Join 3,494 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


... add the phrase, “who are capable of having children with one another” to the legal definition of marriage...
February 4, 2007 5:50 AM   Subscribe

Washington Initiative Requires Proof of Procreation From Married Couples -- in response to a ruling made by the Washington Supreme Court last year stating gay and lesbian couples could be prevented from marrying by the state because Washington has a legitimate interest in preserving marriage for couples who can procreate. It's been accepted by their Secy of State, and only needs signatures now to get on the ballot. Press release here, which adds: The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine. If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who can not or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage.
posted by amberglow (152 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
from the release too: If passed by Washington voters, I-957 would:

* add the phrase, “who are capable of having children with one another” to the legal definition of marriage;
* require that couples married in Washington file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled;
* require that couples married out of state file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage classed as “unrecognized;”
* establish a process for filing proof of procreation; and
* make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognized marriage to receive marriage benefits.

This initiative is the first of three that WA-DOMA has planned for upcoming years. The other two would prohibit divorce or separation when a married couple has children together, and make having a child together the equivalent of marriage.

posted by amberglow at 5:52 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is interesting, but despicable. Trying to further deprive your opponents of freedom as they have denied it to you is not a good way to fight for human rights.
posted by tehloki at 6:13 AM on February 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


One admires, slightly, whenever someone musters the balls to propose legislation with the sole purpose of parodying or mocking an opponent's position—but one is always slightly worried that the pardoy will not prove deep enough, and the measure will be passed enthusiastically, and the proposer invited to a very awkwardly triumphant victory party.
posted by adoarns at 6:23 AM on February 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


tehloki, if this is further deprivation, what was the first salvo?

and actually, I think this tactic is pretty smart.
complacency does not get fought by preaching.

so long as people are willing to watch subsets of the population to be legislated against ('hey, it doesn't affect me' attitude), more drastic measures need be taken.

I mean, what is the 'good way' to fight for them?
posted by Busithoth at 6:25 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


There is no "good" in this. One group is a bunch of self-righteous assholes who believe that who other people fuck is some big national issue which needs to be legislated away from "deviance", and the other side seems to be a bunch of vengeful, obtuse people with no sense of irony.

How does this combat the outright lack of (and the steady loss of) universal human rights? Do you protest the killing of kittens by killing puppies?
posted by tehloki at 6:30 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


mark this date on the calendar - it's the date when the culture wars jumped the shark
posted by pyramid termite at 6:31 AM on February 4, 2007


I guess I just like the idea of forcing people to participate more in local legislation, seeing as how it does, in fact, directly affect them, even if it's not all shiny.

and if you kill the puppies of people who kill kittens, maybe a lesson would be learned...
posted by Busithoth at 6:45 AM on February 4, 2007


This would be awesome if it passed. Talk about shooting your (anti-gay) cause in the foot: They'd have so many heterosexual couples up in arms *and* so many conservative couples suddenly dumped out of their marriages... It would definitely prove the point about how ludicrous it is to try to define marriage as much more than "a union between two people who love one another."

One would hope.
posted by chasing at 6:51 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I find this totally acceptable. All of the specious arguments the right wing has used should have consequences.

There is a reason why we have equal protection under the law.. not just protection for 'me' and not for ppl 'i' don't like.
posted by MrLint at 6:57 AM on February 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


LOL Xtians.

Michigan's same-sex marriage initiative appears to be costing *straight* couples their domestic partner benefits. Exactly as it should be. Only when a majority recognizes that tyrannizing minorities has consequences for them will the costs of bigotry be properly accounted for.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:59 AM on February 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


The government should get out of the business of licensing marriages. But then the government should get out of a lot of other stuff too, and it isn't going to happen.
posted by jfuller at 6:59 AM on February 4, 2007


I'm all for this initiative if it makes even one person think about the hypocrisy involved in their arguments against gay marriage.

I live in WA; I'll sign it.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:00 AM on February 4, 2007


I find this totally acceptable. All of the specious arguments the right wing has used should have consequences.

It's not just the right wing--it's the Judges in WA who made procreation the reason for marriage to be restricted to heterosexuals alone. (they did it here in NY too) If that's the reason we have civil marriage, then it really should be the reason, no? This both points out the lame reasons for discriminating against us, and forces them to live by their own definitions.
posted by amberglow at 7:02 AM on February 4, 2007


This should generate some interesting discussion in the Washingtons.
posted by caddis at 7:06 AM on February 4, 2007


That's peaking schadenfraude to "out of scale".

Here is the PDF to the pertaining WA SC pronuncement.

Some interesting quotes
However, we note that the record is replete with
examples as to how the definition of marriage negatively impacts gay and lesbian couples and their children. The plaintiffs and their amici have clearly demonstrated that many day-to-day decisions that are routine for married couples are more complex, more agonizing, and more costly for same-sex couples, unlike married couples
and more
As discussed above, however, the plaintiffs expressly requested that this court not consider whether denial of
statutory rights and obligations to same-sex couples that apply to married couples violates the state or federal constitution.
So WA SC was aware of the problemes suffered by homosexual couples, but was asked only about the constitutionality of DOMA, which was found not unconstitutional.

The State has an interest, so it's enforcement time with full force of law , can't use law only when you like it.
posted by elpapacito at 7:17 AM on February 4, 2007


Oh, my...I love this. I'm a straight, married born-again Washingtonian who has kids, and this may be the first initiative I've signed in years. Make those who would deprive ANYONE of their human rights eat their own dogfood. Yeah. Heehee!
posted by lhauser at 7:29 AM on February 4, 2007


I spent a couple years out of Washington, living in Texas. Now I'm back just in time to watch my dear Evergreen State lose its damn mind. First, the no smoking indoors business, now this Defense of Marriage madness. I'm just glad steps are now being taken to let some of the air out of these bigots' tires.

History will damn us for this era. This "are gay people human" controversy will shame our descendants.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:31 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Although this might be well-intentioned, this proposition is bad for a number of reasons:

1) It undercuts the moral authority of the pro-gay marriage position. By trying to limit the rights of those who are infertile, these activists are no better than the wingers that oppose them. What makes it extra hypocritical is that, like homosexuals, people who are infertile, with a few exceptions, didn't choose to be that way - nature just made them so.

2) There is no way a majority of people will vote to limit their own freedoms.

3) Even if this does pass, it will be overturned in Federal court as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution. Even if the WA Supreme Court thinks that procreation is a valid basis on which to allow state discrimination, that will not hold up at the federal level. Oh, and once the state loses at the district court level, they won't appeal.
posted by thewittyname at 7:33 AM on February 4, 2007


tehloki writes "nd the other side seems to be a bunch of vengeful, obtuse people with no sense of irony."

When someone starts treating you as a second-class citizen, when someone starts denying you the same rights they take for granted, I can only assume that you'll be nice to them. We have a reason for being vengeful, and it's thoroughly justified.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:35 AM on February 4, 2007


Trying to further deprive your opponents of freedom as they have denied it to you is not a good way to fight for human rights.

The name escapes me, but there's a famous letter written shortly after the Civil War from a now-former slave to his now-former master, in which he kindly and gently explains how he still admires his master and would be happy to return to the plantation to work for him. Included with the letter was an envelope and a bill for twenty years' back pay plus interest.

That's what I thought of when I read this FPP. And I smiled.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:40 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


> This would be awesome if it passed. Talk about shooting your (anti-gay) cause in the foot:
> They'd have so many heterosexual couples up in arms *and* so many conservative couples
> suddenly dumped out of their marriages... It would definitely prove the point about how ludicrous
> it is to try to define marriage as much more than "a union between two people who love
> one another."

If it got on the ballot and passed, it would be because all those heteros voted for the initiative. (Along with the other ones legalizing polygamy, lowering the age of consent to 12, and incorporating The Handmaid's Tale into the Washington state constitution.) They're not likely to be upset by what they voted for--if that's the outcome we get.

Alternatively, it gets on the ballot, is defeated 3,082,000 to 192 (191 in Seattle, 1 in Walla Walla,) the sponsors of the initiative end up with a fresh new load of egg (or whatever it is, it looks like egg) on their faces, and the whole episode of comical posturing gets memorialized and buried in a 500-comment thread on Fark.

