One more post on marriage-equality and religious liberty.

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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60 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    One of the big hurdles to the Church is, unfortunately, Leviticus and Romans.

    There are ways around these things of course but it will take time. There just needs to be a little bit more “well, of course, you have to understand the lessons that God was trying to teach in the days before air conditioning” among those who enjoy, among other things, bacon.

    It’s not an insurmountable obstacle, of course… but I don’t see how we’ll get to there from here without delicate handling. Well, waiting until a huge chunk of people of a certain age or older die will probably work too (maybe we should put UHC off for just a decade?) but, for it to happen quickly, those who know better will have to be a scalpel rather than a bludgeon.Report

  2. Dan Miller says:

    “They’re part of a hierarchy and they follow orders.”

    I am so tempted to Godwinize this thread. Must resist…leave work in 10 minutes…all systems critical…Report

  3. yellowfish says:

    Is the church still matter?Report

  4. Nob Akimoto says:

    I’m of the opinion that the church has no obligation to be provided money from the state nor provide services from that money, if theyw ant to choose to not comply by statutes and not get money? That’s their choice.

    Let some other institution that wants to provide those same charitable services step up in its stead. That’s the whole” market” thing, right?Report

  5. Elizabeth says:

    You’re probably right that the one side painting the Church as mean-spirited gay and poor people haters probably isn’t quite right. But also I don’t subsribe to your view that they are but good humble Christians merely trying to practice their faith in peace. I think it is undeniable that this was a power play on Church’s part – an attempt to undermine the upcoming marriage equality bill the only way they really can at this point. They know that the threat of withdrawing their services is a good way for people to take notice and oppose the marriage equality bill. I see it as a cynical attempt to further push the meme that the marriage equality fight is one between wealthy white anti-christian gays, and poor god-fearing blacks.

    Who knows, maybe we should just give them the exemption and let it be done with. Then we could shut down their narrative that gays are out to destroy religious freedom. I just have a hard time trusting the Church to leave it at that, as they have opposed virtually every single measure that would grant greater protections and equality to gay people. I also really have a problem with the government singling out gays as the one and only minority group that it’s OK to disriminate against, paritcularly when public funds are at stake. I would rather find a non-discriminatory provider of social services.Report

    • Cascadian in reply to Elizabeth says:

      There are often conflicts when it comes to freedom. In this case is sexual tolerance more important than the religious freedom to be bigoted. It won’t do to pretend religious freedom trumps all others. This leads to anti-blasphemy laws. Naw, religion is one freedom amongst many. There is very little to suggest that it should be given preference over others in a secular society.Report

    • Elizabeth in reply to Elizabeth says:

      I also think it’s interesting that the Catholic Charities in Connecticut and Vermont have been able to carry on their operations with no problem. Catholic Charities of Boston was also OK with adopting to gay couples, so long as they weren’t married. That these churches were able to provide services with no conflict only increases my suspicion of the DC Archdiocese motives.Report

  6. Sam M says:

    “I believe the Church and other groups that oppose gay marriage are wrong and that someday they’ll look back on all of this with the same shame opponents (and their ancestors) of racial equality look back on the days of segregation. ”

    Are you sure these things are equivalent?

    People are free to live however they want right now. You can sleep with whoever. You can live with whoever. You can sign a power of attonrey to give a partner all kinds of rights. More and more companies extend benefits to partners.

    Versus the days of segregarions. When it was ILLEGAL for blacks to attend white schools. When it was perfectly acceptable to BAN black people from whole business districts. With the state not standing by and watching these things, but actively supporting them.

    Do you REALLY think these are the same?

    Again, right now, two guys named Steve and Carl can do whatever they like, in public and in the comfort of their won homes. But they are being denied some important benefits that accrue to married couples.

    Versus black people a few decades ago, who were not allowed to vote, not allowed to walk in white neighborhoods, not allowed to attend school, arrested for sitting on the wrong seat on the bus, arrested for trying to order lunch in the wrong place.


    Quick: Would you rather be a gay man in 2009 America, or a black man in 1950 America?

    I really don’t think it’s even close.

    That’s not to say gay people don’t face discrimination. But some perspective is in order, I think.Report

    • North in reply to Sam M says:

      So Sam, how were gay people treated in segregation days? All rainbow parades and hand holding down the boardwalks yes? Maybe a more apt question would be whether you’d rather be black in the 50’s or gay in the 50’s and I dare say that neither of those would be happy fates.
      Lets see, to be black in the 50’s meant you’d be treated as a second-class citizen, abused, terrorized living in fear and resentment and you had no hope of escaping it.
      To be gay in the 50’s meant you had to hide who you were or you’d be heaved in jail or chemically sterilized etc… You lived in fear and resentment of course and you lived a life as a lie but of course as long as you clung to the lie you could avoid the abuse.

      So a choice between being hated, tormented and miserable as a group or being a living lie and being utterly alone. I honestly don’t know which one I’d prefer.Report

  7. Sam M says:

    I am not talking at all about what it was like to be gay in the 1950s. I am talking about how people will feel about their stances re Civil Rights in the Civil Rights era, versus gay marriage when that came to the fore.

    I agree that things will change and that people will feel ashamed of the positions they hold right now.

    But is not even CLOSE the shame people ought to feel for opposing civil rights in the 50s-60s. And it does not seem productive to equate these things. At all.

    There are plenty of people, for instance, who do, sincerely, believe that there is a way to carve out “civil unions” as a third way. Some people use this as a stalling tactic, to be sure. But seriously: Do people who really think this, and therefore oppose gay marriage…

    They are going to feel shame for that in the same way they feel shame for turning the water hoses and the police dogs on black people in the 60s?

    Defining marriage as between a man and a woman is the same as not allowing black people to vote or use the same water fountain as you?

    Again, I see gay marriage as inevitable. As a straight person who is married in both a church and civilly, I don’t see this as a threat to my relationship at all. On the other hand, as a person who enjoys civil marriage, I am not sure I see why people would be hugely eager to engage in this kind of union if something equal to it, but called something else, was available to them. To me, it’s an important but not emotionally important bookkeeping measure. If someone told me that people named Sam M were suddenly going to no longer be called “married” anymore, but “XYZed,” I wouldn’t care.

    So yeah. gay people should be able to get married. Or something else with equivalent rights. Fine by me. Let’s all join hands and sing a song.

    But I have to tell you, I feel like people standing in the way of that… I just can’t see that they are in any way morally equivalent to people who supported segregation and all the attending horrors.Report

    • Elizabeth in reply to Sam M says:

      Gay marriage is only one aspect of the gay civil rights movement. There’s also military service, and employment and housing discrimination. That’s not to mention the social problems that gay people experience because of prejudice- an outrageous percentage of gay youth are still committing and attempting suicide and living in the streets after being disowned by their families. Ultimately the fight is against anti-gay prejudice, not any single legal issue. And anti-gay prejudice is still strong in this country. I think North is correct to point out that it’s more correct to look to the 1950s as the very beginning of the gay rights movement, not this past decade when marriage became a possibility.

      Ultimately though, I think the whole “who is more oppressed” game is really stupid and pointless. Both blacks and gays have been oppressed in this country. Sometimes there are parallels, more often the type of oppression is different. It’s not a competition though.Report

  8. Sam M says:

    “Ultimately though, I think the whole “who is more oppressed” game is really stupid and pointless.”

    Agreed. Which is why I think it’s really counterproductive to say “healthcare reform equals socialism” or “Patriot Act equals Nazism.” Or even less politically charges claims.

    Which is why I find this whole idea that “people who oppose gay marriage will some day feel as bad as people who opposed civil rights” to be counterproductive.

    I think ED has been doing great work here. Love the site and the exchanges. Particulalry to the extent that people here will consider the fact that… it’s foolish to say that health care reform equals socialism. Even if you are against health reform as it is currently constructed.

    But that standard of discourse applies across the board, I think. And regardless of what you think of gay marriage, it does not strike me as useful, either for or against that initiative, to say that we will one day view this debate in the same way we view the discussion about Civil Rights.Report

    • Elizabeth in reply to Sam M says:

      “And regardless of what you think of gay marriage, it does not strike me as useful, either for or against that initiative, to say that we will one day view this debate in the same way we view the discussion about Civil Rights.”

      I think you’re wrong there. Though the oppression of gays today is not as bad as the oppression of blacks in the 1960s, both communities are still fighting for full and equal inclusion in our society. As such, I think those who oppose full inclusion of gay citizens today will one day face the shame the comes with opposing civil rights for blacks during the 1950s and 1960s.

      I think the whole discussion becomes skewed when marriage comes into play. Everyone seems to have their own idea about what marriage actually means, so its denial to gays seems trivial and/or ok to some. But that’s just a foil for the real issue. There are those, like the Catholic hierarchy, who oppose any and all recognition and protections for gay couples and gay people. It’s not simply a principled manner of differing beliefs on marriage then, it is a cover for deep opposition and animosity toward homosexuality and homosexuality.Report

      • Sam M in reply to Elizabeth says:

        “it is a cover for deep opposition and animosity toward homosexuality and homosexuality.”

        But isn’t this the kind of leap people here regularly resist?

        “Sure, it’s just healthcare now. But look at where this leads us! Demanding coverage for pre-existing conditions is the same exact thing as fascism!”

