Separate but equal is inherently unequal”
February 9, 2004 5:51 PM   Subscribe

Kerry OK with amendment against gay marriage if the "language" is OK. On NPR today, (Audio file located at the bottom of the page) Kerry allowed for the possibility of supporting just such an amendment. More inside...
posted by EmoChild (60 comments total)
 
What is wrong with such an amendment?
Can't we just have civil unions for "them" and be done with it?

The reason it is a huge deal is the same reason it would be immoral to call white people "citizens" and black people "residents" even if they had the same basic rights.
If we crafted an amendment saying that from hence forth, all states shall never refer to black people as "citizens" but they shall enjoy the same rights as white people; it would rightly be denounced.
"Separate but equal" has a very ugly history in our country. To allow for a constitutional amendment that enshrines that failed and divisive concept is reprehensible and dangerous.
I know Kerry has said that he is "personally opposed to gay marriage" but to even entertain for a moment a constitutional amendment that creates a second class citizen is beyond mere personal beliefs.
Much like the segregation apologists from decades past, history will rightfully vilify Kerry for taking this politically expedient position.

Of course you all may have a different opinion. :-)
posted by EmoChild at 6:03 PM on February 9, 2004


whatever, he's trying to be electable, leave him alone.
posted by jbou at 8:39 PM on February 9, 2004


yeah. who cares if he's a hypocrite...
posted by Durwood at 8:42 PM on February 9, 2004


Provided the laws are the same, and the treatment is the same, what it really boils down to is a matter of semantics. Ok, you religious folk get to "keep" the word marriage. Yeah, how long's that gonna last before people start referring to gay "civil unions" as the m-word just because it's easier.

But a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the church a kind of copyright over the definition of marriage -- well, that seems a bit absurd. If marriage is defined as a religious institution, what does the government have any business doing making amendments over it at all? Aren't church and state supposed to be separate?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:45 PM on February 9, 2004


Well, gay constituencies will have to make the choice about whether or not they can accept the role of sacrificial lamb to the angry god of American politics - an ugly god, yes.

But is John Kerry a worse fate than George W. Bush ?
posted by troutfishing at 8:49 PM on February 9, 2004


What he said was that the word wasn't what we should be worrying about. He said gay and lesbian unions should have the same rights and privileges as marriage.

Everyone is going to split hairs over this. If civil unions have the same rights as marriage, I'd say that's a great start.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:49 PM on February 9, 2004


I'm personally opposed to all marriage. I propose they reword it for everyone to be "a union of highly variable civility, durability and exclusivity, engaged in to obtain perceived but perhaps unrealistic benefits whilst ignoring real but denied costs, that is recognized by the state".

At least with a civil union they recognize that you need to be friends after the passions dies out and that you will be paying dues. With marriage I have a nagging suspicion somebody way back made a spelling mistake when they meant to say mirage.
posted by srboisvert at 8:51 PM on February 9, 2004


God I hate, hate, hate the "semantics" argument. I really feel like I'm being told "Look at it this way -- your water fountain will be shiny and new! They're gonna have to keep using the OLD ones!"

This is shocking and dismaying to me; I wasn't 100% in his camp yet, but Kerry was starting to look a whole lot like my president -- until now. Now he's looking like another asshole caving into a religious agenda that has no place in American politics. Make no mistake: The Christian Right decided that gay marriages would be their primary battleground towards the creation of a non-secular state, and somehow, they've managed to convince most politicians that they've got a right to wage this battle when they just don't. Discrimination against a non-criminal class of American citizens is against American law and that is the end of the story. Uphold the Constitution -- without dicking it up -- and move the hell on.

On preview: Don't get me wrong, I'll vote for John Kerry a thousand times before I'll vote for George W. Bush. But if Kerry lets a constitutional amendment get through, I'll be disgusted, betrayed, and outraged beyond belief.
posted by logovisual at 8:52 PM on February 9, 2004


Kerry's going to get toasted.

Which is one reason why I'm behind Edwards. Don't blame me when the Conservatives unleash the talk about how Kerry flip-flops, how Kerry supports a tax hike, how Kerry was protester in Vietnam and how Kerry is a liberal. I didn't vote for the guy in Missouri.

Just wait until they start saying he supports Gay Marriage. Just more of him to be grilled.

That being said about Kerry, if he is nominated, I'd prefer him over Bush.
posted by RobbieFal at 8:54 PM on February 9, 2004


EmoChild - Yes, it's unjust. But, as y6y6y6 just remarked - civil unions would be a good start. They would not amount to full marriage rights, no.

I would advocate a strategy of pooling financial resources to defeat those politicians who are the most outspoken political opponents of gay rights : one by one.

Massed firepower, and choose the targets strategically.
posted by troutfishing at 8:57 PM on February 9, 2004


Aren't church and state supposed to be separate?

Constitutional amendments are not subservient to other parts of the Constitution. Which indeed is the really scary thing here. The first case brought under this new amendment before the Supreme Court would effectively require it to balance the First Amendment's anti-establishment clause against the 28th Amendment's codification of marriage. It would not be illogical for them to hold that the new amendment, at least to some degree, effectively repeals the anti-establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Here's the text of H.J. Res. 56 which codifies the actual text of the amendment:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Also, note that the amendment also pre-empts the Full Faith and Credit Clause, Art. IV, Sec. 1: "Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof."

Again, really freaking scary.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:59 PM on February 9, 2004


Seems to me that the easiest solution is to call the legal union a "civil union" and the religious one a "marriage", and have the genders of those involved play no part whatsoever...or call them both "louie". "Separate but equal" is creepy no matter how you slice it, and is exactly like logovisual's water fountain analogy.

The more I hear about this topic, with all the hatemongering, fearmongering, "defense of marriage" idiocy and talk of constitutional amendments to prevent citizens from having equal rights, the more I think this country is just plain crazy. You can have my bigotry when you pry it from my cold, dead hand.
posted by biscotti at 9:00 PM on February 9, 2004


Will straight people be able to get these "unions" instead of the tired, church-backed marriages?
posted by The God Complex at 9:03 PM on February 9, 2004


God I hate, hate, hate the "semantics" argument. I really feel like I'm being told "Look at it this way -- your water fountain will be shiny and new! They're gonna have to keep using the OLD ones!"

My position on the "semantics" argument is kind of mixed. I don't want there to be "civil unions" because that's without question a form of "Seperate but equal."

My point of semantics is that the term "marriage" in and of itself, isn't anything that can be declared universal for gays and straights because it is so deeply rooted in religion. Churches cannot, and should not, be forced to accept views they disagree with, disagreeable as those opinions are. What needs to be done is not for the government to force "marriage" into the acceptance of gays, but remove "marriage" from government.

On paper, in actual legalise, "marriage" clearly shouldn't exist. It should be a term that is purely semantic. That is the only way that unity can exist in unions for straights and gays- by eliminating religion terminology from legal rhetoric. If/when that happens, churches can accept or deny whoever they want, but gays can call their unions "marriages" just as much as the straights will.

This of course will never work, sadly, because as you alluded to in your own comment, the entire point behind the Marriage Amendment is to infuse religiously-indoctrinated beliefs into American law, not remove them. Just like other terms achieving their own adaptations, gays may or may not come up with a word to describe a union of two men as opposed to a man and a woman. What matters is that the word everyone wants to be man/woman only not be the word written in law.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:11 PM on February 9, 2004


Aren't church and state supposed to be separate

I think the government should just be granting civil unions to any couple, gay or straight. It has always bothered me that the government issues "marriage licenses." Marriage definitely has religious connotations.

So all couples would be granted their civil union status, and that would be legally binding for tax and insurance purposes (plus medical decisions, next-of-kin and all that). Interested couples could then seek a marriage certificate from a church. But that would just be a flowery document for the wedding album.

On preview, what everybody else said.
posted by whatnot at 9:16 PM on February 9, 2004


Having listened to the NPR piece on Kerry, I better understand his position: he's against gay "marriage" because "marriage" is a concept reserved to the church. OK, I get that part. But his approach is horrendous. Hearing him not give a definitive "no" to the "would you support an amendment" question makes me sick.

It may be late, but it's time to switch to Edwards. We just can't afford this kind of crap. Especially this year.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:18 PM on February 9, 2004


logovisual said:
On preview: Don't get me wrong, I'll vote for John Kerry a thousand times before I'll vote for George W. Bush. But if Kerry lets a constitutional amendment get through, I'll be disgusted, betrayed, and outraged beyond belief.

