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Random Thoughts on Gay Marriage

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:18 pm - March 31, 2013.
Filed under: Gay Marriage,New Media,Random Thoughts

A college classmate recently posted on Facebook about gay marriage.  And when I found myself weighing in, I offered a response a bit longer than I had anticipated.  It’s organized as are most of my post, more in the form of random thoughts, but since I took some time crafting it, I thought I would share with with you, slightly amended with links added:

As perhaps the only gay person on this thread, I must note that I have long been decidedly ambivalent on gay marriage, in part because many gay marriage advocates seem more interested in winning the culture wars than in promoting the institution and in part because of my studies of myth, psychology and anthropology and the longstanding human recognition of the importance of sex difference.  And marriage rituals of every culture (see van Gennep) are based upon bringing together individuals from different groups.

In my grad school paper for my Native American class, I researched the legends of the berdache, or two-spirit.  Many cite the berdacge tradition as an example of cultures which accept and embrace homosexuality and same-sex relationships.  And while many American Indian tribes recognized same-sex marriages, they all required one partner in such a union to live in the guise of the other sex.  Thus, if one man married another man, one would wear men’s clothes and go hunting with the “braves” while the other would have to wear women’s clothes and live as a “squaw.”  The one who lived as a woman could not go hunting with his same-sex peers nor could he participate in activities, rituals etc reserved for his biological sex.

Sex difference in short has long been inherent to the notion of marriage.

That said, I believe, states should — at minimum — recognize gay relationships as civil unions.  And perhaps the ideal would be for the state to simply call monogamous relationships “civil unions” (for all people) and let churches, synagogues, private individuals, etc. call them marriage — or whatever they want.

It doesn’t bother me that the state doesn’t call same-sex unions marriages.  What does bother me is cases like Edie Windsor the woman who brought the DOMA challenge.  Because that law prevents the federal government from recognizing her marriage, she, unless the court finds in her favor, would have to pay over $300,000 in taxes on her late wife’s estate.  Had the state recognized the union, that estate would pass to her without penalty as the surviving widow.  (Side note:  we wouldn’t have this issue if we didn’t have estate taxes, but that is another matter.)  It’s ridiculous that she should have to pay that amount on what was essentially her own estate.

Now, back to my point about sex difference and the meaning of marriage.  Over time, the notion of marriage has evolved.  And we should allow it to continue to do so.  Constitutional amendments interfere with organic processes; they prevented elected legislatures from addressing the issue.  And oftentimes, they (i.e., legislatures) do a good job of recognizing the concerns of opponents — and seeing the issue in a broader cultural context.

In New Hampshire, for example, then-Governor Lynch vetoed a bill passed by the legislature recognizing same-sex unions in his state.  He was personally opposed to gay marriage.  After the veto, responsible voices reached out to him and helped craft a religious liberty clause to tack on to the legislation.  With that amendment in place, the legislature voted again; the governor signed the new law.  Same-sex couples would get the benefits of marriage.  And religious groups had a guarantee that they could continue to define marriage in accordance with the dictates of their faith.

The example of the Granite State seems to be the best way to go.  Some states like New Jersey may call the unions something else, but at least they recognize them.  It’s unfortunate that in 2009 when they had the votes, the Democratic Congress didn’t move to repeal DOMA and pass federal civil unions.  Nor did Obama prod his fellow partisans to do so.

I’d like to see the Supreme Court rule in favor of Ms. Windsor and overturn section 3 of DOMA (I believe that’s the entirety of the issue before the court).  The Clinton-era law seems to violate the Tenth Amendment.  That said, it does trouble me that a court would resolve this important issue.   It will make opponents of gay marriage feel they have been left out of the process.

Which brings me back to New Hampshire.

In 2012, the Republican leadership of the state legislature moved to repeal the state’s recognition of same-sex marriages.  The move failed, with numerous Republicans joining Democrats in voting against repeal.  The mere fact that the legislature moved repeal helped secure the legitimacy of the initial legislation.  An elected legislature voted on the recognition.  After that vote, all members of the state House of Representatives were up for election.  And then, the new legislature in place, it voted again.  Between the two votes, the people had had a chance to weigh in.

On the whole the debate on gay marriage has been pretty pathetic, with one side crying for rights and calling its adversaries “haters” and the other saying (without any evidence) that gay marriage would destroy the institution.  It would be nice to see more talk about the meaning of this ancient and honorable institution.  Many of the gay couples I know have shown an understanding of that meaning, caring for spouses in sickness, helping them through difficult times, becoming part of each other’s families — and forging their own.

