May 8, 2009

Gay marriage

Eugene Robsinson says it is time for Obama to support it, and the New England states (plus Iowa) are already heading down that path.

I have been fascinated to watch this story change. From 2004 when the specter of gay marriage helped get religious conservatives to the polls, to the defeat of gay marriage in supposedly liberal California, the issue seemed to be some kind of third-rail for American culture. But as states have slowly allowed it, Americans, I think, have seen that it has not led to some kind of catastrophic scenario, and it is getting harder to scare people about gays marrying leading to social disorder or decay. It is a hot button issue, to be sure, as several recent controversies prove.

First, was the "hate crimes" legislation before congress. The Family Research Council sent out all sorts of scary mailings telling people that if this bill passed, it would make pastors in the US subject to criminal prosecution if they preach against homosexuality. I read the bill in question, and it is specifically addressed to physical violence, and also specifically and explicitly says that the bill would not limit First Amendment protected free speech. We can argue about the idea of "hate crimes" but shouldn't that argument at least be on the merits, and not on some fantasy of the right?

Second, was this bizarre storyline about Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who, I guess, spoke out against gay marriage in her pageant. The response was predictable and stupid, with the left calling her a bigot and pointing to mildly risque modeling photos the young woman took years ago as proof of her hypocrisy (whatever) and the right (along with Ms. Prejean) claiming that this was just an attack on her Christian faith. (I like Feministing's take on the photos as an attempt to fight homophobia by invoking the misogyny of shaming Ms Prejean as some kind of "slut.")

Perhaps it is time for us to move past the beauty pageants, for one thing. But that is for another time, I guess.

Here are my predictions. 1) Gay marriage will happen. I think it is just a matter of time.

2) The right wing will be apoplectic and try to scare people with images of open fornication in public and human's marrying animals, but gay marriage will happen.

3) The right will even threaten to secede, or invoke "nullification." Oops, they are already doing that over a 3% tax increase.

4) Gay marriage will not change America one bit, except to perhaps communicate that we can move past this. Straight people will still get married and divorced in large numbers. The right will either cede this and start focusing on the incredibly high divorce rate of its own people, or it will beat itself into further irrelevance by railing against that gay couple down the block who are just about the best neighbors you could ask for.

Can't we all just get along? :)


Jack Miller said...

"Same-sex marriage" is an absurdity that illustrates well the moral bankruptcy of the USA.

If you define "homophobe" as being against homosexuals, then God(the God who gave the commandments to Moses, and raised Jesus from the dead), is the ultimate homophobe. The Almighty Homophobe. God sends homos to Hell.

But God doesn't send homos only to Hell; he also sends to Hell those "straits" that excuse and defend homos. According to the Bible.

"Same-sex marriage" will make no difference to the country only if the definition of words does not matter. It is an absolute perversion of the term "marriage" if two men, or two women can "marry" each other.

If I were a queer, or a defender of them, I would familiarize myself with the term "woe". With the pre-1960 definition. Woe is what is coming to the USA, and to the wicked, from the hand of God. (Again, the real God, not the god of the Church of Christ, or John Spong.) But, I know that some people prefer not to know what is coming their way, and some would rather "imagine" that the future will be wonderful.

steves said...

I think it will evetually come to pass in all states. The ideal scenario would be for it to do so through the legislative route, thereby minimizing the complaints of judicial activism. One possible route, as pointed out by a British poster on another blog I frequent, would be for the gov't to recognize civil unions with the exact same benefits as marriages. Churches would be free to marry whomever they wanted, but gay or straight, the priviledges and benefits under the law would be identical.

The next step would have to be some resolution of the DOMA. It wouldn't be workable to have a couple married in one state, but not another. I htink that DOMA could be overturned under the Priviledges and Immunities Clause, but it isn't a foregone conclusion.

This will anger some reigious conservatives, but as California shows, it doesn't enjoy broad support among all groups. I don't know what it will take to change people's minds.

I don't like hate crimes laws. IMO, they violate the first amendment because they provide an enhanced sentence based upon the thoughts or beliefs of a person. Violence (in most circumstances) is wrong on it's face. It shouldn't matter what motivated the perpetrator.

Streak said...

Jack, you are welcome to comment and you are of course welcome to your views. I disagree, but comment away. Please refrain from homophobic slurs, however. Any more comments with "queer" or "homos" in it will be deleted. But please, come back and tell me I am going to hell. That appears to be what you consider discourse.

Steve, I have often thought that the solution was to get the state out of "marriage" completely and simply recognize all unions as civil unions. Your British commenter makes sense to me. Let the individual churches decide who is "married."

As for hate crimes, I really understand the point. I think that the argument that "all crimes are hate crimes" makes a lot of sense. My one caveat comes out of the civil rights south, where crimes were not just individual assaults on that individual, but intended to communicate fear to an entire community. Understanding that intent from racists might be easier, however, to discern than it is with issues of gays, or even immigrants.

steves said...

Getting the state out of marriage is a good solution. I have never lived in the South, so I do understand that the history and dynamics are different. Maybe a better solution would be to criminalize the specific threatening behavion and make it a separate crime from assault or murder.

Monk-in-Training said...

Wow, Jack didn't know the Church of Christ was not worshiping the "real" God but that is news to me.

Also, did 'woe' change in 1960? Did I miss that memo?

It never ceases to amaze me how people dump comments like that and don't leave their contact info. Very courageous.

Of course, other than the Church of Christ comment, this is normal break table conversation in my Oklahoma world. :)

leighton said...

1960 was Boston's second consecutive NBA championship and the year when "woe" was redefined as "that which afflicts those who play against the Celtics." In recent years, woe hasn't been particularly noticeable. But it was pretty woeful for a while there.

Jack Miller said...

The traditional definition of certain words have been perverted in recent years, like the word marriage. I could have said the Biblical definition of "woe", but I suspected that might be over the head of some here who never open a Bible.

Monk, if you have something to say to me, you can say it here; you don't need my "contact info".

Streak said...

Jack, you seem awful sure that we don't know anything about the Bible.

Let me at least compliment you on not using pejorative, or homophobic terms this time. Well done.

BTW, Monk is a very polite guy. He doesn't just bomb someone's blog with unsolicited links or hijack their comment threads. I don't have a problem with some back and forth here.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Wow, Streak. Good topic. Jack says that "Same-sex marriage is an absurdity that illustrates well the moral bankruptcy of the USA." I would agree with the qualification that "same sex marriage" often brings to surface the moral bankruptcy of plenty of people in their response to those who would like to participate or those who support them in doing so. I'm glad to see that we as a society are experiencing these growing pains as we move toward a more tolerant society that recognizes that sexual orientation has nothing to do with morality or character.

Good luck using the bible to define marriage. That one will require plenty of selective scripture contortions.

I'm not familiar enough with the hate crimes distinction to comment. I do know that hate SPEECH laws can wreak havoc with religious freedom and freedom of speech. I know of an international example or two- not so much in the US.

Tradition is a tricky thing. Sometimes it's used as a defense in and of itself. The thing is, our american, western european, judeo-christian traditions have been used to preserve all kinds of destructive practices. We are not unique in this regard, but we ARE included. Defending a definition of marriage based solely on its perceived status as the "traditional" model is inadequate.

It's my understanding that the etymology of "woe" parallels that of "arse".

Later- BB

Streak said...

Leighton, just read your comment closer. Heh. Words are funny. I also like Bootlegger's etymology. Arse indeed. :)

Jack Miller said...

Bootleg Blogger,

Jesus defined marriage as between a man and a woman(Matthew 19). So, it seems you can use the Bible to define marriage.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Actually Jesus was quoting Genesis in response to pharisees trying to get him to affirm their paternalistic abuse of women through the allowance of easy divorce leaving the women without support or reputation. The old testament also includes polygamy, slavery, slave rape, etc... that are traditions that we no longer consider legitimate despite the biblical practice by those revered as "close to god". Jesus spoke to liberation of those oppressed by these traditions not their perpetuation.

The attempt to use the bible to define relationships based on bronze age understanding of sexuality is pretty ridiculous. There aren't monsters on the outer rim of a flat earth and homosexuality is as natural i.e. in accordance with or being determined by nature (or god?) as heterosexuality. Sexuality is as much chemistry as anything, but I doubt Abraham, Moses, or even Jesus were aware of estrogen, testosterone, adrenal glands, or what crosses the placental barrier.

Jack Miller said...

"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet." Romans 126.27

According to this Scripture, heterosex is natural and homosex unnatural. Sexuality has a moral component. That's why God forbids adultery, fornication, bestiality, and incest, as well as homosexuality.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Prooftexting is a non-productive cycle and we can pretty much agree to disagree. Again, we can belabor the point that the bible is not a scientific text. It does reveal much about god, his/her way of dealing with the world, and how we should treat each other. It is NOT a text on physiology, endocrinology, genetics, astronomy, etc... (e.g. the color of goats isn't determined by the type of stick placed in front of their water trough as described in the story of Jacob). Therefore, using it to define the "rightness" or "wrongness" or "naturalness" of a sexual orientation is something for which the bible is inadequate.

That said, my take on Paul's teaching is that the perversion of what is natural for unnatural is wrong. Societal pressure has forced millions of people into a living hell of disfunction as they have been forced to give up the natural (homosexuality) for the unnatural (a heterosexual or asexual facade). In addition, a narrow, literal interpretation of Paul's writings will leave you single and celibate regardless of your sexuality! Much of the bible, particularly the message of Jesus as to how we should treat ourselves and others, stands up over time.

Everyone picks and chooses what they take literally from the bible. For some reason the few scriptures that speak to or allude to homosexuality are held tightly by so many while other passages speaking more strongly and more clearly about dogmatic legalities or ones that indict our current indulgent, nationalistic church culture are completely ignored. I digress.


steves said...

Another problem to consider is that societal marriage norms and Christian marriage norms are not the same. One refelects society as a whole, and the other reflects one group in that society. The reality is that traditions change over time. Marriage of today is certainly much different than marriage in the 19th century.

Another issue is the role that gov't has in defining marriage. The State has always exerted a great deal of control and with that control has come a variety of priviledges and benefits. To me, it would be unfair to allow one group to deny another group these benefits solely based upon morality. I don't believe it is up to the gov't to allow this.

Barak said...
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