

Corina said...

De-lurking to say: hear hear!

Erica said...

I'm not going to lie; I'm kind of pissed about this post.

I came over here expecting all kinds of controversey and was prepared to get a mad-on, but I find that what you wrote not only wasn't controversial, but EXACTLY how I feel.

GAH, Swistle! The least you could do is post something that I can get mad about. You're so selfish.

squandra said...

Hear, hear!

Yay for Swistle, for generally being awesome -- and also for not conflating sex and gender! (And the yea thing, too.)

d e v a n said...

I'd like to say, "Well, DUH!" but there are clearly people who do not understand so instead I'll say, "I agree!"

BethanyWD said...

DITTO.

And yes to Craig Ferguson. Just because.

TJ said...

I agree with you on all points.

And I know we talked about this on Twitter.

But I only had 140 characters to express myself and I'm pretty sure I sounded like a total butt.

So I will try again.

As I said, I completely agree with you about ALL of the above. I am pro gay marriage and everything.

However, while you say that certain things should not be open for vote and human beings don't have those rights over other human beings, I have to disagree - not with the rights part, but with the fact that a vote is, unfortunately, necessary.

Whether we like it or not, laws against gay marriage currently exist. Over the history of this country, many different laws have been both created and abolished (see civil rights laws, for example).

This process is often agonizingly slow, as there are certain procedures and systems within which we operate. The Supreme Court can overturn a law, or we can vote to make a change.

Voting to make a change puts the power in the hands of the people, which makes it extra disappointing, horrifying and upsetting when the vote doesn't go the way that we feel should be obviously correct - in favor of gay marriage, in the current example.

But BECAUSE these laws already (again, unfortunately) exist, the vote MUST happen. Even if it doesn't go our way.

It is considered to be evolved, intelligent thinking to believe that every human deserves the same rights, and gay people should be allowed to marry. But WHEN those laws were written, the idea that it would EVER be okay was far, FAR from the realm of comprehension. We can't simply change the law because, at the moment, it *seems* like the "obvious correct choice."

Think - the civil rights movement was not that many years ago. Say 70 years from now, the "obvious correct choice" is the return of "separate but equal." That sounds impossible, doesn't it? That we could ever go back to that? But 100, 90, 70 years ago, the opposite seemed JUST as impossible.

In that case, I do not want to see civil rights laws overturned just because some people - a minority of people, even (and we are forced to admit that the people in favor of gay marriage are the minority - the voting minority, at least) want to see those laws overturned. In THAT situation, we would be grateful for this process.

We need to keep in mind that while the process was slow, and difficult, and hurtful, the civil rights laws eventually DID come about. And in much the same way, so will equal marriage rights for everyone.

The process, however slow, needs to be preserved as long as we rely on these laws to protect our rights.

While right now we believe that those (the vocal minority that includes so many of us) who are for gay marriage have the right idea, and that we shouldn't even allow votes on this topic and should just abolish the related laws immediately, that's just a slippery slope that becomes dangerous in the big picture.

Sorry for the novel. Sorry for the way the vote in Maine went. I'm sorry that gay marriage isn't allowed in the majority of this country and I AGREE that it totally, totally blows, and that wouldn't be the case if it was up to me.

But it's NOT up to me, that's not how to law works, and I am confident that change WILL come, as it always has. It's just so slow.

mamarose said...

What I find so confounding is how everywhere I go, people seem to agree on this matter, but then when people go vote on the matter - boom! civil rights blasted down once again. So frustrating!!!

Marie Green said...

Yep agree with all! Also would like to add: why would anyone not vote to support schools????!!!!

Shelly Overlook said...

Swistle for President!!!

Amy --- Just A Titch said...

You are so right on! Very articulate post. xo

Swistle said...

I DO get what you're saying, TJ, and I even agree in many circumstances---but I think sometimes there are violations on the books that need to be struck from the books in a way other than voting. Like, Supreme Court or Supreme Ruler or whatever system we have where sometimes laws are changed WITHOUT it being put to the vote. Isn't that how it happened with interracial marriage bans? Or was that by vote? I thought that was just changed in the law.

Anonymous said...

Yes. I agree with you. I am embarrassed to live in Maine today. :O(

Miss Grace said...

Agreed.

Wholeheartedly agreed.

jen said...

TJ and Swistle - you are BOTH spot-on. It's a complete cultural shift. Civil rights, women's rights, gay rights - in human history, they are all issues that unfortunately have not always been acceptable that now seem like common sense. And there will ALWAYS be people who disagree with what the rest of us think is common sense. Jesse Ventura made the point on CNN that there are people out there today that would vote FOR slavery - sad, but true.
And TJ's right, with laws on the books, it unfortunately HAS to go to a vote. I think the overall point is, if it was as easy as overturning the law, think about how much louder and stronger the voice of the opposition would get, because the gay community is being pandered to, being BABIED even. "How is it that a law can be overturned for THEM, but not for (insert minority group here)?" It's unfortunate that this is something that has to be earned, but it does have to be worked for. And it's the working for it that will make it that much more steadfast, more accepted by more people, when it's finally achieved.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I haven't watched any news today, and I'm in Canada so I'm probably missing some piece to this, but I'll just say:

I agree with this post! WOO!

No context necessary for me, this post Just Makes Sense.

Snarke said...

I! Agree! With! You!

Fran said...

Well said Swistle!!

Amanda said...

My letters are Y.E.S.

StephLove said...

Thanks, Swistle. I have been so down about this today. I find these referenda so painful. It always feels personal.

Laura said...

xoxoxo
You are an amazing writer and amazing person. Thanks for writing this.

Constance Squared said...

Amen Sister!

Banana said...

I just absolutely could not agree with you more. I find it reprehensible that this is still debated and that LAW is being made based on someone's religious beliefs. There are other places where church and state are not separate, and to me those places are very scary indeed.

wishokie said...

Swistle, you're right about the history of civil rights--it does not always come down to a vote. Loving v. Virginia was the landmark Supreme Court case striking down bans on interracial marriage in the United States.

I agree with TJ that organized systems are important in our representational democracy, but one of the best things about our system is that there are safeguards to protect the very basic civil rights of all, including those in the minority.

Omaha Mama said...

Yes, yes, and yes.
I was just thinking today, what is it about people who are different that get other people's panties in a bunch?! Different, even weird, is awesome. Why don't people know that?!

Lola said...

To TJ and Jen -- You're not completely right about things HAVING to be voted on. Some things, yes. But Swistle was right when she said that some things are so fundamental that they can't be voted on, and interracial marriage is a perfect example. The law against that was passed in Virgina, probably right after the Civil War ended, and when, in 1960 or therabouts an interracial couple wanted to get married they sued the state to get the law overturned as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution - that the laws have to give equal protection to all people. Their argument was that the law, on its face, denied to black people the right to marry white people, which violated the Constitution. The Supreme Court agreed in Loving v. Virginia (I can't link to Wikipedia but I'm sure they have an entry). No voting required, because, as someone else said, some things are so fundamental that they can't be voted on. The parallels to gay marriage are pretty obvious.

Last thing and then I'll end this long ass comment -- check out DoubleX.com - Emily Bazelon has a really interesting article on how gay marriage played out in Massachusetts v. Maine. In MA, the state supreme court said that denying a marriage license to a gay couple was a violation of the state constitution (I would bet, on equal protection grounds) and thus, with one opinion, changed the law in MA. For two years the usual suspects tried to get that changed but failed, because over time, it became the norm and people realized the sky wasn't falling. In ME, the legislature passed a law allowing gay marriage that was never put in place, and a ballot initiative was introduced for the voters to vote yes or no on whether that law should be effective. They voted no. I think that result validates why some things are so fundamental they should not be subject to a vote.

willikat said...

I wish everyone felt the way you did re: your last chunk of nonnegotiables. It is exactly what makes us human -- to embrace HUMANITY.

Yes! Yay! Yea!

Rebecca said...

RIGHT ON!

Tessa said...

Oh, yes.
Also I love that you quote Craig Ferguson. Glad to know I'm not the only one appreciating him. Have you read his autobiography? I'm trying to keep myself from galloping through it now...

Jenny said...

Hallelujah!

Anonymous said...

Aaannnd, this is where I unfollow Swistle in my google reader.

susical said...

Hear, hear!

Thanks Lola for the further info - that's pretty interesting, and I didn't know that.

And, surely the most recent "anonymous" was kidding.... right? Dear me.

Jen in MI said...

Only one bad comment? Not too bad! So sad about the Maine vote...don't live out East anymore, but boo hiss!

Swistle said...

Anonymous- I would be so interested to know what had offended you so deeply. Which human beings do you think should be given fewer rights than others? Or was it the drinking and premarital sex that bothered you?

Caitlin said...

Brava, Swistle, BRAVA!!

Jess said...

LOVE. YOU.

Also, agree. Some things shouldn't be put to a vote because it isn't up to the public to decide whether other people are granted basic rights. It is up to the government of the country to protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

Kate said...

A heartbroken reader from Maine delurking to say Amen, and thank you.

thellfamily said...

I heart you.

Kelly said...

LOL swistle. I was about to post that there is no way that could have been a controversial post. and then I read your response to anon. then I read anon's comment. and I tilted my head like a dog. I do NOT get it.
I must not understand "controversial". LOL

rock on.

The Gori Wife said...

Swistle, I have to say - I am 28 years old and have never not been a student - I've been in school/college/more college and just graduated law school this year. Most of what I studied nonstop since high school had to do with JUST these things, constitutional law, discrimination, equal protection, civil rights law & history.

But I have never - not in all that time or in all those books - seen it put so perfectly: "because human beings have not been given that kind of power over other human beings"

Well said. And fully agreed.

Christina said...

I totally agree w/ everything except where a baby sleeps. I think if it's harmful, you should speak up. BUT I have a feeling you mean just normal preference, not neglectful situations. haha

And the obligatory ANON ignorant comment... ahh, now the post is complete. I'd have so much more respect for these ppl if they actually posted their names. They follow you in google reader, so they MUST have an account. Are they afraid you're going to hunt them down in person?

kate said...

I agree 100% with all of it. I hate the wars over what I think are personal decisions but there are some issues that are morally black and white.

Mimi said...

Agreed. It just makes sense, doesn't it?

Bunnyslippers said...

Well put.

Kim said...

Thank you for saying much more succinctly and eloquently what I've been feeling all day. Just...thanks.

Lippy said...

Gahhh, it just seems so obvious. Very well said.

St said...

I love you. I love every single post you...post and I can't think of another blogger I could say that about.

Lindsay said...

Man I just snapped and finally blogged about gay marriage. Who is seriously opposing it in this day and age? And I'm a Catholic for pete's sake.

Farrell said...

Do you have any idea how weird this is? I just had a post in my head on "for/against/indifferent" but you said it much MUCH better (not surprising).

Stacia said...

Jen above said that if the gay rights issues went to a vote it would mean gays were being "pandered to, BABIED even", and... no, really, they wouldn't be. I don't understand why someone would think that.

Swistle, once again you are 100% right. Just tonight I was on my school forum and saw this poor lady being cussed out by fellow students because she vaccinates her kids. And regardless of what people think about vaccination, the insistence of the non-vaccinaters to tell her that she was abusing her child and she was wrong wrong wrongity wrong was unbelievable. It's like some people don't know that some things go in the "own decisions" category and they think everything goes in the "we all get to vote on what YOU get to do" category.

Mary said...

In Washington yesterday, we passed an "everything but marriage" bill that gives gay people all the same rights as married straight people have, but doesn't call it marriage. I was appalled at the number of recorded phone calls I got opposing that bill over the last few weeks. Horrible, hateful lies, multiple times a day. If you believed that stuff, you'd think the world would be falling out of the solar system in flames today.

I agree that we shouldn't be voting on other people's rights, but am glad we did the right thing. I just wish it hadn't been so close.

Lola said...

To Mary - I agree it's a hell of a lot better than Maine, but...how is an "everything but marriage bill" different than "separate but equal?" In my mind, it's a half measure that may be politically expedient, in that it's easier to pass, but it doesn't seem logically defensible. I mean, how is it logical to say that gay people can have the same rights but we can't use the word that society has bestowed on that very situation, because the couple involved are gay? Not trying to start an argument (or blame you for the unfairness of it all) but I really don't get it.

Carmen said...

Well said. I agree 100% with every single word.

Swistle said...

Lindsay- I loved your post. Here it is for anyone who'd like to read it: Some perceptions about America that I will admit really baffle me.

Amyella said...

Are we allowed to swear on your blog? Because I just want to say this post fucking kicks ass!! I'm going to post it in it's entirety on my blog (with a link and credit to you, of course!)

(feel free to edit as necessary if the swearing is not permitted. thanks!)

Swistle said...

Swearing definitely allowed!

jonniker said...

A to the men. And Anonymous, oh Anonymous. I do not like you.
And I loved Lola's comment. Interestingly, here in Vermont, our gay marriage vote was the first to come through the legislature. It was a vote, but it was a vote by our elected officials.

I watched it live, and it was the most moving thing I have ever seen. And also? I got totally smug, mean satisfaction watching the religious folks sobbing in the corner, acting as though their very existence was being sullied.

Hey, religious peeps? As long as marriage is recognized by the government, everyone has a right to it.

Jenni said...

I haven't read through the comments yet, but I'm wondering if anyone is going to out themselves as a bigot by challenging your last statement about unequivical rights.

Also, you are awesome. Love it when you put it out there.

Phoebe said...

I'm a new reader and have so far really enjoyed your posts- so funny, thoughtful, relatable and articulate. I really, really enjoyed this post and I don't think I have ever read such a concise argument (kudos to many of the commenters and their well thought out and informed responses). Like almost every commenter, I couldn't agree more regarding the ban of gay marriage. I just don't understand how anyone can justify denying anyone such a basic right. I hope this is remedied soon. Thanks again for the great post!

Aimee @ Smiling Mama said...

I am in full agreement. Am I correct, only 1 negative comment? I knew this was an awesome community right here on Swistle! Of course who knows what you're getting to your personal e-mail. Thanks for writing this :)

Therese said...

Thanks for writing this in such a clear and articulate manner. It's just great and I totally agree! Also, I love Craig Ferguson too.

desperate housewife said...

Anonymous totally cracked me up, because, just like on any VAGUELY controversial Dooce post, if you wait long enough it's inevitable: A wounded reader announces "UNSUBSCRIBE!" And expresses their deep, personal disappointment via ANONYMITY.
Anyways. Stuff like this (the Maine vote) just baffles me. This is why the majority of the "civilized" world thinks we're a bunch of ignorant cowboy hicks who somehow got their hands on too much money and power. Stupidity just like this.

Tracy H. said...

Swistle you are AWESOME! Completely and totally awesome! You have a way with words, like no one else I know.

~tracynicole22

stephanie said...

Dude, can I just link to this post from my blog? Because BIG FAT DITTO.

Swistle said...

Stephanie- Dude, I would love that.

Shelly said...

SO COMPLETELY AGREE.

salbilla said...

Love it! I often point out to my husband that 50+ years ago our being married would be frowned upon. And that if one of our children decides that they want to marry someone the same sex - well, then just try and tell me that they can't. As long as someone like Britney Spears can get married for 3 hours (or whatever ridiculous amount of time it was) in Vegas then how can we say that same-sex marriage destroys the meaning of marriage. I just plain don't understand that... And don't for one second think that I should be able to vote in my morals - your examples are PERFECT!!!

Tara said...

I knew I loved you, Swistle, I just didn't know how much until now. Amen, indeed!

I don't have a blog, but I'm linking to this on my Facebook page, because a LOT of people I know need to read this. Unfortunately.

Firegirl said...

Triple love you for this! MUAH!

stacyc said...

Let's suppose I'd like to marry my brother or take multiple husbands. Isn't it my right to marry whom or what I want. Where do these rights come from?

The danger lies in moral relativism, dismantling marriage to mean anything we choose it to mean, at which point it means nothing. This is an unprecedented sociological experiment.

nikki said...

*Stands Up & Applauds*

Melissa H said...

well put! I totally agree

Swistle said...

Stacyc- Oh, now, let's not panic. When the law preventing interracial marriages was declared unconstitutional (which I would call "precedent," wouldn't you?), it did not lead to people marrying siblings or anything that could be described as a "what"--any more than setting up the law allowing a single man and a single woman to marry led to brothers marrying sisters (or "whats").

It is possible to do things without automatically carrying them to extremes: we do it ALL THE TIME. Adults are allowed to drink; that doesn't mean we have to let children do it. We can choose to drink alcohol within a wide range, but we draw the line and say people aren't allowed to drive or marry under the influence. We can choose how clean to keep the house within a wide range, but the line gets drawn when there's a problem with vermin and stench. And so and and so on: as a society, we always have to find where the line is, and moving the line a bit doesn't mean it automatically has to slide all the way to the far end of the spectrum.

This is all just chatting, though, since I said nothing about "the right to marry whom or what I want." I said only that some people don't have more rights than others by merit of skin color, sex, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.

Alice said...

i love these comments!! i want to come back and say more!

@lola - i totally agree that an "everything but marriage" law is virtually a "separate but equal" smokescreen... but on the other hand, i also think it might be sort of a valid stepping stone. like, i'd rather pass that now, and give gay couples legal rights asap, and once the zealots realize that mary getting to see her partner sarah in the hospital has not, shockingly, caused the apocolypse? overturning the ban entirely.

@stacyc - you're right! and next we'll want to marry pigs, probably! IT'S A SLIPPERY SLOPE!!! i imagine the same argument was thrown about when interracial marriage was up for debate. "marry a BLACK MAN? what's next, marrying your OWN SON? A HORSE? MY GOD PEOPLE, WHERE DOES IT END!?"

/soapbox

LoriD said...

Bravo, Swistle!

Here (in Canada), we've had legal same-sex marriage since 2005 country-wide (2003 in my province, with a same-sex marriage performed in 2001 validated by the courts). To my knowledge, it has not led to debates about marrying brothers, goats or multiple partners. Not all churches will perform a same-sex ceremony, nor is there anything that says they are reqired to do so, but some will. The decision was made by the government after the Supreme Court ruled that the definition of marriage is the exclusive responsibility of the federal government.

Deanna said...

Well-said, all of it. And AMEN!

bluedaisy said...

Love this!

m said...

Agreed. What is up for debate is what is/is not a right.

Swistle said...

M- Unfortunately the only part making it to the ballot is "who gets to have it." I haven't seen anything about whether it's a right for anyone or not.

kakaty said...

I love this!!

I really thought we were doing better then this in our country. And although most people won't call someone who disagrees with them stupid, I will gladly call them stupid. Because if you really think that your religious beliefs can and should dictate how others are able to live their lives then you = stupid.

And for all the "Marriage is a biblical act" people...no it is NOT. I am married, and went no where near a church or a priest or any god to get married. But I DID have to pay a fee to get a government-issued MARRIAGE license and now have a government-issued MARRIAGE certificate. And I was MARRIED by a government official. Marriage is a government-controlled legal issue which provides certian rights to both parties involved. Churches need not be involved but if your church WANTS to be involved, then have at it – I don’t care who your church chooses to marry or not marry. Do your own thing inside the walls of your church but keep your bigotry out of our government.

The separation of Church and State needs to be much more evident in the laws governing marriage, because right now for most of the country the Church is dictating the laws of the State.

Christine said...

Well said, Swistle, well said.

And to all, but most specifically to StacyC, I would like to point you to a little ditty by my girlfriends in the head, Garfunkel and Oates: Garfunkel&Oates

The difference is, StacyC, that me loving a man or woman does not equate to me loving my brother, because forget morals, but there are genetic ramifications to consider. I'm not polyamorous or polygamist, but I don't have any objections to that on a moral level either, BUT there are larger societal issues at play there, like a complete revamping of social welfare and the tax codes. Two women want to be with each other like I want to be with my husband? Awesome for them, let's give them the same rights as absolutely every other heterosexual couple. There are plenty of hetero couples that treat marriage like absolutely nothing of importance, why deny it to people who want it? who want it badly? Would you deny an interracial couple the ability to marry? why? Marriage affects MANY legal aspects of a couple's life from property rights to estates law to taxes, etc. To deny a person the right to participate in these well established programs when they have someone that they would like to be with in a marriage is ludicrous.

And Lola, as to the law, thank you! You saved me a lot of writing. Now I'm going to go sing along with some Garfunkel & Oates.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

OMG, Sex With Ducks is one of my most favourite songs ever since I first heard it a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes I sing it really loud while I'm driving (it's so damn catchy), and then I hope that no one who can read lips is in another car on the road watching me... hahaha.

Garfunkel & Oates are like, my new obsession, so I was excited but that comment... haha.

Clearly that is the most ridiculous argument when it comes to legalizing gay marriage. Yes, we're going to be allowed to marry ducks. And we're going to be allowed to marry our SIBLINGS so that we have children with organ failure and other issues. Yes. Totally.

Because "The Gays" don't want to just marry who they love, that one person they love. They're total aliens who want to take down everything there is about traditional Marriage.

Yes.

Or... maybe they just want to be able to collect their loved ones pension should they pass away after 55+ long years of doing each others laundry, cooking meal after meal, arguing over bills, opening Christmas presents with their kids, falling asleep without having sex because they're an Old Married Couple.

I don't know. I think I'm going to choose to believe they're just like the rest of us. In fact, I'd like to stop having to say "they" altogether, and say We a little more often.

I love that I'm Canadian, and I love that my Uncle and his partner are loved and accepted for the average ol' couple that they are.

Kyle said...

My assumption is that the point of this article is that sexual orientation takes away rights. Rights are consistent across all ethnicities and sexual orientations. No one, gay or straight, can legally marry someone of the same sex in most states. It does not mean that they can't marry. The rights are the same.