Although I have said things to the contrary during heated moments of partisan passion (sounds like bad romance novel doesn't it?). I would agree with your pragmatic approach logovisual.
If Kerry becomes the nominee and President, we'll just have to hold his feet to the fire to prevent such nonsense from ever happening.
posted by EmoChild at 9:23 PM on February 9, 2004


Christianity doesn't own 'marriage'. It exists in virtually all cultures, whatever religions are prevalent. Why should anti-homosexual Christians get to define the boundaries of 'marriage' to enforce their prejudices if Church and State are seperate?

I agree with EmoChild. It's like having the Klan sponsor a re-write of the constitution to subjugate the blacks.
posted by Blue Stone at 9:27 PM on February 9, 2004


grrr. well assuming he gets the nomination, you've either got bush who will definitely support a gay marriage ban or kerry who would sorta-might-probably-won't. at least we can be almost certain that kerry won't lie himself cross-eyed to start a war.

Christianity doesn't own 'marriage'. It exists in virtually all cultures, whatever religions are prevalent. Why should anti-homosexual Christians get to define the boundaries of 'marriage' to enforce their prejudices if Church and State are seperate?

you forget that these people are not bound by reason or thoughtfulness.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:30 PM on February 9, 2004


Will straight people be able to get these "unions" instead of the tired, church-backed marriages?

I hope so. Does anyone know whether there were couples who refused to get marriage licenses before Loving v. Virginia, on the reasoning that such a marriage would implicitly support such discrimination? That's how I feel about the sort of marriage advocated by these politicians: I'd rather abstain from marriage and fornicate with a free conscience -- or, hopefully, find a legal solution that's available to every couple, regardless of sexual orientation.

Of course, that's easier said than done. I put up a huge fight on the diamond issue that my sweetie will probably beat me to death if I come up with another excuse moral qualm, but what can you do?
posted by subgenius at 9:35 PM on February 9, 2004


crap, i was hoping to be able to vote for someone this election.

I know i should overlook this issue, and go for the majority of things in which he is better than bush, but I won't. This issue is too important to me. If you're willing to relegate a group to second class citizens I really don't give a flying fuck about your other positions, you cannot be trusted, and I'd rather not vote at all.
posted by rhyax at 9:35 PM on February 9, 2004


Dissing gays over the use of the word marriage? It's petty. It's pathetic. It's sad. Get over it, straight people. We might as well still be upset that they changed the definition of the word "gay."

I no longer like the use of the word marriage except regarding such relationships that claim to be marriages and actually last until after at least one of the spouses is dead. If they make it like twenty or thirty years and then actually activate the "until death do you part" portion of that ceremonial blah statement, THEN I think the couple have the right to say they experienced a true marriage. Anyone who has divorced, really doesn't have the right to claim they had a marriage. It's like saying you were in a race but you pulled off after a lap or two and went to see a movie instead. I say this, having been divorced, so I have some experience in this area.

There should be multiple levels of "marriage." And no one should be able to get a marriage until they actually accomplish these other levels of committment. I mean people should have to live together for a year, survive a few incidents where both pairs of parents are in the same room for more than an hour, and still love one another after they both find out the other one's been cheating on them. Then MAYBE they can claim to be married. No wait. They should have to get up at three in the morning and argue over whose turn it is to change the kid's diaper and then maybe after one of their kids makes it to college and the pair is still together? They haven't killed each other yet? THEN MAYBE they have achieved the right to call themselves married. MAYBE.

Marriage as it exists today is a JOKE. It means nothing. Oh I'm sure it means the world to the couple when they're actually married, before they start taking it and each other for granted. You can divorce one another at the drop of a hat. People who are against gay marriage fear that saying yes to homosexuals using the phrase will lessen the meaning of the concept. Heterosexuals rendered the concept of marriage as illegitimate several decades ago.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:36 PM on February 9, 2004


Why is this even being allowed to become an issue?
posted by shagoth at 9:42 PM on February 9, 2004


God I hate, hate, hate the "semantics" argument...Now he's looking like another asshole caving into a religious agenda that has no place in American politics.

What most people on your side of the fence sometimes seem to have no ability to realize is that the "give gays the same 'rights' and call it marriage, damnit!" movement is exactly as much about semantics and hacking the culture as the Christian Right's is. Probably more, because of the impetus towards changing the concept of what marriage is.