Maybe the consensus has been moving in favor of gay marriage because of people’s experience with those kinds of couples.

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44 Comments

  1. States should recognize same-sex couples’ contracts, yes. But once they (or the feds) start monkeying around with the tax codes to punish some groups and reward others, that is an egregious abuse of authority.

    I think single people deserve to keep a decent portion of their earnings, just as married people do. I doubt my views will change on that, even when there’s a Mrs. Lori. It’s more difficult for single people to make it in this world, anyway. Why add to their burdens more than absolutely necessary?

    Comment by Lori Heine — March 31, 2013 @ 6:39 pm - March 31, 2013

  2. Fascinating reading on the Two Spirit folk. Some incredible reading about the
    Growing information of the Two Spirit folk and how Native folk are reclaiming Two Spirits and displacing berdache

    Comment by rusty — March 31, 2013 @ 6:58 pm - March 31, 2013

  3. Civil unions for all — and the Fair Tax — would solve so many of these problems; but federal laws such as DOMA and the tax codes are clearly discriminatory, and should be declared unconstitutional. As usual, though, the justices’ questions did not seem to be substantive or on point.

    Comment by craig — March 31, 2013 @ 7:07 pm - March 31, 2013

  4. rusty, yeah, fascinating stuff on berdache. I used both words above because there seems disagreement on which is the more appropriate term.

    Berdache seems the more familiar, but two-spirit has been becoming increasingly accepted. Whatever the name, the traditions are just fascinating, especially when you see the traditions which often to turn to female-identified men as their shamans.

    Which has some similarities with the Greek Tiresias.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — March 31, 2013 @ 7:12 pm - March 31, 2013

  5. They should have gone for civil unions and left everything well enough alone. Just make a new arrangement a be done with it! The structure is already in place.

    The unintended consequences of the push for Gay marriage is going to bite everyone in the ass. Just wait till all the supporters realize that their taxes are going up to pay for the federal ENTITLEMENTS (and the only reason liberals even give a damn about this issue) for a whole new block of recipients.

    How do we explain to a person who chooses to live in a state that doesn’t recognize Gay marriage that some of the money he gives to the federal government will pay for the benefits of someone who lives in Maine? And how does this not possibly violate his freedom of religion?

    Why are we paying for federal marriage benefits again? (for anyone) Doesn’t that give state governments the authority to effect a change in the tax rate for people who don’t even live in their state?

    Yup, government just got a whole lot bigger, and a lot more complicated.

    Comment by gastorgrab — March 31, 2013 @ 8:28 pm - March 31, 2013

  6. “Sex difference in short has long been inherent to the notion of marriage.”

    —–

    For thousands of years, this was a necessity. A civilization could not replace the sick and dying without a source of new ‘recruits’. That civilization would die off.

    All human life is temporary, and the ability to replace what was lost was especially important to people who’s average life span was only 35 years.

    Comment by gastorgrab — March 31, 2013 @ 8:39 pm - March 31, 2013

  7. I had a discussion with my teenage daughter about this today. My concern has always been if the SCOTUS makes a ruling in favor of “gay marriage”, then just as has happened with the abuse of the ADA, every religious institution in the country will be under attack and sued if they do not comply. If we remove the government from marriage altogether, make all unions “civil” and allow for marriage as an added religious ceremony, it seems the problem would be solved. Religious institutions can pick and chose who they marry, respecting their values, while everyone is equal in the legal sense, i.e., taxes, social security, etc. Seems simple enough. However DC seems to thrive on complication and controversy.

    Comment by KellyinCali — March 31, 2013 @ 8:50 pm - March 31, 2013

  8. The ADA???? 🙂

    Comment by Sonicfrog — March 31, 2013 @ 9:38 pm - March 31, 2013

  9. I’m sure the American Dental Association can do some serious damage to our religious liberties.

    Comment by Lori Heine — March 31, 2013 @ 9:59 pm - March 31, 2013

  10. I’m sure #8 refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990).

    Comment by Jman1961 — March 31, 2013 @ 10:20 pm - March 31, 2013

  11. Your last paragraph is what I have been advocating for years. Even conservatives like Limbaugh and O’Reilly support civil unions.

    Comment by davinci — March 31, 2013 @ 11:26 pm - March 31, 2013

  12. Yes, and davinci, eight years ago, when I wrote this post on the civil unions vote in Connecticut, civil unions were a big thing, a novel thing. Now they’re the conservative position.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — April 1, 2013 @ 12:23 am - April 1, 2013

  13. I think single people deserve to keep a decent portion of their earnings, just as married people do. […] It’s more difficult for single people to make it in this world, anyway. Why add to their burdens more than absolutely necessary?

    This is probably what irritates me the most with the entire marriage debate. It’s the unconscious but still implicit portrayal of non-married (and thus legally single) individuals as either selfish losers or unrepentant sinners. Why should single people have to jump through all sorts of hoops just to protect our assets and rights when married persons have it automatically given to them? [Even though a marriage license is in no way a valid substitute for estate planning.] Why shouldn’t I be able to designate my own next-of-kin on my driver license (as some states allow now for purposes of notification in the event of incapacitation) and have that serve as the de facto ‘spousal equivalent’ unless I have made other arrangements (living will, durable power of attorney, etc)?

    Just as annoying was the yipping and yapping a few years ago about the “marriage penalty” in the tax code with little mention that the reason Congress originally put it into the tax code in 1969 was because they realized that single people were unfairly paying a higher amount of taxes.

    If you want to engage in your own little Cinderella fantasy, fine; but pay for your own damn benefits.

    Comment by RSG — April 1, 2013 @ 8:29 am - April 1, 2013

  14. Good post Daniel. I think as well that the main battle should be for Civil-Unions, and states should enact religious exceptions so the repeat of Massachusetts and Illinois with Catholic Charities won’t happen again. So bad was Massachusetts decision to chase a religious adoption agency that it made those who fought for children say the following:

    ✿ “Everyone’s still reeling from the decision,” Marylou Sudders, executive director of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC), said yesterday. “Ultimately, the only losers are the kids,” said Maureen Flatley, a Boston adoption consultant and lobbyist.

    I loved this info in the article, and I will incorporate it into my cumalative case:

    ——————————-
    ☎ In New Hampshire, for example, then-Governor Lynch vetoed a bill passed by the legislature recognizing same-sex unions in his state. He was personally opposed to gay marriage. After the veto, responsible voices reached out to him and helped craft a religious liberty clause to tack on to the legislation. With that amendment in place, the legislature voted again; the governor signed the new law. Same-sex couples would get the benefits of marriage. And religious groups had a guarantee that they could continue to define marriage in accordance with the dictates of their faith.
    ——————————-

    Much like Al Rantel, Tammy Bruce, Doug Mainwaring, Walt Heyer, and Paul Nathanson, gender is an important aspect of humankind (whether one believes in God or a blind evolutionary “honing” by nature). And IT should be celebrated as the ideal.

    I am off to work, but I enjoyed your input Daniel… it was refreshingly clear and thoughtful, to all sides. Which is what those on the Left of this culture war seem to not do — that is — use common sense and know what compromise is.

    And your points on taxes are poignant, in that, churches today do not realize the power they handed over via Johnson with the tax-exemption status. Their hands are tied. If I were to start a church I would not want it. People do not realize the freedom and power they hand over to others when they do (your Edie Windsor is a case in point).

    Much Thought,

    SeanG

    PS. I will miss the dinner if you have one this month… off to Hawaii at the end of April for a 15-day cruise. The benefits of a wife that works at Princess.

    Comment by Papa Giorgio — April 1, 2013 @ 8:48 am - April 1, 2013

  15. Let’s change the words around a bit.

    Why should a committed Gay couple, WHO DOESN’T BELIEVE IN THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE, have to pay higher taxes in order to support the people who do believe in marriage?

    Isn’t the institution itself a BELIEF that is independent of religion and society?

    Comment by gastorgrab — April 1, 2013 @ 8:50 am - April 1, 2013

  16. […] same-sex marriage and exploitation or twisting of nature (the “genderless” agenda). Gay Patriot eruditely points out that it has been done, and when done correctly, can be a wonderful […]

    Pingback by Religio-Political Talk (RPT) RPT`s Cumulative Case Why Same-Sex Relationships Should Not Be Normalized — April 1, 2013 @ 9:01 am - April 1, 2013

  17. You people, are so submissive. You’ll take any bone the right wing offers you. Oh, if they want us in civil union. That’s great. We take it.
    If they want us to disappear from the public sphere, like they did with you at CPAC, you say; ok, that’s ok. We’ll wait until you are ready, master.
    For whatever reason liberals had help gays is not a reason to turn to the gay bashing right wing.
    I’ll never understand your logic.
    Do you have a logical and rational explanation why you are on the side that doesn’t want or respect you?

    Comment by George — April 1, 2013 @ 9:04 am - April 1, 2013

  18. I updated my Cumulative case due to thoughts from this post. #’s 1 and 3 have been updated. #1 with some thoughts via Penn Jillette. And number 3 with thoughts from this post by Daniel:

    http://religiopoliticaltalk.com/rpts-cumulative-case-why-same-sex-relationships-should-not-be-normalized/

    Comment by Papa Giorgio — April 1, 2013 @ 10:06 am - April 1, 2013

  19. Poor George, so much hatred, so few facts.

    Very good comments Papa Giorgio.

    Comment by The_Livewire — April 1, 2013 @ 10:30 am - April 1, 2013

  20. I have long wished the debate centered on the desire for the institution rather than how it all isn’t “fair.”

    I also feel strongly that in states where marriages aren’t recognized and where other legislation has been passed to try to stop it from being the case, that the best move is to actually shoot for civil unions.

    I don’t particularly view the government’s recognition of my marriage what makes me married. My marriage is a marriage due to the vows said before the God we believe in and our friends and family. Those vows are what made us married and not the paperwork signed after the ceremony and filed with the state.

    Comment by Just Me — April 1, 2013 @ 8:34 pm - April 1, 2013

  21. “Those vows are what made us married and not the paperwork signed after the ceremony and filed with the state.”

    Then why did you bother filing with the state?

    19 States Ban Same sex marriage and Civil Unions through their constitution. Many people on this site claim that they are OK with Civil Unions, but I don’t see anyone on the “Gay Right” come out and challenge those states on those constitutional amendments. In fact, I don’t see any movement from the Right at all in challenging states to change their laws to allow Same Sex Civil Unions. – Maybe this is happening, but if so, I don’t see it.

    But this looks to be another example where the Right Leaning Gay folks will be “ambivalent” yet happily reap the benefits that the “gay left” brings to them.

    Comment by mike — April 2, 2013 @ 6:21 am - April 2, 2013

  22. poor mikey…

    Try new talking points, yours were shredded five years ago.

    (Aside, I think that’s the earliest I’ve found to me referring to Fred.)

    Comment by The_Livewire — April 2, 2013 @ 8:20 am - April 2, 2013

  23. What a great link to the 2008 comment! Thanks guys. I love it.

    Comment by Papa Giorgio — April 2, 2013 @ 9:17 am - April 2, 2013

  24. What a great link to the 2008 comment!

    For me, it’s more like ‘frightening’ to think I’ve been saying the same things for 5 years. And to some of the same people! 🙂

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — April 2, 2013 @ 10:43 am - April 2, 2013

  25. Have always enjoyed your perspective ILC and continue to appreciate your posts and comments

    Comment by rusty — April 2, 2013 @ 11:27 am - April 2, 2013

  26. Awww, thanks rusty!

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — April 2, 2013 @ 11:34 am - April 2, 2013

  27. Livewire – I don’t see how your link “shredded” anything I wrote. In fact it reinforces what I wrote. I see a lot of conservative folks in your link discussing how in theory civil unions between gay folks should be allowed. This was 2008, but there was no action from that side. And I don’t see any conservatives – except Paul Rand’s theoretical musings – pushing for the repeal of the laws/amendments to allow same sex civil unions.

    So instead the steam is left to the “gay left” and so they are controlling the debate. While the “gay right” is ambivalent on this issue yet I would wager dollars to dildos that folks like Bruce who are in committed relationships would partake in a legal marriage if the gay left wins.

    If conservatives want to save the traditional definition of marriage, then begin pushing for the repeal of the state amendments/laws that limit same sex civil unions. I don’t see this happening and therefore you will lose.

    Comment by mike — April 2, 2013 @ 9:08 pm - April 2, 2013

  28. The “traditional definition of marriage” had nothing to do with confiscating single people’s money via taxation.

    That’s the traditional definition of theft.

    Comment by Lori Heine — April 2, 2013 @ 11:39 pm - April 2, 2013

  29. Poor poor Mikey,

    If you choose not to see gay conservatives organizeing and moving since the 2008 post… well we can’t help that you’re blind.

    (Note, I’m not saying that posts like this were a factor in GOProud organizing, just pointing out linear time.)

    Comment by The_Livewire — April 3, 2013 @ 7:54 am - April 3, 2013

  30. […] Gay Patriot – Random Thoughts on Gay Marriage […]

    Pingback by Trevor Loudon's New Zeal Blog » Watcher’s Council Nominations… From My Cold Dead Hands Edition — April 3, 2013 @ 11:56 am - April 3, 2013

  31. Livewire
    From your own link, proof that indeed the gay right s doing nothing to push for civil unions:

    “Opposing federal marriage amendment banning same sex marriage. Support of state’s rightswhen it comes to marriage.”

    They say NOTHING about civil unions which most posters here pretend to support!. Why do you continue to post links that prove my point yet pretend you disagree?

    Comment by mike — April 3, 2013 @ 12:47 pm - April 3, 2013

  32. Livewire
    You do realize that the founder if GOP proud is leagally married don’t you?

    I very much appreciate you posting links that solidify my point.

    Comment by mike — April 3, 2013 @ 1:06 pm - April 3, 2013

  33. […] Gay Patriot – Random Thoughts on Gay Marriage […]

    Pingback by Watcher’s Council Nominations… From My Cold Dead Hands Edition | askmarion — April 3, 2013 @ 1:38 pm - April 3, 2013

  34. […] Gay Patriot – Random Thoughts on Gay Marriage […]

    Pingback by This Week’s Watcher’s Council Nominations | therightplanet.com — April 3, 2013 @ 3:00 pm - April 3, 2013

  35. ” It would be nice to see more talk about the meaning of this ancient and honorable institution. Many of the gay couples I know have shown an understanding of that meaning, caring for spouses in sickness, helping them through difficult times, becoming part of each other’s families — and forging their own.”

    I agree with that completely.

    Comment by Sara — April 3, 2013 @ 5:23 pm - April 3, 2013

  36. […] Gay Patriot – Random Thoughts on Gay Marriage […]

    Pingback by Watcher of Weasel Winners! | Independent Sentinel — April 3, 2013 @ 5:28 pm - April 3, 2013

  37. […] Gay Patriot – Random Thoughts on Gay Marriage […]

    Pingback by There Can Only Be One | — April 4, 2013 @ 12:41 am - April 4, 2013

  38. […] Gay Patriot – Random Thoughts on Gay Marriage […]

    Pingback by Watcher’s Council Nominations…From My Cold Dead Hands Edition » Virginia Right! — April 4, 2013 @ 8:46 am - April 4, 2013

  39. I’ve always said that gay people couldn’t damage the institution of marriage half as much as straight people already have.

    I can’t stop it if the left wants to view it as a “win” in the culture wars, but in my opinion the State should be out of the marriage business completely. Leave it to religious institutions to handle as they see fit, and allow something like “powers of attorney” for civil business, with as many people of as many sexes as requested.

    Comment by Scott Kirwjn — April 4, 2013 @ 9:11 pm - April 4, 2013

  40. […] were evenly split between Joshunpundit’s North Korea Beats The War Drums and Gay Patriot’s Random Thoughts on Gay Marriage and that means I get the opportunity to endorse Gay Patriots fine essay on same sex marriage as […]

    Pingback by The Council Has Spoken!! This Week’s Watcher’s Council Results | therightplanet.com — April 5, 2013 @ 9:00 am - April 5, 2013

  41. […] were evenly split between Joshunpundit’s: North Korea Beats The War Drums and Gay Patriot’s: Random Thoughts on Gay Marriage, and that means I get the opportunity to endorse Gay Patriot’s fine essay on same-sex […]

    Pingback by Trevor Loudon's New Zeal Blog » The Council Has Spoken!! This Week’s Watcher’s Council Results – 04/05/13 — April 5, 2013 @ 3:03 pm - April 5, 2013

  42. Gay marriage is a great idea. With the report that men and women are no longer marrying, what would divorce lawyers do? In order for this important group to continue to shower the Democrat party with contributions, their earning must continue.

    Comment by edwhy — April 5, 2013 @ 3:53 pm - April 5, 2013

  43. […] were evenly split between Joshunpundit’s North Korea Beats The War Drums and Gay Patriot’s Random Thoughts on Gay Marriage and that means I get the opportunity to endorse Gay Patriots fine essay on same sex marriage as […]

    Pingback by The Council Has Spoken!! This Week’s Watcher’s Council Results 04.05.13 | askmarion — April 6, 2013 @ 3:24 am - April 6, 2013

  44. […] his own research into the Native-American (NA) “two-spirits” designation, and I found this very […]

    Pingback by Religio-Political Talk (RPT) Proposition 8 ~ Concepts (4-6-2013) — April 13, 2013 @ 4:05 pm - April 13, 2013

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