Allowing same-sex marriage extents the rights of everyone, not just gays. It just affects homosexuals more than it does straight people.

Lola said...

@Kyle - you're wrong. That's like saying that because black people can marry black people, and white people can marry white people, they have the same right to marriage. If they have to use different water fountains but they all get a water fountain, I suppose you would say that's okay with you too?

It doesn't work that way. If someone is gay, they do not have the same "right to marry" that a straight person does, because that "right" is illusory, i.e. it exists only in theory not in practice.

And the verb you're looking for in your comment is "extend." Extent is not a verb but a noun. I'm just sayin.

Lola said...

And @Kyle, you can't justify a position by saying it "just" effects gay people more than straight people. That's a textbook violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

Dragoncroft said...

I believe the difficulty faced by many Americans is not the bare fact of same sex civil unions, partnerships or even secular marriages. I believe most American voters are empathetic and even sympathetic to the advocacy of legal and social justice for a marginalized group of citizens. Public opinion polls appear to back this up.

So the interesting thing is why are the voters in states not voting as opinion polls indicate they should? Despite the comments here and other places, I don't really believe every one in a state (but YOU, dear reader) is an illiterate, ignorant redneck incapable of understanding the plight of the poor undertrodden. So why?

Kyle said...

@Lola - For thousands of years, marriage has been defined as between a man and a woman. It has had nothing to do with race, status, etc. It just had to do with gender. The right to marry someone of the opposite sex has always been a right. The right to marry someone of the same sex is something that people are struggling with.

I think that a lot of people struggle because this whole debate seeks to redefine something that'd been defined one way for thousands of years. I personally believe that homosexual acts are immoral, and I recognize that not everyone agrees with me. Because of that, I struggle with redefining marriage because it commits someone to something that I believe is immoral. I would feel equally nervous about someone making a lifelong commitment to something else that I believe is morally wrong, such as choosing to invest all your time/money/resources to live in SE Asia in order to sell young girls in slave trade.

I agree with you that we should give equal rights to all people regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation. To me, it seems that frustration with people who oppose same-sex marriage is that they want homosexuality to be accepted and seen as moral by most people. I'm all for giving equal rights, but for many people, agreeing to allow same-sex marriage is seen as a way to say that it agrees with their morality because of the permanency of the commitment. As I've also read in these comments, there seems to be the sentiment that "rights without marriage" isn't enough.

PS - the extend/extent thing was just a typo.

Dragoncroft said...

To Lola:

The New York Court of Appeals specifically struck down Loving v. Virginia as controlling upon same sex marriage. "Rather, the Court observed that "[t]he Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations"

Kyle said...

@Swistle When have I ever said that you have to follow my code of morality? If you are a homosexual, then you have the right to be in any relationship you desire. I would believe it would be wrong, but what does that really matter to your relationship? It personally would not change the way I would look at you. You are a human being just like me.

What the issue is instead, is that people often vote for things that go along with their morality. I think that what you see by these votes is that people care for the homosexual community. They want them to be treated as equals. But their morals have not changed. They are not trying to place their morals on anyone else - they are simply trying to uphold their own morality in the world they live in.

Jess said...

I think Kyle's point perfectly illustrates why this sort of issue should not be put to a popular vote. Because people vote not on the basis of legality or equal rights but rather on the basis of their own moral code, religious or otherwise. And when they are given the opportunity to apply their religious values to a vote that affects the legal rights of other people, necessarily we begin mixing church and state. And that's where the problem lies.

Swistle said...

Kyle- Sorry, I inadvertently made you look like you were talking to yourself by deleting my previous comment (about how I didn't understand why a religion would expect non-members of that religion to follow its principles) right after I made it. I realized there was no point arguing with you when it sunk in that you had seriously suggested that gay people had the same right as anyone else to get married to a person of the opposite sex.

Christine said...

Dragoncroft, it would be wise to note that the New York Court of Appeals cannot strike down a Supreme Court decision, and specifically did not strike down Loving. What the Court did in Hernandez v. Robles was distinguish between racism as it impacts the right to marry and homosexuals being given the right to marry. The only thing to note on that front is that while I agree it can be distinguished, it need not be. It is my fervent hope that reason will win out over mass hysteria and all people regardless of their sexual orientation will be able to marry the person of their choice.

The fact remains that the Supreme Court of the United States, has not yet (to my knowledge)* recognized homosexuality and sexual orientation as a protected class as they do race, here's hoping for some nice reasonable people to come into the Court and change that around sooner than later.

Kyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kyle said...

@Swistle I am all for the European model on this issue. Make all state recognized relationships as civil unions (gay or straight) and allow marriage to be something that is done by the church. That way there is equality and the varying views on marriage are all honored, just in different circles.

I know you think it is absurd that the right to marry someone of the opposite sex gives the right of marriage to anyone, but I keep coming back to think about the movie "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry". I am not able to marry someone of the same sex for the benefits that comes with it - which is often used as the major reason in support of this - the benefits. I have no right to do that. Yet people marry opposite sex simply for benefits often.

The reality is that people get married for different reasons - it is not always because of love. So it does not mean that because someone loves someone they have the right to marry them. Otherwise people could marry 12 year olds...or marry multiple people...or marry their dog.

The very nature of marriage requires a definition - not of what is in it - but of who it is between. And it has always been between one adult man and one adult woman. That right is there. It is for everyone. And it is how its defined by most states.

One question...if marriage is redefined to any 2 consenting adults, does that mean that a minister who is refusing to marry 2 people of the same gender is being discriminatory and then is disobeying the law?

Swistle said...

Kyle- I mean it: it really is clear to me that there's no point arguing about this with you. Your assertion that marrying a dog is in any way comparable triple-confirms this for me.

Kyle said...

@Swistle It seems like you refuse to talk about this because you refuse to think about the issues rationally. I didn't equate same-sex marriage to marrying a dog - I simply said that if you don't define marriage then there are no limits.

I really would like to hear your thoughts on the question I asked above.

Swistle said...

Kyle- Listen. I see The Mark on you, okay? I went through this training too, with my religious upbringing. You've been given all the answers, just like telemarketers are given responses to every possible rejection of their message. And so I know there is no sense discussing this. Are you suddenly going to say, "OMG, you are RIGHT, I never THOUGHT of it that way!!" No, you are not: you are waiting for me to say each piece of the script you have a response to, so that you can say your response. And I don't enjoy arguing recreationally, so I'm taking a pass on this plan.

Kyle said...

I'm very confused at your reaction. You posted this article because it showed your view that you feel its wrong to vote against same-sex marriage because it infringes on rights. I simply wanted to think about that myself, have you and your readers of this to join into the conversation. If I'm wrong, I want to know it. I know the right has done a very, very, very poor job of caring for homosexuals, but I don't think that going about legalizing gay marriage is the way to solve it. Thats all I'm saying.

So what is my morals are different than yours? It doesn't make me right or wrong - it makes me different. I hope that one day this conversation can be taken away from the irrational trying to push the other side to your view and to come to one that embraces both sides and allows them to feel honored and respected.

That is why I think the European approach is a good idea. It honors both sides rather than forcing one to compromise what they believe in.

lisa said...