        “Or socialism!”

        “Medical marijuana? My God! Might as well demand that we send all the kids to Burning Man instead of saying the Pledge of Allegiance!”

        This is bad… right?

        The fact is, lots of things are “cover” for lots of things. But the idea appears to be, hey, let’s discuss these things on their merits. Sure, socialized medicine is a little bit more like, er… socialism. But the actual proposal before us is not actually socialized medicine. And there are some structural issues at work here that deserve some discussion. So, for the sake of the debate, and for the sake of civility, let’s not go around calling people socialists, OK?

        In this case, sure, there are some civil rights at stake. Important ones.

        But let’s not equate “I am a little reluctant to redefine marriage” with “Let’s call in the National Guard to keep dark-skinned people out of universities, the polling booth, diners, etc.”

        I mean… feminism. What’s that cover for?

        Welfare reform? Cover for what?

        Ag subsidies? Oh boy… you anti-ag people HATE farmers and Willie Nelson and everything else.

        And don’t get me started on you people who are for/against X, which is CLEARLY cover for Y…

        Somewhere, Sean Hannity smiles.Report

        • North in reply to Sam M says:

          That’s fair enough Sam, but there are also actions on both sides to consider. For instance Washington just beat back a populist referendum about same sex unions. That last word, unions, is important because it was a civil union law that the referendum was out to gut. So we have the spectacle of the right saying “oh if only the unreasonable gays would settle for civil unions” out one side of their mouth while fighting furiously to make said civil unions empty shells out of the other. This, remember, is after they spent like two years verbally firebombing the idea of civil unions for gays after Vermont only to discover that SSM was growing out of the ashes instead of some magical 1950’s vision of sexual morality. That has a lot more meaning than some tofu munching gay leftwing professors bleating pointlessly about heteronormative this and destroying social norms that. The agenda the right is being accused of pursuing is kind of, ya know, being actively and visibly pursued. How much oomph is the left really putting into some kind of madcap scheme to turn the country into a bunch of free loving polyamourists? (Polamorurii?)
          Now obviously the generalizations are imperfect but answer me this: how many civil unions have been rolled out or offered in the states that are firmly under the control of the social right favoring party? Unless I’m miscounting I think the number is near zero. What’s the positive Republican Party position about gay people in general or gay couples specifically? Yeah I can hear the tumbleweeds rolling too there. Ever heard of the ex-gay movements that the social right funds and promotes? I mean how much of this has to be paraded around before it’s fair to say that a large proportion of the opposition on the right to SSM grows from scripture based animus?

          I mean obviously there’s no way to know that people will be as embarrassed in the future about their treatment of homosexuals today as they are today about their treatment of blacks in the 50’s. If I could see the future like that then the site would have gotten a much bigger donation out of me and I’d have all the free time in the world to read the Kraut philosophers that Bob Cheeks is encouraging me to peruse. But it doesn’t seem implausible.Report

          • Sam M in reply to North says:

            “I mean how much of this has to be paraded around before it’s fair to say that a large proportion of the opposition on the right to SSM grows from scripture based animus? ”

            I agree, out of the gate, that a large portion of the opposition stems from anti-gay animus. What portion is that? I don’t know. What portion of the anti-war movement stems from anti-American animus? No idea. I assume it’s less than the anti-marriage opposition, but who knows? What portion of people who were against NAFTA were really insufferable union agitators? Some portion, I assume. Who was for welfare reform because they hated black people, or were against it because they were incurable race-baiters? No idea.

            But I thought the idea was to address ideas on their merits.

            Saying that being against gay marriage=being against civil rights seems like a step in the wrong direction in this regard.Report

            • North in reply to Sam M says:

              Out of the gate I’ll reciprocate by saying unequivically that you can oppose SSM and not be a bigot or a hater.

              That being said, if the majority of opposition to SSM was principled, as you assert, and not based merely on animus then there would logically be a movement to provide a non-marriage alternative to address the problems that the pro-SSM movement has identified. Since there is no movement on those issues, virtually no positive option offered and since the only time anti-SSM groups even address gays is to refer them to their locat ex-gay reeducation camp I’d submit that the evidence suggests that the majority, possibly overwhelming majority, of opposition to SSM is based on anti gay animus and not on principled concerns.Report

          • Bob Cheeks in reply to North says:

            “…I’d have all the free time in the world to read the Kraut philosophers that Bob Cheeks is encouraging me to peruse.”

