The Right to say "I do"

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    Dec 01, 2009 6:35 PM GMT
    Cohen had a good article in the Washington Post today. Top bad Conservatives don't read it.

    Richard Cohen, Washington PostA right to say 'I do'
    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    The truth is that if Maj. Nidal Hasan, the accused killer of 13 people at Fort Hood, had entered the officers club there with a nice handbag on his arm, perhaps a Gucci tote, he would have been out of the Army by the end of the week. Since he was merely antisocial, a misfit, an incompetent psychiatrist and a likely Islamic fanatic, he was retained and promoted. This says something about America. On the subject of gays, we are a tad nuts ourselves.

    That irrationality comes at me on an almost daily basis. One of the most prominent and strongly held planks of the Republican Party's right wing -- its only wing, it seems to me -- is opposition to same-sex marriage. I know this from the sheer huffy-and-puffiness of commentators such as Bill O'Reilly.

    In a recent column, O'Reilly directed us to read something called "The Manhattan Declaration," which was released late last month by a coalition of conservative Christians -- Catholic and Protestant alike. It makes three points. The first concerns abortion, and it will surprise no one that the signatories oppose it. The third -- I know, I know, I'll get back to No. 2 in a moment -- concerns "Religious Liberty" and the occasional efforts of government to make religious institutions conform with public policy. This is a point worth considering.

    No. 2 -- the longest section of the declaration -- applies to same-sex marriage. It amounts to a confession of confusion, a cry by the perplexed who have come to think that same-sex marriage is at the core -- the rotten core -- of much that ails our society. Everything from divorce to promiscuity is addressed in this section without any acknowledgment that same-sex marriage, like all marriage, is a way of containing promiscuity (or at least of inducing guilt) and that not having it would not reduce promiscuity in the least. This I state as a fact.

    The declaration calls the out-of-wedlock birth rate the "most telling and alarming indicator" of a collapse of the "marriage culture." Yes. But that collapse occurred long before same-sex marriage became an issue, not to mention a reality, and so one has nothing to do with the other.

    It remains true that the family is the single best place to raise children. That being the case, same-sex marriage would serve the same purpose. I know of children raised by same-sex partners and they seem no worse for the experience, although -- O'Reilly beware -- they lack a certain knee-jerk antipathy to gays, lesbians, transsexuals and similar people of dissimilar sexuality.

    Some of the declaration is couched in religious terms, and with that I cannot argue. But it is its appeal to common sense that I find so appalling. When it comes to same-sex marriage, the declaration conjures up a future where "polyamorous partnerships, polygamous households, even adult brothers, sisters or brothers and sisters living in incestuous relationships" will be legal. Not likely, but this is not the intent of the movement to legalize same-sex marriage any more than marriage between men and women was supposed to permit Henry VIII to have six wives or for Elizabeth Taylor to have seven husbands, one of them twice.

    The reasoning in the declaration is so contorted that it brings to mind the dire warnings from years past of what would happen if blacks and whites were allowed to marry -- not to mention similar references to what the Almighty purportedly intended. This sort of comparison irritates many African Americans who oppose same-sex marriage, but I can see no reason why the civil right extended by the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia (interracial marriage) is any different than the one sought by gays and lesbians. Marriage has certain economic advantages, and to withhold them based on nothing more than religious preference or, at bottom, a certain disgust entrenched in convention, is clearly a civil rights matter.

    In the end, the courts will decide this question. That's what they're for. It's doubtful that the voters of Virginia would have allowed Mildred and Richard Loving to tie the knot back in 1967 any more than the public in general approves of same-sex marriage today. Such a legal case, spearheaded by the political odd couple of David Boies and Ted Olson, is likely to reach the Supreme Court in the not-too-distant future. Then, I suspect, wedding bells will ring through the land -- and, after a pause, America will wonder what the fuss was all about.
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    Dec 01, 2009 7:24 PM GMT
    Thank you Pinny !!! This Cohen is speaking from where I believe most Americans are at. Its just that the bible thumpers on the far right are yelling so loud no-one else can be heard. I'd be willing to bet that gay Unions of some legally binding form will take place in ten years of so. It will be great !!! and I doubt the skies will fall on us.
  • calibro

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    Dec 01, 2009 9:26 PM GMT
    Hmm... I might print this out for my students. Thanks!
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    Dec 01, 2009 9:33 PM GMT
    RLD just like the article insinuates, within due time people will look back and go "what was the fuss about?" Until then we have to fight the fight and chip away at the fundamentalists.
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    Dec 01, 2009 10:06 PM GMT
    IT STATES IN THE U.S.DECELERATION OF INDEPENDANCE: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

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    Dec 01, 2009 11:03 PM GMT
    There are some things I agree with in this article, like about how this Nidal guy was clearly fucked up, and unfit to remain in the military, and the reasons why he was kept just pisses me off. It pisses me off even more so that there are gay guys who are proud to serve their country and all, but get booted out, or are afraid of being discovered because of their sexuality. I think that definitely needs to be changed.

    The thing I don't agree with in this article is trying to paint O'Reilly as one of those crazy right wingers. His stance on gay marriage is the same as the president's. This does not mean he is against gays having unions, and all of the benefits a traditional couple has. The key word is traditional.. O'Reilly is a moderate conservative, politically and independent, and a traditionalist. These positions aren't all something on the Republican side, as there are many Democrats who feel the same.

    What guys like him aren't too comfortable with is changing the traditional definition of marriage, and this is also due to their religious views, which again is found within both parties not just one.

    The whole thing he presented on his show about what the Catholic church is doing, wasn't something he was sitting there endorsing, he just rose the question about it, and was asking people what they thought of it. I'm sure a lot of you guys hate him and all, but I think you should watch his show sometimes before you go off and read what some blogger, or some other report says about him.