Courting gay marriage

Courting gay marriage
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I remember a conversation with an older student in some university class a few years ago. I forget why exactly, but we’d just finished watching Stephen Frears’ My Beautiful Laundrette, a 1985 British film that featured, among other things, a rather explicit man-on-man romance.

“Audiences back then must have been scandalized,” I said.

“Oh, I dunno,” my classmate replied. “I think things are actually worse today. Back then, homosexuality was just this weird, avant-garde thing. Now, it’s… political.”

This sort of logic has been used to explain the slow arrival of marriage equality in the United States. Back in 2003, when the Massachusetts Supreme Court declared gay nuptials a constitutional right and a larger national debate over the idea began, moderate supporters of the gay cause immediately began to worry if the homosexual lobby had perhaps overplayed their hand.

During the late 1990s, after all, many states had started quietly passing unambitious domestic partnership laws that granted many marriage-like rights to same-sex partners, and included homosexuality as grounds for non-discrimination in charters governing housing and employment. Had this incremental, mostly behind-the-scenes trend continued, which is to say, had the m-bomb, never been dropped, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that generous civil protections for same-gender couples would now be law in the majority of states. Even many Republicans of the era made much about how they had “no problem” with gays enjoying hospital visitation rights or the ability to draw up their own inheritance contracts and so on.

But instead marriage, that most heterosexual, historical, and emotionally cherished of institutions, became the demand. A stage was skipped, a backlash was provoked, and the result was perhaps the single most regressive decade in America’s history of gay rights.

Anti-same sex marriage amendments were affixed to three-fifths of all state constitutions. Two Democratic presidential candidates were told the issue was a loser and happily ignored it. A Republican president was told it was a winner and was rewarded a second term (at least in part) for opposing it. It all added up, in the words of some fair-weather allies, to a country clearly “not ready” for the next step in homosexual equality. Gay people were fine, but why did they have to get so… political?

In 2013, of course, the world is an entirely different place. Lawrence v. Texas universally decriminalized homosexuality. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been abolished. There are openly gay mayors and senators. 60 percent of Americans say they have a homosexual friend or relative. The current president endorses gay marriage along with his cabinet and the vast majority of Congressional Democrats (and even a couple Republicans). Right-wing mainstays like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh are officially bored with the issue, and declare it inevitable. 58% of the country says they’re ready.

Against such a backdrop, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario in which the Supreme Court of the United States, which began hearing two gay marriage-related cases last week, will not declare the practice legal in some form or another come ruling time.

The issue is so overwhelmingly backed by Democrats it can be completely taken for granted that the court’s four liberals will find in favor, while swing justice Anthony Kennedy’s eclectic mix of views includes, in the words of Slate‘s Emily Bazelon, a marked love of “states rights and gay rights” — which both cases have in spades. The question is simply how far the majority will go, not whether they’ll go there at all.

At the very least, few deny that same-sex marriage will be re-legalized California. Supreme Court case number one, the so-called “Prop 8” dispute, which tests the constitutionality of a 2008 referendum that stripped California gays of their right to marry just a few months after the state Supreme Court declared it, seemed to thoroughly disinterest the judges during oral arguments. Charles Cooper, the lead lawyer backing the referendum’s results, that is, the anti-gay marriage guy, offered only the lamest defences of the Peoples’ power to deny a particular segment of themselves a right previously granted — and was happily mocked by the court’s liberal wing for even trying.

At one point, Cooper flatly denied Justice Elena Kagan’s assertion that straight, married couples over 55 could not procreate — as he had to, since procreation was one of the few coherent arguments his side could muster in the defense of keeping marriage exclusively heterosexual.

“I can just assure you if both the woman and the man are over the age of 55, there are not a lot of children coming out of that marriage,” said the Justice, to loud laughter from the gallery.