            North, old palsy, being a red-necked, right wing ideologue, I must confess to having a difficult time in ferreting out ‘insensitivity.’ However, your use of the word ‘Kraut’ strikes me as possibly politically incorrect and I would like to bring this to the attention of the People’s Diversity Council for an open inquiry re: possible infractions of the diversity laws!
            Really, North, you of all people!
            Also, North, go here for my latest blog at PoMoCon and feel free to jump in:

            • North in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              I thought you’d appreciate it Bob, plus being neolib I’m not very into the whole politically correct thing. I’ll be happy to take a look when time permits. Thanks for the invite.Report

  9. Kyle Cupp says:

    “Lest my posts today paint me as some great apologist for the Catholic Church…”

    There are worse things to be painted as.Report

  10. Tim Kowal says:

    “I believe the Church and other groups that oppose gay marriage are wrong and that someday they’ll look back on all of this with the same shame opponents (and their ancestors) of racial equality look back on the days of segregation.”

    Even once there, the Church will need to push ahead toward ridding itself of its arbitrary exclusion of polyamorous and blood-relative relationships, which relationships have no less right to acceptance than homosexual ones. Indeed, there is a long road ahead to true marriage equality.Report

    • Jefferson in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      I believe the church and other groups that oppose gay marriage are right. They are being obedient to Almighty GOD.Report

    • GrrrlRomeo in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      Was your point there that the Bible permits polygamy as well as incest and that it is secular law that prohibits those marital arrangements for secular reasons?Report

      • Cascadian in reply to GrrrlRomeo says:

        Hmmm interesting. Of course polygamy is one of the most traditional forms of marriage. But incest? Let’s see, we can infer that there was a good bit of this immediately after Adam and Eve and Noah of course. Secular society would probably condone this as well. (If you were the only woman on Earth would you sleep with a man?) Then there’s Lot and daughters, but they were just having a fling. No marriage that I’m aware of. What are the other cases I’m missing?Report

        • GrrrlRomeo in reply to Cascadian says:

          You’re missing all the cousins the Church had no problem marrying before the middle ages. But are you suggesting that the incestuous relationships for the purpose of procreation were all done out of wedlock? I don’t believe so as it’s generally understood that God blessed those unions. In fact that is the explanation given for why offspring didn’t suffer genetic problems. And anyway, if those relations weren’t blessed it would’ve been adultery and any offspring would’ve been damned as bastards. (Having concubinage was not considered adultery as the Church recognized them as married even if civil law didn’t.)

          So yes, God blesses incestuous and polygamous unions though the Church today discourages them.

          I think the moral of the story here is that the Catholic Church has certainly changed it’s rules regarding marriage, so there’s really no reason why it can’t here. It’s not a matter of can’t. They just don’t want to. And that’s fine as far as religious freedom goes and all that, but I don’t think the Catholic Church is in a legal or moral bind.

          I mean, they don’t recognize my parent’s marriage either because my Dad isn’t Catholic. My Uncle had to pay the priest a higher fee to baptize me (I think that’s called bribery) so I wasn’t condemned to “The Void” because my Mother is a “whore”. Still they annulled my Grandparents marriage after 8 children so my Grandfather could enter into a holy union with the woman he had been having an affair with who was half his age. An annulment, unlike a divorce, means the marriage was never holy thus all 8 children are bastards and my Grandmother is a whore that had 8 bastards out of wedlock.

          But you know, they’re certainly free to do all that under the law.Report

          • Cascadian in reply to GrrrlRomeo says:

            Wait, the Church doesn’t allow cousins to marry anymore? On a quick Google it looks like it’s legal in most places.

            You say “whore” like it’s a bad thing. Goddess forgive you 😉Report

            • GrrrlRomeo in reply to Cascadian says:

              The Church discourages first cousins, it used to discourage within 6th cousins before it didn’t discourage any cousins. While the Church discourages incestuous and polygamous marriages, it does permit them where legal under civil law. The Church also recognizes the civil marriages of 2nd, 3rd, 4th marriages of divorcees despite that the Church considers divorce a sin. I’m pretty sure it has not withheld benefits from spouses of employees who have been divorced and remarried, nor from children of unwed Mothers it might employ. The Church also doesn’t have any problem providing charitable services to such people in addition to allowing known prostitutes into their homeless shelters.

              The Catholic Church has simply decided to treat the homosexual sinners differently from every other sinner and created the illusion that it is incapable of following secular law when it contradicts Church doctrine.Report

      • Tim Kowal in reply to GrrrlRomeo says:

        My comment was tongue in cheek. As I wrote here, if marriage is opened up to be merely the recognition of a romantic relationship of consensual adults, it will be tough-going to find principled exceptions to polygamy or incest. There is no well-defined principle that would constitutionally compel recognition of gay marriage (even as people find it more and more culturally acceptable) that would not at the same time also constitutionally compel the recognition of polygamous or incestuous marriages (which people still find culturally repugnant). Thus, to take the definition of marriage out of the democratic process and wedge it into some clause in the Constitution, same-sex marriage supporters would be without any sound principle to oppose polygamy or incestuous relationships.Report

        • GrrrlRomeo in reply to Tim Kowal says:

          People opposed interracial marriages on the same grounds that it would open up some crazy can of worms permitting incestuous and polygamous marriages. That didn’t happen. In fact when polygamy was legal it didn’t lead to same-sex marriages so there’s no reason why the reverse would be happen.

