09/26/2012 In Real Life and Whatnot
Sep 26, 2012

Marriage Equality Maryland – Part II

Sunday I said this would be a two part post, but didn’t quite get to it last night.  What started this was an article in the Washington Post Editorial section I read on Sunday.

Why I Oppose Gay Marriage.

The author claims to be a gay man, but is also a co-founder of the local Tea Party chapter. Among other things, he says he was for gay marriage before, but after reading up on the topic he found he could not defend his position and is opposed to it now.  He concludes by saying he is all for equal rights for same sex couples, but wants them to be called something different.

The crux of the author’s argument is – the word Marriage has been used to mean a man and a woman for thousands of years so we shouldn’t muscle our way into it. Part of me agrees with this logic.  Marriage is one of the seven sacraments in the catholic church, so I can see how they church might not want their sacrament used for some thing they are opposed to.  Not that I agree with the church’s archaic position on gay rights, just stating a fact.  The problem with this argument is that marriage is not just a religious event anymore. People get married who are not religious, who are pagans, who are sinners and unable to get married according to the church, etc.  Marriage is no longer something only defined by religion.  You can get married in a civil ceremony and have zero contact with religion.

The idea that words don’t evolve to encompass greater diversity is ridiculous.  For example, voters once meant just white males. Additionally, marriage once included polygamy.  Abraham had how many wives? So for the author to suggest that marriage has only meant a man and a woman is false.  For centuries it also meant a man and women.

When the author said that after reading he found he could no longer defend his position, I have to wonder what he read?  The kool-aid package left over from on of his tea party rally?   I ask this because I used to agree that same sex unions didn’t need to be called marriage until I did some research, really  did some research.  Once I read up on things, I came to the opposite conclusion; same sex marriage is the only viable option.

For starters, there are something like 1000 federal rights that apply only to married people, civil unions or unions of a different name don’t count. In Maryland, there are 400+ laws on the books that deal with Marriage. Calling same sex marriage something else would require the legislator to amend all those laws to include whatever they called same sex unions.  For a small government, fiscally prudent man, the author doesn’t seem to care that using the same name for the same rights would save the state a lot of money.  According to the author it is better to spend more tax dollars changing all the laws than to use the word marriage, even though the end result would would be the same.

Another thing that he could have read, but almost certainly missed, is that no state, not even those that have gay marriage or civil unions, recognizes the civil unions of other states.  There are no provisions to accept a civil union from California as the same as a marriage in any state.  If the author had really done real research on the issue, I don’t see how that fact would sway him to oppose gay marriage. His logic [and I’m being generous in using that word to describe his thoughts] goes like this: Rather than use the word Marriage to define same sex unions, let’s call it something else in Maryland, pay to amend all the statutes that use just the word marriage to include this new creation, and deny Marylander’s who use this new creation the same benefits as married persons if they move or travel somewhere else. Which really means, he is not really in favor of equal rights.

The fact that the author is siding with the people who oppose gay marriage shows how desperate he is to be accepted by people who will never accept him.  The social conservatives/tea party supporters/right wing republicans have not and will not support even civil unions.  For proof, look to North Carolina.  Same Sex Marriage was not permitted, but the conservatives decided that wasn’t enough. So they passed a law to prevent any form of civil rights to same sex couples.  That way, the author’s grand idea of a separate but equal classification for same sex unions could never happen in North Carolina.  His suggestion that if the legislator in Maryland had tried for civil unions first, there would be no referendum, no outrage by the conservatives, has absolutely no support in fact. The facts speak otherwise.  Virginia passed an anti gay amendment to their constitution to ensure same sex couples couldn’t get a right that “mimicked a marriage benefit.”

Last – and for all my family members and friends who read this and are religious, I suggest you close the window now – there is no religious justification for denying same sex marriages – none!  The simple and uncontroverted fact is that people who vote in a civil election to deny civil rights based on their religious belief are hypocrites.  Why it is okay to impose their narrow definition of marriage on everyone else?  Not all christians denominations oppose gay marriage.  Some permit gay marriage. What this has become is the imposition of the limited beliefs of some faiths on everyone else.   How come it’s not okay to force the catholic church to do something they don’t agree with for religious reasons – provide insurance that includes free contraception, but they think it’s okay to tell the Quakers they can’t marry same sex couple when their faith says it’s acceptable?