Kerry's position makes perfect sense: don't try to co-opt the cultural institution called marriage -- which is what's happening, and why so much ire is drawn -- create the legal vehicle for any parties to have the same legal benefits, and let the culture grow rather than trying to shape it.

you forget that these people are not bound by reason or thoughtfulness.

How xenophobic of you.
posted by namespan at 9:46 PM on February 9, 2004


When I was in high school I used to wonder how it was that people in the mainstream used to support -- publicly! -- legal discrimination against African-Americans. Now I see how it happens. I'm honestly horrified that people are seriously discussing a Constitutional Amendment for the sole purpose of discrimination. What a sad day.

(That said, I'm on the Anybody But Bush bandwagon. It's not like that jerk would be any better.)
posted by callmejay at 9:49 PM on February 9, 2004


EmoChild reminded me of something I wrote in email a while back:
If you argue that the name of it is a difference important enough to maintain, then you are necessarily depriving homosexual unions of something you acknowledge is important and valuable, meaning you are not creating an equivalent arrangement and are denying them the full legal benefits heterosexuals legally enjoy.

So either the name "marriage" makes no difference, in which case you should be willing to share it, or it does make a difference, in which case denying it to one type of union means they ARE being denied the benefits of marriage.
That said, keep in mind that a President has no direct role in amending the Constitution.
posted by NortonDC at 9:50 PM on February 9, 2004


> Will straight people be able to get these "unions" instead of the tired, church-backed marriages?

Sure, make them cheaper than a traditional marriage and watch people flock to them. 14% of Americans polled in 2001 claimed no religion as their religion. Give it enough time and a church marriage will only be for the zealots and those who can't do without all the pomp.

This is a really good opportunity to divest from the religious establishment by giving them their precious marriage and creating a secular equivalant that doesn't discriminate. I think the people against civil unions because of the percieved lack of equal rights are really missing out on what could be a positive social change for all involved.
posted by skallas at 9:56 PM on February 9, 2004


Will straight people be able to get these "unions" instead of the tired, church-backed marriages?

My Dad got re-married last year to the woman he was living with for seven years. They went to the county clerk's office and signed a form.

That's the limit to the legality of civil unionship. Everything else- the expensive ceremony of which the "sanctity" must be defended- is pure inconsequential hype.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:05 PM on February 9, 2004


Does anyone know whether there were couples who refused to get marriage licenses before Loving v. Virginia, on the reasoning that such a marriage would implicitly support such discrimination? That's how I feel about the sort of marriage advocated by these politicians: I'd rather abstain from marriage and fornicate with a free conscience -- or, hopefully, find a legal solution that's available to every couple, regardless of sexual orientation.

I can't say I know of any examples of single-race couples before Loving v. Virginia who refuse to get married for civil rights reasons. However, I did go to college with a male/female couple, Marshall Miller and Dorian Solot, who founded the Alternatives to Marriage Project to publicize their decision not to get married until gays are granted the same rights to marry as straights.
posted by jonp72 at 10:10 PM on February 9, 2004


How xenophobic of you.

thanks.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:12 PM on February 9, 2004


The "separate but equal" concept is offensive in hindsight, but actually almost a century ago it was the ONLY way to allow any resemblance of social change. Even that wasn't acceptable to some extremists, but it was one step towards what later led to civil rights for black people, and let's be honest, there's still a LOT of room for improvement there. We've come a long way from two water fountains and requiring that certain people go to the back of the bus. We still have a long way to go. It sometimes takes a few years for social change, and sometimes it takes generations.

Regarding gay marriages, I say in order to get the ball rolling, civil unions should be accepted, and let the religious right have the word "marriage" for now. They won't have it forever. They can't. It's too big. Over a period of time, which may take months, years or perhaps even decades, the differences will be disregarded, and future generations will set things more right than they are right now. People will eventually come to accept homosexual marriage simply out of simplicity. It's too much effort to keep them separate. Maybe YOU can't tolerate it, but perhaps your children, or your children's children. Eventually the hate and ignorance will give way to sensibility. History has proven this to be the inevitable way of things.

Take baby steps.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:24 PM on February 9, 2004


Feigns shock. A career politician being wishy washy? Flip-flopping? I am outraged. I mean, really.