Considering these alternatives, I'd say I have no dog in this fight. You go, Washington, I'm cool either way.
posted by jfuller at 7:41 AM on February 4, 2007


2. There is no way a majority of people will vote to limit their own freedoms.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:41 AM on February 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


and the other side seems to be a bunch of vengeful, obtuse people with no sense of irony.

No sense of irony? I'd argue they have too much of a sense of Irony.
posted by delmoi at 7:41 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, for heavens sake, thewittyname, what part of this are you misconstruing?

In response, a group of concerned citizens formed the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance this past August. Our agenda is to shine a very bright light on the injustice and prejudice that underlie the Andersen decision by giving that decision the full force of law. Over the next few years, we will propose three initiatives to the people, each focusing on a different aspect of Andersen. The first initiative will make procreation a requirement for legal marriage. The second would prohibit divorce or separation when a married couple has children together. The third would make having a child together the equivalent of marriage.

Each of the initiatives we get passed will, no doubt, be struck down as unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. Good; that is our ultimate goal. Each ruling against these initiatives will also be a ruling against the basis for keeping the state’s Defense of Marriage Act. Eventually, Andersen will fall apart under the weight of judicial opinion, and equal marriage – the marriage which we seek to defend – shall become a reality in this state.

The first of our initiatives, which would make procreation a requirement for legal marriage in Washington, was submitted to Secretary of State Sam Reed on January 9, 2007. On January 22, the final draft was accepted and assigned the serial number 957. To make the November ballot, we need to collect 224,880 valid signatures. To cover the likelihood that not all of the signatures will be valid, we have set a goal of 280,000.

For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation. The Washington Supreme Court echoed that claim in their lead ruling on Andersen v. King County. The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine. If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who can not or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage. And this is what the Defense of Marriage Initiative will do.

If you want to see equal marriage become a reality in Washington State, I urge you to support I-957. If we work together, we can do it.

posted by leftcoastbob at 7:42 AM on February 4, 2007


You're all missing the point. This bill isn't meant to be actually enforced. It is meant to spark a legal challenge that will highlight the hypocrisy of the prior anti-gay marriage ruling by the WA supreme count.
posted by zwemer at 7:45 AM on February 4, 2007


And good point, XQUZYPHYR.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:45 AM on February 4, 2007


2) There is no way a majority of people will vote to limit their own freedoms.

That's not true at all, people will vote to limit freedoms they don't care about, look at popular anti-gun legislation, or anti-drug legislation.

I realize the point of this law is to be wry commentary or something, but I think it would be better if people took marriage and having children more seriously, like if they were forced to take parenting classes or something. Is it really a good idea to just let people get married and have kids without putting much thought into it (like britney and k-fed)
posted by delmoi at 7:49 AM on February 4, 2007


leftcoastbob: I see your point. but it's a risky strategy, what if the court just says "ok" and lets the initiative stand?
posted by delmoi at 7:51 AM on February 4, 2007


DNAB: as an overprivileged white male, the sad thing is that I don't think I'll ever be taught that lesson. Maybe when they come for the Atheists, or the Pot Smokers, or the Libertarians, I'll have something to get really violently angry about. Until then, I still think that ironic backlash legislation is, while effective, a morally questionable means of protest.
posted by tehloki at 7:56 AM on February 4, 2007


Why? What is morally questionable about it? It's a reaction to precisely what these reactionary fucknuts say every day: marriage is about procreation. Fine, then put your money where your mouth is. I don't think there is anything morally questionable about telling these idiots to have the courage of their convictions.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:07 AM on February 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


From the WA-DOMA website: "it should be good fun to see the social conservatives who have long screamed that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation be forced to choke on their own rhetoric".

I couldn't agree more, although I hope it doesn't become another 'backlash' moment like the temporary San Francisco legalization of gay marriage. I think that little movement only HURT the steady progress of gay marriage equality.

(disclaimer, I'm gay and have no interest in 'marriage' as I'm not religious and see 'marriage' as a religious institution - just give me the same legal rights and call it whatever you want).
posted by matty at 8:12 AM on February 4, 2007


I'm with zwemer. The point is that it won't pass. The point is to prove to these idiots that "jeopardizes family" is not the real reason they oppose gay marriage. The reason they oppose it is because it's gay.
posted by dobbs at 8:16 AM on February 4, 2007


It is time for all these DINKs to get their come-upance for mocking parents as breeders. I for one am sick of these smug couples in their 6K square foot houses, taking off for fabulous destinations on a whim, driving giant 8 seater SUVs by themselves while looking down on people with kids; all the while enjoying all the tax and social bennefits of marriage. Go to pretty much any religous wedding and you'll find that having children is pretty much the point. Just read the Catholic liturgy. I predict the great mass of redstate america will endorse this legislation and it will be passed in like 20 states by the end of next year. Now pardon me I have to go wash out my F150 bed out, and get read for Superbowl XV.
posted by humanfont at 8:24 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe when they come for the Atheists, or the Pot Smokers, or the Libertarians, I'll have something to get really violently angry about

Uh, they've been coming for pot smokers for decades...
posted by delmoi at 8:24 AM on February 4, 2007


leftcoastbob: I see your point. but it's a risky strategy, what if the court just says "ok" and lets the initiative stand?
posted by delmoi


Just how risky is it? First, they need to collect 224,880 valid signatures. (Like that's gonna happen.) Next, in the unlikely scenario that it actually gets enough signatures, it needs to go to a vote. Only if it is approved by a majority of voters, will it need to pass through the courts.

I think that's a risk I can live with.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:34 AM on February 4, 2007


Would a receipt for an abortion qualify as “proof of procreation?”
posted by ijoshua at 8:37 AM on February 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


This is one interesting case of the soft bondage of lowered protestations. Apparently, it's not only the anti-gay marriage crowd who enjoy telling other people what to do.
posted by srboisvert at 8:48 AM on February 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


How does this combat the outright lack of (and the steady loss of) universal human rights? Do you protest the killing of kittens by killing puppies?

first of all, no one's getting killed. Second, this is not expanding or decreasing any population's rights; it's asking for consistency (if you're going to make it a law to kill kittens, you have to kill your own, too). If marriage is about procreation, then make your case. If it is not, then what is the actual argument against gay marriage based on?

The fact is, marriage was once about procreation, and annullment was originally an option precisely to handle a situation in which one of the partners was infertile. But the meaning of marriage has changed in the last few centuries, especially in the post industrial age, and nowadays most people see this and are immediately outraged that the government would meddle in such matters. Well guess what: that's exactly what a minority of citizens are already dealing with. The point here is, let's lay the cards on the table. What is the ban on gay marriage really about? How many people will support it once the issues are not vague background assumptions combined with a general discomfort or disinterest, but directly relevant to their lives?
posted by mdn at 8:49 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I still think that ironic backlash legislation is, while effective, a morally questionable means of protest.

When has this ever been effective? It's not like no one has ever fought for rights before, so we should have a pretty good idea by now of what works and what doesn't. Is there any historical precedent for something like this working? If not, I'd say it's immoral to be taking the risk with others' rights.
posted by scottreynen at 8:50 AM on February 4, 2007


Apparently, it's not only the anti-gay marriage crowd who enjoy telling other people what to do.

In this case, what we have is a group asking those who made the laws and arrived where they are now to actually LIVE by the laws. You know, equal enforcement and all that.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:03 AM on February 4, 2007


the Holy Sacrament of marriage has already suffered enough since the Negroes have been allowed by liberal judges to marry white people (a decision that, to add insult to injury, greatly increased the mongrelization of the races).

one does not want to worsen the situation even more, I suppose.
posted by matteo at 9:03 AM on February 4, 2007


I'm waiting for the legislation that states what we all know: that the primary purpose of marriage is to obtain fucking health insurance.
posted by stet at 9:04 AM on February 4, 2007 [4 favorites]


I love it how people are getting upset at the loss of straight people's rights, as if that's some kind of sacred bastion, without any sense of irony whatsoever. Rights only matter when their closer to home, is that it? It's okay to fuck with gay people's rights, but when you move into the childless straight people, whoa nelly! Watch where thou treadest!
posted by Hildegarde at 9:05 AM on February 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Lazy AND selfish.
posted by cytherea at 9:06 AM on February 4, 2007


I think this is a good way to keep the debate alive here in Washington. Gay marriage advocates seem to have exhausted their judicial options for now and we are not *quite* ready for a strong bill in the legislature. Forget about the initiative process to legalize gay marriage, outside Seattle this is serious redneck country. I don't think they'll have any problem getting 225,000 signatures in Seattle and there is no way this will pass state wide.

