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February 12, 2004

Turnabout is Fair Play

From an article about the gay marriage protests outside the Massachusetts State House yesterday.

Then the name-calling began. A black teenager in the church group yelled an antigay slur at the man. The man returned fire with a racial slur. "How do you like it?" the man said, as the boy retreated to the back of the group, shocked.

Having discussed this a number of times, the Sainted Wife and I have decided to take a strong stance on the issue of gay marriage.

To put it bluntly--The thing we care most about at a wedding is whether there is an open bar at the reception afterwards. Marriage as a religious issue is between two people, the minister or priest, and their god. If a Christian church doesn't want to bless two men with the sacrament of marriage, more power to them. If a Unitarian church does, then more power to them. We'll happily attend both--just keep the liquor flowing.

Marriage as a state issue is a different thing. The vast majority of services offered by the state are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of sex, skin color, physical handicap, or sexual preference. There is no reason for the state service of civil marriage to be any more discriminatory that the state service of obtaining a driver's license is. If the state does not wish to join together two person of the same sex in matrimony, then the state should get out of the marriage business entirely.

Suppose for a moment, that North Carolina passed a law declaring that all females should don the Islamic Hijab when outside the home. Conservatives and liberals alike would recoil in horror at the unwonted religious invasion of civil authority. There is in essence no difference between such a law and the state of affairs regarding civil marriage in North Carolina at the moment, where marriage is defined as a union exclusively between a man and a woman. The wearing of the Hijab would be an Islamic intrusion into civil law. Restricting gay marriage is a Christian intrusion into civil law, and should be as thoroughly dismissed as our theoretical Islamic example would be if it existed.

When it comes down to it, there is no substantial conservative, atheistic argument against homosexual civil marriage, which means the opposition to it is largely based on religious attitudes.

If one is uncomfortable with the idea of one's grandchildren being ruled by Allah in the future, then one shouldn't be demanding everyone else bend the knee to Jesus today.

Because when you come right down to it, they're the same thing.

Posted by Bigwig at February 12, 2004 11:13 AM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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Comments

Well done!

Posted by: ronbailey at February 12, 2004 11:34 AM

I second that Bigwig! Thank you for keeping an open mind and not being afraid to change your position. This is a simple matter of equal treatment and access! I can't express how much I appreciate your support.

Posted by: Adrianne at February 12, 2004 12:45 PM

To my mind, this was always my position, if perhaps a bit inarticulately expressed.

Posted by: Bigwig at February 12, 2004 12:49 PM

...or perhaps inarticulately read by myself. I just went back looking for whatever made me think that...no luck. Must be me getting my bloggers mixed up again.
I do thank you for taking a stand on the issue.

Posted by: Adrianne at February 12, 2004 01:11 PM

Nice posting. So, would you be less supportive of a gay marriage reception with a cash bar?

You might also want to read this old Reason article on (or near) the subject by Jacob Sullum (http://www.reason.com/sullum/070703.shtml).

As a pseudo-quasi-semi religious person with vague recollections of the New Testament, I have my doubts that (practicing) homosexuals are being true Christians--Jesus and Paul, et al. don't seem to be too wishy-washy on the topic--so it's a little hard for me to understand why they want to get married in a Christian church. But, as a Libertarian, I want people (and the organizations to which they belong) to be free to do whatever they want, so long as it doesn't infringe on my rights--I don't have a right not to be offended--or require my active/involuntary support. I *think* my religious views are correct; I *know* my political philosophy is.

What really gets me about this issue is the strategy of the politicians. A constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? I thought the constitution was designed to define limits on the government, not the people. Sure, Article 2 requires that you must be at least 35 to be president, and the 26th Amendment says you must be at least 18 to vote, but these are procedural limitations (i.e., rules of the game). I think the government already prohibits a lot of things unconstitutionally, and the possibility that they could do so constitutionally, on this or any other "private" issue, scares me a heck of a lot more than the possibility of legal gay marriage.

Anyway, it ultimately wouldn't work (see Amendments 18 and 21). So, if the 28th Amendment bans Adam and Steve from getting hitched, I've no doubt that a later amendment (the 31st, maybe?) will repeal it.

Posted by: JohnT at February 12, 2004 01:45 PM

"I thought the constitution was designed to define limits on the government, not the people."

Yes sir! Any and all of those who would micromanage others through contitutional amendments merely want their "realty" brought into broad being—hey presto—at gunpoint. The "stroke of the pen, law of the land—kinda cool" mindset.

Once in a generation, maybe, there will be an idea worthy of the process. Flag desecration, marriage definition, etc. ain't it.

The Constitution is a touchstone not to be crushed into an avalanche of irritating, impeding sand and gravel.

Posted by: Stephen at February 12, 2004 02:31 PM

So me and Steve and Maryanne want to get married, and we're getting pissed because some guy at the Boston courthouse says three people can't get married. So I says, who are you to deny that right to us. Men can marry women, or men, and women can marry women, so why cant two men and a woman marry each other?