          If anything would lead to the state having to recognize polygamous and incestuous relationships, it would be domestic partnerships and civil unions because, unlike with marriage, romantic relations aren’t implied. The reason the majority of citizens can support civil unions for same-sex couples but not marriage is because when they think of two gay men getting married they immediately think of anal sex. Civil unions allows them to desexualize the relationship and just think of them cooking and cleaning as domestic partners living under the same roof.

          If we are to adhere to the due process clause of the Constitution, then the legality of polygamy, incest and same-sex marriage must be argued separately. And if we did that we would find plenty of principled reasons as well as legal reasons why polygamy and incest should remain illegal and none where same-sex marriage is concerned.

          Gays have already had their day in court regarding sexual relations between to people of the same-sex, and the Supreme Court ruled that “sodomy laws” are unconstitutional in it’s Texas v. Lawrence decision.

          While polyamorous relationships are legal, polygamy is not because marriage is a contract in which two people are considered equal partners. Polygamy became illegal when marriage was redefined as an equal partnership instead of wives simply being property of the husband. Likewise blacks were only legally permitted to marry each other when they were no longer considered property.

          Incestuous relationships are illegal for scientific reasons related to genetics. The more closely related two people are, the higher the probability that any offspring will suffer health problems directly related to genetics.Report

          • Tim Kowal in reply to GrrrlRomeo says:

            That polygamy is illegal because “marriage is a contract in which two people are considered equal partners” asserts the same definitional argument that SSM supporters take such exception to. Why should we continue to honor an arbitrary number limitation any more than an arbitrary gender limitation?

            Similarly, the argument that procreation is problematic between blood-relatives mirrors the argument against same sex marriages. Participants in an incestuous relationship can simply take care not to procreate, and simply adopt or explore other options.

            Anti-miscegenation laws are odious and unconstitutional because they were based on animus towards blacks that was barred by the 14th Amendment. There is little to no indication that traditional marriage laws bear any animus towards homosexuals, which I discussed in the context of Iowa’s own Supreme Court striking down that state’s marriage law.

            One can drum up reasons against allowing all sorts of categories of people from marrying. If the particular classification is not constitutionally forbidden, the people have to decide whether they are ready to shift their mores and values. This shift may occur too slowly for some, and too quickly for others. But were it otherwise, and we had to let courts decide, they could not rationally permit same-sex marriage while forbidding polygamous or blood-relative marriages.Report

            • Cascadian in reply to Tim Kowal says:

              These are all true. Even the scientific reasons against incest are rather weak. There’s usually a difference between our reasons and our justifications. Our reasons rarely get beyond, “it seems icky”. The only good reasons to be against polygamy are that I might have to divide up the communal assets with a disgruntled mate or that many straight boys would never, ever get laid.

              Apart from the small chance that your kid will have a big forehead, if your breed, the best reason against incest is that you it would be difficult to ensure consent (even at a meta level). Every thing else boils down to “It seems squicky and I want to control what other people can do”.Report

              • Tim Kowal in reply to Cascadian says:

                You are right that what this boils down to is sensibilities. Gay marriage still seems “icky” to many. But I don’t agree that the galvanizing idea is behavior control. Certainly this is the objective of some. But most people, it is my guess, are probably vaguely sympathetic to gays and wish them the best, but still have a stubborn belief that there is something to “marriage” that might be lost if we just up and change it. And while they would probably be willing to just give up on that stubborn notion—it’s just an abstract concept, after all—the onslaught of vitriolic accusations that voting for traditional marriage necessarily means you’re a knuckle-dragging Klan-sympathizer only serves to entrench one “side” against the other.Report

              • Cascadian in reply to Tim Kowal says:

                I’m in favor of civil unions for all. As far as I’m concerned, the Klan-sympathizers can keep “marriage”. It’s when they won’t allow for an alternative, or when they judge their leaders on the ability to piss off the other side that I get my panties in a twist and want to give them all the rope they need to wrap around their necks.Report

              • Cascadian in reply to Tim Kowal says:

                I’ve spent too much time with a view of the amen-pew to discount the desire to control others.Report

              • North in reply to Cascadian says:

                Oh absolutely to both of you. But I don’t think France is an example of Civil Unions to warm the social rights heart considering how it’s eviscerating traditional marriage in that country.Report