Coming out from under a rock here....I have no idea what is going on in Maine. A quick search (and based on the comments) leads me to believe its a gay marriage type vote? I thought I read that Maine has domestic partnership laws that make your rights the same as if you were married....so is it just a semantics thing (being allowed to say you are "married") or is there something else at stake that I missed?

Lola said...

@Kyle - if the European model is the answer, then the federal and state governments would have to get out of the "marriage" business entirely. Everyone who is married, gay or straight, would have to have their union re-defined as a civil union, and if they wanted marriage, they'd have to go to a church to do it. I would agree that if the laws were going to be reformed in this way -- so that nobody has the right to go to the government to get married - and everyone, gay or straight, gets the tax and other societal benefits of being married that married people get now, then we would not have a constitutional problem. But let's be real - that is never going to happen, and I don't really think you can disagree with that. That makes the "European model," as you describe it, a non-answer to the fundamental question - if the government IS in the marriage business, then how could it be constitutional to only give that right to some people?

And if the answer is that gay people are free to marry straight people, then I refer you to my previous comment about illusory rights not being rights at all.

As far as the history of thousands of years, I find that argument unconvincing in the extreme. Lots of things have been the same for thousands of years, and we have changed them for good reasons, including slavery and the rights of women to name just a couple.

But, I do apologize for the snark on my extend v. extent comment - uncalled for on my part.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Lisa: I think for most homosexual couples, they do want the right to be "Married" -- yes, maybe it's a semantics thing. They want to be treated as the average married couple -- in the same way they would have been treated had they been heterosexual and had easily married a member of the opposite sex.

And not to Lisa specifically but just to add to my comment:
Someone in a homosexual relationship is still the same neighbour, schoolmate, friend that any of a person's heterosexual friends are... so of course they want to get married the average way people do. They are not some foreign beings who don't know what marriage is, ya know?

Lola said...

@Dragoncraft, Christine already corrected you on what the NY Supreme Court did and did not do on Loving v. Virginia, so I won't repeat it. That being said, while Christine's right that the Supreme Court has not recognized sexual orientation as a protected class, the Court did overturn its own decision that sodomy between two consenting adults could be criminally prosecuted only 17 years after the original opinion was written. See Lawrence v. Texas (2003), overturning Bowers v. Hardwick (1986). Wikipedia has an entry on both. I think it's pretty clear which way the trend is going.

Kyle said...

Thanks for the comments - its really helped me to think things out. I think what I've really seen is that both sides feel like the other side in infringing on their morals/beliefs/rights. Keeping marriage between a man and a woman makes homosexuals feel like they are discriminated against, and making same-sex marriage legal makes opponents feel like their morals are being questioned. I know it might sound like its trying to just rile up - but my question was really serious and is a serious concern of mine:

If marriage were between any 2 consenting adults, would it be discriminatory for a minister to refuse to marry a same-sex couple simply because they are same-sex? Would this be cause for civil lawsuit?

Jen said...

@Kyle - I'm not sure if all laws are written in this way or not, I would guess they are, but being originally from Iowa and having a majority of my family still living there, that is not the case. Churches can still ultimately decide whom they would allow to marry in their church. Kinda like how Catholics make non-Catholics jump through all these hoops if they want to marry a Catholic in a Catholic Church w/o converting. The state, however, cannot and would be considered discriminatory if a certain justice of the peace refused. Similar to the judge in Louisianna refusing to issue a marriage license for an interracial couple. I think most gay couples would agree that a specific church should be allowed to marry or not marry whomever they chose. I would happen to think those churches ARE discriminatory but that is my personal opinion and I would guess most laws are written. It goes back to the separation of Church and State and how people somehow throw that out the window. A lot.

Lola said...

@Kyle - No, because religious groups are not subject to the Constitution or federal and state statutes that prohibit discrimination the way the Government is. It has to be that way, otherwise it would be unconstitutional or a violation of Title VII for a protestant church to refuse to hire a jewish rabbi for the head pastor job. To use a more relevant example (to what we're talking about), a religion is always able to make its own rules about what marriage is, provided that they don't run afoul of criminal statutes (i.e. the splinter Mormon Groups can't have a grown man "marry" a 14 year old girl.) The problem we're talking about here is that it's not just a particular religious group denying the right to marry to a gay couple, it's certain state governments. No court and no legislature could ever force a religion to marry two gay people if it's against that religion's doctrine. If anyone suggests otherwise to you they are simply incorrect on the reach of the law. And yes, I am a lawyer.

Kyle said...

Wow, thats interesting! I didn't realize the distinction - I appreciate your insight. And yes, I am a pastor. lol

Caitlin said...

@Kyle: You said "I am not able to marry someone of the same sex for the benefits that comes with it - which is often used as the major reason in support of this - the benefits. I have no right to do that. Yet people marry opposite sex simply for benefits often....The reality is that people get married for different reasons - it is not always because of love. So it does not mean that because someone loves someone they have the right to marry them. Otherwise people could marry 12 year olds...or marry multiple people...or marry their dog."

People do get married for different reasons, and guess what? It's not up to you or me or anyone else to dictate what those reasons are. Furthermore, if "anyone" can get married for whatever reason - like benefits - and even get married & divorced on whim then WHY do you even care if gay people can do the same thing with other gay people? Why are you struggling to uphold such an institution, when - after all - people get married for all kinds of reasons?
At one point you said something about it making you nervous because it's such a big commitment, a permanence, to get married. Really? So are you also playing the Moral Police for people who get married and divorced multiple times in their lives? Or who cheat on their spouses? Even if you do, it's none of it is your business, or your battle to fight. It's not mine either. Live and let live.

Furthermore, as for the marrying a 12 year old, or a dog comments? Gay marriage constitutes a consenting relationship between two adults. Full stop.

As Swistle said "It is possible to do things without automatically carrying them to extremes: we do it ALL THE TIME. Adults are allowed to drink; that doesn't mean we have to let children do it. We can choose to drink alcohol within a wide range, but we draw the line and say people aren't allowed to drive or marry under the influence. We can choose how clean to keep the house within a wide range, but the line gets drawn when there's a problem with vermin and stench. And so and and so on: as a society, we always have to find where the line is, and moving the line a bit doesn't mean it automatically has to slide all the way to the far end of the spectrum."

So where do we draw the line? We draw the line at Two Consenting Adults.

Caitlin said...

You say that you want gay and straight people to have the same rights, and that gays have the same rights as straight people: to marry someone of the opposite sex. But guess what right gay people DON'T have, and what this is really all about?

Gay people do not currently have the right to marry the other consenting adult that also wants to marry them. Straight people have this right.

And that is quite the point.

willikat said...

Lola, thanks so much, some great points there based in law.
I also think that gays are not going to want to get married in churches that aren't interested in marrying them in the first place.
I just wanted to add again, Swistle, you rock. And I was actually really happy to see all the positive responses to this post. I wish we'd see that reflected in the voting booths, if that's how they're going to try to settle this issue.
Go equal rights!

cassie said...

to Swistle and Lola, You guys are seriously becoming my heroes. I am straight and married, living in California, where the gay marriage issue has been hotly debated, approved and revoked for YEARS. It personally makes me sick to see people I love treated as less than human just because they are homosexual. They are loving, hardworking, honest people. There should be no "Equal rights" movement in this. It should be rights period. Why on earth is there even a question? Oh, Kyle, thanks for the laughs, you know, after the bigotry induced nausea passed.
Swistle, I am so linking to this post on my blog.

jonniker said...

