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Apartheid Dies Second Death
November 30, 2004 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Apartheid Dies Second Death A South African court has declared marriage discrimination to be unconstitutional, and has registered the union of Marie Fourie and Cecelia Bonthuys. Henceforth, marriage in South Africa will be defined as "the union of two persons to the exclusion of all others for life."
posted by expriest (37 comments total)

 
Man. Other countries really are leapfrogging us on this one.
posted by agregoli at 2:50 PM on November 30, 2004


While I'm ecstatic about this news, I really don't understand how lesbian marriage has anything to do with Apartheid, which was minorities oppressing the majority, not the other way around.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:58 PM on November 30, 2004


discrimination is discrimination, XQUZYPHYR.
posted by expriest at 3:01 PM on November 30, 2004


The irony is depressing.
posted by AlexReynolds at 3:03 PM on November 30, 2004


If discrimination is discrimination, then why should marriage be limited to two people?
posted by b1tr0t at 3:15 PM on November 30, 2004


"the union of two persons to the exclusion of all others for life."
Would that make divorce and remarriage illegal then?
posted by madajb at 3:16 PM on November 30, 2004


b1tr0t,

Because that's not discrimination. Discrimination means treating two people differently (and in this context, for no good reason). If the law allows everybody to marry exactly one person, that is not discrimination.

Oh, and don't pull out the "but everyone can marry a person, just not who they want" argument. The Supreme Court rejected that crap in Loving v. Virginia.
posted by expriest at 3:21 PM on November 30, 2004


"the union of two persons to the exclusion of all others for life." Would that make divorce and remarriage illegal then?

I don't know, but it looks like you can date in the afterlife.
posted by AlexReynolds at 3:32 PM on November 30, 2004


I'm not trying to argue against gay marriage, I'm trying to understand what is meant by "discrimination is discrimination."

Discrimination is literally the classifying of people into groups according to some criteria. As has previously been discussed elsewhere in mefi, polygamy has probably been a human norm for a lot longer than monogamy. Numerous religious groups consider consider polygamy one of their core beliefs. expriest seems ready to draw the line at polygamy and discriminate based on number and religious preference. Why is this a valid position?
posted by b1tr0t at 3:37 PM on November 30, 2004


Why is this a valid position?

Not speaking for anyone else here, but think it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate if that discrimination is to the clear betterment of society.

Permitting polygamy would necessarily concentrate available mates among the elite -- and most of that concentration will be among the rich. This would be a Bad Thing with big ol' capital letters. It always has been in recorded human history.

We also discriminate against close blood relatives getting married because that discrimination clearly betters society.

There is no such argument that can be made against homosexual marriage. That's not a form of discrimination that benefits society. And thus, such discrimination should be abolished. IMHO.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:48 PM on November 30, 2004


expriest seems ready to draw the line at polygamy and discriminate based on number and religious preference. Why is this a valid position?

Who said everyone agreed with it? One pointer might be that a number of pre-November gay marriage proponents in the US are now backtracking in support of unions. Freedom is a process. Jumping from same-sex unions to polygamy may take time. Clearly this country isn't mature enough to get to the first step, yet.
posted by AlexReynolds at 3:49 PM on November 30, 2004


Oh for god's sake. Can't we celebrate this without dragging in red herrings like polygamy? Next they'll be allowing us to marry our pets! (I know, I know, you're not trying to argue against gay marriage, but you're using exactly the same irrelevant analogies as those who are.)

Yay, South Africa! May we catch up soon!
posted by languagehat at 3:51 PM on November 30, 2004


get your piece of pie asap, world.
posted by Satapher at 4:27 PM on November 30, 2004


who the fuck cares if one guy has 4 wives... isnt there something rivoting, some TOURDEFORCE on tv?
posted by Satapher at 4:29 PM on November 30, 2004


Oh, and don't pull out the "but everyone can marry a person, just not who they want" argument. The Supreme Court rejected that crap in Loving v. Virginia.

And how is that different from "but everyone can enter a marriage union, just not of the size they want?"
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:38 PM on November 30, 2004


discrimination is discrimination, XQUZYPHYR.

But apartheid is only a subset of all possible forms of discrimination. I believe XQUZYPHYR's point was that, while banning gay marriage is discrimination, it is not apartheid.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:41 PM on November 30, 2004


Using the benefits society argument is the same slipper sloped argument the anti-gay crowd uses. It's just your opinion that it doesn't benefit society like it's just their opinion that gay marriage destroys the sanctity of marriage.

People like to portray gay marriage as a slippery slope that ends in bestiality, but there is actually a clear distinction there. Marriage is a contract, and you can't enter into a valid contract with a incompetent party. You can't enforce a contract with your horse or your favorite tree, and you won't be able to enforce a marriage with them either. However, there's no good reason that more than two people shouldn't be able decide to combine their income and property and become a single legal unit.
posted by betaray at 4:44 PM on November 30, 2004


"Permitting polygamy would necessarily concentrate available mates among the elite -- and most of that concentration will be among the rich. This would be a Bad Thing with big ol' capital letters."