In all seriousness, if you define marriage as a mere contractual bond between two people, and the legal relationship must be offered to anybody who requests it regardless, then there is no legal obstacle to polygamy. After all, the right to free association is not limited to pairs of people.

On the other hand, I'm glad we've dispatched with the slippery slope on this issue. Radical re-ordering of social institutions is always achieved more quickly via the cliff-dive model.

Posted by: Blackavar at February 12, 2004 09:24 PM

I have nothing against gay marriage. If a gay man and a gay woman want to marry each other, I'll be down at the courthouse to cheer them on. And what they do in the bedroom is no one else's business.

Now if two men want to marry each other or two women want to marry each other, that just silly. I don't care whether they are straight or gay.

Posted by: Mark L. at February 12, 2004 10:12 PM

Sure, Bigwig. Killing people who won't convert to Islam, on the one hand, and not recognizing gays' marriage, on the other. Pretty much the same thing.

I'm an atheist in favor of gay marriage. Why you always gotta be more anti-Christian right than me?

Posted by: Jim at February 12, 2004 10:37 PM

I disagree with some of the premises you mention (on religous grounds).

We do, however, agree on one thing: the state should get completely out of the marriage business. Marriage is a personal choice (and for the Christian, a matter to take up with the Lord) and the state has no business or right to be involved in it at all.

Posted by: James P at February 13, 2004 11:50 AM

As a Libertarian-leaning, religious opponent of gay marriage, I can live with the government getting out of the marriage business entirely.

Heck, I can even live with the people of the state of Massachusetts approving of gay marriage, as long as the people of no other state are required to go along. After all, my neighbors in Nevada have had legalized prostitution and gambling for decades. Utah hasn't, and isn't required to. The world has not yet come to an end.

What I cannot tolerate is the idea that religious persons should be forced to recognize, accept, even celebrate gay marriage. Because, thanks to the Massachusetts Supreme court, that is exactly what is happening. And that is why I have turned into a supporter the FMA.

It's about religious freedom. Or is that not a freedom anymore?

Posted by: Captain Holly at February 13, 2004 12:51 PM

Open bar? I'll drink to that.

But as far as the "between any two people" goes, I draw the traditional line.

Otherwise, I'll feel free to marry my sister. It's OK, we're not planning on having kids.

Or my mother. After all, Dad died and she's so lonesome.

And why hold the line at 2? Utah Mormons thought 1:n was perfectly reasonable. So do many tribal chiefs and Arab pashas.

But why stop at 1:n - whay not m:n? As long as everybody thinks it's OK, why should anybody else object?

The arguments that support these obviously wrong positions (wrong for this country and this time) are identical to those that support "gay marriage".

The other thing that's working here - behind the scenes - is that with civil unions (to which I don't object), we say, OK, we tolerate it. Pushing for marriage, they want us to accept it. I'm not ready for that, nor, based on polls and votes, are a majority of the population.

Posted by: Mike at February 13, 2004 01:07 PM

Nobody is asking the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to take part in religious ceremonies, which are actually two mutually included actions at one time. One is an action conforming to religious rules and dictates, the other action consists of executing a civil contract. The only place that the Commonwealth is involved is the civil contract part which invokes certain legal actions, rules, regulations, and consequences. Any invocation or insertion of religious dogma into a civil contract is on slippery footing, indeed, and that's what the MA SJC ruled.

Posted by: MommaBear at February 13, 2004 07:09 PM

Jim, the question is not about the quality of the religion influencing the law, but the fact that religion is influencing the law.

And you're here often enough to know we go to church most weeks, and Woundwort, Kehaar and I are all preacher's kids. We're hardly anti-Christian.

Posted by: bigwig at February 14, 2004 09:21 AM

Hullo, Bigwig,

Actually, there may be similarities between followers of Islam and Christianity regarding morals and society, at least superficially, would not the "prophet" Mohammed reconsider endorsing Jesus as a great prophet, when the same Jesus has been quoted as saying,"Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."(Matt 9:17) Surely Muslims would hold a dimmer view than Baptists about forbidden wine being used as metaphor and practicle advise.

However, what does this pertain to gay marriage? If they are something new, better and different than hidebound religious sorts, then should they not have their own new covenant amongst themselves? Mebbe states recognize civil and business contrracts but are bound by the Constitution to not institute and subsidize their own taxed funded religion? Still worse, to paraphrase the very gay Ernst Roehm and really irritate people, he also advocated making something new and improved, not a remake of an old version run by the same old fogeys that would create a newer version of the same old defeat. Just because I am a very lukewarm office holder of marriage does not make it plausible that adding new variants will make the institution heathier and better, only more polyglot. Maybe we should annex Bosnia-Herzegovina if they will allow gay marriages, just to get the right kind of schlamperei into the mix.
Is the liquor bar still open and flowing?

Rich

Posted by: Rich at February 14, 2004 10:43 AM

Bigwig, I know you're not anti-Christian; I said "anti-Christian right". I understand your point, but just saying "it's the same thing" without acknowledging the fact that only one involves murder doesn't fly.

Posted by: Jim at February 14, 2004 12:21 PM
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