@kyle

This is also precisely why separation of church and state is so important. Often, I read reasons why it's a moot point, particularly from the right, and those who wish to impose theocratic-type laws to our government. While yes, blurring the line would benefit some people with certain beliefs, people often forget that separation of church and state protects churches as much as it protects the government.

Ergo, if gay marriage were to become legal, the Catholic church could not be sued for refusing to marry the marriage between two men. Catholics (and other religions) have ALWAYS been allowed to decide who they marry based on the laws/requirments of the church. Protected, as is in the Constitution, from government intervention (within reason, as per Lola's example.)

This is why although I am pro-gay marriage, I am FIRMLY in the camp that churches must be protected from lawsuits when/if they refuse to marry gay couples. Separation of church/state works both ways, and if we want to protect it, we have to respect it, even when it doesn't please us.

Bethtastic said...

So as not to be blasted by anyone, I'll say up front that I agree from a civil perspective. I have moral disagreement, but as a Christian, I prefer not to blur the lines between church and state. Jonniker is right, it protects the churches as much as the state. So, as far as the law goes, I agree with Swistle.

I thought the inclusion of "whether religious beliefs changes a person's rights" in the last list would have been appropriate (as shriek house mentioned), and then I appreciated that Swistle did consider that, but refrained on the basis of religion being a choice.

Along those same lines (and I'm not saying I agree, or that's it right, so don't start ripping me to shreds, please), some people believe that sexual orientation is a choice and not present from birth as the other things in that list are. Perhaps that's something making a difference in some people's minds.

And working to understand another perspective, and not just lash out at one another in anger - even if we disagree in the fundamental principle of what's right and what's wrong - is sometimes good for all of us.

Lola said...

@Jonniker - exactly right. In fact, I read...somewhere...don't remember where exactly, that sociologists believe that America is generally a more religious country than European countries precisely because we have such a long and robust history of separation of Church and State. I can't quote anything specific, but it makes sense to me.

@Kyle, you said at one point that allowing gay marriage makes people such as yourself feel like their morals are being questioned. My reaction to that is, maybe so, but my opinion is that while people should show respect to each other on an individual basis, even if they disagree with each other on issues of morality, GOVERNMENTS should not be in the position of showing "respect" to morals. That's not a governmental function, and because of the separation of church and state, shouldn't even enter into the equation.

Lola said...

@Bethtastic - of course it's always helpful to try and understand others' perspective. You mention that some people believe that sexual orientation is a choice and I'm glad you brought it up because I don't understand how anyone can still think that. There is a TON of research demonstrating that sexual orientation is deeply hardwired and not a choice. What is the basis for that belief in the 21st Century? I really don't get it.

Tracy H. said...

Thanks Christine for introducing me to Garfunkel & Oates! And Swistle, I said yesterday how awesome you were and how great this post is, but it is worth mentioning again! Awesome & Great!

jonniker said...

@bethtastic: There is absolutely nothing science-based to suggest that's true. In fact, all non-biased scientific studies point to the fact that sexual orientation is no more a choice than the color of your skin. Ergo, those who believe that ARE wrong, and I don't mean that in the moral sense, I mean that in the empirical, scientific sense. It is not a correct belief.

Furthermore, I think you'll find that the overwhelming majority of those who hold that belief are those who are morally opposed to it for religious reasons. Ergo, that kind of thinking has no real place in this discussion.

I am willing to listen to other points of view on many, many things. But I am not willing to listen to bigotry, and I believe that this is. If you told me your religion was against black people, I would have the same reaction, you know?

I think you forget that at the heart of this discussion are PEOPLE. Actual, breathing PEOPLE. Good people, who don't have a choice in who they are any more than you do. And I cannot believe that I'm supposed to tolerate another opinion on how to treat other human beings with equality, tolerance and kindness.

I won't. Sorry. Tough shit.

jonniker said...

And @bethtastic, the "you" was mostly the royal you. I wasn't trying to entirely rip YOU to shreds.

TheFlamingoKing said...

Nice post, I agree with your sentiment, but want to ask about one thing.

53% voting to deny rights to a certain individual group is the textbook definition of "the tyranny of the majority". How does that apply to some of your "soft rights" concepts like voting age?

Is it OK to argue that sex, skin color, ethnic origin or sexual orientation should never be discriminated against "because human beings have not been given that kind of power over other human beings" - but age is OK?

Or, said another way, if society is free to determine that a 17 yr old does not have a given right, but is granted it upon reaching age 18, is it right to deny them that right while additionally preventing them from ever representing themselves - once again, "the tyranny of the majority"?

It seems to me that you're arguing that it's not right to discriminate against an individual for their sexual preference, something that is born into the individual, but it's acceptable to discriminate against an individual for their age, again something that is born into the individual. And additionally, since they cannot vote, you give them no means to represent themselves to fight for a greater change, something that the gay rights defenders are happily afforded by our system.

Swistle said...

TFK- You are being silly, yes? Since age is not a permanent part of a person and NOT "inborn" (since we are ALL born at age 0 but don't stay that way)? And since it changes on a scheduled basis, the same for everyone? And since this has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand?

TheFlamingoKing said...

Silly, maybe, but it does have to do with the topic at hand, as you assert that people should be able to choose to discriminate on the basis of age against people for voting rights but not able to discriminate on the basis of sexual preference for marriage rights.

Are you saying that because an individual will be 18 someday, it's OK to discriminate against them when they're 17?

I agree that your last grouping involves things that no human should be able to determine for another human being. I don't agree that all the things in the second grouping are the same way. I'm just trying to understand why you believe there's a difference. If you agree that 53% of Maine determining some smaller percentages rights is unfair, why is it fair for all 18+ to determine the rights of those that are 17 without representation? At least with the vote in Maine, both sides had a right to vote their opinion.

In a nutshell, I'm trying to determine how things get on the second list vs the third list.

Sally said...

Very well said, Swistle - and readers/commenters. Well thought out and articulated points all around.

I just can't see how an issue like gay marriage/rights can been seen in any other light than the legistation of morality - and that is WRONG period, end of discussion.

g~ said...

@TheFlamingoKing...honestly, I think that it's because I *reallly* don't want my four year old making decisions about anyone's legal rights. Again, it's the "we don't have to slide to craziness, we just have to draw a line somewhere." And that line can be moved but it has to be drawn or else we have people marrying goats and 4 year olds dictating that only Taylor Swift music will be played on the radio. Ever.

Swistle said...

TFG- Yes, it's what we talked about before: that we do have to draw a line somewhere, and that it doesn't have to be in Crazyland. I don't believe you ARE "just trying to understand," I think you're trying to move us into Crazyland.

Kate said...

With all of you talking about sliding the line (without taking it to the extreme), don't you think something will come after this? Sure, right now its allowing gays the right to marry (I actually don't have a problem with them marrying- I just wish it were called something different....a civil union or whatever) but because we continue to allow "the line" to move (right, wrong or indifferent) something surely will come after this. Maybe it will be the right to marry your brother.....someone will claim they want "the legal benefits" of being married....health insurance/ beneficiary on life insurance etc. Several of you have mentioned people don't necessarily marry for love- so, why wouldn't we entertain the idea of family members marrying? Its a tough economy. Health insurance is hard to come by.

Lola said...

@The Flamingo King - making distinctions that have a rational purpose is not discrimination. Discrimination is when we treat people differently without a rational purpose, because of some other inherent quality that they cannot control and is not related to the subject. Plus, there's also a higher standard than rationality needed to defend treating people differently based on things like gender, skin color, ethnic origin, etc., but not, currently, sexual orientation, at least under federal law.

People under 18 can't vote because society has dictated that we don't want children having a voice in something they are presumed not to understand. Their age is related to why we've chosen not to let them vote. Are some 17 year olds mature enough? Sure, but there has to be a line and that's where we've drawn it as a society, and when you get to 18 you get to participate. It's rational and therefore isn't discrimination.

Swistle said...

Kate- You're going in circles now. We've covered this thoroughly: moving the line to include reasonable things (such as that husbands are not allowed to beat their wives) does not mean an additional move beyond reason (such as that husbands may not quarrel with their wives).

The reason this argument is so vile and so effective is that it lumps the presumed unreasonable thing in with the totally reasonable thing: "allowing gay people to get married" therefore INCLUDES "the future allowing of siblings to marry."

But why? Why should it? Did making the legal drinking age 21 inevitably lead to a drinking age of 18, and the 15, and then 10, and then 5, and then no drinking limits at all? No. Did allowing women to vote inevitably lead to allowing children to vote, and then to allowing goats to vote, and then to allowing dead people to vote, and then no voting limits at all? No.

There is no reason to lump imaginary future situations with the currently-under-consideration situation, as if they are inextricably connected. Furthermore, it is ridiculous and unfair and insulting to do so.

Wenderina said...

I've spent some time on this post and in the comment area and I'm saddened that what began as a thoughtful and respectful opinion turned into the typical emotional debate about who has the better moral position.

I fully support the position Swistle has put forward because while I see her underlying motivation of the gay marriage issue, I see her logical notation. The issue in her post was not actually about gay marriate, it was about whether it is the right of any of us to vote on this topic - or any topic - that essentially limits the rights of individuals by placing a value judgment on the way they live their life. This is not an issue of public safety, financial security, or even legality. It is moral. And as a moral issue should be decided by the individual.

Step back a moment and consider the alternative side. What if someday a politician decided that you who live in a green house are offensive to me who only likes yellow houses. You are not asking me to live in a green house. You are not even asking me to look at a green house. You just want to live in your own green house. I say it is morally wrong and offensive to me. Why is it my right to sit in judgment like that? Look to your own moral care and code and do not impinge upon the morals of others.

I hesitated to get involved in the discussion because I didn't want to engage in the emotional and moral debate here. But I feel it is time for the quiet moderate to be heard.

kate said...

Marriage-- "since the beginning of time" has been the union of a man and a woman. Can we all agree that marriage, until recently (relatively speaking- meaning the last few hundered years), has been a religious thing? Marriage was a way of 'binding' (for lack of a better word) one woman to one man. Then the gov't stepped in and started giving benefits to those that were married, and *understandably* the group in question wants access to those some rights/benefits. But I guess I wonder- what is the point of marriage then? If its no longer the union of a man and a woman, and people have asserted its no longer a religious thing, and several people have already established many people don't marry for love, so is it just a "business agreement" then? If thats all it is, then why is it not logical to let any two consenting adults enter into this "business agreement"? I don't feel like that is 'shifting the line to the extreme'....its a genuine question.

To try and illustrate my point- think of a neighborhood girls poker night. Its just girls, its just poker. Its only for neighbors. But then one girl wants to bring her husband. And you say "well, technically he is a neighbor, even if he's not one of the girls." And then a few more husbands come. And then some girls invite some gals from work (non-neighbors). And then someone suggests playing go-fish instead of poker. And pretty soon you're playing Old Maid with half the town. You've completely lost the original 'intent' of girls poker night by allowing the event to be changed/modified.

I guess it seems that way with marriage- the more you change it/amend it- the less it is the original thing it was intended to be. And that seems to sort of take away from the sanctity of it. Furthermore, its not that "allowing gay people to marry" INCLUDES "in the future allowing siblings to marry" you just set the precedent for it to potentially happen.

Im not trying to pick a fight and split hairs. As I said before, I don't have a problem with gay people being allowed to 'marry' I just think it should be called something different. I think several commenters have made some really excellent points and brought up some good *logical* arguments.

Last thing- several people seem to think that morals=religion. We all have morals, they may or may not have anything to do with religion. LAWS are our country's moral standard.

Swistle said...

Kate- Ah. I think I see the problem. You think we are talking about a kinkiness/porn scale. A lot of people make this mistake. Things do not increase in kinkiness from "same skin color different sex" to "different skin color different sex" to "same skin color same sex" to "different skin color same sex" to "brother and sister." You are thinking of porn, not relationships. Relationships don't move that way.

The other mistake is that we've been talking of gay marriage as moving the line, but in fact it is not moving the line at all---any more than allowing interracial marriage moved the line. The line is staying the same: two consenting non-related adults. There is no movement along the line.

If brother-sister stuff or human-animal stuff was going to be a problem, it was just as likely to happen after man-woman marriage was allowed: there is nothing about "same sex" that makes those things more likely to happen, unless you are talking about porn. But we are not talking about porn, we are talking about relationships. Man-woman marriage is allowed, and HAVE people been clamoring to marry their siblings? No. HAVE people been clamoring to marry goats? No. Have we had a big national problem with people entering into male-female marriages just to get the benefits? HUGE NO.

Here is my question for you: why does making marriages male-male or female-female make any of those things you're talking about more likely to happen? And why did all these problems you're scared of not start happening as soon as man-woman marriages were allowed?

You are talking as if the "intent" of marriage is one man and one woman, when in fact the "intent" of marriage is to make stable social units. We are not talking about poker night, and the analogy doesn't fit: if you want to make it about poker, what we are talking about is whether another poker group starting up across town in any way diminishes the original poker group. No one is butting into anyone else's poker group.

saly said...

Well, I do have very strong opinions on adjustable rate mortgages, but other than that, you are spot on! ;)

Kyle said...

Thanks to all of you who called me a bigot - you truly judged me the same way you claim people judge the same-sex issue.

My main point in this discussion has to go back to the point of the article - which is that the rights of all are not equal.

I do not think we should oppress rights based on sexual orientation. My main points have all centered around the idea that you have to define what a right is in order for it to be applicable. Marriage must be defined and applied equally to all.

What I have tried to share with you on this article is not my "extremist" views as you would see it, but rather the other side of the coin. Rather than name calling and making things extremes, lets search for ways to find something that unifies us rather than separates us.

The answer is not giving in or giving up.

Swistle said...

Kyle- I know you don't see it this way, but from this side of the issue you truly and genuinely do have bigoted viewpoints, at the same level of bigotry as racism. The same, Kyle. Bigotry is not to be tolerated and understood, it is to be eradicated and/or rendered harmless. I realize you don't understand that your views are bigoted, but that doesn't mean we have to accept and tolerate them, and in fact it is our moral responsibility to stand up against them. Sorry you disagree---and I really do mean I'm sorry. I am very sorry ANYONE feels the way you do.

Jordan P said...

I have one strong, factual, comment to make, and I'd like to quote @Kyle and @kate first: (apologies in advance for a bit of a novel)

Kyle: "The very nature of marriage requires a definition... of who it is between. And it has always been between one adult man and one adult woman."

