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Gay Community’s Two Conversations on Marriage

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 5:39 pm - December 31, 2006.
Filed under: Civil Discourse,Gay Marriage,Gay Politics

In my most recent post on gay marriage, I repeated a point I have been making for as long as I’ve been blogging on the topic, noting that many gay leaders, including some staunch advocates of gay marriage, seem unwilling to debate this issue. I have long thought that a debate would serve us well, very well.

As I look at the conversations taking place on gay marriage, I see an interesting dichotomy in our community. On the one hand, in the judicial (and sometimes political) arena, gay leaders and activists are pushing for state recognition of gay marriage. In our communities, however, they seem reluctant to discuss what this institution means.

To be sure, there are exceptions, notably writers Dale Carpenter and Jonathan Rauch, the latter who penned a chapter, “What Marriage is For,” in his book, Gay Marriage : Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America which gets at the meaning of marriage.

We seem to be having two conversations on gay marriage. In pushing for gay marriage, advocates demand “marriage equality,” requesting that the state recognize our unions as it does straight unions — and call them by the same name. But, in our community, those very advocates seem reluctant to promote the idea of marriage. Unlike Jonathan Rauch, they are unwilling to discuss the benefits of this ancient institution.

It seems that just as gay leaders — and other advocates of same-sex marriage — are eager to keep the issue out of the political arena (preferring to push it through the courts), they’re also eager to keep it out of the social arena. They seem to see marriage as “right” to which we are all entitled, merely because the state grants this “right” to straight people. They limit their conversations on gay marriage to advocating for that “right,” state recognition of marriage.

Yet, if we are truly serious about marriage, we need to understand that while it is be a legal institution, it’s a legal institution with significant, social and moral aspects. We need not only bring the conversation about gay marriage out of the courts and into the public square, but also into our community organizations, the places we socialize and into our very homes.

In one of the few serious pieces on gay marriage, his 1989 essay “Here Comes the Groom,” Andrew Sullivan noted that it was “no accident” that his case for gay marriage sounded “socially conservative:”

Gay marriage also places more responsibilities upon gays: it says for the first time that gay relationships are not better or worse than straight relationships, and that the same is expected of them. And it’s clear and dignified. There’s a legal benefit to a clear, common symbol of commitment. There’s also a personal benefit.

That the “same is expected of us” means that, in electing marriage, we agree to undertake the same obligations that straight married couples undertake. If we’re serious about marriage, we need to talk about those obligations — and make clear that we are capable of meeting them. And while those obligations may be burdensome, there is a personal benefit to the sacrifices we make.

Marriage not only helps promote a more stable and secure social life for the individuals involved, it also helps deepen the connection between the two individuals joined in this sacred union. By fulfilling the obligations of marriage, we develop a more intimate relationship, a stronger, lasting bond with another human being. And thus together, we are better able to weather the difficulties which inhere in life — and to celebrate its joys.

As 2006 draws to a close, in order to show how serious they are about their cause, advocates of gay marriage should vow to talk more about their issue. They should make clear to the world at large that gay people who choose marriage are willing to live up to the obligations of this ancient institution. And to our own community, they need show the benefits that arise from meeting those obligations.

-B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)

UPDATE: One thing I have learned as I go through the mass of papers in my apartment is how long I have thought about these two “conversations.” I discovered a note where I had scribbled:

Two conversations on marriage: 

M[arriage] equality
covenant

As we push for the privileges which states offer married couples (which advocates calls “marriage equality”), we need make clear that we understand the covenant which marriage entails.

For, as I wrote on another piece of paper, in the marriage debate, the “burden is on those proposing change.” Since advocates of “marriage equality” want to extend the privileges of this ancient institution, long defined as a union between individuals of different genders to those of the same sex, they need to articulate why this change is a good thing — both for our society at large and for the individuals who would enter into such covenantal relationships.

Sondra K — Grande Conservative Blogress Diva 2007

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 5:07 pm - December 31, 2006.
Filed under: Blogging,Mythology and the real world

With 531 votes at 5 PM EST, Sondra K of Knowledge is Power has retained her title as Grande Conservative Blogress Diva, this year surviving two rounds. Sondra had a strong finish, besting three amazing blogresses, Ann Althouse, Townhall’s Mary Katharine Ham and Michelle Malkin.

We’re confident that, in the coming year, she’ll show, through her frequent, witty posts that she truly is a Diva.

Congratulations, Sondra K. While you may be the Grande Conservative Blogress Diva, your erstwhile competitors — in both rounds — are all divas as well. And we gay men will continue to look up to them and admire them and their work.

Gerald Ford And Gays: The Unknown Story

Hat tip to GayOrbit for highlighting this article.

Ford Praised For Backing Gay Equality – Washington Blade

Although Ford did not take a public stand on gay issues during his presidency, gay activists have credited him with using his enormous stature as a past president and elder statesman to speak out for gay civil rights.

In a widely read interview in October 2001 with lesbian columnist Deb Price of the Detroit News, Ford called on his fellow Republicans to join him in supporting equal treatment for gay people.

“I have always believed in an inclusive policy, in welcoming gays and others into the party,” Ford said. “I think the party has to have an umbrella philosophy if it expects to win elections.”

When asked by Price if gay couples should receive the same economic benefits as married couples, such as Social Security and tax deductions, Ford said, “I don’t see why they shouldn’t. I think that’s a proper goal…I think they ought to be treated equally. Period.”

Ford’s gay-supportive comments in the Price interview prompted the Republican Unity Coalition, a gay-straight alliance that advocated support for gay issues within the Republican Party, to invite Ford to join its advisory board.

****

Ford later expressed support for legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace.

In September 1975, shortly after Ford became president and years before he spoke out on gay issues, a gay man in San Francisco saved his life by grabbing the arm of a deranged woman as she pointed a revolver at Ford’s head. The incident occurred as Ford emerged from the Saint Francis Hotel, with more than 2000 people waiting to greet the new president. 

This piece was great to read because I wasn’t aware of President Ford’s presence on the board of the Republican Unity Coalition (to which I have donated in the past), or his position on gay issues.  That being said, I have always shared the same fondness for President Ford that Dan expressed earlier.

Although the media has been characterizing Ford as being somewhat of a transition figure from Rockefeller Republicans to Reagan Republicans, I believe history will show that in only two short years, Gerald Ford helped this nation ten times more than the man who defeated him in 1976.

Certainly Ford’s vocal support for gay equality completes my admiration of our 38th President.  Rest in peace, Mr. President.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)