My only fear is that this might really turn out the redneck vote and who knows what other crazy shit they'll get on the ballot -- free guns in schools, mandatory church attendance, amnesty for meth lab owners?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:07 AM on February 4, 2007


This is so clever. I love it.
posted by Captaintripps at 9:11 AM on February 4, 2007


i enjoy an ironic chuckle as much as anyone, but the proponents of this initiative should take caution. as long as gay marriage is framed as "gays versus fundie christians" i support the gays. i voted against oregon's gay marriage ban (one of the very few people around here to do that) after a month of contemptible literature in my mailbox featuring pictures of dewy young families on picnic blankets declaiming that their entire way of life was threatened.

once the issue is reframed as "gays versus straights", once the gay marriage proponents seek to achieve their objective by attacking heterosexual marriage rights, i'll be voting the "straight ticket". the road to success for gay marriage proponents lies in isolating and marginalizing the christians, and this can be done with the help of the multitude of straight non-christians out here, including jews and pagans like myself, as long as care is taken not to threaten our own rights.

the gay marriage proponents have another problem. after the u.s. supreme court case from texas legalized alternative consensual sex (which i applauded) the ink on the opinion wasn't even dry before they pressed onward toward matrimony. this didn't sit well with many of the less progressive voters out there, who predictably backlashed. in a very real sense, the gay marriage proponents gave us george w. bush. i haven't figured out how to thank them appropriately for this.
posted by bruce at 9:14 AM on February 4, 2007


as long as care is taken not to threaten our own rights.

Me and Mrs. Bartfast will lose our marriage license under this legislation. This straight person is willing to take the hit for my gay friends and family.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:23 AM on February 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


the road to success for gay marriage proponents lies in isolating and marginalizing the christians, and this can be done with the help of the multitude of straight non-christians out here, including jews and pagans like myself, as long as care is taken not to threaten our own rights.

This isn't the Lord of the Rings.

The petition will likely get a lot of people talking seriously about the issue. That is undoubtedly a good thing.
posted by Pacheco at 9:28 AM on February 4, 2007


That sounded self-righteous. What I meant to say, is that many straight people who support gay marriage feel invested enough in the issue to make it personal.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:29 AM on February 4, 2007


my earlier comment that is.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:30 AM on February 4, 2007


in a very real sense, the gay marriage proponents gave us george w. bush

If you voted for Bush out of fear of equal rights, that's your personal failing, not anyone else's.
posted by scottreynen at 9:34 AM on February 4, 2007 [9 favorites]


bruce writes "once the issue is reframed as 'gays versus straights', once the gay marriage proponents seek to achieve their objective by attacking heterosexual marriage rights, i'll be voting the 'straight ticket'"

In other words, you're completely failing to understand the point.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:36 AM on February 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


The real point here is a pragmatic one. There are a number of ways to fight for gay rights, and this is just about the most moronic of them. It won't pass, not by a longshot, but don't think for a second that this is going to stay a Washington State issue. For Fox News and the Washington Times, not to mention James Dobson, Pat Robertson, and the GOP, Christmas is coming early this year. This shit is going to be everywhere, and its impact will be magnified tenfold if the initiative somehow makes it onto the ballot.

I think the initiative makes a damn good point about inequity and the cruel arbitrariness of the lines we've drawn to define marriage. I think these things need to be talked about. But those are the last things that anyone will be talking about. This will be all about hysterics. Nobody will be bringing up the issues. It will be a screaming match, it will scare away people who are on the fence about marriage equality, it will stymie the progress of gay rights everywhere in this country, and it will happen so swiftly, so completely, that the authors of this initiative will never know what hit them.
posted by duffell at 9:39 AM on February 4, 2007


Oh, I'm going to vote for this. The court battle alone will make great television.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:42 AM on February 4, 2007


In other words, you're completely failing to understand the point.

He is. And that's exactly how other potential supporters of equal rights will fail to understand the point, which is why this is a poor means of communicating the point.
posted by scottreynen at 9:46 AM on February 4, 2007


We have a reason for being vengeful, and it's thoroughly justified.

Martin Luther King Jr would disagree. You're going to have to see them as human and speak to them as people, not a batshitinsane fundies. You guys need a Rosa Parks.

Anyway:
Being a straight guy, I'm kinda amused about this Defense of Marriage line of thought. There's a lot of things that can wreck a marriage, money, drugs, alcohol, kids etc, but gay people? How the hell is two gay people gonna wreck MY marriage? Nia Long, Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johanson pledging their lives and bodies to me and me alone, that could wreck my marriage. Frank and Bill down the street, just trying to make a life together, occasionally borrowing my power tools? Whatever.

The divorce rate in America is 50%. Frank and Bill's well manicured lawn had nothing to with that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:48 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


The second would prohibit divorce or separation when a married couple has children together.

The funny/depressing thing about this one is that Virginia's resident "Family Values" crusader has actually proposed something similar.
posted by Partial Law at 9:50 AM on February 4, 2007


whoa nelly!

Uh-oh. You'd better hope dirtynumbangelboy doesn't see this...
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:03 AM on February 4, 2007


When stupid fights stupid, stupid usually wins.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:05 AM on February 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


[History] User talk:WA-DOMA
(cur) (last) 10:06 February 4 2007 Ryanrs (Talk | contribs) (Added warning re WP:POINT)
posted by ryanrs at 10:06 AM on February 4, 2007


In this case, what we have is a group asking those who made the laws and arrived where they are now to actually LIVE by the laws. You know, equal enforcement and all that.

Dude my point was that some people want to tell gays how to protest about the fact that some people want to tell gays how to live.

Making nice little boxes of "acceptable" for other people is fun whether it is protesting, cohabitating or my pet mefi peeve eating. The smaller the box the more fun!
posted by srboisvert at 10:42 AM on February 4, 2007


as long as care is taken not to threaten our own rights.


that's exactly why LBJ had to ram desegregation down the South's throat -- people like would never have voted for it in a referendum, they'd have voted for their team.


the gay marriage proponents gave us george w. bush.

No. 47.87% of the voters, Jeb Bush and five Supreme Court Republican Justices gave you George W. Bush -- blaming the unruly fags who kind of think they're as much US citizens as you are is a very cheap and odious form of scapegoating.

And anyway, Bush'll never threaten your straight-boy marriage rights, so you cannot really complain about him, can you.
posted by matteo at 10:43 AM on February 4, 2007 [6 favorites]


I think making them put their money where their mouth is will work. Because right now they get to hide behind the "it's for the children" argument, except that they've gone and literally made it about whether or not people can have kids. When you strip away all of that "for the children" bullshit and make the ugly, twisted soul of a bigot visible, it's a little easier to get things set right for people who are being deprived of their rights.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:59 AM on February 4, 2007


By John Lewis, 10/25/2003

FROM TIME to time, America comes to a crossroads. With confusion and controversy, it's hard to spot that moment. We need cool heads, warm hearts, and America's core principles to cleanse away the distractions.

We are now at such a crossroads over same-sex couples' freedom to marry. It is time to say forthrightly that the government's exclusion of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters from civil marriage officially degrades them and their families. It denies them the basic human right to marry the person they love. It denies them numerous legal protections for their families.

This discrimination is wrong. We cannot keep turning our backs on gay and lesbian Americans. I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I've heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred, and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.

Some say let's choose another route and give gay folks some legal rights but call it something other than marriage. We have been down that road before in this country. Separate is not equal. The rights to liberty and happiness belong to each of us and on the same terms, without regard to either skin color or sexual orientation.

Some say they are uncomfortable with the thought of gays and lesbians marrying. But our rights as Americans do not depend on the approval of others. Our rights depend on us being Americans.

Sometimes it takes courts to remind us of these basic principles. In 1948, when I was 8 years old, 30 states had bans on interracial marriage, courts had upheld the bans many times, and 90 percent of the public disapproved of those marriages, saying they were against the definition of marriage, against God's law. But that year, the California Supreme Court became the first court in America to strike down such a ban. Thank goodness some court finally had the courage to say that equal means equal, and others rightly followed, including the US Supreme Court 19 years later.

