Archive for the ‘Gay marriage’ Category

by jhwygirl

This all I got, and it’s minutes old.

It’s that big.

From D. Gregory Smith’s twitter feed:

@Dgsma: MT Democratic Party approves platform amendment supporting full marriage equality for gays and lesbians #MTPol #Equality #guts


It’s a beautiful thing, and I poached it from D. Gregory Smith’s From Here to Eternity. I really hope he doesn’t mind. He’s got it printed out over there, too – so go read it.

Missoula’s CBS KPAX news led the 10 o’clock with the story. They even interviewed Jamee Greer, spokesperson and lobbyist for the Montana Human Rights Network.

The Missoulian, too, got this piece up from Charles S. Johnson shortly after the news broke. It’s got some good background.

This will certainly make this year’s Montana Pride 2012 event even more celebratory next weekend in Bozeman.

by jhwygirl

Every year, the Montana Pride Network puts on a gathering somewhere in Montana to celebrate diversity and equality. This year’s celebration was held in Bozeman, which rolled out a gracious welcome to all who attended this state-level event held June 17th, 18th and 19th.

In the video below you’ll see starting around the 30 second mark our own fabulous b’birder (albeit infrequent, but we don’t hold it against him because he is doing really fabulous work with the Montana Human Rights Network) Jamee Greer. You’ll also see another person whom I respect, Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss, speaking on the important of equality. Most politicians here in Montana wouldn’t speaking so publicly on this issue – Krauss proposed Bozeman’s equality ordinance at the first public meeting after he took office.

“You Are Loved” is the title:

You Are Loved from Wet Paint Studios on Vimeo.

The video was done by Wet Paint Studios. It is a film partnership started by Vanessa Naive and Jeff Dougherty, and this is their first video documentary. You can also hit that link and go to their facebook…but I’m all yucky on facebook, so I’m not linking it here.


I look forward to the day that equality for all is just the way it is. That we don’t even have to talk about equality or gay marriage as if gay marriage is different from marriage. I long for a day when government stays out of churches and churches stay out of government. How can one human being deny another human being his human right to express love?

The time is coming. Equality is coming. Let’s bring it here faster by speaking openly in support of equality, whether you are straight, gay, lesbian or queer. We are all brothers and sisters. It’s time to speak for each other.

by jhwygirl

…because it will happen.

by appalachianfreedom

I am listening to my first Lady Gaga album today, a gift from a friend. I decided to Google Ms. Gaga to learn a bit more about her when I stumbled upon an interview in which she admitted to leaving the love of her life for her career and indicated that she may never marry. This really struck me personally, as I pretty much made the same decision in order to continue my education and travel to new places. In the wake of the most recent publicly condemned sexual tryst perpetrated by a male politician (Weiner), I thought I could squeeze in a rant regarding America’s desire to cling to its imagined narrative of the family unit.

Let’s begin with the news from the 2010 census that married households are no longer in the majority. Only 48% of households reporting contained a married couple. By contrast, in 1950 that figure was 78%. Demographics researchers point to many factors influencing this shift including a higher proportion of college educated people, employment instability, and income inequality. On a side note, I wonder how marriage equality for the gay and lesbian community would affect these numbers?

We may not soon know because both the notions of marriage and family are polluted with imagined traditions and mores (like most of America’s narrative). These falsehoods are perpetuated through the Christian-right. A simple week spent reading about the history of marriage in America, however, would clear up any and all questions regarding the “tradition” of marriage. I would suggest Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation by Nancy Cott, the Stanley Woodward professor of history and American studies at Yale. In her book, Cott reveals that attitudes and norms about sexuality in our country were far different than today, and highly variable, especially in the early American west.

Marriage following the American Revolution was a hodgepodge mix of civil “contracts” which established gender roles through a series duties and legal rewards. These contracts were not only between the two consenting parties but also with their respective communities (hence the witness needed to be married, the questioning of the audience as to whether the two should be married, and the church bells that would ring signifying that the community was to enter a contract). These contracts were beneficial to men in that they owned all of their wives current and future earnings. The contracts were beneficial to women because their husbands were obliged to protect and provide for them and their children.