But hey in this country it's about what's 'electable' not what's 'worth a damn'.
posted by xmutex at 10:42 PM on February 9, 2004


Re: H.J. Res. 56 -

What happens if a man and a woman get married and then one has a sex change? Instant divorce? What happens if they both are heterosexuals after the marriage?
posted by trondant at 10:49 PM on February 9, 2004


You know, when I get elected to public office, I definately think that I would favor a Constitutional amendment defining property such that only a legal biped can own trees. That way, when the amendment passes (gotcha!) only people can own trees. Nope, no dog owned trees allowed. Dogs can piss on them, poop under them, enjoy their shade, but, by God, only bipeds can own those leafy lumps of joy.

Another thing: Only churches can offer indulgences. Do any of you believe that that's the only way to enter heaven? Would a Constitutional amendment protecting church rights to co-op indulgences convince you otherwise? If I were running for office, and someone decided that church control of indulgences was an important issue, then I'd damn well be in favor of it to.

It surprises me how many people in this thread think:

A) that a constitutional amendment is a given if it has the support of the President. That isn't how it works, folks.

B) that many will argue that the term or concept of "marraige" is outmoded but dammit to hell, we want to own that concept too!!!

C) that this is an issue at all if what is granted to homosexual couples (or heterosexual couples with a civil bond) are the same rights and privelages of those who are "married". Why fight over the word when the rights and protections are the friggin issue ... unless you really do want to destroy the supposed sanctity of "marraige", in which case I think you're really trying to force the religiously offended to see things your way, and that's so much self-rightious folderol isn't it?

D) that Kerry is a hypocrite for saying he would support a meaningless amendment that may or may not have any meaning at all unless the American people decide it does. Isn't that what an elected official is supposed to do ... support the will of the people? That would be in contrast to George the Second who thinks he knows what's right and will tell us what that is, regardless of our desires. Wake up folks. Being political is exactly what politics is about. If you think that a political candidate shouldn't be political than you live in a bizarro world and I pity you. Politics is administration of government in the often hostile winds of what is percieved as the people's will. If you've made that generally perjoritive in your mind, than I suggest you grow up. Kerry has said he would work for you (all of you), and George has promised to work for the religious right. If you support Democracy, where is your vote going?

(All that having been said, Edwards is still a fine alternative, as is Dean or Clark... until the primaries are over. Then its time to get mature about this. And for the record, political cynicism is becoming very unattractive to me. It actually helped most folk support the Contract on With America, caused people to believe in the nobility of Nader who would have been a lousy awful president alienating Congress and accomplishing next to nothing and it assisted GW and his goons into the White House.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:01 PM on February 9, 2004


The problem with "baby steps" in this case is that Constitutional amendments are a wee bit more difficult to get rid of than laws or court decisions. If the proposed amendment passes, my estimate is that 38 state legislatures and 2/3rds of Congress should be ready to vote to repeal it sometime around the turn of the next century.

I just don't think the country is ready to accept gay marriage at this point, and by forcing the issue I think supporters of gay rights are actually going to set back their cause quite substantially. It's impossible to overstate the extent to which this issue is energizing the religious right. If you're a liberal, think Florida election debacle. That might begin to give you a sense of the outrage many of them feel. They are going to turn out in droves to vote against any candidate for political office that publicly supports gay marriage. They also stand a decent chance, in my estimation, of enacting this constitutional amendment. If the democratic presidential nominee were to start giving impassioned speeches about granting gays the right to marry, the right will get even more freaked out and mobilized, and it will make the amendment that much more likely to pass.
posted by boltman at 11:07 PM on February 9, 2004


boltman, well said. I refer you all to the "Gays in the Military" debacle of 1992.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:15 PM on February 9, 2004


I just don't understand these people. it makes me so mad to see americans so blindly committed to taking away another group's freedoms. I bet folks 20-30 years down the line will look at bush, etc. the same way folks nowadays look back at wallace and thurmond.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:19 PM on February 9, 2004


Hopefully that doesn't mean they'll keep getting elected to the Senate for another 40 years.
posted by NortonDC at 11:22 PM on February 9, 2004


Can we change our minds about the South seceding? Perhaps it's time we dissolved this particular Civil Union.

*on reflection, what wulfgar! said*
posted by stevis at 11:22 PM on February 9, 2004


it makes me so mad to see americans so blindly committed to taking away another group's freedoms.

Minor quibble (not really) but the issue is one of denying another groups rights and freedoms, not taking them away. Gays have never had the right to legal protections in a coupled situation. If a Constitutional amendment takes away a word, but leaves open the possibility of legal rights and protections, then isn't it essentially meaningless?