Hardly. I have two primary polyamorous relationships, and I'm neither rich nor elite. I know many other polyamorous people, and they aren't incredibly wealthy either.

Most poly households that I know of don't make much per person above the averages you would expect for their ethnic backgrounds and educational levels, though I would say that they are more likely to be white and reasonably educated than average.

They do, however, have a somewhat higher standard of living than what you'd expect for their demographic, because they are able to pool three or more incomes to buy and share a house. They are less likely to raise kids, but when they do, they are able to share the parenting burden, which makes the choice career and children less of a conflict.

Due to their community-driven nature, they are probably more prone to embrace collective ways of accumulating money, such as bartering for goods or services, growing some of their own food, pooling their money for discounts, etc.

The rich are probably *less* likely to embrace an openly polygamous/polyamorous lifestyle, because they have more to lose should their reputation be tarnished. I do know of one small high-tech founder, one local politician, and one well-known musician who is polyamorous, but they're quite closeted about it, because if they weren't, it could effect their careers... and even then, the richest one is probably only worth about $12M, and that's chump change in the grand scheme of things.

As for the polygamists, they tend to be either Mormon or evangelical Christian, and aren't exactly rich either. The women are less likely to work good jobs, but more likely to homeschool. Again, not the domain of the elite or rich.

Trust me... the elite and rich already have relatively discreet (if somewhat pathetic) ways of expressing their interest in multiple people at the same time. They don't need to embrace alternative relationships in order to do it. Many of them would find such an idea uncouth. Others would see the difficulties of doing so for someone in their situation, and be quietly envious.

In either case, I don't expect the rich will openly push for the right to build their own harems anytime soon.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:48 PM on November 30, 2004


Wow, first New Paltz and now this... incrementalism does have its rewards, I suppose. Yay!

Good headline, expriest!
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:54 PM on November 30, 2004


I suppose if you had a bunch of mistresses (or misters) who endoresed the heavy use of cell phones, that would be a Pro Call Harum?
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:56 PM on November 30, 2004


But apartheid is only a subset of all possible forms of discrimination. I believe XQUZYPHYR's point was that, while banning gay marriage is discrimination, it is not apartheid.

That was sorta my point. I wasn't trying to derail, but the analogy simply makes no sense, that's all. Civil rights is fighting for equality against a status quo which entails discrimination. Apartheid was fighting for equality following the deliberate imposition of racist law. If Bush signed a bill stating that as of Monday, gays couldn't vote because teh gay=sUx0rz, I'd understand an analogy to Apartheid. But gay rights is about acquiring rights, not restoring ones previously stripped away. On a side note, this entire conversation is completely irrelevant to the actual issue and I'm sorry I brought it up in the first place. Now who wants ice cream?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:40 PM on November 30, 2004


Canada could hurry up a little bit as well.

And don't hold your breath on America. I mean, c'mon, it's America.

(I just had some candy cane ice cream, XQUZYPHRYR, by the way.)
posted by Kleptophoria! at 5:44 PM on November 30, 2004


Yeah, as far as civil right in America I think we had our day and may just be sliding into mediocrity, just cause we where the first modern global democracy doesn't make it the best, hell who uses Windows 1.x? Good on S.A., if they can pull their collective self together it could be quite the country in 50 years or so.
posted by edgeways at 6:01 PM on November 30, 2004


I think bringing up apartheid in this case is relevant, simply because one of the defining aspects of apartheid was the illegality of mixed-race marriages. During the much protested 1971 tour of Australia by the South African rugby team, an Australian mixed-race couple booked a room in the same hotel the team were staying in to taunt them..."how would these racists feel staying in a room next door to a black person and a white person who are married??" With the crumbling of apartheid came the destruction of laws banning mixed-race marriage, and this decision on gay couples could well be interpreted as the next logical step down that road.

Apartheid was fighting for equality following the deliberate imposition of racist law.

I'm sure that's not what you meant to say, X, but in any case apartheid was that racist law, not the fight against it.

just cause we where the first modern global democracy doesn't make it the best

It's a bit like NTSC vs. PAL, isn't it? US had TV first, and came up with NTSC. Other countries took a bit longer, but the standard they achieved was superior. Substitute democracy for television.

posted by Jimbob at 6:17 PM on November 30, 2004


I believe XQUZYPHYR's point was that, while banning gay marriage is discrimination, it is not apartheid.

My take is that because apartheid was supposed to mean "separate but equal" (even though we all know just how equal it really was), the whole "marriage" vs. "civil union" (or other euphemisms) is no different from "separate but equal", and likely would be no different in practice. In other words, calling something by another name in order to place it on a different level of importance. Personally, I think the legal part for ANY marriage should be a civil union, regardless of the gender (or number, for that matter) of the participants. If some religious folks want to protect the word "marriage", then let 'em, just don't call same-sex marriage something different from opposite-sex marriage, the contract and all attendant rights should be the same, and so should the name.
posted by biscotti at 6:21 PM on November 30, 2004


This whole apartheid thing is really useless. It's the most arbitrary argument ever. EVAR, as they say in INTARWEB SPE4K.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 6:45 PM on November 30, 2004


If discrimination is discrimination, then why should marriage be limited to two people?

WTF has that to do with anything at all about SA's ruling?

Allow me to answer: absolfuckinglutelynothing.

Thanks for playing anyway, though.

Oh, and Yay South Africa!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:17 PM on November 30, 2004


the first modern global democracy

What an amazing ego. Your country has a global democracy, eh?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:19 PM on November 30, 2004


My point in bringing up apartheid is to to emphasize the irony of the fact that a nation which once faced the most brutal bigotry has now leaped ahead of the United States in recognizing the equality of all humanity.
posted by expriest at 7:29 PM on November 30, 2004


Not speaking for anyone else here, but think it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate if that discrimination is to the clear betterment of society.

Really now.... and who defines "the clear betterment of society" ? You?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:49 PM on November 30, 2004


If the law allows everybody to marry exactly one person, that is not discrimination.

OK, so none of the laws in the U.S. regarding marriage is discriminatory. I can marry one person if I so choose. In fact, all Americans of proper age can marry someone of the opposite sex.
posted by oaf at 9:02 PM on November 30, 2004


Really now.... and who defines "the clear betterment of society" ? You?

No, not me. As to who: the judiciary. Rights are always determined by the judiciary.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:51 PM on November 30, 2004


biscotti - I agree with you, mostly, except for the bit about using the same word for marriage or civil union. Here's why:

(I could be wrong - which is why I am being so general. If you find a flaw in my post, please let me know)

It used to be in America that if you wanted to live with someone, you lived with them, and if you wanted to marry them, you would go to a church or synagogue or other house of worship, and do it before God. Marriage was once a religious institution. And for some people, it still is.

This was before the government had created taxation schemes and other laws that treated "married" people differently. Things were simpler then.

Then some white people wanted to marry black people, and some other white people got upset about it. So to make sure "activist preachers" wouldn't allow race-mixing marriages, they made their states pass laws saying that people needed a license to marry. So for the first time in America, (sometime in the 1800s) you needed the permission of the government to marry.

I don't remember what year Congress passed the law that said every state had to do marriage licenses, but it was sometime in the early 20th century.

Anyway, since that time, the tax code and other laws have come to treat married people differently.

If there were no special treatment for married people in laws, and if the government did not license marriage, there would be no national debate about gay marriage. There might be religious debates about it, though. Those houses of worship that wanted to marry gay people could do so. Those that didn't want to would not do so.

People that don't want to get married could live together, and create civil unions, if they so desired. Married people could also create civil unions with their spouses.

It will probably never happen in my lifetime, but I would just as soon see the government get out of marriage licensing, and instead issuing civil union licenses to everyone who asks - heterosexual, homosexual, whatever. And those that felt the need to solemnify their union could do so at a wedding in a house of worship. Those that choose not to worship but still want to throw a party can do whatever they want and have a lot of fun. And if they - straight, gay, whatever - want to call their own union a marriage, I'm not going to stop them. It should be a free country. I don't have to agree with them either, but in the end it's not my business anyway, and even so, disagreeing with them doesn't change the fact that they live together and probably love each other very much.
posted by bugmuncher at 10:25 PM on November 30, 2004


"If the law allows everybody to marry exactly one person, that is not discrimination."

By that logic, if the law decided that it would only honor Christian marriages, and that everyone else would live in sin and would be ineligible for any of the legal protections of marriage... well, that wouldn't be discrimination either, would it?! After all, anyone could get married.

I am in two primary relationships with two great women, one of whom I am married to. After a yearlong courtship, we have decided to live together and make a home together as one family. That said, if I get my new partner pregant, neither I nor my other partner have the kind of clear legal rights that others have available to them through marriage.

It sure feels like discrimination to me.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:20 AM on December 1, 2004


The use of the term "apartheid" is probably just a reference to how far South Africa has come in some in just 10 years. But there is still much that is wrong. And apartheid was not a law, it was a policy implemented in a number of laws.

Also, for those who are pronouncing apartheid like Bono (apart-height), don't. It's pronounced "apart-hate", as the "ei" in Dutch and Afrikaans is an "ay" sound and the "d" is a "t".
posted by quiet at 2:34 AM on December 1, 2004


So not only is gay marriage becoming legal in South Africa, but isn't Edwin Cameron openly gay?

Amazing. Absolutely completely amazing.

I had the pleasure of going to South Africa a few years ago, and all I can say is that it is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen with some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. If you ever get the change to go, I can't recommend it enough.

And sadly, this is another reminder that although I love this country (USA), I am completely ashamed of it.
posted by hummus at 7:59 AM on December 1, 2004


Rights are inherent and supposedly self evident.
posted by betaray at 7:27 PM on December 1, 2004


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