              • North in reply to Tim Kowal says:

                Tim, if the majority of the opponents are somewhat sympathetic to gays and the plights they purport to fix using SSM then why is it that there has been pretty much zero -0- movement towards non-marriage alternatives to SSM in states that are strongly influenced by the social right? If your assertion were true I would expect that right wingers would be offering alternatives substantively. Instead things like domestic partnerships/civil unions are offered only in frantic battleground states and usually only as a fallback position once they feel the ground shifting under their feet. While I don’t mean to paint with an overbroad brush and I have no doubt that there are many who do feel sympathy to the plight of gay couples the current behavior of the right suggests that their opposition is primarily based in animus and the desire to control gay behavior.Report

              • Sam M in reply to North says:

                “why is it that there has been pretty much zero -0- movement towards non-marriage alternatives to SSM in states that are strongly influenced by the social right?”

                You can easily turn this question around. Why is is it that in the state where there HAS been a non-marriage alternative, the pro-marriage groups have resisted it, instead opting for a far broader ambition like the ones being put forward by Andrew Sullivan? That is, becomes not about some kind of legal equality, but a complete social restructuring?

                I agree with you that the anti-equality people have shown their true colors in this issue. But so have the pro-marriage people.

                Which is why I continue to suspect that this is NOT about generic legal equality. One either side of the debate.

                You can weak-man either side by insisting that pro-marriage people are redical activists seeking to upend thousands of years of Western tradition, and that anti0marriage forces are bigoted people on par with people who turned water-cannons on black people in the 60s.

                I am just not sure how that benefits anybody. Regardless of their true motivations, the hard-core activists on either side are making actual arguments. I think most people ion the middle are trying to understand them and come to some kind of understanding.Report

              • North in reply to Sam M says:

                “You can easily turn this question around. Why is is it that in the state where there HAS been a non-marriage alternative, the pro-marriage groups have resisted it, instead opting for a far broader ambition like the ones being put forward by Andrew Sullivan? That is, becomes not about some kind of legal equality, but a complete social restructuring?”

                Well because when it’s rolled out only in that context it’s correctly seen as merely a weapon against SSM instead of a genuine good faith effort on the part of the social right. If the right genuinely wanted to protect marriage they would enact some form of civil union system or domestic partnership program in places where they’re not in danger of loosing the whole arguement and ending up with SSM. For instance if they’d put a federal domestic partnership program into place under Bush then we probably wouldn’t be talking much about SSM. If you address the concrete dailey living issues you won’t defeat the SSM movement entirely but you’d strip away the majority of its support and relegate it to a fringe issue.Report

              • Sam M in reply to Sam M says:

                “Well because when it’s rolled out only in that context it’s correctly seen as merely a weapon against SSM instead of a genuine good faith effort on the part of the social right.”

                But is the quest for civil unions a good faith effort on the part of the “social left”? If you read Andrew Sulliovan and the scads of people like him… you can see why some people might think not. It started as, “we just want to have rights in the hospital” to a much larger social experiment.

                Furthermore, why is it that the social right has to roll these initiatives out? Why doesn’t the social left?

                I suspect it’s because the social left has not interest, broadly speaking, in civil unions. Any more than the social right does.Report

              • North in reply to Sam M says:

                Sam, the social left has an answer to the problems that civil unions would address: Same Sex Marriage. There was a time, around the initial Vermont era when the social left was interested in civil unions. That time has passed. There is no quest for civil unions on the social left now, they’re going after SSM. The reasons the social right has to oppose SSM don’t influence the social left very much, why should the social left be pushing for the social rights preferences?

                I’ll try an analogy. The social left say there is a hole in the road and that gay couples are falling into it (then they list the various problems gay couples have). They propose filling the hole up with gravel (aka SSM). The social right opposes filling the hole with gravel vehemently. In general when asked what they propose instead they are silent or say something about gay people turning straight or vanishing or dropping dead if you would be so kind. So the social left is continuing to push for filling the hole with gravel. Then you come along and you say “What’s wrong with the social left? Why don’t they propose laying a board over top of the hole?” The problem is that the social left has their solution. And the social right is not behind the alternative solution you’re talking about. They don’t actually have any interest in civil unions institutionally. They would genuinely prefer that gays just disappear or at least that they continue to fall into that hole (serves em right, they should just turn straight then they won’t have this problem).