This is not the only perk, as you may be aware, as married men and women enjoy many privileges not afforded to single people. While most of us may be familiar with the tax incentives, a 1996 General Accounting Office report found over a thousand instances where being married granted a benefit, right, or special status. There is a definite economic benefit to being married and that is the true origin of the creation of marriage. During the American Revolution, the Christian monogamists were in the minority globally, which was discovered and well documented during British colonialism. It was fortunate for them at the time that the early American revolutionaries envisioned the union of marriage mirroring the union of the colonies. Marriage was the “sublime and refined… principle of union.” The belief was that society would benefit from monogamy.

The portion of society that benefitted the most was the upper-class. Arranged marriages were ways to unite family business and capital to ensure that they stayed tied to certain bloodlines. Not a surprise, everything that required property or legal rights went to husband. The wife was a feme covert – meaning that she had no legal recourse in contracts, assets, or suits without the consent of her husband. Wives were also not allowed to participate in politics of their own choosing, instead they were confined to their husband’s political affiliation. In a simplification of the institution, husbands owned their wives and all of their assets legally through marriage at this time.

Gender was not the only realm in which marriage was used to discriminate. To perpetuate the white majority ruling class, interracial marriages were not permitted. Not just between white and black, but between white and anything non-white. The list included Asians, Indians, and non-anglo Europeans. To give an idea of how prevalent this marriage discrimination was, some states had laws that prohibited interracial marriage until 1967 (Loving v. Virginia).

My point is that when Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minnesota, 6th district) continues to publicly denounce marriage equality for the gay and lesbian community as she did at the Faith and Freedom Conference in D.C. this week, she is not acknowledging the evolution of marriage in America that allowed her to do so. Perhaps marriage was originally intended for “one man and one woman,” but if we are being strictly traditional in marriage, Rep. Bachmann would have to speak her views through her husband, assuming that he shares those same views of course. She seems to be alright with the evolution of marriage that allowed her more equality with her husband, but is against any further evolution in which she has no benefit.

On a personal note, I think that the idea of marriage is rapidly deteriorating in our country. We are so painfully reminded each day that lifelong monogamy might not be ideal for everyone. I propose that instead of seeking equality in marriage for same-sex marriages, let’s instead abolish the economic perks that marriage affords people. I realize that this may be a bit circular, but investigating purchasing my first home recently, I realized that it makes about as much economic sense to have Jim Cramer as your broker as it would to be single and buy a home. As with everything else; it seems that the facts, both historical and statistical, are meaningless to some people. We will never get anywhere until we change the values that people base their decisions upon. Yes, I am talking to you Rep. Bachman. I want you to consider the true historical framework of marriage, not just its distorted religious narrative.

Marriage was used to discriminate against sex, then race, and now sexual preference. I know that all we need is time for a mass paradigm shift to finally be accepting of same-sex relationships, but maybe we can speed to the next evolution of American marriage faster by combining the fight for equality while highlighting the ever-increasing failure it is as an institution. Lets dis-incentivize marriage!

Primary Source:

Cott, N. (2000). Public vows: A history of marriage and the nation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

by Jamee Greer

This weekend in Serbia, a gay pride celebration was disrupted by almost 6000 rioters throwing molotov cocktails, stun grenades and bricks – and chanting slogans like “death to homosexuals!”.

“Serbia will guarantee human rights for all its citizens, regardless of the differences among them, and no attempts to revoke these freedoms with violence will be allowed,” Tadic said.

Belgrade mayor Dragan Djilas said damage was estimated at more than euro1 million ($1.39 million).

Right-wing groups say the gay events run counter to Serbian family and religious values. Most of the rioters Sunday were young football fans whose groups have been infiltrated by neo-Nazi and other extremist organizations.

Serbia is seeking membership in the European Union, which requires certain human rights standards be met before they can join.

New York State gubernatorial candidate, Carl Paladino, told a gathering of Orthodox Jewish leaders in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Sunday that children are being “brainwashed” into believing homosexuality was acceptable and normal.

“That’s not how God created us,” he said, reading from a prepared address. “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.”