Case number two considers the constitutional validity of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, an embarrassingly dated piece of legislation that says the federal government will never recognize the validity of any state’s same-sex marriages nor grant to same-sex couples any of the over 1,000 benefits straight Americans can access by tying the knot. The sheer arbitrary vindictiveness of this one seemed to irritate the court’s liberals just as much as Prop 8, and once again it was Justice Kagan that got the soundbyte of the afternoon.

“I’m going to quote from the House Report here,” she said, reading Congress’ DOMA notes before the pro-DOMA counsel. ”‘Congress decided to reflect and honor a collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.‘”

“Is that what happened in 1996?” she asked coyly.

“If that’s enough to invalidate the statute, then you should invalidate the statute,” spluttered the flummoxed lawyer.

After two great days in court, SSM supporters were understandably giddy about their odds. But even if they “get what they want” in some narrow sense, it’s still somewhat unclear what exactly “overturning” Prop 8 and DOMA will affect in practical terms.

For instance, is Prop 8’s unconstitutionality born from the fact that it stripped rights from gay couples, or merely denied them? If its the former, the consequence of a positive ruling would be decidedly limited. Most states that have voted to ban gay marriage have done so apropos of nothing beyond a fear that some judge might impose it someday, and the Court could easily hold that’s fine, since the democratic process still allows for such bans to be overturned, as happened in Maine recently. A limited DOMA ruling could consolidate this belief even further. Sure, maybe it’s unconstitutional to say the feds will never recognize any gay marriages, but if a single state’s voted to legalize the practice within their borders, well, the feds have no right to undermine that decision.

In short, if gays can easily win their rights through politics-as-usual, surely a few years of delay isn’t such a crime. Just give the states time and eventually they’ll all come around  Everyone’s always saying it’s inevitable, right?

If marriage is found to be a right, period, however, then the Court is getting into real Roe V. Wade territory. A maximist ruling on both cases — that it’s unconstitutional to ban gay marriage and the federal government must recognize it everywhere — would theoretically invalidate all anti-gay marriage laws across the entire United States in one swift swoop, and turn all 31 anti-SSM amendments into archaic relics, like the old anti-miscegenation amendments in the Deep South, overnight.

According to the New Yorker‘s Jeffrey Toobin, this is the scenario that even a liberal justice like Ruth Bader Ginsburg worries about, since the potential for conservative backlash against such brazen judicial activism — a revival of support for the Federal Marriage Amendment perhaps? — could be so high. Is the country ready for an across-the-board imposition of a dramatic new right that languished in fringe-world obscurity a mere decade ago?

Perhaps not. But it’s an open question if that 58% is ready for a excessively cautious compromise, either.

That kind of waffling, it seems, might be just too… political.




^ 35 Comments...

  1. OldsVistaCruiser

    The old anti-miscegenation statutes were also overturned by the US Supreme Court, in their 1967 decision regarding Loving vs. Virginia. Unfortunately, conservatives use the same "sanctity of marriage" excuse to oppose gay marriage today as their fathers used 50 years ago to oppose interracial marriage.

    The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution clearly renders Prop. 8 unconstitutional in its text, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

  2. Jsoftz

    If I'm not mistaken- this is not how the 14th amendment works, but I'm not a conn law expert or a lawyer. Namely, there are legal forms of discrimination that a broad reading of the 14th amendment would invalidate. I.e felons cannot own guns, you can't vote if you're under 18, etc. So there are two levels of scrutiny applied to discrimination based on the source of that discrimination – the higher level is "strict," which includes gender, sex, race, age and the any discrimination based on these assets has a very high standard to be legal. The lower level is "rational" basis and this is much broader, essentially a rational basis for a legitimate government interest has to be demonstrated for a law enforcing discrimination to be legal… I'm assuming things like discriminating against a felon for gun ownership would fall under this. Rational basis tests don't even have the be scientifically accurate or anything, the logic just has to hold – it cannot be a non-sequitir.

  3. Jsoftz

    Sorry for the double post- I don't think this means anything in terms of whether the Supreme Court will throw out the DOMA or invalidate Prop 8, just that reading the 14th Amendment that broadly is not my understanding of how it works.

