Posts Tagged ‘marriage amendment’

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Where is the Disconnect?

October 25, 2008
 
Supporters of California’s Proposition 8, which would create a ban on same sex marriages in the state by amending the state constitution,  seem to have some trouble getting their facts straight, no pun intended. I’ve noticed many new blogs appearing on www.wordpress.com with the sole issue being the support of Prop 8.  I visited one such blog recently and made a comment.  I was surprised and impressed that the blogger made an effort to contact me by email and engage in conversation. Within a few email exchanges, however, this particular blogger retreated to anti-gay tirades while ignoring the substantive discussion that had begun.  Allow me to make a few quotes from Trey’s email and make a few comments.
 
I don’t think its right for you to have benefits as a domestic partnership but be subject to greater hassle and scrutiny than a married couple. In CA, domestic partnerships have all the same legal rights as heterosexual marriages do, under the family code. That is why I am taking a stand. When the argument is truly about civil rights, I am not in favor of denying rights; however, I am adamantly against redefining marriage as an institution, which is what the CA supreme court did.  
 
So here’s something that the Federal Supreme Court declared back in 1954:  Separate is not Equal.  Trey the blogger feels that because domestic partnership registries are available to same-sex couples, civil marriage should be denied to gay and lesbian people.  California’s Supreme Court decided that the state’s constitution did not define marriage as 1 man and 1 woman, and ruled that civil marriage can indeed be 2 women, or 2 men, as well as a woman and a man.  The Supreme Court did it’s job; it ruled on the basis of the existing state constitution.  It did not, as Trey claims, redefine marriage.  Nor are these activist judges as many Prop 8 supporters would have the public believe.  Three of the four judges who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage were appointed to the court by conservative Republican governors. 
 
I have an unshakeable [sic] belief that a two-parent, heterosexual nuclear family is the ideal situation for a child to grow up in. I think that single parent families are unfortunate too, and believe they are the result of immature sexual acts, very poor judgement, or, in many cases, the selfishness of one individual wanting out of a marital relationship to fulfill needs, sometimes carnal, sometimes emotional, etc.
Well, Trey, by all means, make sure that you maintain your two-parent, heterosexual nuclear family, and be prolific.  Encourage other heterosexuals to do the same.  But why view single parent families as merely “unfortunate”?  Why not work to make their existance illegal in the same way you wish to make gay and lesbian marriages illegal?  Given all this rhetoric about the importance of family and children, especially when considering same-sex marriages, it would make sense that Prop 8 supporters would also be working to make divorce illegal and doing all they can to prevent the creation of bastard children.  I don’t recall any legislators introducing that kind of legislation recently.
  
The biological procreation of society is only conducted through heterosexual relationships, for if a lesbian is inseminated by sperm from a gay man, there is not intimate love creating that life.  
 
Trey, my dear man, just what are you trying to say here?  Children produced out of acts of lust are not the same as children born to loving heterosexuals?  Or perhaps you are saying that assisted reproduction is a morally wrong.  Maybe you’re saying that gay sperm is less conducive to producing a viable life, or that the lesbian womb is hostile to the embryo.  The implication you’re making is that gay and lesbian couples are incapable of loving the children with which they are blessed.  Thousands of gay parents would disagree with you. 
 
If the gay community was not so adamant about pushing its lifestyle onto mainstream America, “forcing” acceptance through the courts, but was instead satisfied with equal protection in the workplace, equal rights in the courtroom during probate hearings, etc, there would be more harmony between the gay community and the rest of society.
 
Well, here’s the deal, Trey:  as a gay man, I am faced with countless expressions of the heterosexual lifestyle on a daily basis.  Billboards, magazine ads, pop ups and banners on the internet, signs on buses, radio and television advertisements, movies, tv shows, news reports, love songs on the radio, spam in my email inbox, all showing me some degree of heterosexuality, often blatant and even vulgar.  Your disgusting lifestyle is in my face 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  When I ask to have the same benefits of marriage as a straight couple, do not presume to tell me that I am forcing my lifestyle on anyone.  If you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t marry a gay guy!
 
But changing the definition of marriage, and then teaching homosexuality to young children upsets and shocks the conscience of many.
 
I’ve got news for you, Trey.  The definition of marriage has changed many times in the course of history.  Please don’t trot out the Biblical definition of marriage, or that God ordained marriage as 1 man and 1 woman.  It just isn’t so.  God ordained, and approved of the marriage of 1 man and 700 wives, and gave that man (Solomon) an additional 300 mistresses.  Marriage has quite often been 1 man and 2 wives.  Marriage has been arranged by the parents with the prospective bride and groom having no say whatsoever in the choice of their spouse.  In the past 100 years, we’ve come to believe that couples seek a mate in a process known as dating.  That couple marries, presumably, based on their love for each other and mutual compatibility.  In the course of history, this is a relatively new concept. 
Teaching children that gay and lesbian couples exist is socially responsible education.  And guess what?  Many children are already aware of this fact because of the kid in their classroom who has 2 mommies, or 2 daddies. 
 