Hypocrisy, that how.  Those who vote to deny civil rights under the law to everyone else based on their religious beliefs are hypocrites. No one is saying they have to agree with, accept, perform, condone, or support same sex unions within their church. They are free to follow their tenants as they see fit. But they do not and should not have the right to foist their beliefs on others anymore than others have the right to tell them what to believe.

The United States is not a Theocracy, contrary to what so many christians believe. It is a democracy where all faiths are free to practice. No one faith, or denomination [or group of denominations] has the right to impose their beliefs on anyone else.  If the majority of faiths can impose their will on others, then it’s just a matter of time before they will find themselves on the short end of a debate and find their own rights limited. Be careful what you wish for, because once you head down that slippery slope, you can’t stop sliding and eventually it will come back to haunt you.


  1. podga says:

    I read your article carefully, Andy, and I agree on all points except the one where voting in civic elections based on your religious beliefs is hypocrisy. To a degree, all our voting choices are based on our morality and personal philosophies, and those are shaped by a number of factors, including our religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Maybe they should be more conscious and educated about what votes are really about, and maybe the state shouldn’t even be putting issues that have to do with human rights up for election, but you can’t call people hypocrites for voting according to their morals.

    • I’m going to disagree with you on this. Voting one’s moral IS appropriate, I agree, but voting to restrict other people’s civil rights, their access to benefits you enjoy that have nothing to do with your religion – and tax exemptions, inheritence rights, medical protections, etc have nothing to do with religion, they are civil contstructs – is hypocritical. Voting to limit access to government benefits you enjoy based on your own beliefs is hypocracy. I 100% agree that one should vote their morals, if it is a right they don’t use/want – i.e. abortion, death penalty, contraception. But when they want/accept/use a gov’t service/benefit, voting to deny it to others beause you don’t agree with their faith – because it’s not the benefits to marriage they oppose, only extending them to people whose faith is different than theirs – that is hypocracy.

      Another reason I think it is the height of hypocracy – those are leading the fight against extending these civil benefits to others are the same people who scream bloody murder if the government does things contrary to their religion. My point is the contraception issue in the health care act. The faith communicty has no problem screaming it’s trampling on their religious beliefs, saying the gov’t can’t infringe on their religious believes like that, but those churches have no problem trampling on the religious beliefs of the other faiths that allow gay marriage. That is hypocracy.

      • podga says:

        I can see your point viewed from the perspective of civil constructs like tax exemptions, inheritance rights, etc. And that’s why I think-though I realize that I didn’t say it clearly-that issues like this should not even depend on what voters think or believe, they should simply be extended to all. Whatever the original purpose of the lawmaker (and in this case, I would imagine it would be enabling marriage, i.e. children), given evolution over time and given that the test of qualifying for the civil constructs is not having a child but the act of marriage itself, then they should allow marriage to all.

        At least the discussions are being held, and there’s high hope in that. We’re not even out of the starting blocks here 🙁

  2. GR says:

    What you have suggested requires federal and not state legislation or judicial interpretation of the US Constitution. If each state can determine whether its citizens will be considered “married” only if that marriage is approved by that state, we have effectively restricted the free movement between states. When states can refuse to accept some marriages performed in other states or even other countries while accepting other marriages performed elsewhere, we have condoned discrimination.

    I know that there have been legal battles over the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, but there was a reason for that clause — primarily to avoid chaos and discrimination between the States, but it appears to me that DOMA was legislation to override the Constitution. The result is that chaos now reigns supreme between the states. A sad day for the US Constitution.

    Historically “religious” and “morality” have been misused by religious majories to impose discrimination on minorities. There was a period in the disgraceful US past where “religion” and “morality” were used to prohibit marriages, for example blacks and multiracial couples. It wasn’t right then, and to deny the rights to gays now is still not right. When religion and morality are used to trample the rights and freedoms of others, the US ceases to be a nation of good and virtue. We no longer set the example for the world of democracy, truth and justice.

    I have thought long and hard on this subject as well, and I too must agree with you.

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