Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
On gay marriage.

Politically speaking, I'm a pretty staunch moderate, so things like today's New York Times story "Bush Looking for Means to Prevent Gay Marriage in U.S." (registration required, yadda yadda yadda), really sticks a burr under my saddle.

First, I believe that sexual preference is right up there with skin color and physical build. Saying that gay couples can't get married to me is like saying that black couples can't get married, or fat people can't get married.

Second, I believe that consertives like Rick Santorum that try to link homosexuality with incest and polygamy need to provide some cold, hard data before they start waving those claims around. Unless the percentage of gay people who engage in incest or hurtful polygamy can be truly proven to be greater than the percentage of straight people involved in the same actions, pipe down.

Third, building on that previous point, aren't polygamy and marriage theoretically antithetical to one another? If you're ranting and raving about the gay community engaging in wanton sex and hedonism, then give them a more attractive option by legalizing gay marriage. Rendering that option illegal would seem to only encourage the very behavior you're condemning.

Fourth, why the hell is it legal for married couples to receive preferred status in anything anyway? Some of the supporters of gay marriage I used to speak with back in college had lists as long as their arms of advantages offered to married couples – most notably things like health insurance. While it makes sense that two people engaged in a dedicated relationship are more likely to live healthier lives than those of us running around reckelessly drinking and engaging in wantonly hedonistic behavior, why does saying "I do" in front of a priest or a judge make that relationship any healthier than one where the two people have simply sworn themselves to each other, like a solid monogamous gay relationship (which would otherwise be marriage)?

Finally, this entire state of affairs smacks of Bush's willful dissolution of the separation of church and state. Legalizing gay marriage shouldn't mean that all churches are forced to perform the service, but rendering it illegal would mean that none of them could – which is the government determining what the church can or cannot do. If your religion says that gays can't be married, fine – then it's your religion that will have to explain that despite it being legal for gays to be married, this particular church does not condone that type of thing and candidates looking for those services will have to look elsewhere. If this causes a new split in the church, fine – that's where new religions come from. If the big split between Catholicism and Protestantism came about over the morality of where the King could stick his willy, doesn't it make sense that a 21st-century split should be equally organically sound? What's worrying about the gay marriage issue at hand right now is that the separation of church and state was implemented to prevent this very state of affairs, namely the chaos and persecution that was so heavy-handed in Europe way back in the day.

Which brings me to my final point – unless conservatives can really and truly prove that this particular lifestyle is harmful (in the same way that, say, child prostitution and heroin are harmful), then isn't slamming legal mandates down onto alternate lifestyles a very pointed violation of their constituents' right to the pursuit of happiness?

In short, while there may be plenty of reasons why churches should not be legally forced to perform gay marriages, rendering it illegal for any church to provide such a service, or legally condoning discrimination based on sexual preference, feels to me like the very same prejudice that our country fought back in the 60s. While we may be forced to grudgingly accept some more draconian laws after 9/11, our country's newfound conservativism should not extend to the curbing of civil rights.


I hate to disagree with you, in part. The church can decide if they want to perform these marraiges based on their own beliefs. George gets to decide if the STATE (judges and City Courts) can perform these marraiges. Therefore I don't agree with you. In this case there is an enourmous distance between church and state. What you need to worry about is George stepping into the ground of discrimination by Judges who are suppose to judge blindly. If you haven't noticed, he is pretty consistent with this line of questioning. Conservitive is as conservitive does.

Speacking of discrimination, did you know that gays (especially men) are not allowed to donate blood? Back in the 70's Reagan decided AIDS was a gay disease. The Red Cross bought it hook line and sinker (along with the rest of the US) and closed the door to gay blood donations. The interesting point is that since the 70's, we have learned that pinning AIDS on the gays was ridiculous.Therefore the ban to gay blood donation should have been lifted. But it wasn't. When giving blood they always ask you if you have participated in sex with men who have had sex with men. If you answered Yes to that question, they show you the door.

That's fucked up.

I agree with you on the fucked-upedness of the ban on gay blood donation, but I *do* disagree with you on the point of what George is really up to. If Bush renders gay marriage illegal, then any church who *wants* to perform a gay marriage ceremony is basically just putting on a show. If a church performs it but the state considers it invalid, what good is the marriage, other than as a performance for your friends and relatives?

I had this same argument with a friend of mine the other day. While it's true that what George is only allowed to control is the legal system, this is by no means a secular issue.

If this were a completely secular, legal issue, the argument would go something like this:

- Individuals engaged in a loving, cooperative relationship are a lower risk for dangerous behavior

- Individuals who are a lower risk for dangerous behavior should be rewarded

- Men and women are equal

Conclusion: Two people, be they men or women, who are engaged in a loving, cooperative relationship should be equally rewarded.

What's the secular counterargument? That we encourage men and women to engage in loving, cooperative relationships in hopes that they breed? In our day and age of teenage parenthood and overpopulation concerns, why in the world would we want to encourage people to marry as a catalyst for further breeding?

As near as I can tell, the secular conservative would argue that those 'rewards' are there to encourage the continued existence of couples that adhere to the conservative idea of what the family unit should be – an idea that may very well be as outdated as slavery or keeping women barefoot and pregnant. What advantages can that unit be scientifically shown to truly provide, especially in a world that has a greater than 50% divorce rate?

It seems to me that what we're seeing here is the moral directives of the church affecting what should be secular. By rendering gay marriage illegal, Bush is attempting to withhold certain priveleges from a class of citizens based on sexual preference. How is this not discrimination? If I were a lawyer on this case that tried to prove that the grounds for legal marriage required one man and one woman, I would be arguing for discriminatory practices – and saying "Well, that's the way the law was written, so that's what we have to adhere to" would be saying, "Yep, it's unconstitutional and we like it that way, so scram."

(Ugh. Once again the Canadians prove their cultural superiority.)

Just recently got hitched. I'm bi. Coulda married a woman, but the one for me turned out to be a man. Huge surprise, FYI.

As this debate rages on, I find it fascinating that all these fun perks like my car insurance going down, my ability to access my husband's bank account if he's in the hospital and a vegetable, not to mention the tax break I'm gonna get this year, plus being able to have my wedding in a church, which is very important to me...all these perks wouldn't be there if Andrew had been Andrea. Same Erika. Same committment. Same vows. Very different result in the eyes of the law and in the church.

Makes me feel a little guilty.

Nothing intelligent to add to the debate, sorry. Too close to home.

Geoff, I'm not arguing that Bush isn't trying to discriminate against gays. He already does it and isn't afraid of people knowing it.

Wouldn't you agree that on a whole most mainline churches are more conservative in nature? It wouldn't change too much to have the State ban gay marriages as far as the churches were concerned. Most of them still think being gay is a Sin.

Want to howl? My parents are Episcopalian (Catholic Lite) and they needed to find a new head priest (Rector) so they went looking. Their best candidate was a gay women from NJ. That's right. A Gay woman heading up a church in a religion that doesn't support the union between her and her partner. Fucked up.

We are on the same page Geoff. One of my brother's and my sister is gay. I think Bush is nothing. Less than nothing. He has no brain and could care less for anyone but himself. What a role model.

In many countries in this fine world we live in, couples wishing to legally marry must have a civil ceremony. This is usually a small, low-key affair at the courthouse. Those chosing to marry in the church, synagogue, mosque (you get the idea) then hold a subsequent ceremony. This usually has all the pomp and circumstance consistent with the tradition of their faith and families.

So, if gay marriage remains illegal, I don't think that will change a conservative or liberal religious organization's general view and practice on same-sex marriage. If gay marriage is made legal, I don't think that will change a conservative or liberal religious organization's general view and practice on same-sex marriage. I would be distressed if it did.

When one argues that a church ceremony means little if the legal marriage is not there, I cannot agree. No, I promise I'm not an idiot. I recognize that the legal distiinctions between gay couples and straight, married couples, are significant with regard to personal rights. I must say, though, that as a believer of God and a member of a faith community, my marriage vows completed a covenant between myself, my husband, and God. That is incredibly significant and meaningful, and quite frankly, more binding that any legal commitment could be. My legal marriage is a contract, my Christian marriage is a covenant. Furthermore, as Catholics, the marriage I share with Mike is a holy sacrament, with all the special blessing and grace that provides.

So, there's my two cents. I have about 45 cents on the subject, but this isn't the right forum---I'm wary of any moral/political discussion that does not allow for the interpretation of inflection and body language.

Cheers, all.

Not that I have a *whole* lot to add to the debate (well, other than confirming that Kori's arguments are *much* better when you can see the gestures), but I've stuck my own perspective on my 'blog: (it'll probably be the top entry through at least the weekend, but if not, the direct link is

Following on Kori's point, in a sense, the state of Virginia has a similar arrangement -- in most cases, the *ceremony* is a single one, but ministerial ordination is not sufficient to perform legal marriages. The state licenses those who can perform legal ceremonies. I actually like that system -- it helps separate the religious and civil aspects of it (without delving into the dangerous territory of discriminating against any particular religious group, as has happened elsewhere).

Kori, I apologize. I went back and reread the paragraph I wrote about a legally unrecognized marriage ceremony just being a dog-and-pony show for your friends and relatives, and in retrospect that was too harsh -- I didn't mean to belittle such an important thing.

For anybody that hasn't read Bill's essay on this, go do so now. It's very well done.

i think that all you fags who support gay rights should all die. You all should realize what was meant when God created man, it wasnt for the man to be with a man, but for the man to be with a woman. You can notice a big change in our society since we have separated church from state. we took God from schools so kids began to take guns, so guns replace God, drugs also replace God, its all wrong, and believe it or not, it all ties together in the fact that when CHRISTianity is not present, wrong things happen, and these wrong things will be justified in the end, so I hope that all of you homosexual people and supporters of gay rights find Jesus before it is too late


Speaking as a Christian, I would suggest Mr. Hicks go back and re-read the bible, especially the part where Christ tells us he has a new commandment for us, to love each other as he has loved us. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees, telling anyone to die is decidedly un-Christian. It is our Christian responsibility to love our neighbors -- as Christ taught us, what good does it do to love someone who loves us back? The true test is loving those who do not love us. And so, I can forgive and pity this poster. Mr. Hicks is displaying his ignorance, and might wish to go looking for Jesus a little bit harder before he starts casting the first stone.

I will pray for you, Mr. Hicks. God bless you and have mercy on you.

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