For what its worth, I don't understand these people either, but this is a case where compromise may be necessary for progress. Not perfect, but it is the American way.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:25 PM on February 9, 2004


Well, I could care less about gay marrage. But the idea of a constitutional amendment banning it is repulsive to me as someone who belives that the US constitution actualy means something. You might as well urinate on it.
posted by delmoi at 11:44 PM on February 9, 2004


Of course, those of us who remember government class know that the President has no say in the constitutional process anyway. It's up to the house, senate, and then the people of at least 35 states. This gay marrage ban would never pass.
posted by delmoi at 11:47 PM on February 9, 2004


My Dad got re-married last year to the woman he was living with for seven years. They went to the county clerk's office and signed a form.

That's the limit to the legality of civil unionship. Everything else- the expensive ceremony of which the "sanctity" must be defended- is pure inconsequential hype.


Yes, I understand that, but under the law he is still "married", something that holds with it religious connotations. If they come up with these unions for homosexuals, it obviously won't only differ in ceremony, but also in record. Assumedly, one could have a lavish ceremony for one of these new unions, if one saw fit, but it would be categorized and filed as a union or whatever name it was given. I simply want to know if straight people will be allowed to get the same union so that they can do away with whole marriage business and all the exclusion and strife is carries with it.

As skallas said, I see this as a possible opportunity for those non-religious types to move away from the rhetoric of the church and form something entirely separate.
posted by The God Complex at 11:50 PM on February 9, 2004


Soylent green is Republican (light)!

"Give voters a choice between a Republican and a Republican, and they will choose a Republican every time." Sen. Paul Wellstone stating a quote attributed to Harry Truman.
posted by Goofyy at 1:02 AM on February 10, 2004


1) Marriage is a religious institution.*
2) The Constitution is explicit about the separation of church and state.
3) Kerry or our current un-president sign a Constitutional amendment proclaiming marriage between man and woman.
4) Constitution eats itself, is officially null and void, move along, nothing to see here.

Kerry is just another Poll-O-Crat whose only concern is getting elected. He's doing this to beat the 'Massachusets liberal' smear from the right, to appeal to the centrysts. I've been thinking that, with Dean likely out, I'd get behind Kerry if he could beat Bush. So much for all that.

*Whereas two people who've get the licence, sign the dotted line and pay lower taxes is a civil institution.
posted by moonbird at 5:32 AM on February 10, 2004


"I really feel like I'm being told "Look at it this way -- your water fountain will be shiny and new! They're gonna have to keep using the OLD ones!""

Touche. But marriage for gays is inevitable in this country. Just as getting the ten commandments out of courtrooms is inevitable. "Settling" for civil unions with all the rights of formal marriage isn't going to change that. It's just another victory in the fight for justice. I'm not saying take what you can get and shut up. I'm saying that getting equal rights under the law is a powerful wedge.

And personally, since I'll never get married in a church, I think marriage should be replaced by civil unions for everyone.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:33 AM on February 10, 2004


"If you think that a political candidate shouldn't be political than you live in a bizarro world and I pity you."

Well......... Actually that might be a good start as well.......
[/off topic]
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:38 AM on February 10, 2004


Kerry is just another Poll-O-Crat whose only concern is getting elected. He's doing this to beat the 'Massachusets liberal' smear from the right, to appeal to the centrysts. I've been thinking that, with Dean likely out, I'd get behind Kerry if he could beat Bush. So much for all that.

*watches Democratic campaign collapse under it's own righteousness*
posted by jonmc at 6:46 AM on February 10, 2004


Christianity doesn't own 'marriage'. It exists in virtually all cultures, whatever religions are prevalent. Why should anti-homosexual Christians get to define the boundaries of 'marriage' to enforce their prejudices if Church and State are seperate?

Actually, I think this is the point. It does exist in virtually all cultures, and has existed throughout history. And exists almost universally as a union between a man and a woman. Conservatives here are doing what conservatives do ... conserve. They do not see this as "enforcing prejudices", they see it as trying to stop an entirely new concept of marriage's "boundaries" from being enforced (as it is beginning to be by courts) without even a vote.

This isn't an action, it is a reaction. Supporters have tried to get gay marriage on ballots, but have been largely unsuccessful in efforts to get it passed using the legislative process (the majority of the country is simply against it). So now the judiciary is being approached - which would leave us with a hodge-podge of conflicting approaches. Conservatives are (possibly correctly) saying this is something that should be decided at the national level, and through the process of legislative debate.

They are not, in other words, attempting to enforce a new view of marriage, they are trying to stop a new one from being defined. Obviously, they believe they can win (or they wouldn't risk it). However, were I to give advice to my liberal friends, I'd say ... welcome the national debate. Use it to make strong, reasonable arguments. Persuade the American public. (Which can be persuaded, but not by using dismissive langauge, or condemning "Christians" for enforcing "predudice" simply because they are affirming the traditional view of marriage). Learn a bit of "framing".

And incidentally, before you attack me ... let me say that I have no problem with gay marriage - and have always, for instance, given my employees partner benefits, even before it was politically correct to do so. Any two people that love each other, and have the character and interior discipline to commit to one another for a lifetime ... should have the full support of the world in doing so. I have even persuaded a few of my more conservative friends of this position ... with coherent arguments, and an attitude that acknowledges and respects their perspective, but gently nudges them towards re-considering it.

The tone and content of most of the rhetoric in this thread will do nothing other than harden peole into their current positions. What supporters of gay marriage are trying to do is alter a traditional (and ancient) view of the institution. It is right to be required to make persuasive arguments to do so. There are pretty huge ramifications. Condemning or dismissing as "unenlightened" those who hold the view that has centuries of history behind it won't win the argument.

Here's the deal - an amendment like this would initiate a national debate that will take a good deal of time. It is an opportunity to persuade. If the amendment fails - it will mean the American people have been persuaded, and will open the door to national legislation that affirms gay marriage. Understand the opportunity, intelligently frame the debate, and elevate the discourse.
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:04 AM on February 10, 2004


(On preview: I'm gay and I enthusiastically support the idea of gay marriage, and I think Midas Mulligan makes some excellent points.)

One thing that bothers me about a federal marriage amendment is that it completely tramples on states' rights. Why should other states be able to tell the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts how to interpret its own constitution? Why not let the political process in Massachusetts take its course?

If opponents of gay marriage were logically consistent, they'd propose a constitutional amendment stating that no state shall be forced to recognize a same-sex marriage recognized by another state. This would take care of one of their fears -- that a couple will get married in Massachusetts and move to, say, South Carolina, and force South Carolina to recognize its marriage. I don't think I'd support such an amendment, but at least the anti-gay-marriage people wouldn't look like hypocrites.

Of course, the idea of states' rights has always been a cover for taking a stance on a particular issue. Antebellum southerners weren't the only proponents of states' rights; High Federalist New Englanders in the Hartford Convention of 1814 discussed seceding from the rest of the Union, too.
posted by Tin Man at 7:30 AM on February 10, 2004


I've been opposed to wishy-washy "civil union" nonsense, but some of the comments here have made me rethink that. What I'm thinking now, in fact, is that we should push for civil unions for gay couples, and, after securing that step, move on to removing "marriage" from the law books altogether. If the conservatives want to assert that marriage is a religious institution, I'm happy to let them have it. So we need to be sure that the government is only overseeing the civil institution of "civil union." A couple should be required to obtain a civil union to be considered joined under the law, and they may, at their option, also obtain a religious marriage at the church of their choice.

This pulls the rug out from one of the few semi-reasonable opposing views, which is that the effect of gay "marriage" would be to force churches to recognize unions that their faith will not permit. By making the state oversee solely civil unions, there is no requirement that any church must preside over marriages they find immoral. By the same token, any church that chooses to may sanctify a gay marriage, if it's acceptable to their faith.

I also agree with those who've said that forcing this to the stage of amending the constitution is the most dangerous course. It probably won't pass, but the damage if it does is huge. We all need to find some way to move forward without getting to that point.
posted by rusty at 7:40 AM on February 10, 2004


Actually, I think this is the point. It does exist in virtually all cultures, and has existed throughout history. And exists almost universally as a union between a man and a woman. Conservatives here are doing what conservatives do ... conserve.

Almost universally. Here we have "the tyrrany of the majority" rearing its ugly head though.

My church has performed and recognizes gay marriages, though they have no legal standing. The ultimate in separation of church and state -- or it would be if the hetero marriages it performed also had no legal standing. Which is not the case.

