August 18, 2004
Why not Same-sex marriage?

As most of my regular readers know, I am a strong supporter of allowing civil unions between same-sex couples. I suggest that the word "marriage" be retained only for unions performed in a church, while all secular unions (heterosexual or homosexual) be designated as civil unions, with the same legal rights and responsibilities. (I've blogged about the issue here, here, here, and here.)

Some time ago, I discovered an extremely well-written (not to mention calm and rational) argument against gun control, written by someone who had supported gun control prior to composing her paper (an assignment for a college class). Her research for the paper led her to change her mind on the issue. When her site disappeared, I assumed that it was gone forever, but I rediscovered it, in a new location. I was also pleased to find a pair of articles ("firestarters") she had authored on the SSM debate, and that many of her views were congruent with mine. The first one can be found here, while the second, which more-or-less summarizes her responses to feedback she received, can be found here. Of the two, I prefer the second, because it is a touch less dismissive of those who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds. She also posts the feedback she receives, with her responses, in a fashion that is almost blog-like. (Collie, start a blog!) While I don't agree with all of her arguments (particularly #6, which ratchets up the ick-meter to an uncomfortable level for me), it is well-written and internally consistent (something to which I will admit my opposition to #6 fails to achieve). Even if you disagree with her, she solicits responses; in fact, she notes that she prefers sharing with people who differing views, since it stimulates a discussion. Check out all three pieces; they're well worth your time and attention.

posted on August 18, 2004 01:58 PM


Civil Unions should apply to all unions, traditionally called marriage, regardless of sex of the couple in the union. The only requirement should be that the both are at least 18 years old and both consent to the union.

Marriage should be reserved for churches to perform and certify, however, marriages should not have any legal standing. There's this little thing about separation of church and state unless, of course, an action causes harm to a person involved.

The only union having legal standing should be Civil Unions.

IMHO, the above would be Constitutional.

posted by Old Friend on August 20, 2004 01:59 AM

I don't have a problem with same sex civil unions. I don't have a problem with a priest who blesses a same sex civil union.
I do have a problem with Bigamy, Polygamy, and polyamina.
That means a homsexual man, a bisexual man, a homosexual woman, a bisexual woman, and larry, who likes small children and animals. And they all want to get married. Because its their constitutional right. And they want to adopt and bring children into this newly evolved institution. And this priviledge will be extended to legal marriage. It should not, I mean never be decided in a court o' law.

If people want to make marriage include same sex marriage, change the state law.

This is where the Supreme court erred in the Roe vs. Wade decision: abortion was already legal, in some states at the time of Roe vs. Wade. And can you think of any decision as damaging to this country as Roe vs. Wade?

I can, it was called The Dread Scott Decision. And look what that lead to. Even when that and other rulings gave the south almost every thing they could have poosibly wanted from govt.

posted by myron on August 23, 2004 05:46 PM

Old Friend, the "little thing about separation of church and state" is a convenient shorthand for saying that the State should never have anything to do with supporting any kind of religious function. That's certainly a viewpoint you're welcome to support. However, neither the phrase nor the concept have anything to do with the Constitution.

What the Constitution does say is that "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion ..." This specifically refers to forbidding the Federal Government from passing legislation that favors the support of one religious sect above all others.

A church that is set above all others and whose clergy, religious observances, etc. are supported by tax dollars and other considerations was known then and is known now as an "established" church. For example, the Church of England is an "established" church. It's clergy are paid by the State, it's heirarchy are appointed by the government, the Head of State is the Head of the Church, and it's most senior Bishops sit as part of the House of Lords and have legislative powers purely as a function of their ecclesiastical office. While other churches are free to exist in England now, they were not at the time the Constitution was written and even now don't have any of the official privileges and powers that the Church of England has. Other present-day examples can be found in Iran, and to a lesser degree in various other Moslem countries where Islam is state-supported and other churches are tightly restricted or even forbidden entirely.

That's an established church. That's what the First Amendment was intended to prevent. The First Amendment was never intended to prevent the government from supporting all religions, as long as it supported them all equally; that's why it's legal for governments to exempt churches from property taxes, and clergy from being subjected to income tax on their housing allowances. "Separation of Church and State" was a phrase that Thomas Jefferson used in a letter and was never intended to mean that religion in general could not receive government recognition or support. There are a host of quotes from the various founding fathers that state that it is imperative that America would never survive unless the people held fast to religious principles in general, and in many such quotes, Christian principles in particular.

posted by Ron Fox on August 25, 2004 12:23 PM

When you (and others) refer to "all secular unions" do you realize, or did the Massachusetts court realize, that this open definition can and does refer to the union of a man and his daughter, a boy and his mother, even a child and his grandmother?

When creating a system for allowing "unions" for the purpose of child rearing that is applied to "any" or "all" unions, ulterior motives, not only licentious, but also for the purpose of sharing health insurance benefits can disrupt significant portions of our economic life. I am not allowed to marry solely for the purpose of gaining U.S. citizenship for an alien, yet there are those who would make a plethora of unseemly unions legal. Is that really your position Timekeeper?

posted by Michael Gersh on August 25, 2004 12:30 PM

No, Michael, I do not support such unions, and you're setting up a straw man there. Such marriages have nothing to do with same-sex unions, and there are still laws in place to prevent such unions. Allowing two men or two women to marry has nothing to do with allowing relatives to wed. The concept of "compelling interest" would allow the existing laws against incest to remain in place, as one of the judges in the Hawaii case noted. Incest between opposite-sex couples (even if both are consenting adults) carries a significant risk of amplifying genetic defects, which is why there are laws preventing it, independent of the laws preventing same-sex unions.

FWIW, for those who worry about the pernicious effects of polyamory and incest on society, same-sex marriage will have no effect on them. Regardless of legality, a man who wants to have a relationship with more than one woman is free to do so (although consent from the women involved is implied); the only difference is that he can only be legally married to one of them. A similar argument can be constructed for consensual (adult) incestuous relationships.

posted by timekeeper on August 25, 2004 03:33 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?

Back to Horologium