And then, to applause at Congregation Shaarei Chaim, he said: “I didn’t march in the gay parade this year — the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did, and that’s not the example we should be showing our children.” reported that Mr. Paladino’s prepared text had included the sentence: “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.” But Mr. Paladino omitted that statement when he gave the speech.

Paladino went on to say to the media, “Don’t misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie.”

Another gay teen has taken their life, this time in Norman, Oklahoma. The 19 year old had attended a City Council public hearing earlier in the week which included discussion on the receipt of a mayoral proclamation recognizing October as Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender History Month in Norman. The proclamation was approved 7-1, after three hours of graphic, homophobic testimony.

One man said he moved to Norman because he thought it was the kind of place that would never accept the GLBT community with open arms. A woman, who described herself as “bi-racial,” said she was tired of the GLBT plight being compared to Civil Rights.

Some of those who opposed the proclamation claimed that members of the GLBT community would use it to infiltrate the public school system, essentially allowing the “gay lifestyle” to become a part of the curriculum.

Others claimed that council recognizing October as GLBT History Month was a waste of their time. Some members of the audience even suggested that any council members voting in favor of the proclamation may have trouble getting reelected.

Numerous residents also claimed the Bible was their guiding light, citing the ancient text as their primary reason for opposing the proclamation and the GLBT community in general.

And for those in attendance, it was hard to ignore the intolerant grumblings, the exasperated sighs and cold, hard stares that followed comments from supporters of the GLBT proclamation.

by jhwygirl

This is just a quick follow-up to last week’s post about the City of Bozeman’s resolution in support of Montana’s same sex couples and their lawsuit against the State of Montana for its Defense of Marriage Act.

With Montana in the national news spotlight for the Montana GOP’s platform criminalizing homosexuality, this resolution highlights some of the things I touched on in that previous post – namely that to have the State of Montana defend an unconstitutional law (unconstitutional by both Montana Constitutional and U.S. Constitutional standards) is sheer lunacy.

I’ve preached many a time on the pyramid of laws that we have – the Constitution is the ultimate law of the land, and all others must comply. Shame on any legislator (or administration or attorney general) that does anything less than defend against those guiding principles.

Bozeman’s resolution is unique in that it is the first resolution directed towards state government telling them to put an end to segregating and treating same sex couples differently under government sanctioned institutions like marriage.

Montana has far more important things to address in court than to try and rehash an issue that has been resolved in our highest courts already. Not only has Montana’s Supreme Court resolved the issue, the U.S. courts have utilized Montana’s Supreme Court decision as precedent in many federal cases confirming the right to privacy.

Conservatives everywhere should be in support. Nothing speaks more loudly against the principles of small government and intrusion than a law that defines marriage.

Please take time to read the Bozeman Chronicle’s article on last Monday’s resolution proposed by Mayor Jeff Krauss.

Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss wants his city to set an example for other cities across Montana by being the first to pass a resolution supporting the seven same-sex couples suing the state for the same rights as married couples.

“These couples are really walking out on a limb to put their faces forward, to put their stories forward, and I think they deserve the support,” Krauss told the Chronicle.

Jeff Krauss, btw, identifies as a Republican. The Mayor’s office and City Commission posts are non-partisan.

Montana’s GOP might be nuts, with “over two-thirds” of its membership voting in support of criminalizing homosexuality – but not all of Montana’s GOP agree. We that support equality should keep this in mind, and not create an environment where the GOP members that want to come out in support of equality – that want to speak out and tell their party that they are wrong – have exactly that environment which allows them to speak in support of small government and against its intrusion into private lives.

Montanans for equality should constructively embrace the national attention being thrust upon us now and leverage it to allow the state’s GOP members that do support equality to do so without fear of repercussion. That one-third out there need the breathing room to take care of the business at hand.

by jhwygirl

On Monday at Bozeman’s City Commission meeting, Mayor Jeff Krauss put forth a resolution that formally supports equality rights for same sex couples in the State of Montana.

The resolution calls on the State of Montana and its Attorney General to support equality rights for gay and lesbian couples by supporting the couples which filed suit against the State of Montana back in July of this year for failing to offer legal protects to same sex couples as it does to other families in the state.