What happens to those gay marriages if the government somehow gains the authority to define "marriage"? Basically it's taking away the religious authority from a religious authority.

As far as I'm concerned, this is not "conserving" anything, it's breaking something.

I'm in favor of separating "marriage" from "civil union" entirely. Let any two schmucks be, um, unioned by the government -- the only way to get the tax breaks and other shtuff. Let any church perform weddings as they see fit and keep marriage as literally a religious thing. Don't tie them together. (Frankly this is what my fiancee and I have planned anyway -- courthouse union followed by religious ceremony sometime later.)
posted by Foosnark at 7:44 AM on February 10, 2004


If the amendment fails - it will mean the American people have been persuaded, and will open the door to national legislation that affirms gay marriage. Understand the opportunity, intelligently frame the debate, and elevate the discourse.

Good point. However, fighting the very proposal of an amendment whose main purpose is discrimination is not without value.

Condemning or dismissing as "unenlightened" those who hold the view that has centuries of history behind it won't win the argument.

Standing up and portraying discrimination for what it is should not be dismissed as unpractical, regardless of how ancient that discrimination may be.

Here's the real deal - traditional marriage supporters don't have to change the defintion of their own marriages. All they have to do is not discriminate against others who define their marriages using a different definition.
posted by jsonic at 7:48 AM on February 10, 2004


"And exists almost universally as a union between a man and a woman."

Midas, not to be dismissive of your argument, but considering that approximately 95% of the population is 'overtly' heterosexual, I think that the institution has to be 'almost universally' between a man and a woman by definition.

Allowing gays and lesbians and transgendered to marry under the law will not change the fact that marriage is and will always be 'almost universally' an institution between a man and a woman.

By your argument, in the early 1800s it could be said that blacks in the united states were 'almost universally' all slaves. Did that make it acceptable?

"they see it as trying to stop an entirely new concept of marriage's "boundaries" from being enforced (as it is beginning to be by courts) without even a vote."

I think you are taking a cultural norm and equating it with a boundary. Norms are not the same as boundaries. It is not the norm for an 86 year old to marry a 26 year old, but it happens and it is legal. Some would question it, but not most.

Likewise, many cultures in the history of the world have recognized relationships between same-sex couples.

As for the concept of 'activist judges' making the law 'without even a vote' - poppycock! It is the judicial branch's job to INTERPRET the law as it was written by the people.

The judges in this case are only saying, "Hey, you wrote the consitution people, you have to abide by what you wrote. What you wrote is that 'no second class citizens will be created in the state of Massachusettes.'"

There WAS a vote - a vote to approve the consitution, written by duly elected representatives of the people.

As for an 'entirely new concept of marriage's boundaries', the whole point of this debate is that until recently the law DID NOT state that marriage was between a man and a woman. According to the law (not custom), any two people DO have the right to marry.

Talk about acting without a vote, it is the local judges around this country denying marriage licenses to people who have every right to get married under the law, forcing those who wish to get married into the courts to demand their rights.

The one and only reason for this proposed amendment is to DENY rights. If those rights didn't exist already, there would be no need for an amendment to take them away, would there?
posted by PigAlien at 8:07 AM on February 10, 2004


That should be 'DO have the right to marry in states without 'Defense of Biggotry Acts'' and DID in the rest before they passed their DOBA laws'.
posted by PigAlien at 8:11 AM on February 10, 2004


Nothing quite like a Constitutional amendment to *restrict* rights. *sigh*
posted by infowar at 8:17 AM on February 10, 2004


MidasMulligan, you need to pick one: either the people you describe proposing this amendment are conservatives trying to conserve or they are reactionaries trying to implement changes. Those would be distinct groups.

I know how I would define them, since they are trying to change the Constitution.
posted by NortonDC at 8:32 AM on February 10, 2004


I think you are taking a cultural norm and equating it with a boundary.

I think MidasMulligan was merely pointing out the opposition's perspective on this.
posted by rocketman at 8:38 AM on February 10, 2004


What rusty said. The more I think about this the more I think marraige is the problem rather than the solution.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:00 AM on February 10, 2004


Dolly Parton (surprisingly) said it best. When asked what she thought about lesbian and gay marriage, she said something to the effect: "Why shouldn't homosexuals be as miserable as the rest of us married people?"
posted by Danf at 9:14 AM on February 10, 2004


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