Some stand on the ground of religion, either demonizing gay people or suggesting that civil marriage is beyond the Constitution. But religious rites and civil rights are two separate entities. What's at stake here is legal marriage, not the freedom of every religion to decide on its own religious views and ceremonies.

I remember the words of John Kennedy when his presidential candidacy was challenged because of his faith: "I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant, nor Jewish -- where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the pope, the National Council of Churches, or any other ecclesiastical source -- where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials -- and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all."

Those words ring particularly true today. We hurt our fellow citizens and our community when we deny gay people civil marriage and its protections and responsibilities. Rather than divide and discriminate, let us come together and create one nation. We are all one people. We all live in the American house. We are all the American family. Let us recognize that the gay people living in our house share the same hopes, troubles, and dreams. It's time we treated them as equals, as family.

John Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia, was one of the original speakers at the 1963 March on Washington and is author of "Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement."
posted by robbyrobs at 11:06 AM on February 4, 2007 [7 favorites]


Politics=hate. Am I wrong here?

Political science 101 boiled down to a single aphorism: politics is who gets what, when and where. Or something like that.

Ideally, everyone should get to do what they want so long as it's not hurting others. That means people choosing to commit to exclusive long-term relationships, and sharing family resources and yes, to raising a family.

Why should it matter to some individuals - who are free to practise their religion and raise families according to the guidance of tradition and law - that some other individuals may choose to accept similar responsibilities, the only difference being the gender of the persons involved?

It should be easy to empower each of these types of individuals to raise children according to state laws and within basic standards of care and education. Especially in a world with more kids than caring parents as it is.
posted by crowman at 11:15 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm all for this initiative if it makes even one person think about the hypocrisy involved in their arguments against gay marriage.

Unfortunately I don't think the hypocrites will grasp that this is being done to expose their hypocrisy... Most fanatical right-wingers don't have a capacity for logical, reasoned thought... Everything is either black or white, good or evil, with them...

I don't think a light bulb is going to go on above their heads, with them realizing "Ohhh, now I understand that my beliefs are hypocritical!"... They will just use this as another "talking point" about how crazy and evil the "liberal gay agenda" is...

I'm a straight married woman with children... I support gay marriage... But I'm afraid this initiative, while well-intentioned, will backfire and cause the anti-gay crusaders to become even more rabid.
posted by amyms at 11:22 AM on February 4, 2007


I like this, actually (as a het Washingtonian). It will either fail to pass, indicating that the procreation argument is a lie (which we all know anyway). Or it will pass and be struck down, probably the best scenario, since it will produce judicial precedent undermining the DOMA ruling. Or it will pass and not be struck down, in which case a whole lot of previously-complacent couples will start working towards civil unions or other "marriage without the religious baggage" legal structures. That last is probably the least desirable option, since it fucks up the lives of a lot of people who are currently privileged and lucky enough to have legal protection of their family. But I think it's still a net win.
posted by hattifattener at 11:45 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yep, it's a net win. Those declaring this "bad politics" are being useless and whiny. If it does nothing else but stir up a shitstorm, then it's a win. And if it yields desirable results as hattifattener says, it also is a win. And if it gets voted in, upheld, and people's marriages start getting broken up: also a net win, actually. Because fuck those wealthy DINKs with their dual Microsoft incomes and large houses, driving up real estate prices so that a single guy like me can't afford to buy his own place...

I'm for politics that hurts people, because sometimes hurting a person is the only way to get their attention.
posted by hincandenza at 11:50 AM on February 4, 2007


Isn't precedence their end goal here? It doesn't matter what the intentions of the voters are, at some high court it's going to be shot down, and all future cases of this nature will be able to use it.
posted by spiderskull at 11:54 AM on February 4, 2007


[T]he Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance states that I-957 would ... establish a process for filing proof of procreation; and make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognized marriage to receive marriage benefits.

I do not think "defense" means what they think it means.
I do not think "marriage" means what they think it means.
posted by rob511 at 12:11 PM on February 4, 2007


geez, I'm at a national lab right now and that first link has been blocked because it's 'pornography.' It seems like a large chunk of all me-fi links are blocked here...maybe it's the blue background or something.
posted by lester the unlikely at 12:13 PM on February 4, 2007


An interesting take:

Initiative 957 is political street theater. We are taking the conservatives' own rhetoric, which became the basis of last year's state Supreme Court ruling, and beating them over the head with it.

Our choice of name came from one of our early ideas, to play ourselves up as wide-eyed conservatives trying to prevent screams of "Activist court!" Try to imagine Stephen Colbert sponsoring this. That idea fell by the wayside early but not until after we had filed papers with the state. Now, the official story is that we are "reclaiming" the initials and defending the cause of equal marriage.

If we can get I-957 on the ballot, we will have won. The bigoted meme of "marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation" will be the subject of discussion around the country. For the first time, conservative objections to equal marriage will be under the national microscope. This can only help further the cause of equality, as discrimination and injustice fear few things more than the spotlight.

It would be great if I-957 passes. The Supreme Court would no doubt strike it down, which would critically weaken, if not kill, the earlier Andersen ruling which prompted this initiative.

Most likely it will fail, and (hopefully) by the biggest margin in state history. At that point, I-957 is a referendum on Andersen, and any position rejected by 80% of the voters (90%? 100%) would have to be carefully considered by both the courts and the state Legislature.

But before the initiative can either pass or fail, it needs to get on the ballot. And we need the signatures of a lot of Washington voters to do that.

posted by duffell at 12:22 PM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think these things need to be talked about. But those are the last things that anyone will be talking about. This will be all about hysterics. Nobody will be bringing up the issues. It will be a screaming match, it will scare away people who are on the fence about marriage equality, it will stymie the progress of gay rights everywhere in this country, and it will happen so swiftly, so completely, that the authors of this initiative will never know what hit them.
That's already happened--it's too late. Washington and most other states already have state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage (and in many states civil unions, domestic partnerships, insurance and benefit sharing, etc as well). Straight people and couples and families are actually under attack from the same people who have made us 2nd-class--see here for just one small example--they've already moved on to adultery and tightening divorce laws.

The name is perfect, because it sounds just like the name of the rightwing groups who helped to pass all the amendments all over. It echoes their wording, and their spin--Defending Marriage.
posted by amberglow at 12:51 PM on February 4, 2007


We have a reason for being vengeful, and it's thoroughly justified.

ah, timeless wisdom as handed down through the ages.
posted by quonsar at 1:01 PM on February 4, 2007


The name of the group is the best part of this.
posted by grouse at 1:03 PM on February 4, 2007


they're actually making the words of the Governor real: ... "On the issue of gay marriage, Washington is a very diverse state and there are many strongly held opinions and personal feelings on this issue," said Governor Chris Gregoire. "First and foremost, I am asking for all Washingtonians to respect their fellow citizens. The Supreme Court has ruled and we must accept their decision whether we agree with it or not." ...

Accepting their decision means accepting their reasoning that marriage is for procreation. I hope we do something like this here in NY--our court used the same lame reasoning.
posted by amberglow at 1:12 PM on February 4, 2007


Having lived here long enough, I know exactly what will happen:

1. It will get on the ballot.
2. It will pass.
3. The State Supreme Court will uphold it, in whole or in part.
4. Which will trigger a round of initiatives that will effectively kill any chance at gay marriage in Washington for another generation.

This sort of vindictiveness always causes problems out here, because Washingtonians are independent, distrustful of others, and very mischevious. We love our political street theater out here. It's what distracts us from the rain (west of the Cascades) or our crushing poverty (east of the Cascades).
posted by dw at 1:16 PM on February 4, 2007


We have a reason for being vengeful, and it's thoroughly justified.

Yup. Because Rwanda and the millions of corpses strewn from Kigali to Kinshasa worked SO WELL in bringing about true and lasting change in Africa.

Sharpen your machete for you?
posted by dw at 1:18 PM on February 4, 2007


dw, how can they uphold it when it passes and it's proven to hurt all married couples without kids? Proof of procreation means a massive new infrastructure too will be needed, and inspectors to go around annulling tons of tons of existing marriages. There's no way they will uphold it--even tho they themselves made it happen. It'll be interesting to see.
posted by amberglow at 1:31 PM on February 4, 2007


What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

There is nothing "unfair" about this initiative at all.