    I would be surprised if both stood, I'd guess that there isn't a good legal standing for Prop 8 and that ultimately it will be up to the states to decide if they want same-sex marriage..hopefully that won't result in any extreme backlashes like JJ detailed.

  4. Thornus

    There are actually three levels of scrutiny. Strict scrutiny is pretty much limited to race, national origin, and fundamental rights. Intermediate scrutiny applies to gender, age (sometimes), and illegitimacy. Rational basis is everything else.

    To pass strict scrutiny, the law must further a compelling state interest, be narrowly tailored to achieve its goal, and must use the least restrictive means to attain that goal. Intermediate scrutiny: furthers an important government interest in a way which is substantially related to that interest. Rational basis just looks at whether it is a reasonable means to attain a legitimate government interest.

  5. Jsoftz

    Thanks for that clarification!

  6. Jake_Ackers

    And frankly, I am appalled by Ruth Bader Ginsburg worry for a backlash amendment and moreover the collective decision these Justices will make. It seems like its shaping up to be more a legislative move than a judicial one. If the courts are worried about making a Roe v Wade or a Brown Board like decision then have a wrong thought process going on their. The Courts should be concerned with the Constitution and to hell with the politics or public opinion. As least Brown and Roe v Wade was done with the Constitution in mind first (even if Roe v Wade did split hairs).

  7. Jake_Ackers

    Actually I would think this whole argument falls under the 1st Amendment and the Contract clause in the Constitution. Freedom of religion (whether marriage is religious or not), Freedom of speech (whether gov't should define the word marriage or not), and contract (should gov't define the terms of a contract or even go back and redefine it).

    Either way I think its a split decision. The Supreme Court will mandate all rights be given and for the federal gov't to recognize the marriage/unions but call it w/e else. So stop just short of mandating gay marriage legal. I base this on the fact that Kagan and Sotomayer asked, "Does gov't even have a role in defining the word marriage?"

  8. Daniel

    The 14th amendment does not call for incorporation it was the court cases that came after that defined that but I would argue that as article 3 grants no interpretive power to the court incorporation is invalid. Even if incorporation does exist where is there any federal power over marriage that would prevent the tenth from kicking in?

  9. BLu

    Roberts doesn't wear the gold bars!

  10. Jake_Ackers

    And again I bring my libertarian point. The Supreme Court probably will end up with some form of personal contracts for all (regardless of orientation). Same rights and same word, gender neutral. That would have near 2/3 support and would shut people like that lawyer talking with his pseudoscience and what not. Which I also think that there shouldn't be any kind of marriage amendments. But seems both sides want the word marriage to be used in a legal context regardless and that is the minefield I think the Supreme Court would like to avoid. Or the Supreme Court could tell gov't to get out of the marriage business completely even to the fact that states cannot ordain ministers or issues a "marriage" license.

    As I said before, either way I think its a split decision. The Supreme Court will mandate all rights be given and for the federal gov't to recognize the marriage/unions but call it w/e else. So stop just short of mandating "gay marriage" legal. I base this on the fact that Kagan and Sotomayer asked, Does gov't even have a role in defining the word marriage?

    Moreover, I hope everyone gets equal rights as it is the right thing to do. Second I also hope we can resolve this issue so we can focus on other ones. Frankly, I am more concerned about our debt, terrorist, and the sort than what someone does or doesn't do behind closed doors (in terms of the politics of it).

  11. Dryhad

    The problem with the libertarian point is that the opponents of same sex marriage are not libertarians. Some time ago I wrote a letter to my local newspaper pointing out (I thought) that the other side had already conceded every issue of meaning and was now getting worked up over a meaningless word. However, the interpretation the, we might call them "authoritarians" or "serviles", took from my letter was apparently "Marriage is just a word, THEREFORE WE MUST USE LEGISLATION TO ENFORCE ITS USE WITH OUR OWN MEANING AND NO OTHER".