Kate: "Marriage-- 'since the beginning of time' has been the union of a man and a woman... Marriage was a way of 'binding' (for lack of a better word) one woman to one man."

I really cannot stress enough to you both, and anyone else reading, just how fundamentally factually incorrect this view is.

The idea that marriage has some sort of timeless historical definition, meaning, or form is a complete fallacy that emerged out of the social reconstruction of the Industrial Revolution in the West, and the consequent rise of the middle class. Throughout history, marriage has been negotiated by each culture, at different moments and under different circumstances, to fit requirements of both morality and social stability. Polygamy has been practiced "since the beginning of time" and continues to be permitted by law in dozens of countries worldwide. As well, child marriage was the norm until very recently - children can marry as young as 13 or 14 in some US states and in Canada. Regulated marriage is even a relatively recent thing, in the grand sweep of history. In early societies marriage tended to be a private religious or familial arrangement that required sanction only from the head of the larger family unit.

Although Christianity strongly prefers monogamous marriage in its doctrines, this view was not articulated by the Church fathers until more than 400 years after Jesus, roughly 300 years after the writing of the New Testament books, when St. Augustine of Hippo suggested its exclusive practice for pious individuals. Christian theologians have grappled constantly with how to reconcile the (evolving) view of marriage laid out in the texts of the Old Testament with the perceived challenges to them in the New. As late as the 1680s, Christian authorities in what would become Germany authorized men to take as many as 10 wives in order to provide social stability for the thousands of women left widowed by the Thirty Years War. The issue of what constitutes child marriage, or a marriage between two "adults" is of recent, and as can be seen by the state of US law, still evolving conception.

These are just a few examples from a universe of world history that directly disproves the argument that marriage a) has any inherent, universal, and unchanging character; and b) that character is defined as "between one adult man and one adult woman."

You have every right to have, express, and vote in favour of your opinion, when the opportunity is presented. But please, PLEASE, for the sake of those whose lives are directly and profoundly impacted for the worse by that expression of opinion, do not believe every thing that you are told. Do not assume that because you have been told something is eternal, and feels so eternal in that it is dearly held by you and your community in a certain defintion, that that is the truth. The world is complicated, varied, and vast. The best thing we can do for each other is stop, think, learn, and never stop learning.

kate said...

Swistle-
to answer your question (why does making marriages male-male or female-female make any of those things any more likely to happen?") Currently, in the United States the "law of the land" (as defined by DOMA) says that the federal government defines marriage as a legal union exclusively between one man and one woman. Do we agree on this? If that is true, then by allowing male-male or female-female marriages we ARE moving the line. Because, as stated above, the "line" is quite clear. This obviously does not apply to interracial situations because you can still have two different colors of people that fit the male-female requirement. Are we still on the same page? No shifting of the line occurred when interracial marriages became legal.

As you stated in a previous comment, its not fair to say that one situation therefore INCLUDES all possible future situations. And I agree. I am just saying once you start to shift the line it becomes a slippery slope. If you've bent/changed the rules for one group of people- why can't you do it for another? Right now you scoff at the example we've been using (siblings) but if you lived 100 years ago you may have felt the same way about same sex marriages. You make it seem like will be so obvious to everyone where the line should be drawn after just this ONE change. So how will the law be written? Marriage is defined as any two consenting individuals joined to make a stable social unit? A man and his dog could be a stable social unit (I prefer that over a goat). A brother and sister or even just two roommates could be too. And for the record, there doesn't have to be anything porny/kinky involved here as you suggested in your previous comment. Marriage is just a 'relationship' that creates a stable social unit, right? No one said it had to involve sex, and clearly it has nothing to do with reproduction.

As I was thinking of my response the truth of the matter is Im not that *passionate* about the topic at hand-- (as stated in both my comments- I don't have a problem with gays getting married- I'd prefer a different term but thats splitting hairs, I know). I think what Im more fired up about is being so cavalier about changing laws/rules whatever. The thing is- you have no idea what people will find acceptable 100 years from now (maybe goats would make for good spouses?) and the things we do *today* will affect what happens down the road. You are setting that precedent and I think that is what concerns me. I guess, for the topic at hand if we allowed gay people to be "Narried" (instead of Married) then you have't shifted any line. You haven't set a precent for future generations. If "Narriage" was definied as male-male, female-female then there would still be no shifting of any lines, all you've done is adapted to accommodate a certain group of people. I know that the semantics is an issue- that gay people want to use the term "married" so they don't feel they are excluded or treated differently- I totally get it. Do you see what Im trying to say? In my mind its not about the topic at hand- its the precedent it sets.

The Gori Wife said...

What a complete waste of time, but I'm going to do it anyway...

Kate, the idea that "no shifting of the line" occurred when interracial marriage became legal because "the line" is DOMA is twisting history. DOMA was passed in the later 90's, while Loving, the case that made laws holding interacial marriage as illegal unconstitutional, was decided in 1967. Prior to that case, in Virginia "the line" was something called The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 that said, in part, that marriage between white persons and non-white persons was a felony. That was the line - and as you put it, "the line [was] quite clear." Are we on the same page?

So then PLENTY of shifting of the line occurred when interracial marriage became legal. The line was NO interracial marriage, after Loving, the line was ANY interracial marriage. And while people THEN decried that the institution of marriage had been tarnished and that it was just a matter of time before it was meaningless. I mean, MY GOD, if blacks and whites could marry, it was just a matter of time before someone could marry their DOG. Y'know, the same kind of crap tht *some* commenters on here are slinging about. Futhermore, before, during and after Loving, people used all these same kind of crap arguments to demonstrate why interracial marriage should not be legal - it's immoral, it's against the sanctitiy of marriage, it's a slippery slope, even GOD says it's bad. They were upset about how the line had shifted. But of course, more than 40 years after that case, I personally don't know anyone who's married their dog. Do you?

In fact, I have read historical arguments from Loving-era reports very similar to one of Kyle's earlier comments. Let me quote him, tweak it just a bit (in parentheses), to take out the modern-day references to gay marriage and replace them with interracial marriage:

No one, (black or white), can legally marry someone of the (opposite race) in most states. It does not mean that they can't marry. The rights are the same.

Now tell me - how is that argument defensible NOW when it wasn't THEN? But black people can marry other black people! And EVERYONE is affected by these laws the same way - no one can marry outside of their race! THAT argument has already been struck down by the Supreme Court. It is a legal fallacy, it doesn't afford every person the equal application of the laws, and thank god laws change. Laws have changed before, and they will change in the future. It's just a matter of time, god willing.

The Frog said...

Love this post!

jiveturkey said...

Oh, how I LOVE the "slippery slope" argument. Gays, goats - what's the diff? Right? RIGHT? Anyone?

Hi, Swistle! This post is rad.

Missives From Suburbia said...

Thank you for that. The state of Maine should be forced to read it and memorize it.

Jonniker said...

Kyle - You are a bigot. Once again, I'll say it: I should not be expected to tolerate intolerance and bigotry. Sorry. Yes, that makes me intolerant, but as Swistle said, that is my moral responsibility.

You are talking about people. People who are my FRIENDS, who are real people, who have every right to enjoy the same benefits of marriage that you do. Actual human beings.

Those people are more important to me than your ridiculous, bigoted opinions. If I have to choose between actual people and your viewpoints, I am picking the PEOPLE.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, and a great way of thinking about what civil rights really are.