Bozeman’s Chronicle doesn’t put every story online – and the budget was certainly a big issue that caught the attention of the press, no doubt…but hopefully they’ll be covering this story soon.

And Bozeman’s City Commission? Good for them for seeking to speak in support of the same-sex couples of their community and the rest of the state.

Missoula City Council? Missoula Board of County Commissioners? Speak up – let Governor Schweitzer and Attorney General Steve Bullock know that they both need to speak up in support of equality rights for gay and lesbian couples in this state.

Bozeman leads on calling on Montana to do the right thing – let’s hope Missoula follows.

by JC

Via HuffPo:

In a major victory for gay rights activists, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday that a voter initiative banning same-sex marriage in California violated the Constitution’s equal protection and due process rights clauses.

After a five-month wait, 9th Circuit District Court Judge Vaughn Walker offered a 136-page decision in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, firmly rejecting Proposition 8, which was passed by voters in November 2008.

“Although Proposition 8 fails to possess even a rational basis, the evidence presented at trial shows that gays and lesbians are the type of minority strict scrutiny was designed to protect,” Walker ruled.

“Plaintiffs do not seek recognition of a new right. To characterize plaintiffs’ objective as “the right to same-sex marriage” would suggest that plaintiffs seek something different from what opposite-sex couples across the state enjoy — namely, marriage. Rather, plaintiffs ask California to recognize their relationships for what they are: marriages.”

“Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians, including: gays and lesbians do not have intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples; gays and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals; and gay and lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of society.”

This is a huge decision folks! Finally, the road to sanity in regards to gay marriage has been paved by a judge with some intelligence. Here are a few highlights of the decision:

In deciding the case, Walker offered a variety of findings that may be as important as the ruling itself. Among them were the following:

  • “Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as a characteristic of the individual. Sexual orientation is fundamental to a person’s identity and is a distinguishing characteristic that defines gays and lesbians as a discrete group. Proponents’ assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence.”
  • “Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation. No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation.”
  • “Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions. Like opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples have happy, satisfying relationships and form deep emotional bonds and strong commitments to their partners. Standardized measures of relationship satisfaction, relationship adjustment and love do not differ depending on whether a couple is same-sex or opposite-sex.”
  • “Marrying a person of the opposite sex is an unrealistic option for gay and lesbian individuals.”
  • “Same-sex couples receive the same tangible and intangible benefits from marriage that opposite-sex couples receive.”
  • “The availability of domestic partnership does not provide gays and lesbians with a status equivalent to marriage because the cultural meaning of marriage and its associated benefits are intentionally withheld from same-sex couples in domestic partnerships.”
  • “Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages.”

Perhaps the most important political finding that Walker made was his conclusion that the fact that Prop 8 passed as a voter initiative was irrelevant.

That the majority of California voters supported Proposition 8 is irrelevant, as “fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

And let’s not forget that Montana has a Constitutional ban on gay marriage passed in 2004. That ban was challenged in court last month:

Seven gay couples in Montana filed a lawsuit against the state Thursday for its failure to provide legal protections to gay couples and their families.

In 2004 voters approved a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage or same-sex couple recognition.”

Should be a slam-dunk case, given the findings in Judge Walker’s decision!

Update: Here’s a link to Judge Walker’s Decision at Scribd.

by Jay Stevens 

As conservative politicians jockey for position in the 2008 presidential nomination battles by trashing gays at every opportunity and banking on the issue to once again divide the electorate in their phony “culture war,” it’s important for everybody to remember who gets hurt: people.

Now Seattle-based columnist Dan Savage is hardly an innocent passer-by in the battle of rhetoric. In fact, he’s quite well known for…well…associating “family values” man Rick Santorum with…well…a byproduct of anal sex. Still, many may conclude Santorum earned the appellation.