    It's the kind of mind to which such an "argument" makes sense that has cause this issue to become, well, an issue.

  12. Jake_Ackers

    THANK YOU! Finally someone here gets my point. I guess it does become simply what I said and what repeated, they do want to use the actual word and force their own meaning. I think the only way for this to get resolved is for the Supreme Court to force gov't away from the use of the word. After that people will focus on the rights aspect and ignore the word in a legal context. Then the gay issue and marriage issue is left to the non-profits, personal or churches which frankly themselves are reshaping like what the Mormon position has become. It's wrong but they still need love and respect and caring.

  13. phlinn

    From what I've seen, both sides care a great deal about the word and it's meaning, or at least a vocal portion of each side do. If straights didn't care, then they would have allowed it without a fuss. If gays didn't care, they would have accepted civil unions. I think it would have been strategically better for them to get civil unions everywhere first, and then get the word marriage stripped out of the law or fight to have it applied to them as well after it really was the only distinction. They possibly could have convincingly argued at that point that the two separate forms of union weren't really equal after all.

    The whole concept of a marriage license is flawed, and as long ago as 2002 I remember seeing conservatives argue that everyone should be able to designate a legal next of kin, and that marriage should be taken away from government responsibility entirely. The gay marriage movement would NOT go along with that.

  14. Dryhad

    Well I object to the implication that "straights" oppose same sex marriage. I offered two perfectly good terms that don't assume one's position on this issue is dictated by one's sexual orientation.
    Secondly, I'm not saying that anyone doesn't care, I'm saying this is about the presumption of liberty and what the default course of action should be on matters that have no practical impact on the debaters or anyone else.
    I'm a bit wary of proposals to take marriage out of law entirely because they strike me as stunts, and they probably won't succeed in calming anything (quite the reverse). They also don't address the fundamental root of the problem which is people who for some reason believe that this kind of thing makes sense as a law.

  15. Jake_Ackers

    "this kind of thing makes sense as a law."

    That is in reference to? Laws legislating marriage doesn't make sense or laws that take out the word marriage doesn't make sense?

    Either way, the most likely way to remove gov't from marriage will be by the Supreme Court.

  16. Dryhad

    Laws insisting that the word can't ever mean anything other than a man and a woman. It's tempting to view this as a dying gasp of a campaign that's already lost any ground of note, but it seems to me that some people genuinely believe that a) it affects them in some way if a union of two people with the same gender is called a "marriage" even if the same union would exist with exactly the same legal benefits under any other name and b) that it makes sense for the word to be thus restricted by law.
    I'm pretty sure the logical conclusion of my line of argument is that the government shouldn't be using the word to describe any union in any official capacity, I'm just saying I'm skeptical of campaigns to bring this about. I think they will exacerbate the issue unnecessarily.

  17. Jake_Ackers

    Makes sense. Would you agree though if the Supreme Court did it it would be the best course? I just wonder how else it could be resolved.

  18. Dryhad

    I suspect that if it had any meaning at all it would be strongly resisted and do little to resolve the debate, though if it was binding enough we could just wait it out for a generation or so and they'd have to get used to it. More likely it will be a very slow process that will lead to a lot more court cases and it will take a generation or more _anyway_ for changes to fully filter down to the point where people can actually get married.

  19. Jake_Ackers

    Well considering how unpopular Roe v Wade was, I wouldn't doubt if the SC forces govt out of marriage completely. Frankly, that's the Constitutional thing to do. Marriage is a freedom of speech issue or from marriage licenses and ordained ministers its a religious issue. Either way gov't from a constitutional perspective should get out.

    To heck with what the public thinks. The job of the Supreme Court is to do what is constitutional not what is popular.. As I have mentioned, I am appalled by Ruth Bader Ginsburg worry for a backlash. Goes to show they are acting more like legislators than justices.

  20. Dryhad

    I'm not worrying about what the public thinks for the Court's sake, I'm worrying because I'm part of the public, and if the government isn't making decisions on this then it will be the public doing so.

  21. Jake_Ackers

    I get it now and agree. It's in democracies that rights get voted away.

    I was just saying the SC thing as part of a greater narrative. The Courts have become legislators in their own right instead of justices interpreting the Constitution.

  22. phlinn

    I should have used other words than gays and straights, because it's only a small subset of either group.

    My main point was that it wasn't just one side caring about the word choice. Your comment strongly implied that the pro SSM side thought it was just a word, which wasn't really true. A large portion of SSM adovcates disputed that the other side had conceded every issue of meaning.

  23. Jake_Ackers

    I think what everyone is saying is this. Equal rights is going to be given no matter what. Only a percentage actually want to actively deny rights. Sizable but not enough to stop the wave. Yet, even if equal rights is given, there are enough people wanting the gov't to actually define the word "marriage" whether its pro or anti gay. While it seems the SC is leaning to force the govt out of actually defining the actual word either way.

  24. Brandon

    I’ve always felt like this “issue” has boiled down, like most issues in politics, to a scale. On the one end, you have people who are dead set on trying to force the world to acknowledge them, no matter how much the other side does not want to. On the other end, you have people who try to dehumanize the other based on what their orientation is.

    Then there is what I’d consider the more sensible middle ground, where both sides have equal benefits to entering long term relations with whatever gender floats their boat.

  25. KKoro

    How about the two sides just make a deal where homosexuals aren't allowe to use the word "marriage" so long as heterosexuals can only use it while raising children? If they want to claim that it's an issue of biological potential, then you shouldn't have any childless married couples allowed. In fact, you're required to be pregnant or with a child -before- you can get a marriage license.

    Or if it's about preserving the "sanctity" of marriage, then no divorces are allowed for anyone. If you want to get out of an abusive marriage, even, you've got to trick the aggressor into doing something that lets you execute them "in self-defense".

  26. KKoro

    All the government should care about is encouraging adults who are responsible enough to give consent to a legal contract to be able to pool resources with a standard contract. Additional tax breaks can be given if children are being raised. It shouldn't matter what the genders are, or even the number of persons in the relationship or even whether they are related — the union need not have any requirement for sexual relations, so you could have two brothers raising their orphaned nephew, and benefiting from the standard perks. Let anti-incest laws control the sex aspect.

    I mean, hell, the government is already whoring itself out to big corporations, why wouldn't it be reasonable for them to allow the poor and middle class to "incorporate" themselves into families?

  27. Trenacker

    If civil unions are specific to homosexuals, rather than applied broadly to all couples not married by a religious institution, then wouldn't civil unions qualify as a form of segregation?

    What's to defend? A word? People don't mobilize over semantics. The blowback from conservatives has to do not with the alleged hubris of homosexuals imposing themselves on the majority by insisting that they are entitled to be referred to as "married" — conservatives are happy to talk about the unchurched using that language — but rather because this is an argument about whether or not the state will give its implicit blessing to a union that is prohibited in the Bible. In other words, this is one of the last battlegrounds on which fundamentalists can still hope to win a victory that puts the state on "their" side of an issue. What's very interesting is that the Supreme Court justices appear to have different views as to whether it is permissible for Congress to make law informed by Biblical morality.

    I accept Ross Douthat's persuasive argument in the April 2, 2013 NYT op-ed "Marriage, Procreation and Historical Amnesia" that marriage has a strong historical link to procreation. It is also clear, I think, that marriage has a strong historical link to chauvanism. The question before is whether the state should use its power to selectively advocate on behalf of a particular type of marriage deemed "best."

    The huge irony here is that even if the Court made a reasoned judgment that the state should only sanction marriage between a man and a woman on the increasingly dubious grounds that children are best-adjusted when they come from that background, the people who pushed that argument would really have been doing so for ulterior reasons. They don't complain nearly as much about single-parent households, nor about children growing up in adoptive families with two heterosexual parents.