                So it boils down to politics and trust. Speaking for myself (and likely for a lot of more centrist supporters of SSM) if the social right were to reverse course and offer civil unions with robust protections for religions I’d probably accept that deal despite my misgivings. But if the social right fights to the end with no concessions offered then I’ll stick to my guns and go for SSM. The point is that if civil unions are going to be an option it has to be the social right that steps up and offers them. Because the social left already has a positive agenda. Right now the social right doesn’t.Report

              • Cascadian in reply to Sam M says:

                Unfortunately North, from my perspective things are reversed. While I support SSM, I’d much rather have civil unions and an alternative institution for all. I want the government out of the marriage/morality business. Unfortunately, once SSM comes to pass there will be little support for a broader definition.Report

              • North in reply to Sam M says:

                I understand that Cascadian. I hope that you won’t take offence when I say this but your position makes you a rather odd duck in the general debate. Most straight heterosexual couples throw absolute conniptions at the idea of having their unions converted into civil unions.

                While the idea of having the government out of it completely garners at least some libertarian support it’s also so politically unfeasible as to be a non-option. But to be clear I wouldn’t feel I had any place to complain if the government got out of the marriage business entirely.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Sam M says:

                This probably helps your overall point more than it does Cascadian’s but I see the government as having neither the competence nor the jurisdiction to turn my marriage into a civil union.Report

              • Cascadian in reply to Sam M says:

                Well, I am rather an odd duck in most of these debates. To the point. It’s not that I want anyone’s marriage turned into something they don’t want but an alternative that people could choose if they wished. I think France is an interesting example of where alternatives to “marriage” are given that include both gay and hets. I believe that many young hets are choosing the non marriage option.Report

              • Sam M in reply to Sam M says:

                North says:

                “There was a time, around the initial Vermont era when the social left was interested in civil unions.”

                You gloss over this like it’s a simple fact. Ho-hum. They said civil marriage, then they changed their minds. Well… no. There were at least SOME moderate folks who bought this line of thinking over the vehement protests of the radicals who said, “Don’t buy it. This is really about an aggressive restructuring of society.” And you know what? In that case, the radicals were right. It really WASN’T about civil unions. They really did want more. Which is fine. But you have to take this into account when you talk about why moderates aren’t out there proposing civil unions. Because you and I both know that your position not withstanding, it’s not actually just about hospital visitation and fair tax laws. The activists have stated as much.

                As for you analogy, there are all sorts of problems with it. I agree that there is a “hole in the road.” That is, that gay couples have serious problems that need address. But then you say that ther response is to “fill it with gravel.” This begs the question. Gravel is the exact thing you fil pitholes with. But is marriage the exact thing needed to address the problems gay couples face? That depends on your definitions. I could just as easily say, if everyone agrees with North and the real issue is medical powers of attorney and tax laws, the “gravel” we need is reform of those laws.

                To people who disagree with you, sure, you have potholes. But you are not proposing to fill them with gravel, you are proposing to fill them with, say, gold bars. which makes people wonder. Hey. If all they want to do is fil the holes, why are they demanding gold bars? Huh. that makes me kind of suspicious. I wonder if they are up to something. Later, you director of Public Works, named Andrew Sullivan, comes out and says, well, actually, it turns out what we really wanted all along was reparations and that’s the reason for the gold bar thing. It was never really about filling the potholes.

                And people are even more suspicious than when they started.

                Here are the facts: Even if some moderates on the right and left got together and managed to puch civil unions through, the debate would go on just like it is right now. Because the activists on the right really do want to prevent gay people from gaining an equal place in the culture. And activists on the left really do want to gain an equal place in the culture.

                Nobody fights over gravel, because nobody cares about it.Report

  11. GrrrlRomeo says:

    I find the defense of religious freedom troubling because it only ever seems to defend a particular religion. I was born into a Catholic family–baptized as an infant and all that. I left the Catholic church partially because I couldn’t reconcile my being gay with my being Catholic, and only the latter was a choice. And still the Catholic Church is able to dictate what I do, and what every gay person does.

    If the Catholic Church were forced to adhere to secular laws prohibiting discrimination, they would’ve been sued a long time ago by women. They regularly and openly prohibit women from becoming priests and thus keep them from any religious leadership roles. Both priests and nuns are prohibited from getting married *to anyone regardless of sex*.

    And yet the Catholic Church finds itself able to follow the law in it’s secular operations and hire married people and women for secular positions. And while our secular culture may find the way the Catholic Church treats nuns (women) verses priests (men) immoral, they are still free to do it even with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to GrrrlRomeo says:

      That’s how most people interpret most liberties.

      They see them as a privilege extended to people who use them responsibly rather than as, say, liberty.

      When it comes to opt-in dictatorships, it does get to be really dicey. Should people be allowed to join contracts where they let other people make their moral decisions, including moral decisions regarding equality of the sexes, skin color, sexual inclinations, etc, etc, etc?

      If the answer comes “no, we have to set up rules to make sure that people know exactly what the moral attitudes *REALLY* are and set up our society to properly reflect them”… well. Yeah. That’s one of those things that people in general tend to say. Which brings us back to the first couple of sentences in this post.Report

  12. GrrrlRomeo says:

    Oh hey, while you’re all defending the religious liberty of the Catholic Church maybe give some thought to the homeless youth, up to half of which identify as LGBT and are currently staying in those compassionate Catholic homeless shelters.

    If same-sex relationships are considered as wonderful as heterosexual relationships, well then parents will start accepting their LGBT children instead of kicking them out or ‘causing them to run away from the abuse and into the loving arms of a Catholic priest at a homeless shelter.

    As long as society rejects it’s LGBT children, Catholic priests have a steady supply of vulnerable homeless children to rape. How’s that for motive?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to GrrrlRomeo says:

      I support the religious freedom of homeless LGTBQQII youth as well.Report

    • North in reply to GrrrlRomeo says:

      Come on Grrrlromeo. Isn’t this excessive? Yes everyone agrees that it’s horrible that people throw gay youth out of their homes just for being gay. It’s monstrous. But you really undercut our arguments when you throw in a lot of gratuitous slams about Catholics and their recent dark past with child abuse. Is that really necessary?Report

      • GrrrlRomeo in reply to North says:

        Their dark past with child abuse is not recent. It’s historical, epic and still going on.

        My point is that the Catholic Church does not have the moral high ground here. They don’t want gays to get married because they want society to continue to believe all gays are perverts. That’s the religious belief they’re trying to impose on everyone. And isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?

        Is my calling out the Catholic Church on their documented cases of child abuse anymore excessive than the Catholic Church calling all gays perverts? Because that’s the reasoning behind the Catholic Church not wanting to accept same-sex marriage. According to Catholicism, gay sex is a perversion. They demand that gays be celibate. I know this because I’m gay and I was raised Catholic.Report

        • North in reply to GrrrlRomeo says:

          I’m gay myself and I don’t disagree except with the ongoing part since I have no knowledge whether the abuses are continuing (though if you do you should be speaking to the police). I don’t think the Catholics have a moral high ground. But I also don’t think that these kind of attacks help our cause, they’re more like Limbaugh esque preaching to the choir callouts. And we’re not going to win this debate with just the choir.Report

  13. Jefferson says:

    I’m not a Catholic: In oder for you to understand my answer about the church and other groups that are oppose to Gay marriage, to be obedient to Almighty GOD . You and the Gay Community must be Born Again and received the Holy Spirit of GOD. Too be born again mean one must repent of your sin to GOD in prayed, believe in your heart that GOD sent His son JESUS to died for all of your sin and ask forgiveness. He will saved you from the wrath of GOD and you will received the Gift of Eternal Life. KJV Bible St John 3:1-18 and Roman 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-11,13
    Genesis 2:21-25.Report

    • Cascadian in reply to Jefferson says:

      I see plenty of places where Jesus rails against Pharisees but where does he devote his venom to gays? GOD the father was a bit of wanker.Report

    • GrrrlRomeo in reply to Jefferson says:

      Jefferson, let me make this perfectly clear to you. I don’t care about God and I don’t care about God’s forgiveness. I’m not afraid of God’s wrath. I’m not afraid of Hell. I’m not afraid of death. I don’t want to be born again. Once was enough. I don’t want Eternal Life. 70 or so years is long enough for me.

      What I care about is human beings and how human beings treat each other while on this earth in this life. And I care about future generations of human beings that will have to live on this earth after I am gone. May they inherit more liberty than I have been afforded as I have inherited more liberty than the generations before me.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jefferson says:

      There are several things I noticed about this post. Indeed, it’s a treasure trove. It’s so much a treasure trove that I had to take a moment and wonder whether it was parody/satire. There’s a lot of good stuff in there packed into a relatively small post. If so, well done. I hope to reach that level of skill someday.

      “But what if it’s not?”, I then asked myself. “If it’s not,” I told myself, “then the author of the post is not likely to interact with you, being godless. He has planted his seed where it will either be snatched up by the birds of the air, burn up in the rocky soil, be choked out by weeds, or grow into a shaft of wheat and return ten-, twenty-, or one-hundred-fold. The parable of the sower did not involve a section where the sower kept standing there, throwing seeds at the birds of the air, after all. So he’ll just shake the dust off his sandals and walk to the next town and Sodom (no pun intended!) and Gamorrah will have had it easy compared to the towns that turned him away with such mockery.”

      “So are you going to write an essay deconstructing the verses and getting into a theological debate with this guy who was standing where that sandal dust is sitting right now?”, I asked myself.

      “Nah, I’ll just write this one.”Report