If anything, it's more fair that the preceding conditions.
posted by rougy at 1:36 PM on February 4, 2007


Those declaring this "bad politics" are being useless and whiny.

no, they're just stating something that can be put in an old folk saying - "never get into a pissing contest with a skunk"

that bears repeating - "never get into a pissing contest with a skunk"

the wise will see this as wisdom ... the rest of you can continue pissing
posted by pyramid termite at 1:42 PM on February 4, 2007


from one of the dissents in the Andersen case (Fairhurst, pdf link at the article i posted above) : ...Contrary to the plurality’s discussion, this case does not present the issue of whether allowing opposite-sex couples the right to marry is rationally related to the State’s supposed interests in encouraging procreation, marriage for relationships that result in children, and traditional child rearing. Undoubtedly, state-sanctioned, opposite-sex marriage has a conceivable rational basis--some opposite-sex couples can procreate, and the State may have a legitimate interest in encouraging procreation and family stability by allowing such couples to marry. But DOMA in no way affects the right of opposite-sex couples to marry--the only intent and effect of DOMA was to explicitly deny same-sex couples the right to marry. Therefore, the question we are called upon to ask and answer here, which the plurality fails to do, is how excluding committed same-sex couples from the rights of civil marriage furthers any of the interests that the State has put forth. 20 Or, put another way, would giving same-sex couples the same right that opposite-sex couples enjoy injure the State’s interest in procreation and healthy child rearing? ... First, the plurality identifies encouraging procreation as a legitimate state interest. Plurality at 38-39. But there is no logical way that denying the right to marry to same-sex couples will encourage heterosexual couples to procreate with greater frequency. Second, the plurality points to encouraging marriage for relationships that result in children as a valid state interest. Id. But denying same-sex couples the right to marry also will not encourage couples who have children to marry or to stay married for the benefit of their children. Finally, the plurality declares that DOMA may be rationally related to the State’s interest in encouraging the raising of children in homes headed by opposite-sex couples. Plurality at 39. Even if such a goal is valid, which seems unlikely, denying same-sex couples the right to marry has no hope of increasing such child rearing. The denial of the right to marry to an entire class of persons is completely unrelated to the proffered state interests. Thus, DOMA is not merely underinclusive and/or overinclusive, it is wholly irrational. ...
posted by amberglow at 1:47 PM on February 4, 2007


Isn't it that the courts themselves have redefined marriage to be only about the children, and not about 2 people entering into an legal agreement?
posted by amberglow at 1:55 PM on February 4, 2007


dw, how can they uphold it when it passes and it's proven to hurt all married couples without kids?

Well, if they uphold in whole they will say that it does not hurt kids and that it holds to last year's precedent. They will also say that there are so many unmarried couples in the state that are covered by de facto common law statues on the books that this does not in any way hurt unmarried couples other than tax status, which at least one justice will then point to the Marriage Penalty as an example. Trust me, there's enough out there to uphold this in whole.

In part, well, they would probably do this:
* add the phrase, “who are capable of having children with one another” to the legal definition of marriage;
* require that couples married in Washington file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled;
* require that couples married out of state file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage classed as “unrecognized;”
* establish a process for filing proof of procreation;
and
* make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognized marriage to receive marriage benefits.


Both of these items would be in keeping with the state consitution. The rest would be considered onerous. The Court has defanged these initiatives before in similar ways.

Oh, and in doing so, the gay marriage ban is now sunk deeply into the state constitution. Thus, setting the movement back another 20 years.

Oh, and there's another problem here -- the "single subject" problem. The Court has repeatedly overturned initiatives they have felt are trying to do too many things at once. The most memorable example was I-695 getting flipped because it called for $30 cab tabs and voter approval for all future tax increases. Court said no, one or the other, not both, and out it went.

I would think you could make a very good case that points 1 and 5 are not of whole cloth. One alters the constitution, the other says another state's laws are not valid in state, but they are not directly related and are barely tangental. So, they could flip the initiative on a technicality (as they did with the Horse's Ass initiative), meaning that this entire round of street theater would signify nothing.

Trust me, the Court here is weird and fickle. They find bizzare precedents, then stick to them. This initiaitive will be challenged long before it goes to the ballot, which would short-circuit this entire debate.
posted by dw at 1:55 PM on February 4, 2007


Oh, and if it passes, it will not inflame the evangelicals (who have kids) but young urban DINKs, who are generally liberal and pro-gay.

In essence, in an effort to make a point to 5% percent of 80% of your opponents, you'll piss off 40% of your base. You'd be better off juggling operating chain saws.
posted by dw at 2:01 PM on February 4, 2007


Aren't we already set back 20 years? What worse could result?
posted by amberglow at 2:02 PM on February 4, 2007


Oh, and one more thing....

The push out here now is to extend "civil unions" to gays AND the elderly. This measure flies right in the face of that.

And I can see the court basically throwing this measure out before it ever hits the ballot because of ageism. And woo boy, the AARP would have a field day with that.
posted by dw at 2:04 PM on February 4, 2007


Aren't we already set back 20 years?

You really think that?

Doesn't Vermont have civil unions? Doesn't Massachusetts have gay marriage? Don't most major cities and some states require providing benefits to same-sex partners of employees?

By the time the decade is out, I would expect that you'll see gay marriage or civil unions extended to a number of additional states. In fact, civil unions could be in place by the end of this Washington legislative session.

What worse could result?

The gay population of this country is somewhere around 3%. It's a minority. In a majority rule society like this one, rights can only be extended when the majority feels they should be. Right now, you're seeing the majority slowly moving towards the tipping point. But piss off the majority, and you stop that forward progress or send it backwards. You have to make your case and convince the majority, but threaten the majority and they will turn on you. And if that happens, well, then you have a seat, the next generation will be with you in, oh, 20 years.

Political change rarely happens quickly in this country. That's just the nature of things, for good or for ill.
posted by dw at 2:14 PM on February 4, 2007


In a majority rule society like this one, rights can only be extended when the majority feels they should be.

No. That's not true at all--civil rights, interracial marriage, voting rights, etc--Rights are not dependent on the majority's views. It's court cases that most often determine rights, not majority rule or votes.

With federal DOMA, and the vast majority of states with anti-equal marriage amendments, the harm is done already. Michigan, for one state, has just removed domestic partner benefits from all who had them, because of their state amendment. Cities and counties in places that have state amendments are taking back benefits.
posted by amberglow at 2:41 PM on February 4, 2007


they say some 90% of the public was against interracial marriage at the time of Loving v. Virginia.
posted by amberglow at 2:43 PM on February 4, 2007


Our rights are supposed to protect us against majority rule, as a matter of fact. They're not connected at all to whatever the public thinks at any given time.
posted by amberglow at 2:45 PM on February 4, 2007


1) add the phrase, “who are capable of having children with one another” to the legal definition of marriage;
2) require that couples married in Washington file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled;
3) require that couples married out of state file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage classed as “unrecognized;”
4) establish a process for filing proof of procreation; and
5) make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognized marriage to receive marriage benefits.


Move to amend by adding weasel words in paragraph 6: "proof of procreation" shall mean either a birth certificate of a product child of the married parties, proof of adoption, or a statement of economic or emotional hardship that justifies not having children, or a notaried statement of just generally not feeling like being a parent.

How's that smoking hole in your foot now? I'm all for gay marriage, but this is dumb.
posted by ctmf at 2:49 PM on February 4, 2007


*watches the point whiz over ctmf's head*
posted by Hildegarde at 4:46 PM on February 4, 2007


The depressing thing here is that if even on metafilter so many people are able to completely miss the point, then maybe this isn't such a good idea.

In essence, in an effort to make a point to 5% percent of 80% of your opponents, you'll piss off 40% of your base. You'd be better off juggling operating chain saws.

Those "40%" pissed off folks should be pissed off at the people who want to define marriage as inherently procreative, not the ones who suggest we ought to apply the law equally across all populations!
posted by mdn at 5:05 PM on February 4, 2007


Those "40%" pissed off folks should be pissed off at the people who want to define marriage as inherently procreative, not the ones who suggest we ought to apply the law equally across all populations!

People never understand until it hits them personally--this will raise awareness that they actually are, i hope.

