Tuesday, January 8, 2008

This Ought to Be Interesting

You might recall my recent post about the bipartisan commission that is traveling the state of Vermont holding public forums to hear citizen's thoughts about gay marriage. Strangely enough, it has turned out that few opponents of gay marriage have come to the commission meetings. There has been some question whether there are Vermonters who are deeply opposed to allowing gay couples the title granted legally to straight couples.

There is no longer any question. Stephen Cable of Rutland, VT announced today the formation of "The Vermont Marriage Advisory Council," an organization of those opposed to gay marriage. Cable clams the group's primary tactic will not be to diss gay couples but rather to "educate" the public about the benefits of straight marriage (and somehow, I guess, explain how straight marriage is better than gay marriage... wait, how is this not dissing us?)

According to the group's website, their public education campaign will focus on answering the following four "weighty questions":
  1. Are all family forms equal in their abilities to foster healthy children?

  2. Is it in the best interest of the child to know and be raised by their biological parents?

  3. Does traditional man/woman marriage provide exclusive social goods (benefits) to society which cannot be duplicated by any other arrangement?

  4. Will changing the definition of marriage to genderless (same-sex) marriage weaken traditional man/woman marriage?
Oh boy. This ought to be interesting.

I'm particular interested to see the group try to answer #1 and #2 without dissing adoption, single-parent families, children raised by aunts and uncles or grandparents, etc. I'm intrigued to hear what they come up with for #3; my wager is that they'll say something about procreation, an argument that seems to always backfire when you consider the 25% of heterosexual couples that are unable to conceive.

And, as always, it will be entertaining to hear the answer to #4. This is my favorite argument of folks who oppose gay marriage: that gays marrying will somehow "weaken" straight marriages. Reminds me of a certain humorous video a friend once showed me

Hee hee :-) Gotta love the meteor.

Hat tip: the Boston Globe


Pomoprophet said...

hehe! haha! Thats a great movie. I can just hear you laughing as you watch this just like with the farting preacher or the pedophile Jesus. hehe!

You know, ive supported gay marriage for awhile now. even before I started to question leaving the exgay path. It just doesnt make sense why people are opposed to it. And the hypocrisy is maddening! Most people (on both sides) dont think through these issues very well.

Brandon said...

I think the real issue with gay marriage is the acceptance question. I think for a lot of people, to say that gay marriage is okay, is just one more step toward saying homosexuality in general is okay. I think that's really what's at the heart of the issue. Most people do not think homosexuality is okay, so therefore they don't want to allow something that would further seem to make it okay.

I actually, as someone struggling with homosexuality, do not support gay marriage. Mostly for the above reason. But, frankly, I don't favor the changing of the definition of marriage itself. Don't give me a chicken and call it a turkey, so to speak. Marriage has only ever been between one man and one woman. I think that's how it should stay. If gay couples want the same benefits as married couples, no problem with that on my thinking, but focus more on the civil unions and rights aspect of it all. That'll bring more support than marriage anyhow. And also, it'll keep all those frightened straights from fearing that marriage itself is under crises somehow.

But yeah, I think it's just that for a lot of people, to say gay marriage is okay would mean for them the same as saying homosexuality is okay. If they oppose one, they'll oppose the other.

Joe Moderate said...

Pomo, I didn't realize that you've been a supporter of gay marriage for quite some time now. Interesting. Cool!

Brandon, I hear you on the whole gay marriage/homosexuality in general uneasiness. I spent five years in ex-gay ministries working to change my attraction to guys because I was so convinced that it wasn't okay. Obviously, my convictions have changed a lot since then, but I am still sympathetic to people who feel deeply that homosexuality is immoral.

However, I have also come to see that there are presently two definitions of "marriage" in the U.S.: one is religious, one is legal. As far as religious marriage goes, I 100% support the rights of religions to bar weddings of gay couples if they feel that is immoral. On the legal side, though, I feel it's different.

Gay couples aren't the only couples that some religions won't marry. In the Christian tradition I come from, I know of pastors that refused to wed some straight couples because they felt the pair were immature, incompatible, or were destined for separation. The government, on the other hand, is obligated to hand these couples legal marriage licenses.

From my perspective, as long as the government is granting marriages to any two opposite-sex couples that show up, the same right should be extended to same-sex couples.

For the time being, I'm all for "civil unions" though. The most important thing to me is legal rights; the second most important thing is social standing. I do feel that giving gay couples a different label is a segregationist tack--but it at least gets us the rights we desire.

My hope is that civil unions will help quell fears that gay couples will somehow destroy society. I think that, as more gay couples gain legal recognition and gain visibility, people's fears will melt as they see how mundane and normal the lives of gay families are. Hopefully, social ease will one day allow for the title "marriage" to be granted equally to gay couples. But in the meantime, I'll take civil unions!

D.J. Free! said...

brandon, my man, i'm going to have to take issues with several things you said.

first, the idea that marriage has only ever been b/w one man and one woman. that's simply false. in male-dominant societies, marriage has been a civil arrangement for one man, and however many women he can muster. we see this even in the Bible. in many ways, it was a chauvanistic effort, but in other ways, it's a social construct that helps protect and strengthen societies.

if i have more than one wife, then i can have many, many kids, and they can help me raise many crops and cattle, and protect the family, and build a strong nation . . .

again, marriage is a social construct. i think many Christians never stop to realize that "marriage" was never given by God. it's a man-made phenomenon - and the construct has changed many times in many places to fit the needs of society.

perhaps you'd do well to do an exhaustive study on the history of marriage. it's truly fascinating! the first easy stop would be wikipedia - lots of good info there!

my other criticism (and perhaps this is more about the people you're speaking of (for?) and not yourself personally - but to somehow think that GAY marriage would mean that marriage is suddenly under crisis is JUST the type of hypocrisy that really bothers me! i mean, hello? the evangelical divorce rate is about as attrocious as the national average (which itself is abysmal). we've had a crisis of marriage for quite some time. but it's NOT b/c of gay people! it's because we have some seriously dilapidated views of love in western civilization.

again, why single out homosexuals? be just. if marriage is under crisis, then - as joe pointed out - you'll have to ban the immature, the incompatible, the infertile, etc. etc. w/ the gays.

lastly (and this is more for joe), i was having an interesting convo the other day w/ one of my fav psychiatrists here at the hospital. she was saying that she actually thinks civil unions will WEAKEN marriage in this country.

she thinks that it will only increase the number of "cohabitants" in our country, and give fear-of-committment straight men yet another reason not to have to commit (i mean, if i can get all the civil benefits of marriage w/o ACTUALLY having to get married, then why not?!)

i've been letting that whirl in my head, and i think i kind of agree w/ her. if our nation is to have strong relationships, then i think it's in our best interest to undergird marriage as the essential way to accomplish that. life-long committments are the way to go!

Joe Moderate said...

Thanks for the comments, DJ! Always fascinating talking about stuff with you.

I'm interested in hearing more of this theory that civil unions will weaken marriage in the U.S. Is your friend's theory conditioned on civil unions being open equally to gays and straights? Is the idea that straight couples afraid to commit would apply for civil unions rather than civil marriages?


At least in Vermont (if I understand things correctly), civil unions are ONLY available to same-sex couples. You can't get 'em if you're a straight couple. Well, that was the language in the bill that passed the Vermont house; I haven't been about to track down the law that was eventually signed by the governor.

Kinda weird, kinda interesting. Only gays can get civil unions; only straights can get civil marriages. Maybe this presents another civil rights issue--are straights being denied access to civil unions?

Things like this are why I feel this is a segregation issue. To me, civil unions smack of "separate but equal" claims of the Jim Crow days. But I look at them from a pragmatic perspective: I'm willing to take--in fact, I'd be thrilled if the State of Illinois would pass civil unions--civil unions for the time being.

Let's face it: what I'm really after are the rights granted of married couples at the Federal level. That's not gonna happen--the Federal DOMA is not gonna be overturned--until half the states recognize gay couples and are cool with it. I see civil unions as a step in that direction--the direction I want to go. It's not a perfect step. In some ways it's a sideways step. But I think it's a step forward.

And you can bet I'll be celebrating if/when the Illinois House passes HB1826!

Brandon said...


Yeah, you're right in that marriage in the past has not always been solely between ONE man and ONE woman, but the point I was getting at is that it's never been between two men or two women. One man and many woman, or vice versa, yes that's been known of, but just because that's happened doesn't really make it right either. Pretty much anyone in the Bible mentioned as having multiple wives had a lot of problems come about because of that. I think I will look up wikipedia and see what they have about the subject too though. Thanks for the suggestion. And very interesting look at civil unions. More food for thought.

Something more to think about too is the notion of there already being two forms of marriage in this country--religious marriage and secular marriage. I don't think I'd ever thought of that before.

TweetyJill said...

Thanks Joe, I finally got that tune out of my head and I had to come back to this site. I will be sure to spread the contagion.

Pomo, I respect the idea of being ex-gay/conservative/Christian and being pro marriage. I have always felt that if churches feel so strongly about opposing gay marriage, they will have to focus on “educating” their members internally. Because really, most of the homosexuals who want to get married are not going to go do that in a church. The ones who will already have assess to Blessings and such. Whether or not the church should allow gay marriage is an entirely different issue that the church should have to deal without working to take away the rights of people who don’t care about Leviticus or Romans or whichever your favourite scripture to quote is.

Brandon, the idea of whether or not homosexuality is not OK is usually built on some religious foundation. Reread previous paragraph. :-) The few people who are anti gay marriage for other reasons are not significant enough in number to care about, plus, they aren’t the people trying to prevent gays from marrying.

d.j.free, I am with you on marriage being a social construct. I definitely remember some discussions in my human geography classes about economic and social relevance of multiple wives and numerous children, in the past in and still so in some developing regions. And no, these multiple wives do not always come with problems. Presently, the generally accepted opinion is that this is not so great, and we have changed the sermons in church to say the same.

I think what is more interesting is how Christians have made up /added all these details and rites to what is the biblical way of things and insist it is the right way. How many times have you heard that for it to be a proper Christian wedding, the bride must wear white, the groom can’t wear high heels (ok, just kidding here) and the “traditional vows” have to be used? If/when I do get married, my dad is going to send out to his hometown to find someone for me. Their father’s servant will be waiting by the well. My parents will be happy and bless us and their parents will be happy and bless us and maybe throw in a few camels. This is the biblical way, none of that catering to the wedding/church industry.

And I am pretty certain that “fear of commitment people” (let’s be fair here) will soon enough find ways to get out of civil unions too. And I am also pretty certain that numerous people who have been in serious relationship for a long time without legal marriage (for whatever reason) will take some offence at your implying that their relationships are not as strong as say Britney and K. Fed’s legal union (end of picking on celebs for the day).

I really should update my own blog and stop hogging other people’s. OK, back to doing boring stuff like reading some weirdo’s research and teaching statements. I know who to blame for distractions.

D.J. Free! said...

thanx for the comment, tweety.

first, a note about not being PC (regarding "fear-of-committment straight men") - this was more or less a direct quote from the psychiatrist i was speaking to. she's quite un-PC, and frankly, i kind of like it :)

secondly, those serious relationshippers who've lasted through the years may very well be offended by the assertions my psychiatrist friend was making - but only if they fail to look beyond the surface.

i think the real crux of the matter is that we have a serious problem in our country with sticking things out. at the first sign of trouble, we tend to bail. we see it in marriage, we see it the business world, we see it all over. and frankly, i dont think you CAN have a strong society in light of that.

so in that sense, i think my psychiatrist friend is really saying that civil unions is not enough. what we need to really be encouraging in our society is a willingness to make the kind of life-long committments to one another that "marriage" tries to realize. unfortunately, "marriage" doesn't quite do that these days, as we've lost an ability to stand firm in that promise.

i think her argument is that to have anything LESS than "marriage" (when marriage itself is ALREADY a watered down version of what it once was) will only make us weaker as a nation, since we will be even less willing to make life-long promises to one another.

in other words, it's not about whether we CALL it marriage or civil unions or whatever. the underlying issue here is what it all signifies.

i've probably made no sense whatsoever, b/c it's well past my bedtime. i'm gonna hate myself for having written this come morning time :)