"Now That Gays Can Marry, I’ll Stay Married Anyway" : Ann Woolner

  • Timbales

    Posts: 13999

    May 08, 2009 5:40 PM GMT
    May 8 - While celebrating my first wedding anniversary this week, I read that Iowa officials had started issuing marriage licenses to gay people.

    Who knew Iowa even had gay people?

    Also this week, Maine’s governor signed a measure legalizing gay marriage. Yes, elected officials actually passed and signed the law allowing homosexuals to marry each other without a court demanding it.

    Now almost the entire New England region will be offering wedding packages to two-bride and two-groom couples. We’re talking about one of the oldest regions of the U.S. capturing a budding business that free-wheeling Californians gave up when they nixed same-sex marriage last year.

    What gives? Why all the fuss?

    Now that I’m married, I see more clearly why so many people want into this thing so badly. Before last year, I thought my guy and I were just about as coupled as two people could get. We’d seen each other through hardships, taken part in each other’s family events and shared deep joys and pure fun.

    Now I know that marriage is different from non-marriage. People who used to be puzzled by us understand our relationship and honor it. The state does, the law does, physicians do. I was surprised how joyfully friends and mere acquaintances reacted to the news of our marriage.

    Happy Anniversaries

    We rejoice in it, too. It’s a level of togetherness that we couldn’t have reached otherwise. We’re family. We’ve ditched the annual celebration of our first date for the real thing.

    And, as foreign as the words “husband” and “wife” still feel when we use them with each other, they are legally our words to use.

    Those who oppose gay marriage say it will ruin those words and rob marriage of its stature.

    That’s one of the arguments Polk County, Iowa, used in court after gay couples seeking marriage licenses in 2005 were turned away and sued the registrar. The Iowa Supreme Court analyzed every angle of that argument in its comprehensive ruling April 3. It found no substance.

    However important tradition, it can’t be used to exclude a group of people from a state-sanctioned privilege without a really good reason. You can’t just say, “We’ve always done it that way, and that’s the reason we’ll keep doing it that way.” It’s circular.

    If you “allow discrimination to become acceptable as tradition,” the court said, that “helps to explain how discrimination can exist for such a long time.”

    Consider the Kids

    The county cited what it thought were really good reasons for the traditional two-gender marriage: The state wants the best environment for raising children, and everyone knows they do best when they have one parent of each gender. Right?

    Wrong. “Reliable scientific studies” refute the notion that same-sex parents provide inferior parenting, the court said, having reviewed the claims on both sides of the argument.

    Besides, denying same-sex parents (and their children) the same status that opposite-sex parents get through marriage does nothing to improve the lot of children in either situation.

    And, most tellingly, if a healthy home for children was the chief aim of the same-sex-marriage ban, the state would make sure that sexual predators, child abusers, deadbeat parents or convicted felons would be turned away at the marriage license counter, too.

    Real Reason

    So the law is “less about using marriage to achieve an optimal environment for children and more about merely precluding gay and lesbian people from civil marriage,” the court found.

    And what about the county’s argument that same-sex marriage might destabilize opposite-sex relationships? The county didn’t even offer a reason for that assertion. How could it?

    It all seems to boil down to religious beliefs. “Religious objections to same-sex marriage are supported by thousands of years of tradition and biblical interpretation,” the court said. That’s what drives much of the anti-gay-marriage movement, much of it undoubtedly sincerely felt and well-meaning.

    Can’t Choose

    The problem is that government can’t say some religious beliefs are right and others are wrong. Buddhists, Quakers, Unitarians and certain branches of Judaism recognize same-sex marriages, not to mention people with no religious affiliation.

    The only way to protect religious beliefs is for the government to allow them all by refusing to favor any.

    Courts have to use constitutional, equal-protection standards to judge these laws and stay away from religious grounds.

    The state can’t force an Orthodox rabbi to marry Jew to non-Jew. Nor can it force him to marry two women, not even in Iowa. Those who adhere to that faith can continue to practice it without fear.

    It’s just not government’s call.

    The Court’s Job

    Maine’s governor came around to that view, and so did the legislature. But when a state enacts a law that discriminates, it’s the court’s job to say whether it’s constitutional, regardless of public opinion.

  • Timbales

    Posts: 13999

    May 08, 2009 5:43 PM GMT

    When I got engaged, California lawyers were arguing over whether gay marriage diminishes marriage. If they were right, then the sacred institution I had finally decided to enter just wouldn’t be what it used to be. Perfect.

    I also noticed that same-sex couples endure shunning, harassment, mounds of legal bills and years of court and legislative battles to accomplish what my partner and I did with a trip to the county courthouse and simple ceremony.

    I figure people dedicated to marriage with a certainty I only recently felt surely would elevate the institution, not diminish it. I say, come on in.

    (Ann Woolner is a columnist for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

    To contact the writer of this column: Ann Woolner in Atlanta at awoolner@bloomberg.net
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    May 08, 2009 6:21 PM GMT
    Beautifully written. Thanks for posting this Tim.
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    May 08, 2009 6:42 PM GMT
    Smart lady.
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    May 08, 2009 10:23 PM GMT
    Thanks Tim -- icon_redface.gif I just noticed that was someone else's writing!!. The article showed how even the court saw the opponents claims as non-sense and boiled this down to the opponents whole issue - their personal religious belief.

    It is funny how even now when in the media or public eye, some of the anti-gay crowd tries very hard not to mention "religion" as if no one will notice. They avoid it because they know it blows the whole thing out of the water because the constitution forbids making laws to favor any particular religion.

    Nevertheless it exposes their movement as hypocrisy and lies .. they can't be truthful because that truth ruins their case as it should - when religion joins itself to government .. all sorts of bad things happen.

    You can see from this timeline how it all began in our western civilization and how it progressed (see timeline for details):
    * 313 Emperor Constantine declares the Empire as Christian.
    * 342 – The first law against homosexual marriage was promulgated by the Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans.
    * 390 – In the year 390, the Christian emperors Valentinian II, Theodosius I and Arcadius declared homosexual sex to be illegal and those who were guilty of it were condemned to be burned alive in front of the public.
    * 529 – The Christian emperor Justinian I (527-565) made homosexuals a scape goat for problems such as "famines, earthquakes, and pestilences."
    * 589 – The Visigothic kingdom in Spain, is converted from Arianism to Catholicism. This conversion leads to a revision of the law to conform to those of Catholic countries. These revisions include provisions for the persecution of gays and Jews.
    * 693 Visigothic Ruler King Egica demanded that a Church council confront the problem of homosexuality in the Kingdom. The Toledan Council issued a statement in response, which was adopted by Egica, stating that homosexual acts be punished by castration, exclusion from Communion, hair sheering, one hundred stripes of the lash, and be banished into exile.

    And so the story goes .. the same sorts of things have continued through history until now. It is nice to know that even if it has taken over 1000 years this country is finally moving forward.
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 18111

    May 09, 2009 3:13 PM GMT
    I am very happy that the Governor of Maine has manned up by signing the gay marriage bill into law in the pine tree state. What is the status in New Hampshire with its gay marriage bill? New England being among the oldest regions of the country is probably also its most progressive because the level of education is among the nation's highest. So it is only natural that the New England States have taken the lead by advancing and legalizing marital equality. Now if both New Hampshire and Rhode Island would do the same thing, than we can say the entire New England region is friendly to gay marriage. Now if both New York and Pennsylvania would seriously take up this issue and successfully pass a gay marriage law that would be awesome. I don't know the status in New Jersey on this issue.