I also get hope from this explosion of new tactics in the fights all over--this, and the Indiana thing i posted the other day--we're fighting creatively and in new ways--some will work, some won't, but they're all worth trying. We're moving backwards too fast in terms of rights and the Constitution--in all areas.
posted by amberglow at 5:38 PM on February 4, 2007


(actually are at risk themselves, i meant)
posted by amberglow at 5:38 PM on February 4, 2007


Those "40%" pissed off folks should be pissed off at the people who want to define marriage as inherently procreative, not the ones who suggest we ought to apply the law equally across all populations!

Maybe they already are. What is this supposed to do, make them angrier? Oh, but you have to break some eggs in order to make an omlette, right?

When the hell did the gay rights movement get hijacked by the IRA?

It looks nice on paper, makes the dicks of the vindictive hard, but it's street theater. And the so-called ultimate goal -- to get the previous decision flipped by backing the Court into a corner -- isn't going to happen. The Court is too smart for that. They'll find a technicality (I can see two) and spike it long before it reaches the ballot without having to even mention the word "marriage."

The point could more easily be made by leaning on a state Legislature packed full of Democrats right now to spend some political capital.
posted by dw at 5:45 PM on February 4, 2007


The problem is that, if WA-DOMA manages to set precedent with this, the fundies aren't going to stomp their hats into the dust and give up. They're just going to change the question to "fit to be a parent" and raise the question enough times so that enough people assume that gay and lesbian couples aren't fit to be parents that it allows a newer, harder to penetrate precedent, and the game starts all over again.

I like the cheek of this, it's important, and if I lived in Washington I'd vote for it just on the small chance that it could actually effect some change. But it probably won't. It'll probably just bring the rednecks and fundies out of the woodwork to talk about how "immoral" and "unnatural" gay and lesbian couples are, and how important this is for the children.

The silver lining is that we can keep doing everything we can, making small ground where we can (it looks like New Hampshire is going to legalize civil unions) and be secure in the knowledge that this fight will be won in our lifetimes. This is a battle not over morals, or family values, but over what people are used to. The AARP isn't used to this. The next generation is. Not that I think that civil rights are ever worth waiting for, but I do believe there's a light at the end of the tunnel, so don't lose hope.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:48 PM on February 4, 2007


(of course what I meant is that no one should ever have to wait for their basic civil rights)
posted by Navelgazer at 5:49 PM on February 4, 2007


they say some 90% of the public was against interracial marriage at the time of Loving v. Virginia.

So, we didn't need the Civil Rights Movement, then? Brown was good enough? Rosa Parks didn't need to sit on the bus because Browder did all the work? No need for all those marches and sit-ins and non-violent protests that shifted public opinion because Thurgood Marshall was on the case?

How very... Republican.
posted by dw at 5:53 PM on February 4, 2007


As someone whose happy marriage would be dissolved by this, I will vote for it despite that. Laws should be applied consistently across all citizens.

You can't decide not to fight something because if you do your opponent will find something else to block you with. That's the essence of a fight.
posted by maxwelton at 5:59 PM on February 4, 2007


I mean, you could spend all that time and energy putting an referendum on the ballot to overturn the DOMA. Same number of signatures, same everything. And it's 2007, so no conservatives using the initiative to get out the Dino Rossi vote. With things the way they are out here, I think it would pass.

Too often in this state we have had ill-conceived and gimmicky initiatives that have nasty consequences down the road. 25 foot radius ring a bell? Monorail?
posted by dw at 6:03 PM on February 4, 2007


Maybe they already are. What is this supposed to do, make them angrier? Oh, but you have to break some eggs in order to make an omlette, right?

You are reminding me of mary cheney. It's somehow bitchy and impolite to ask people not to be hypocrites? To ask for consistency? If it's okay for mary cheney to have a family with her lesbian lover it should be okay for all americans. If it's okay for a hetero couple to get any benefits and honors they understand to be part of a civil marriage contract even when they don't procreate, it ought to be okay for a homo couple to receive them as well. If it is not about kids, then the anti-gay-marriage side has to stop their "not that there's anything wrong with that" line and fess up to the religious basis of this.

It is not "breaking eggs" to insist that the rules be applied equally across the board.
posted by mdn at 6:43 PM on February 4, 2007


angelboy says i completely failed to understand the point. no angelboy, you completely fail to understand the point. the point is, i'm on your side as long as your side doesn't threaten the marriage rights of older, unmarried heteros like me (who frankly, at this point, might not be able to find a woman of childbearing age to marry anyway).
scottreynen thinks i voted for bush, and a whole passel of halfwits recced his comment. tin ear awards for you all.
hincandenza likes politics that hurt people. unless you're in the majority, you should be careful about steering the game in this direction. it could get worse for you.
amberglow says that "they" say that 90% of the people in america were opposed to interracial marriage at the time of loving v. virginia. i'd like to see a citation for this, because i don't believe it. it would put me in the top 10% of progressive thinkers in america, an accolade which is unprecedented in my recollection.
posted by bruce at 7:19 PM on February 4, 2007


i'm on your side as long as your side doesn't threaten the marriage rights of older, unmarried heteros like me you keep suffering all the damage on the frontlines while I reap all the rewards of the social institutions that bar you from entry.

Fixed that for you.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:32 PM on February 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


You are reminding me of mary cheney.

I'm not surprised, given that I am a lesbian (trapped in a man's body), my father has been dead for years, and that most of MeFi wishes me ill. We have so much in common....
posted by dw at 8:28 PM on February 4, 2007


rule 2 ... if you have to get into a pissing contest with a skunk make sure that YOU aren't the ones pissing into the wind
posted by pyramid termite at 8:34 PM on February 4, 2007


Hildegarde, I believe you hit the nail on the head.
posted by mijuta at 9:21 PM on February 4, 2007


I didn't miss the point*. I made another one, and that is that this proposed legislation 1) is easy to sidestep while it's under consideration, and 2) could leave the good guys worse off than before, while not bothering the other side any. If you *help* them define marriage as primarily for procreation, you're then demoted to whether or not you deserve an exception. Better to keep the argument about what marriage *is*. I understand that this is sort of a way to do that, but the backhanded way this goes about it is liable to backfire horribly. Props for being clever and humorous, though.

*unless I did, but I don't think so.
posted by ctmf at 9:51 PM on February 4, 2007


The depressing thing here is that if even on metafilter so many people are able to completely miss the point, then maybe this isn't such a good idea.

Yes, exactly, a thousand times.
posted by ctmf at 10:03 PM on February 4, 2007


People, please-- it's called reductio ad absurdum .

You take an argument--in this case, the argument that marriage is about procreation--and you run with it until you hit an obvious absurdity or contradiction or "Hey, that's NOT what I meant" spot. Once you get there, the original argument is considered to have been proved false.

I totally empathise with those heterosexuals who may find themselves on the shitty end of the stick WRT this bit of proposed legislation. I have been in situations where I ended up having to reap something I never intended to sow, but got stuck with because I wasn't paying enough attention.
posted by mountain_william at 10:13 PM on February 4, 2007


... and it should go here.

Whoopsie!
posted by mountain_william at 10:14 PM on February 4, 2007


hildegard, thank you for your "fix" which made me chuckle. all the damage you're suffering on the front lines, while i'm free to reap the benefits of...no, wait a second, i have never married in 51 years and have consequently never reaped those benefits.
i agree with the gay position that homosexuality isn't a choice. reciprocally, i expect you to agree with me that being born into the privileged overclass isn't a choice either. please don't be prejudiced against me on this account, i'm doing the best i know how. look on the bright side, we're both constitutionally at liberty to fornicate with women, and even better, we probably won't be competing for the same pool of women. i would be crushed (briefly) if a woman of my fancy left me for a female mefite!
posted by bruce at 11:14 PM on February 4, 2007


Separate is not equal.

Sorry, that doesn't hold water. If the same rights are guaranteed to all, it doesn't matter if they're called marriage, or civil union, or ketchup.

Unfortunately I don't think the hypocrites will grasp that this is being done to expose their hypocrisy... Most fanatical right-wingers don't have a capacity for logical, reasoned thought... Everything is either black or white, good or evil, with them...

The same can be said of left-wing extremists, too. Actually, you can't truthfully say this of most people in any group, unless they're the Illogical Thinking Club of $country. Just because you don't agree with what they say, and don't believe their arguments are right, does not mean they have no "capacity for logical, reasoned thought."
posted by oaf at 12:01 AM on February 5, 2007


The sole reason I got married was to take full advantage of the capital gains exclusion on the sale of the home shared by me and my baby mama. So suck on that, traditionalists.
posted by oncogenesis at 12:16 AM on February 5, 2007


This is a very clever, subtle plan. The problem is that it is directed at very stupid, obtuse people.

But what the hell; nothing else has really worked, so why not?
posted by Poagao at 12:34 AM on February 5, 2007


i agree with the gay position that homosexuality isn't a choice. reciprocally, i expect you to agree with me that being born into the privileged overclass isn't a choice either [, and thus, you should also agree that I should benefit from my nonchoice in peace and without restriction while you remain a second class citizen. I shouldn't be expected to even question my own rights while you fight to the death for yours.] please don't be prejudiced against me on this account, i'm doing the best i know how intellectually on your side, but not willing to lift a finger to actually help you get there.

Fixed that for you. Again.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:13 AM on February 5, 2007


tehloki: ... and the other side seems to be a bunch of vengeful, obtuse people with no sense of irony.

Actually, I would have thought this was a pretty good example of irony in action. But then, 'irony' is one of those words people have very different understandings of...

As for whether "ironic backlash legislation" is ever effective, I would have no idea, since I'm not aware of any that's actually been passed. As a PR tactic, though (properly handled), the act of proposing such legislation could be very effective.
posted by lodurr at 4:59 AM on February 5, 2007


If the same rights are guaranteed to all, it doesn't matter if they're called marriage, or civil union, or ketchup.

Nice idea, and very carefully phrased: You're saying that it doesn't matter what they're called -- you're not saying anything about practice.

True enough, as far as it goes. But:
  1. What if that "guarantee of rights" is not enforced? And what if the key defining difference between the community for whom the rights are enforced, and the community for whom they're not, is a label -- a word -- "what they're called"?
  2. And what about the more subtle aspects of experience? We can all (if we're honest) cite examples of people who are effectively excluded from consideration for something on the arbitrary basis of what they're called.
posted by lodurr at 5:08 AM on February 5, 2007


Fixed that for you. Again.

You know, this whole "fixed that for you" thing was mildly amusing the first time, in an "oh my isn't it cute that s/he's willing to come off so preening and arrogant" kind of way.

But by the six-thousandth time, it's gotten annoying as shit. I humbly suggest that everyone just cut it the hell out.
posted by lodurr at 5:11 AM on February 5, 2007


You know, this whole "fixed that for youI don't think this word means what you think it means" thing was mildly amusing the first time, in an "oh my isn't it cute that s/he's willing to come off so preening and arrogant" kind of way.

But by the six-thousandth time, it's gotten annoying as shit. I humbly suggest that everyone just cut it the hell out.


There, fixed that for you.
posted by cytherea at 5:18 AM on February 5, 2007


There, fixed that for you showed off my cool sense of irony.

There, fixed that for you.

(I hereby swear never to do that again. Until I do.)
posted by lodurr at 6:38 AM on February 5, 2007


amberglow says that "they" say that 90% of the people in america were opposed to interracial marriage at the time of loving v. virginia. i'd like to see a citation for this, because i don't believe it. it would put me in the top 10% of progressive thinkers in america, an accolade which is unprecedented in my recollection.

It may be worth noting that:
- In 1948, about 90% of American Adults opposed interracial marriage when the Supreme Court of California legalized it. 18
- In 1967, about 72% were opposed to interracial marriage when it was legalized everywhere in the U.S. by the Supreme Court in 1967. 17
- In 1991, those adults opposed to interracial marriage became a minority. 17

During this interval, the opposition to interracial marriage dropped by a little under one percentage point per year. This is surprisingly close to the rate at which opposition to SSM is currently dropping.

posted by amberglow at 6:53 AM on February 5, 2007


I did it, I enjoyed it, I would do it again.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:58 AM on February 5, 2007


Those "40%" pissed off folks should be pissed off at the people who want to define marriage as inherently procreative, not the ones who suggest we ought to apply the law equally across all populations!

I heartily agree - my husband and I will not be having kids, ever. We did not marry each other to have kids, and in fact decided before we married that we weren't going to have them.
posted by agregoli at 7:29 AM on February 5, 2007


What if that "guarantee of rights" is not enforced?

That's an issue with the system in general, and isn't (and won't be) isolated to who can marry whom.

I shouldn't be expected to even question my own rights while you fight to the death for yours. (Hildegarde as bruce)

Hildegarde, you and dirtynumbangelboy already won that fight.
posted by oaf at 7:36 AM on February 5, 2007


You know, this whole "fixed that for you I don't think this word means what you think it means ..., not so much" thing was mildly amusing the first time, in an "oh my isn't it cute that s/he's willing to come off so preening and arrogant" kind of way.

But by the six-thousandth time, it's gotten annoying as shit. I humbly suggest that everyone just cut it the hell out.

posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:45 AM on February 5, 2007


That's an issue with the system in general...

So: Where do you deal with that issue? Since 'fix the system' as an approach is pretty much out.
posted by lodurr at 7:47 AM on February 5, 2007


Since 'fix the system' as an approach is pretty much out.

As a quick fix, yes. It can be fixed, but it will take time.
posted by oaf at 7:53 AM on February 5, 2007


More than time, it would take agreement on the goal and substantial committment of energies over that long time. That's fundamentally true of system fixes.

Thus it's generally in the nature of "system fixes" that they are made up of accrued quick fixes.
posted by lodurr at 8:19 AM on February 5, 2007


I would give up my marriage if doing so would further the fight for recognition of gay marriages. In fact, my husband and I seriously discussed how uncomfortable we were that we had a right to marry that wasn't shared by all -- and then our country chose to recognize gay marriages. We were never so proud to be Canadian as on that day.

I think this is a brilliant proposition. It brings home what equality really means - it means equal treatment. If same-sex couples are refused the rights of marriage (forming a new legal family) because they won't necessarily raise children, then opposite-sex couples should also be treated in the same way.

Marriage is not about procreation - actually never has been, or ovaries and testes wouldn't function before the magic ceremony. Nor is it necessary for providing more than one caregiver - a society could easily have people never marry, both parents just stay with their birth families and children are raised by their mother's birth family. Marriages are about legally and ritualistically uniting people who are not related into a new family, and they always have been. People get new relatives; I am now my husband's next-of-kin. Before we signed that magic piece of paper, we called each other family and his parents treated me like one of their kids - but I wasn't really, not in the eyes of the law and not in the eyes of most of society. But now I am legally his kin, and he's mine - we can decide things for each other, take responsibility for each other.

And that's what every human being should have the right to have as well.
posted by jb at 8:36 AM on February 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Stet's dead right, too: I'm waiting for the legislation that states what we all know: that the primary purpose of marriage is to obtain fucking health insurance.

I'm straight, and in a domestic partnership in the hellhole for gay rights that is Ohio. I have health insurance only because my boyfriend's company is kind enough to grant it to domestic partners of either gender. Are we together for the long term? Yes. Intertwined financially and emotionally? Yup. Would I mind losing my right to marry him if we didn't have children? Not at all, as long as I can keep my health insurance and right to designate him as the "plug-puller" in event of medical disaster, etc.

States should not be legislating who can get married, period. As long as you file the paperwork that will give you the marriage certificate, in pen, in triplicate, and the clergy/shaman/adult of your choice who performs the religious or civil ceremony signs on the line -- voila! You're married. Welcome to the world of health insurance and plug-pulling.

Go, Washington. That's all I have to say on that.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:51 AM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


And on post -- hell yes, jb.

My boyfriend and I have had similar discussions about not wanting to marry (or at least not marry here) as long as the discriminatory stuff was in place.

When Ohio passed its latest anti-gay legislation a few years ago, it actually removed the rights of straight domestic partners to get restraining orders in the event of domestic abuse. And some assholes got off scot-free as a result. Hit your wife? You're in trouble. Hit your girlfriend/babymomma/roommate? Have at it, pal. Michigan's domestic partners are getting a taste of this now, unfortunately.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:55 AM on February 5, 2007


Look, to the people I was arguing with up there:

I support this legislation. It gives me satisfaction. It makes me happy.

However, I can't help but feel guilty in that as a proponent of universal equal human rights, I am supporting something that proposes to, in the interest of progressive action down the road, actually further limit rights. It's something that I'm sure will work to some degree, and in all reality it is probably being done with the best of intentions, but think about how it makes us look.

Does anybody else think that the moral conservatives will have a field day calling us hypocrites? We're treading on the thin ice of accountability by switching from "stop this anti-gay legislation" to "lobby some anti-childless couple legislation, that'll show em".
posted by tehloki at 8:59 AM on February 5, 2007


mountain_william: the problem isn't the reductio ad absurdum, which I'm familiar with. The problem is when you "cleverly" and smugly pretend to propose it in such a smartass way. A implies B, which implies C, which then has to mean D (which is ridiculous). So I propose we do D then! Ha ha, take that! To which I can say well, maybe we aren't ready for D, but I can certainly compromise with C. Yay! you got most of what you want. Why are you holding your head like that? You people are never happy.

You make it too easy to willfully miss the point.
posted by ctmf at 9:11 AM on February 5, 2007


Getting most of what we want isn't the issue. And it is dreadfully condescending to say something like that.

Should black people have been happy with getting most of what they wanted? No. Equality is all-or-nothing.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:22 AM on February 5, 2007


However, I can't help but feel guilty in that as a proponent of universal equal human rights, I am supporting something that proposes to, in the interest of progressive action down the road, actually further limit rights.

No, it doesn't. It shines light on what rights are being obstructed. The law is, you cannot x unless you y - but the people we like who don't y, well, we'll just look the other way. That is not law. That is flat out discrimination.

Apply the law consistently, or change the fucking law.
posted by mdn at 10:10 AM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm all for consistency or changing the law; I'm just saying our side should be trying to repeal this draconian policy instead of trying to get it applied more consistently. If this is what we need to do to get it done eventuallly, fine. We just shouldn't be getting excited about having to do it.
posted by tehloki at 10:27 AM on February 5, 2007


proposes to, in the interest of progressive action down the road, actually further limit rights.

Let's be clear, here: This is absolutely what these proposals do.

If you say "No, it doesn't," or "it just applies the law consistently", you're losing sight of the fact that the DOMA implicitly mandates its own inconsistent application. The DOMA implicitly limits the rights of anybody who's not straight. This would apply the same limitations to people who are straight.

Ergo, more limitations.

Just to be clear.

FWIW, the acid test for me is whether this proposal does indeed cause people to think about what they've done. Because it's true, as many people up thread have pointed out, that a surprisingly large proportion of Americans would have no fucking issue with writing the proposed provisions into the Constitution of the USA. That they would be totally down with it. If it turns out that there are enough of those folks to bully, cajole, guilt or otherwise intimidate 2/3 of Americans into going along with them, then I might decide this was a very bad idea...
posted by lodurr at 10:53 AM on February 5, 2007


Maybe that's what's needed tho---the threat of losing rights being applied to more people before they realize it's wrong. These court decisions logically do restrict marriage to procreation, and people need to know that. Right now, straight people don't think this issue concerns them, but it does. Maybe they need to know that.
posted by amberglow at 11:05 AM on February 5, 2007


I can't help but feel guilty in that as a proponent of universal equal human rights, I am supporting something that proposes to, in the interest of progressive action down the road, actually further limit rights.

Well, Marx believed that you could do things like this—he thought that the horrors caused by capitalism would result in everyone embracing communism. Of course, communism hasn't replaced anything anywhere as of now, so that may not bode well for this backfiring and annoying the correct people to get gay marriage legalized.
posted by oaf at 11:06 AM on February 5, 2007


All rights must always be defended and people must always be vigilant. Just because they're not does not mean they're not at risk of losing them.
posted by amberglow at 11:06 AM on February 5, 2007


all the damage you're suffering on the front lines, while i'm free to reap the benefits of...no, wait a second, i have never married in 51 years and have consequently never reaped those benefits.

Yes, bruce, but you COULD if you wanted to. Have at it, my reap-erin' friend. Buy a mail order bride from Third World Country X, Y or Z. Help out a female friend with a chronic disease who can't get health insurance on her own but could as your spouse. Whatever.

But if you're gay and in a long-term relationship that would ordinarily end up zapping-things-for-the-wedding-registry-at-Target-with-that-cool-gun-thingy and making bridesmaids wear funny dresses? You're SOL. The powers that be don't think you're good enough to join our supersecret marriage club. Sorry.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:48 PM on February 5, 2007


Marriage is a religious concept and, through the proper separation of church and state, should not have any bearing on rights provided to couples or individuals by the government. Those should be provided to/through domestic partnerships or civil unions or whatever you want to call them.

Religions would be free to disallow marriage between people for whatever arbitrary reasons they want.

The government partnerships would not.

Religions could allow marriage between multiple husbands/wives if they cared to.

The government partnerships would not.

Religions could prevent the dissolution of marriage through divorce.

The government partnerships would not.

Get marriage out of the government.
posted by xiojason at 4:01 PM on February 5, 2007


That's nice and all, xiojason, but it's never going to happen.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:18 PM on February 5, 2007


Since medieval and early modern european marriages used to take place on the church PORCH rather than in front of the altar because it was understood to be a civil arrangement rather than a religious one, I don't see why we should give marriage to the churches now.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:45 PM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


xiojason

Well said. I kinda like the phrase "civil union" and all laws regarding such should use that phrase. Let the religious pick their own phrase (marriage, matrimony, chattelhood, whatever).

My spousal equivalent and I have never "married," although we could legally, because the option isn't available to every couple. We've suffered financially for it, because she makes a lot more than I do and our married tax would be lower than our single taxes together and because you gotta pay a goddam lawyer for all the paperwork to substitute for what comes automatically with a marriage. I say let the WA-DOMA folk have at it and we'll see where it all leads.

I am curious, though. Even without this initiative, could someone go to court and ask that all marriages without the likelihood of procreation be annulled, on the grounds that the current law only sanctions unions geared toward procreation? The argument would be equal protection under the law, maybe? Not clear to this goddam non-lawyer.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:09 PM on February 5, 2007


Pure satire. Beautiful.
posted by bdun01 at 9:07 PM on February 5, 2007


I agree with xiojason. My spouse and I have been married for many years and there are no children of this union. I was raised Catholic and since we weren't married in The Church, I'm not really "married" in the eyes of said Church.

I'm okay with that.

If you want to call what we have, a "civil union," that's fine. Just offer that to everyone and save "marriage" for the white gown and church thing.
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:19 AM on February 6, 2007


My husband and I were together for 6 or 7 years before we had our child. We got married for primarily financial and insurance reasons. If I were married and without children, I would still support this bill, even if the passing of it meant that I or my husband would have lost benefits and tax deductions.

For me, this all comes down to fairness. If the law says "marriage is for procreation", then by god, codify what "procreation" means, and strip the protections away from everyone who doesn't meet that parameter.

Only then will a large enough segment of the population understand what these laws are doing to the gay population. If DINKs can marry and enjoy the financial and legal rewards of taking on a cultural contract, then gays should be able to do the same thing. But, if marriage is *only* for the case of procreation, then anyone outside of the breeding age should be prohibited from enjoying the benefits of the contract, anyone who "misuses" the contract by being married and not breeding should be prohibited from the contract, and so on down the line.

Either the law applies to everyone, without fail...or the law itself should be dismantled. And that's what the ultimate goal of these bills is; a methodology of carrying the current statute to the final frontier of enforcement.
posted by dejah420 at 12:01 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Republic of T:Baby Makes Three, Or Else!--... In other words, it's taking a flawed argument to its logical extreme. ... The New York Supreme Court actually applied that logic when it ruled that since heterosexual couples tend towards "reckless procreation", while gay parents actually become parents through very deliberate efforts (IVF, adoption), they're actually less stable and thus require protections that our families don't need. ... But it's not all that absurd, when you consider that the theocratic right is trying to make it harder to get divorced in states like Virginia, or try as they have in other states to criminalize out-of-wedlock pregnancies (as "unauthorized reproduction") in an attempt block gays and lesbians from using IVF, as well as failure to report a miscarriage to police, and support anti-gay marriage amendments that remove domestic violence protections from unmarried heterosexual couples. The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance might not seriously want to see it's proposal become law, but organizations like Virginia's Family Foundation and legislators that proposed the (quickly withdrawn) legislation I just mentioned, are quite serious. ...
posted by amberglow at 2:59 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


« Older Ethically in my opinion, Bono’s tax arrangements a...  |  Web 2.0 (2nd draft)... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments