Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Publish Day - taking on the same-sex marriage debate

My righteous sense of indignation kicked in again this week, and it's evident in my latest column in today's London Free Press, Why drag God into same-sex furor?

Up here north of the border, the government has proposed legislation that will make same-sex unions legal. Since the ruling Liberals form only a minority government, everyone and his/her dog has been mustering opposition to the proposed law. Most opponents use the old - and pathetic - "it's an abomination" excuse, and it's been bothering me immensely that society-scale discrimination can go on right under our noses.

The only abomination going on here is society's tacit acceptance of this. It starts us down the slippery slope to singling out pretty much any minority we wish. It's not like this sort of thing hasn't happened before, and it looks like we are letting it happen again.

So I wrote about it. I hope my words have an impact, any impact. I hope you are as moved by this issue as I am. I hope you'll share your thoughts - whatever they may be - with me and my readers here.


Gerald Buckley said...

I wholeheartedly believe same-sex-marriage is a poor idea for some of the same reasoning you invoke: Slippery slope. Where do we draw the line? Can I marry my sister? My brother? My mom? My cat? I'm intentionally getting outlandish with the concept. Just so we're clear OK? So, back to the center...

If all we're really talking about is granting someone legal rights (medical group coverage on a partners plan or inheritance or tax status) I am 100% for changing laws to accomodate those ends. In fact, I would LOVE to be able to include my aging inlaws on my group coverage at the office. But, they're not my dependants (legally).

Where I have a problem is marriage as a holy sacrament between a man and a woman being altered in such a way as to change the meaning of a thing. The Boy Scouts of America are just THAT... BOY Scouts. Same with GIRL Scouts. I happen to be Catholic. Do I feel another denomination should be able to share in my Catholic Holy Communion? No way!

Follow along with me... I'm weaving a story here :)

I'm sure there are some FINE countries to become citizens of and they correctly guard the granting of citizenship like gold. Well... is it discriminating against me to NOT allow me to automagically become a citizen just because I want to be? I think there are some lines in our societies that need to be declared, observed and upheld (I may not have done a very good job on any of the above points). I believe the sanctity of the sacrament of marriage ought to be one of those cases.

God is at the center of marriage and should remain there.

Chris said...

Gerald: does that mean that being a member of a recognized religious group should be a prerequisite to marriage? What about those of us who do not support, or believe in, any of the major religions? Should we also be barred from marrying?

Willow said...

How better to analyze what's really there than to show what's really there? Excellent! I actually laughed at the part where you transition to hetero-marraiges failing on their own. It's so true and how many actually consider it?

Great eye-popper, Carmi!

Linda said...

Gerald - Pardon me, but I thought LOVE was at the center of all marriage. Do you believe God granted LOVE just for heterosexuals?

Where do we draw the line? Can I marry my sister? My brother? My mom? My cat?Oh please! You seem to know so much about the law yet forget that those restrictions can easily be written into the law...just like they are for homosexuals right now. Just because you give rights to one group doesn't mean all others get the rights by default. We DO have a pretty intelligent legal system, despite its many faults.

Carmi - The article was awesome. The religion card is very strong nowadays. It doesn't take much to see that in many ways the wars around the world right now are holy wars. Some, sadly, are in our own back yard. Some of them come from people who are against abortion and simultaneously for capital punishment and atrocities of war. Religion seems to be nothing more than justified hypocrisy in such circumstances. I truly wish that more people tap into their personal relationship with God and let the dogma go. I can dream, right?

Chris said...

Carmi: excellent article. I hadn't had a chance to read it when I commented earlier. I also find it quite alarming that American religious groups are lobbying Canadian politicians to defeat the same-sex bill.

Wheelson said...

Well done Carmi. This is an argument that I feel passionately about and you did an excellent job defending it.

However, one argument I rarely hear (and I'm not faulting you for leaving it out since it's a bit technical and dry) is few people bring up the original meaning of the words they use to condemn homosexuals. Conservatives will point out how this or that has been taught for thousands of years, as if to imply homosexuality has "always" been "wrong". In countering, too many people say that we should interpret those words flexibly. That may be true, but it's a weak argument. A stronger argument is to undermine rather than counter, the argument that the words even meant what the conservatives say they do in the first place.

Same sex relationships as referred to in ancient religious texts refer to prostitution and rape. No wonder they condemned them! That is totally different than two consenting adults who commit to a mutual relationship. I would suggest to anyone interested in this topic to do research on these texts that form the basis for many people's opinions before making too many conclusions.

With this in mind, it is interesting to note that "conservative" arguments for interpreting ancient texts using today's context is actually a liberal notion, not conservative.

I'd like a conservative to define for me marriage. It would probably be something like, two consenting adults (one man and one woman), who commit to a mutual and legally binding relationship. Ok, now replace "one man and one woman" with "two people". What problems does that cause? Leaving your religion out of it, what problem does that cause?

Does it "open the flood gates" for people marrying sisters and having more than one wife, or cats? Nope. A cat (or a child for that matter) is not an adult capable of entering into a mutual and legally binding bond. Marrying siblings and other close cousins has serious implications to public health so there are laws against that. Marrying more than one person has been dealt with in this country. The thing to remember is allowing gay marriages doesn't help or hurt that debate.

So again, what problem does gay marriage cause leaving religion out of it?

Gerald Buckley said...

Can/should only 'religious' marry? Hmmm...? Nope. Got me on that one. Concede that point.

Where I see our differences really coming to the apex is: I see (my) marriage as a sanctified, sealed bond in front of (my) God; Some others may see it as an 'exchange of vows' in a courthouse/ship; Others still may see it as a convenience for all the legal bennies that come with it and as such can be dissolved as conveniently as it was entered into.

So, OK? No one's wrong and no ONE plan fits everyone. Let's turn the question the other way around... What GOOD does same sex marriage do? What does it add to society? Is it inclusion, understanding, acceptance...?

I do LOVE my gay friend Chuck. He's awesome. He was the best man in my wedding (14 years ago). I have no problem with his sexuality (or his partner's). I (me, personally) have a problem with the sanctity of marriage being altered in such a way as to become something it was not intended to be.

Someone mentioned polygamy and noted we as a country dealt with that one... You're right. We did. I think you see the same thing going on here. Marriage = SOMETHING SPECIFIC (and same sex marriage doesn't fit that definition any more than polygamy did).

I like the discussion folks and I may not make an articulate argument... you may even shed some light on some flawed thinking on my part... let's keep the talk going though (even if I come across as uneducated on the topic). It's all in good spirit.

Trillian said...

Carmi - well written! I can't add anything that Wheelson and sxkitten haven't already said.

Thumper said...

Great article.

Personally...I have a serious problem with people trying to play the religious card on this issue. A religious marriage and a legal marriage are 2 separate things. I absolutely believe that *any* church should be able to deny a marriage ceremony to *anyone* if it violates their basic principles. But I don't think any government outside a theocracy should be able to deny 2 people, regardless of sexual orientation, the right to form a legal family.

This isn't a religious issue. It's a legal one. Very different things.

And the sanctity of heteroexual marriage? Please... we blew that out of the water all by ourselves a long, long time ago. We made a cosmic joke out of it with the likes of pop stars getting married "as a joke" and then getting it annulled a day later. With men beating the crap out of their wives--and vice versa. Adultery... 'Straight' people surely ruined the notion of Sanctity of Marriage already.

And the guy who sugessted the line need to be drawn before he marries his mother or his cat (sorry, can't recall the name, but it was the first comment.) Hey, if you and your mother are all for it, who am I to say you can't do that? How does it hurt me or my religious beliefs? I sure as heck don't have to associate with you it I'm that offended or creeped out (and yeah, I would be creeped out.) But marrying your cat...nonsense. Your mom can give consent, your cat cannot.

It doesn't make me any less married if my gay neighbors ties the knot, now, does it?

MorahMommy said...

In response to Gerald "What GOOD does same sex marriage do? What does it add to society? Is it inclusion, understanding, acceptance...?"
Same sex marriage will allow partners to have the same rights as heterosexual couples. Why should only heterosexual committed relationships be protected by law?

Why do you ask what same sex marriage can do for society? Marriage is a committement between to consenting adults; who love each other and want to share their lives with each other. Society has nothing to do with it.

Gerald Buckley said...

About the cat thing... I told you up front I was being outlandish ok? ;)

I still stand by drawing the line thing. At some point we wind up doing the whole Lord of the Flies thing and letting our base, inner-animal instincts guide us. Some might say that's some of what's wrong with the world today. Too little restraint and too much gut reaction.

All I'm after is a little more adherence to tradition. I don't care if my pal Chuck is having the time of his life with his gay partner. I hope they're happy, please each other immensely and are afforded all the bennies other couples have (health care, adoption privledges, etc). Just not marriage.

What kinds of traditions do you really cling to? What's special to you in that way? Now, imagine someone is trying to tell you that tradition should now include something that it is not now and never has been and doesn't need to be.

Various states/countries have different laws on similar matters. For instance, Montana has a "drive at a reasonable speed" rule-of-the-road and Oklahoma enforces a 65 mph rule-of-the-road. I suppose if it's left up to the states to decide... Further differentiating one another might not be a bad thing. Married gay couples will choose to marry and perhaps live in one state/country and I'll choose to live in another. That's OK too I suppose: I don't agree with all international laws. Doesn't prevent me from enjoying and respecting people from other walks of life. I elect not to live under their rules.

Civil wars are fought over matters of similar principle . Can you see this going that far?

vegemiterules said...

G'day Carmi, you have brought up a "topic for discussion" that is so very close to my heart. I will be back to add some comments, just at this moment I have an "assignment" to finish to hand in tomorrow. I have briefly read your "article" and "skimmed" the various comments, I am just alerting you all here, I am not very "articulate" with words, I can only speak with my "heart", I will be back tomorrow to "comment" as an Aunty and as a friend of "same sex" relationships. xoxoxo

Linda said...


Let me see if I understand you correctly. You're saying that marriage is something that you consider sacred. You're saying that it is a commitment before God. You're saying that it is a tradition you hold dear. And, you're saying that you don't want homosexuals to have any part of that?

Additionally, you're saying that the institution of marriage, as it stands now between a man and a woman, keeps other outlandish things from happening. And, you're also saying that changing the law would change the meaning of YOUR marriage and the marriage of other heterosexuals just because the definition has changed.

Is that accurate?

markisdead said...

This seems to be an argument about the meaning of the word 'marriage'.

Only the homophobic would deny that same-sex couples deserve to have their partnership recognised by the state. How about appeasing the religious groups by not calling it marriage? Of course, gay couples will still say they are married, and in time, the definition of marriage will come to include all partnerships. I believe it will be impossible to prevent the definition of the word changing, but not making it official will soothe the transition. It's all about the unstoppable evolution of language.

Do you guys not think that this would be the fairest option?

Windrider said...

HI Carmi,

I've been a lurker on your board for a while.. I have to commend you on the article you wrote. It was very thoughtful, and well said..

Here's my two cents on it.

As an american who was raised in the south I was fed a non-stop flood of anti-gay propaganda. By the churches, by the locals, and by the society I lived in. It seems the "love thy neighbor" mantra so often preached and proclaimed only applied to those who were of the same mindset.It was unavoidable, and was a constant topic of discussion.

And for a long time I accepted it as the truth, and the right way to think about the matter. I am not proud of this, but I did feel that way. Religious and cultural pressure are horrible things indeed.

To the shock of alot of people my beliefs have changed.. Largely due to expanding my mind, and learning to accept a "live and let live " philosophy.

If the same sex couple living next to me truly loves one another, and wishes to be married I see no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to do so. In fact, I say "good for them!" Marriage is about love, and commitment.

If two men, or two women are in love with one another and committed why should they be denied the same rights and priveledges as a heterosexual couple?

Answer: They shouldnt be denied any right that others have, based on sexual orientation.

They aren't "harshing my gig" , or invading my personal space with their decision to wed, or be committed to one another for life

Religious groups have done nothing but try to peddle their doctrine off upon the society at large. Selling, and forcing their brand of morals and ethics based on whatever god they worship on the rest of society, and for their own gain. It sickens me to no end to see so called "religious leaders" speaking on the topic. In fact, it's just down right nauseating.

These people spew forth malice and venom that has been sugar coated, and painted.. it is hate, being expressed with a smile on the face. Not to mention down right cheeky, and egotistical.

EJ said...

I have a question. Since obviously for those who are opposed to gay marriage it truly is a religious issue I must know this:

When did the church, your church, become MY government?

I live in the US, in the Midwest actually and in an area that is opposed to gay marriage (and now any adult business as they are trying to pass a sin tax). I wonder where religion being allowed to pass laws and rule government ends. I thought in my country I could practice or NOT practice any religion I chose and not be discriminated against. Yet here they are trying to write laws that will discriminate.

Here in my part of the world I become more and more afraid everyday that religion will eventually take over. I was raised by fanatical holy rollers and escaped...I feel like a person who has been released from prison and will do ANYTHING not to go back.

Photominer said...

Well, no one ever called you shy about taking on issues Carmi. Kudos! And here I am with my 2 cents (even though I promised not to blog for a bit).

It seems to me that it all revolves around the meaning of marriage both in religious and civic/government terms. As someone pointed out, their marriage is a culmination of their love for each other, a visible demonstration of their commitment. Well let me ask this:

Which part of the recognition is more important to you? The civil side (a civil ceremony, plus legal recognition) or the religious side (ceremony, recognition within your church)? If you are making your argument on religious grounds, then why would the civil side be so important to you? Lobby your church not to perform them if you must, but leave it out of the government. Here in Canada we have religious freedom, and that includes the right NOT to worship if we so choose, so why should your religious beliefs be thrust upon others?

Should we take the bible literally (because this seems to be a predominately Christian argument)? It seems to me that if you do that you can't pick and choose which things in the bible are outdated, can you? I can think of a great number of things that have changed since it was written, should we take away all of our strides forward (slavery, rights for women, religous tolerance to name a few)?

Great post Carmi, and this is a good argument. That's why we have elected officials isn't it? To make the hard decisions(if only they all didn't seem so eager to be lobbied, but thats another topic)? Lets just hope they follow their constituents' wishes, as they are supposed to.

Gerald Buckley said...

Linda -



And, correct.