In any case, in a recent column, Savage mulls over the amount of sympathy we should feel for fallen social conservatives (like Ted Haggard), including Rick Santorum and the soon-to-be-ex-Senator’s children who openly wept when he conceded the race:

As for Santorum’s kids, well, once again we’re put in the position of having to feel sorry for the offspring of a delusional bigot. But just how bad should we feel? I remember listening to the radio when Santorum said something obnoxious about gay couples: An anti-gay-marriage amendment was a homeland-security measure, Santorum said, which makes gay couples terrorists. My son, who happens to be the same age as Santorum’s younger daughter (the one weeping and clutching a doll in that widely circulated photo), was in the room at the time and he got pretty upset. So, yeah, we should all feel bad for Santorum’s kids, but let’s also feel bad for all the other kids that Santorum hurt.

That’s the thing. When you go around basing your campaign on who can best call a certain group of people degenerate, and who’s hated that group the longest and most consistently, the fact is that people get hurt. And not always the people you want to hurt.

I know me asking for the vitriol to stop is like spitting into an onrushing tornado. Mitt Romney, for one, is apparently determined to earn his conservative credentials by stirring up the issue. But, please. Stop. Your rhetoric does actual damage to those who have not earned it.

Update: Re-reading the post, it looks like I might be saying gays have earned the attacks against them — only their children should be free from suffering accountibility of their parents.

No. I’m not saying that. Judge an individual for his/her actions; attacking a group only ensures you’ll injure those that don’t deserve it.

by Jay Stevens 

Longtime readers of the site know where I stand on the issue of gay marriage: I’m all for it, and largely for the same reasons that Massachusetts Chief Justice Marshall outlined in the court decision there that legalized it:

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. “It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.”…Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.

That is, the purpose of marriage is inherently personal and intimate, and is not solely about procreation or to uphold traditional gender roles. And if that’s the case, I just can’t see any moral justification for banning it.

That said, I also recognize that the majority of my fellow Americans and, more specifically, Montanans, disagree. There’s a certain traditional view of marriage that’s inherently wrapped up in religion and that views the very existence of homosexuality as immoral. Sharing the institution of marriage – a cultural ceremony and celebration of family and community – won’t do.

Just as gays are among my friends, family, and neighbors, so are devout Christians. If gays are asking the traditional-minded for a public space to form partnerships and families, it’s only fair for the traditional-minded to ask for some guarantee that their moral system and religious beliefs be free from governmental intrusion.

So, the question is, how can I – and American society – balance belief, individual liberty, diversity, and tradition?

Certainly forcing gay marriage on the electorate through legislative fiat is not the way to go. Most people don’t want gay marriage. Period. Why force it on them? If it’s going to be legalized, it should be done by direct vote in a ballot initiative. When the people are agreeable, it will happen.

On the other hand, the current system is grossly unfair and likely unconstitutional. Many states have special restrictions against gay couples, and gay couples and their families face institutionalized government discrimination. Married heterosexual couples enjoy benefits, taxes, and other special privileges that are denied to gays.

In effect, there are different sets of laws for different people.

The recent New Jersey court decision (pdf), then, seems to be the perfect fit. New Jersey’s Supreme Court fell short of approving gay marriage, but instead ordered the state’s legislature to come up with a civil union package that gives gay couples all the rights and privileges of married heterosexuals.

Unlike the New York and Washington decisions – which were based on the shaky logic that marriage – and sex – is solely for procreative purposes (a decision threatens to roll back the personal freedoms of adult Americans some 75 years), or that it’s a useful tool to encourage those pesky and irresponsible straight couples to marry and take care of their kids – the New Jersey decision recognizes that, while traditional values don’t support gay marriage, American jurisprudence demands that gays are treated equally under the law:

The Domestic Partnership Act has failed to bridge the inequality gap between committed same-sex couples and married opposite-sex couples. Significantly, the economic and financial inequities that are borne by same-sex domestic partners are also borne by their children. Further, even though same-sex couples are provided fewer benefits and rights by the Act, they are subject to more stringent requirements to enter into a domestic partnership than opposite-sex couples entering a marriage.

At this point, the Court does not consider whether committed same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, but only whether those couples are entitled to the same rights and benefits afforded to married homosexual couples. Cast in that light, the issue is not about the transformation of the traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of people.

The New Jersey court did not find that marriage is necessary to procreation, but did admit that it promotes economic stability and monogamy, both of which have distinct societal benefits, and denying them to gays was detrimental to society and could possibly be injurious to the children of gay couples.

The results of the 2006 gay-marriage initiatives actually demonstrate support for this line of reasoning. Like Glenn Greenwald, I saw in those initiatives the beginning of a push against Southern-based social conservative values in the gay-marriage bans passed in South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Colorado, and especially in the defeat of the anti-gay initiative in Arizona. In the twenty bans previous to 2006, an average of 71 percent approved such bans; this time around, approval was only 52 percent in South Dakota and 56 percent in Colorado. And Arizona – hardly a bastion of liberalism – voted down its ban:

But the defeated Arizona referendum, like the one in South Dakota, would have not only reinforced that gay marriage ban, but would have also barred the recognition by state and local governments of any type of civil unions. As a result, the campaigns to defeat the referendum in both states focused not on the desirability of gay marriage, but rather on the unwarranted limitations imposed by the referendum on the ability of citizens — gay and straight — to secure equal benefits for their chosen relationships.

Put another way, the successful campaign to defeat the Arizona referendum was based on a generalized libertarian aversion to governmental intrusion into the private sphere, rather than support for gay marriage per se.

In this aversion to government intrusion, Greenwald sees the chance for Kos’ “liberal libertarianism” to flourish, as Westerners reject the social engineering program of Southern conservatives and the GOP, and the Democratic Party has the opportunity to step in and become the champion of individual liberties.

Maybe that’s the case. But certainly it seems the New Jersey decision is the best compromise for our communities where gays and Christians and partisan hack bloggers need to live in the same neighborhoods, work at the same jobs, and wrestle with mortgage and insurance payments. The decision erases the legal discrimination against gays, but preserves the tradition and values of the institution of marriage for the traditional-minded.

The other day I wrote a post about marriage, explaining that the only way a court could legitimately ban gay marriage was to show that the institution of marriage relies on the “conjunction of a man and a woman.” Otherwise, how can the courts justify banning gays from marrying?

I feel I adequately demonstrated that marriage was not reliant on a man and a woman, but on “personal commitment to another human being” and a “celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family.” That is, love.

In the comments to that post, a well-meaning Steven Lohrenz said that the institution itself is less important than the real relationship of the couple:

The most important part is the loving relationship that underpins the marriage, not marriage itself. Which seems to me makes the whole argument (from both sides) as seeming trivial.

Actually, marriage bestows a couple with a number of financial and cultural advantages. Matters of inheritance, hospital visitation rights, medical decisions, taxation, and insurance, to name a few, are much easier to arrange as a married couple than simply as a “loving” couple. These are the issues around which the legal cases revolve, the clear and tangible benefits of marriage. It’s easy to track these losses.

There’s also a second, more ephemeral advantage to marriage, and that’s the issue of respectability. And this is the issue that motivates gay-rights advocates and rankles anti-gay activists. Both sides realize that allowing gays to marry confers an official, state-sanctioned approval on homosexuality. Gays – after lifetimes of being hated and marginalized – crave normalcy. Social conservatives shudder and believe that tacit approval of gays will open the floodgates for an amoral and completely secularized society.

Unfortunately for these social conservatives, though, the Constitution doesn’t dictate how we use our personal liberty, only that we enjoy it.

Since I wrote that original post, I found a couple of interesting columns on the same subject. First is Ellen Goodman’s latest piece (not currently available on the Internet), “’Logical next step is banning marriage after menopause.” In it, she notes the same oddness about the Washington and New York court cases that I do:

If marriage is for procreation, shouldn’t they refuse to wed anyone past menopause? Shouldn’t they withhold a license, let alone blessings and benefits, from anyone who is infertile? As for those who choose to be childless? Nothing borrowed or blue for them. Indeed the state could offer young couples licenses with sunset clauses. After five years they have to put up (kids) or split up.

“If anything,” writes Goodman, “these two decisions are proof that the courts and the country are running out of reasons for treating straight and gay citizens differently.” Indeed.

Goodman also notes that the judges ignored the body of evidence that indicates gays make good parents, indicating that their decisions were made from anxiety, not reason, as a result of the “furor over the [Massachusetts] decision [that] produced a backlash that has scared a lot of judges straight.”

The second piece was written by Seattle-based openly-gay sex columnist Dan Savage in this past Sunday’s New York Times, “Same Sex Marriage Wins by Losing.” In it, Savage brings up an interesting point: where do the Washington and New York decisions leave the children of same-sex couples? They have been denied married parents by courts that feel heterosexual marriage should be protected largely for the benefit of children. (Savage and his partner have an 8-year-old son.)

A perverse cruelty characterizes both decisions. The courts ruled, essentially, that making my child’s life less secure somehow makes the life of a child with straight parents more secure. Both courts found that making heterosexual couples stable requires keeping homosexual couples vulnerable. And the courts seemed to agree that heterosexuals can hardly be bothered to have children at all — or once they’ve had them, can hardly be bothered to care for them — unless marriage rights are reserved exclusively for heterosexuals. And the religious right accuses gays and lesbians of seeking “special rights.”

And this point, combined with the courts’ illogical opinions concerning marriage, make the legalization of same-sex marriage almost certain:

If heterosexual instability and the link between heterosexual sex and human reproduction are the best arguments opponents of same-sex marriage can muster, I can’t help but feel that our side must be winning. Insulting heterosexuals and discriminating against children with same-sex parents may score the other side a few runs, but these strategies won’t win the game.

Agreed. While some consider the New York opinion the “Gettysburg” of gay marriage, I wonder which side lost?

One last note about gay marriage. In Justice Marshall’s poetic description of marriage found in the Massachusetts case that legalized gay marriage in the state was reference to “Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 486 (1965),” which my wife pointed out was the Supreme Court decision that allowed married couples to use contraceptives. I guess I wasn’t being too paranoid about the New York and Washington cases hinting at a rollback for all couples’ right to privacy and self-determination.

Here’s Justice Douglas’ opinion from that decision:

We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights – older than our political parties, older than our school system. Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions.I said it before, I’ll say it again, our Constitution protects not only your liberties, but also the liberties of those you don’t like.

This weekend, I was off attending a wedding just outside of Yosemite Park in California. It was a lovely trip – mainly because we left our children with the in-laws – my first time away from the kids since they were born. I slept. I read an entire newspaper without interruption. I ate dinner without regard to my companions’ drinks or to the amount they consumed.

I also attended a wedding ceremony. The words spoken by the officiator were tremendous and moving. At one point she quoted from the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage in the state, and it was sublime. Naturally, then and there, I resolved to blog about it.

What struck me about Justice Marshall’s majority opinion was its beauty:

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. “It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.” Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 486 (1965). Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.


That’s the interesting thing about this issue. It centers around what our society considers to be the purpose of marriage. If the purpose of marriage centers around a societal function that doesn’t rely on the conjunction of a man and a woman, then it should follow that gay marriage should be legal.

That’s why the majority opinions I quoted from the Washington and New York court decisions upholding the ban of gay marriage sound so convoluted. They attempt to define marriage primarily as a biological function necessary to the production of children.

But not only do gay couples have the ability to father or mother a child without breaking the traditional sexual vows of wedlock (thanks to science and adoption), but this interpretation implies that childless married couples, or married couples who aren’t interested in having children (like the couple whose marriage I witnessed this weekend), are somehow violating the institution of marriage.

In fact, the New York decision affirms this, but explains the reason childless couples aren’t denied marriage is because of, well, the administrative difficulties involved:

…plaintiffs point out that many opposite-sex couples cannot have or do not want to have children. How can it be rational, they ask, to permit these couples, but not same-sex couples, to marry? The question is not a difficult one to answer. While same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are easily distinguished, limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples likely to have children would require grossly intrusive inquiries, and arbitrary and unreliable line-drawing.

The danger to straight couples in this line of reasoning is clear. Because marriage is for procreation, then any marriage where the couple isn’t active trying to procreate is..well…unethical. Not only that, but so is any childbirth outside of wedlock. Or divorce involving children.

It’s not a leap from this idea to a legal basis to, say, outlaw contraception. Even for married couples. Or place more bureaucratic hurdles to divorce. Or make adultery illegal. The state is threatening to intrude into our private lives.

I reject the logic behind these arguments. Marriage is not a utilitarian agreement to become biological baby factories.

No, the definition of marriage offered by Justice Marshall clearly benefits from the weight of truth. You know it’s true when you read it. Marriage is a “personal commitment to another human being” and a “celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family.” Marriage does “fulfil yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity” and this is why it’s an “esteemed institution.”

And these are the reasons that I am married.

Can I – or anyone — deny the institution to a couple based solely on their sexual orientation? I think the Washington and New York courts violated their duty to their states by failing to protect individual liberty from the prejudice of the mob.

On Wednesday, Washington’s highest court upheld a ban on gay marriage. This decision follows a couple of other like decisions that one editorial called the “Gettysburg” for the gay-rights movement.

(You know how I feel about this issue already. Whatever two consenting adults want to do with each other is their own business. That includes marriage. Individual rights should be protected under the law, even if those individuals are disliked.)

Before gay-opponents get all riled up over these decisions, perhaps they should read them. The majority opinions supporting the ban are quite…astonishing, really.

Here’s the majority opinion in the Washington case:

“Limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples,” Judge Barbara A. Madsen wrote in that opinion, “furthers procreation, essential to the survival of the human race, and furthers the well-being of children by encouraging families where children are reared in homes headed by the children’s biological parents.”

If you’re scratching your head over the gaps in logic in this opinion, you’re not alone.

In a dissent signed by three other justices, Justice Mary Fairhurst questioned the logic of that assertion. “Would giving same-sex couples the same right that opposite-sex couples enjoy injure the state’s interest in procreation and healthy child rearing?” she asked.

Where does this idea that gay marriage would “destroy” traditional marriage come from? I don’t get it. Really, I don’t. Do proponents of this idea think allowing gay marriage would encourage people to burst out of their collective closets and embrace the homosexual lifestyle, thus fewer hetero married couples?

If anything this paranoid view implies our world is teeming with uptight closeted gays just waiting for a chance to burst out. If you’re like me, I’d rather have people out. Closeted gays are probably one of the most annoying subsets of people that exist. Who needs all that anxiety and self-loathing polluting the air?

The majority opinion in the New York case was even weirder. Did anyone read it?

Heterosexual intercourse has a natural tendency to lead to the birth of children; homosexual intercourse does not. Despite the advances of science, it remains true that the vast majority of children are born as a result of a sexual relationship between a man and a woman……[S]uch relationships are all too often casual or temporary…[A]n important function of marriage is to create more stability and permanence in the relationships that cause children to be born. [The legislature could] choose to offer an inducement — in the form of marriage and its attendant benefits — to opposite-sex couples who make a solemn, long-term commitment to each other.

…[T]his rationale for marriage does not apply with comparable force to same-sex couples. These couples can become parents by adoption, or by artificial insemination or other technological marvels, but they do not become parents as a result of accident or impulse.

…[U]nstable relationships between people of the opposite sex present a greater danger that children will be born into or grow up in unstable homes than is the case with same-sex couples, and thus that promoting stability in opposite sex relationships will help children more.

Gays just can’t win, can they? For years they’ve been defending themselves against creeps who claim they’re too d*mn frisky for marriage…only to find that the New York court finds the opposite to be true! They’re too d*mn well off! We need to provide the carrot of marriage to those philandering, sex-crazed breeders!

In all the cases decided recently, the judges say that they’d see no problems with the legality of allowing gays to marry — as long as it involves state legislatures approving such a bill. Which is a kind of odd way of approving of gay marriage without actually having to go ahead and declare a ban unconstitutional. Basically it reeks of politics. Judges aren’t supposed to heed the majority in cases like these; they’re supposed to interpret the law.

But reading the decisions for these cases, I’d have to say they’re on pretty shaky ground. Their opinions could be skewered by a third-grader. Ultimately I agree with the New York Times on this one:

New York’s highest court has harmed both the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and its reputation as a guardian of individual liberties by denying same-sex couples the right to marry.

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