Trey, when you’re willing to support a law that bans all marriages but those that can create the nuclear family consisting of a Mother, Father, and their biological offspring, I will take you seriously about your support for Prop 8.  Remember to include in your ban, heterosexual couples who are sterile, as well as couples who are past the age of childbearing years.  Sr. Citizens must be compelled to forego marriage and take advantage of that separate (but equal in your eyes) domestic partnership.  Younger couples who fail to produce children within a reasonable amount of time, should have their marriage licenses revoked. 
 
There is a real culture war going on, and I can’t sit back and pretend my family is not harmed by calling what my wife and I have the same thing that two men have.
 
And here is the real problem, isn’t it?  These good folks who claim to be so concerned about the family, about God, about country, just can’t stand to think that someone so different from them, someone whom they believe their God condemns, might actually be happy together.  Maybe even happier.  Draw the line, build the fence, create a group that is other.  And Trey, while you’re at it, why not round us up, load us on the train, and send us to a detention camp? 
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My Visit to my State Representative’s Office

March 1, 2008

Sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are about to become protected by law in the state of Pennsylvania.  HB1400 is a bill intended to amend our current Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) to prohibit discrimination of these minorities, in addition to race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, handicap or disability, education and the use of a guide dog.  I fall into one of those minorities since I am a gay man, but I suppose I could claim another group that has been the target of discrimination.  I do have Irish ancestry, after all. 

So I got my Irish up, (oops, is that perpetuating the stereotype of the Irish being quick to anger?) and made an appointment to visit my State Representative, Deberah Kula, to ask her to support this amendment to the existing PHRA.  I was prepared.  I had my talking points printed up.  I did more research on those points that were provided to me by Equality Advocates PA.  I walked into her office with my head held high, ready to engage in some lively conversation. 

I barely got through the greetings and small talk, when I realized this was not going to be a problem.  When I mentioned the particular bill and its purpose, she replied with “not a problem.”  She indicated to me that everyone should have access to housing and employment.  I was disappointed that I didn’t get to demonstrate my knowledge of the statistics, but I was happy to have a common entry point for the conversation that followed. 

I brought up the bill that has been introduced into our state senate, that would amend our state constitution to define marriage as one man and one woman.  It was at this point that the conversation became more intense.  Rep. Kula explained to me that she just could not see this amendment passing.  It is difficult to amend the state constitution, and this just did not seem like a bill that could pass, in her opinion.  A quick search for a copy of the state constitution, followed by a swift perusal of same, leads me to believe that the last amendment to this document was in 1978.  It is encouraging that Pennsylvania has not seen fit to alter this constitution in the past 30 years.  I would also add here how much I appreciate her willingness to discuss this “Marriage Protection Amendment” when, as a representative, this bill has not been introduced in the House. 

Our conversation continued, and Rep. Kula stated that she would be honest with me, that her personal convictions did not allow her to support same-sex marriages.  I smiled and thanked her for being upfront with me, and decided to dive in and explore those convictions.  She told me that her religious beliefs just did not permit her to support us in acquiring the right to marry.  I countered with my own, rather strong religious beliefs.  I explained how I struggled to reconcile my faith with my orientation, as I was coming out.  Then I engaged her in a discussion of how a person comes to be gay or lesbian.  We talked about genetics, environment, and the complex interaction of both that medical science and psychological research believes to be responsible for sexual orientation.  I talked about choice, and how, knowing that discrimination and violence is a real possibility for gays and lesbians, no one would willingly choose to be homosexual.  Then I asked the question, somewhat rhetorically, “knowing that this isn’t a choice, what is the appropriate behavior for committed, loving, same-sex couples?”  Of course, I went on to answer my own question by stating that it is in the best interest of society that individuals pair up to care for each other so as not to be a burden on extended family or the government.  I spoke of health care, inheritance benefits, as well as hospital visitation, all of which are granted to straight couples within a few minutes at the local courthouse, yet denied to gay and lesbian couples.  My desire to care for my partner, and his wishes to care for me, as any married couple would and should, was also mentioned. 

At one point, she tried to explain her position, and found herself in a spot where she did not want to be.  Rep. Kula started to speak of natural inclinations, like mass murder.  She caught herself, and said, “and I don’t mean to compare you to mass murderers, perhaps I could have found a better comparison.”  To which I replied with a laugh “good, I was going to have to go after you on that one.”

One final, somewhat melancholy exchange came when Rep. Kula told me that she didn’t know how she would vote for such an amendment if she were forced to do so tomorrow.  She said that she would have a difficult time deciding, but most likely would vote against same-sex marriage.  She apologized to me, saying that she knew it was not what I wanted to hear.  I was gracious, replied politely, and again thanked her for her honesty.  I genuinely valued her candor, as I felt no malicious intent from her.  I believe she holds her convictions because of misinformation, a lack of understanding about what it means to be gay or lesbian in our society. 

As I got up to leave, we shook hands and looked intently at each other.  It was at that point she said  “beautiful blue eyes.”  Perhaps I made the connection that I was attempting.  Something that I said at some point in that half hour may have stayed with her, and caused her to think.  I was pleased that I was able to leave her without experiencing “violence of the fist, the tongue, or the heart” as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught.