Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Don't Call It Marriage

One of my closest friends, Jay Caton posted to an earlier blog dealing with Homosexual Unions. We respect each others opinions and since its rare that we come down on different sides of the issues, I figured I would share it on this blog (with his permission). His rebuttal and yours are welcome!

Jay Caton:
I'm deeply saddened that Maine voters have overturned their same-sex marriage laws. It’s a blow to all our rights, gay or straight.

Th
is is not a religious issue. They will not "teach" our children how to be gay. In fact, in what class are they teaching them, to be straight?

They will not “overrun” our system and cause problems in our society. It works in Mass, it works, in 4 other states and in numerous other country’s. It can work across the US too.

No one is saying that individuals need to "accept" same sex relationships or "lifestyles". There are those who still are very vocal about their dislike for interracial marriage. Just this week a justice of the piece in Texas resigned his post because he did not want to perform such wedding ceremonies. He did not need to resign; he could have just chosen not to do those weddings. That’s fine. But he can’t tell interracial couple they can not wed at all.

And no one should be able to tell a same sex couple they can’t either.


My response:
I haven't read much about the decision in Maine, but I did read that it marks the 31st time that the electorate has voted down a measure for gay marriage in the US. Whether one agrees with the decision or not, I believe that a referendum style vote is the most clear way to deal with this issue. It is not small minded to defend a principle such as the definition of marriage as one man/one woman (who also meet other important criteria such as not being related). People have just as much right to vote for a more open interpretation of marriage if they wanted to... its just that the majority hasn't... 31 straight times in a row including states more likely be vote blue like California and now Maine.

The real mistake is the tactic to use the word marriage to describe a homosexual relationship. That word marriage is what actually does make this a religious issue for many people. Marriage is deeply ceremonial and religious in nature.

Government has endorsed this method and then applied rights associated with marriage. Government has laws that deal with marriage or religious institutions and those laws are meant to protect citizens from religious fraud.

The key for successful gay-rights is to look to the government to apply rights associated with marriage, but under different terminology and conditions. Just like there are rights applied to a 'common marriage' couple, there can be... and should be... rights applied to a homosexual couple. They should be concerned with new rhetoric to support government recognition of an entirely new category of relationship that qualifies for tax credits, health care benefits, beneficiary rights and so on.

Just don't call it marriage.

4 comments:

Jason said...

To keep a good conversation going . . .

I can’t stress enough how much I respect Jay and his position on issues. As he has mentioned, it’s not often that we disagree on a topic. However, we fall on opposite sides of this issue and I can’t agree with his opinion in this arena.

Until the early 1970s it was largely accepted that inter-racial marriages were inappropriate. Citizens overwhelming voted in support of legislation outlawing such marriages. These laws, restrictions and beliefs were widely supported by the church. Not just back woods preachers out of touch with society but rather preachers like Jerry Falwell who in 1958 warning that inter racial marriages would "destroy our white race."

The movement to rid our society of such laws was met with strong opposition from the church. However, today society as a whole would agree such restrictions on marriage are inappropriate. Thanks to the ruling of the US Supreme Court we no longer have such laws in this country which has allowed folks like my Puerto Rican friend Jay to marry his lovely Caucasian wife.

Recorded history reveals that the first marriage laws were codified by Hammurabi’s Code which dates back to 1790 BC. This was well before Christian influence was associated with marriage. Over the years laws have changed and social traditions have influenced the details regarding marriages. But at all times, it has remained a legal contract.

Today’s marriages are a tool used by many that have no association with the church at all. Much of the world would agree that marriage is still a social contract between two persons and which is governed by the laws of the society and the rights and benefits you receive from being married have nothing to do with religion at all.

History has taught us that issues regarding the rights of a minority should not be left to the votes of the majority. “Separate is inherently unequal” – if we can accept that concept with racial issues why can’t we accept that with the legal contract of marriage.

You can have all the religious connections to the union you want. Get married in a church, say your prayers, and partake of the sacraments . . .

Just don't call marriage a religious institution.

Jeff Valois said...

If I may hop in here...

I think Jay touched on a few of these points in his response, but anytime this topic comes up, I can't help but to compare what's happening here with the battle for civil rights last century. The big difference is probably that civil rights had to do more with social views (race) whereas the gay marriage argument seems to be more about religious views. At their cores, I still think that both are about the same thing...equality.

At this point, I think most of the country can collectively look back at a time before the civil rights movement really took hold and say, "Holy crap...that was just plain wrong." I really really believe that in another 50 years, we'll look back at this and say, "I can't believe people wouldn't let them get married. That just seems ridiculous now."

Marriage is just as much of a religious institution for gay couples as it is for the, what, half of straight couples that take their vows and file for divorce within a matter of years. If anybody is crapping on the sanctity of marriage, it's those that take the "For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health..." vows in a church and walk away from those same vows two years later. I don't normally hear as much of an uproar about that as much as I hear more of the, "I guess that's a sign of the times" discussion.

Jay, you made a great point in the third paragraph of your 9/22 post. The religious views and arguments against gay marriage (and other topics, I suppose) don't resonate well with today's society. Some of the people I've gotten into this discussion with pretty much start and end their argument with, "The bible says homosexuality is wrong." I really think that those people who have no basis for their arguments other than what they've been taught are very much out of touch with societal changes.

In general, I totally respect the views of others if they can give me a solid basis for their arguments (hell, ony of my best friends is a Republican Yankees fan who listens to country music...and also my favorite person to get into a discussion with). However, I can't support those who impose their beliefs on those who are doing no harm to society. Like Jay Caton said...they're not going to teach our children how to be gay.

(although wouldn't it be funny if, in the year 2050, instead of trying to act "black," kids wanted to act "gay" to be cool? Ok...totally not funny...I retract my previous statement. Well, I retract it, but I'm still leaving it there. Unless Jay hates it and wants me to remove it. I mean, it is his blog and all. Like, I wouldn't go into his house and pop in my Obama Inauguration DVD...because it's his house. It's his blog.)

Jason said...

Wow Jeff, I think your last paragragh says it all . . . lol

Jason DeStratis said...

This is where the ideological stalemate comes into play: I’m coming from a perspective that doesn’t consider a sexual preference as a matter of civil rights. What people do on an intimate level with someone else is not the point of a civil rights movement. The government cannot tell you with whom you can be an intimate relationship, unless it is illegal for age or relational reasons. In this day and age, sexual preference has nothing to do with one’s ability to get a job, an apartment or other examples of that type. To begin with, sexual preference doesn’t need to enter in those types of negotiations or conversations. But most importantly, that type of discrimination is not tolerated by (much of) our culture or the laws of our government (though I’m sure there are a few exception on the books in the middle of the country somewhere). So, when people are voting to maintain the definition of marriage as one man and one woman, they are not voting to discriminate. It is fair and just for citizens to vote on this issue.

Some may say that our military is the prime example of discrimination with “Don’t ask Don’t tell”. I believe that is an example of the opposite of discrimination because it takes the topic of sexual preference and throws it out the window… because it’s not relevant to the job if your do your job well. And President Obama, whom I voted for, has affirmed that this is the right policy for our military.

Comparing homosexual marriage to racial comments that Dr. Falwell said in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1958 (back woods in those days) is not fair. Race and gender are inherently a matter of civil rights; however who you choose to have as a sexual partner is not. It is also important to note that Jerry Falwell did not hold on to those sentiments as he matured in his role as a cultural leader. His school and my alma mater, Liberty University is a culturally diverse school where plenty of interracial marriages became a reality (including my friend Joy). I didn’t agree with a lot of things that Jerry said, but I can safely say that he wasn’t a racist. Back to the point, people do discriminate against another, but that happens all the time… and mostly because one person just doesn’t like the other. There should be laws protecting us from this type of discrimination… and there are. Homosexual marriage is another issue all together. I believe it’s totally fair and just for homosexual relationships to be recognized, but as a new and equal-in-rights type category.

Marriage has been around in various forms before organized religion, however it is probably clear to most people that the basis of what our government adopted as marriage is rooted in a Judeo-Christian tradition. Since then, other cultural influences on marriage were accepted and sanctioned by our state governments, but still as one man and one woman. I understand your point that we cannot only credit the religious institutions with sanctioning marriage, I also don’t believe the government has the right to effectively re-define what marriage is to a religious institution.

I think Jeff’s comment about the lack of sanctity in marriage is a relevant one. Marriage vows are often treated lightly and it gets used for selfish purposes all the time. This is not helpful.

I’m not worried about a gay people in relationships teaching my children to be gay. Sociologically speaking, it has a lot more to do with the father’s relationship with a child (male or female). I also believe there is good data on natural/chemical explanations for homosexuality. I don’t care what religious views a person has about homosexuality being a sin or not (that’s a matter of religion). However, I do care that the democratic process has worked 31 times in a row… and a government for the people and by the people wants to leave the definition of marriage the way it is.