    At core, this isn't really about what works for children; it's about discouraging homosexuality by sending a forceful message that gays are unwelcome and unwanted, justified with reference to a faith that only some of us share.

  28. Jake_Ackers

    "If civil unions are specific to homosexuals, rather than applied broadly to all couples not married by a religious institution, then wouldn't civil unions qualify as a form of segregation? "

    And that is what a few of us have been trying to say. EVERYONE has a right to a personal contract (personal contract is not the same as a civil union btw). Both should have the same thing. Same word, same rights. Personal contract route is equal while civil union/marriage isn't equal.

    Let's face it, we aren't going to convince anti-gay people to be tolerate of gays. But I think you can convince almost 2/3 to give equal rights. And by going with the personal contract versus the civil union/marriage route you are guaranteeing same word, same rights.

  29. Trenacker

    But personal contracts stop well short of encompassing the full panoply of privileges extended to married couples by the federal government. Folks can indeed make contracts that solve the problem of access at hospitals. They cannot make contracts between themselves that yield tax relief.

    Not long ago, a coworkers insisted that his opposition to gay marriage was a necessary reaction to a Gay Rights movement that was not so much interested in achieving legal equality (which he felt they could have had by simply demanding that they be entitled to something called a "civil union" at the local courthouse) as coercing acknowledgement of their (dubious) moral equality by trying to appropriate the religious mantle of "marriage." The problem was that he could never explain to me why he wasn't also up in arms over the use of the word "marriage" to describe the relationship of heterosexual couples that had been joined in matrimony by a civil servant. Really, even if he didn't say it explicitly, it is clear that my coworker viewed the whole clash over gay rights as a kind of public referendum on whether it is permissible to hold unpopular or "traditional" views about the "proper" kind of social order. Scalia has been attacked, at times viciously, for also suggesting that the Bible can be a legitimate source of moral judgment worth codifying as law.

    In other words, the whole argument here, as demonstrated before the Supreme Court, is really over whether the government can in fact be made to take a stand on what is the "best" kind of marriage. By denying the right of marriage to members of the gay community, opponents reserve marriage (mostly) for the purpose with which they are most comfortable: joining a man and a woman in exactly the relationship that the Bible prescribes.

    I have encountered, from time to time, a few people who oppose gay marriage for reasons that don't have explicitly to do with religion. One of the reasons for this opposition appears to arise at the intersection of a vague sense that gay people are simply "icky," and the morally bankrupt attitude that the Constitution falls a distant second to personal preference. In another era, these would be the same folks who quietly approved of segregation because integration threatened to prove unpleasant or disconcerting. Another reason for opposition is by people who are suspicious that increased acceptance of homosexuality will invite their children to explore or even embrace that identity. Some parents that I know took a dim view of homosexuality because it served the instrumental purpose of discouraging their children from doing something that they construed as humiliating for all involved, or which could otherwise deny them the enjoyment of grandchildren. But by and large, the overwhelming majority of people who oppose gay marriage do so either because they want to take a stand on an issue that they believe is representative of larger disagreement about whether our society can or should enshrine religious precept in law.

  30. Jake_Ackers

    Again this goes back to my talking over each other. Under the libertarian position of personal contracts its marriage just called by another name for all couples. Simply just replace the word in all legal context. Thus you don't need ordained ministers by the state, you don't need to go get a marriage license. You simply to go city hall and sign a piece of paper. The de facto "privileges" as you pointed out would be laid out by the law with the same rights to all. Do you get my position? Give everyone the same rights as marriage, give everyone the same word. But make that word w/e else you want it to be for both groups.

    What a personal contract would allow is for couples to amend the de facto privilege if they wish to do so, again in a legal context. That is what I am saying would be the simplest solution as it would be make gay and straight marriage the same word, same rights but under a different word. It takes out the whole religiousness of it. Face it, no one will successfully argue against equal rights. The only leg they have to stand on is terms of using the word marriage and if the SC nullifies that then equal rights is bound to follow.

    Frankly, the public is having a different discussion than the Supreme Court. The SC seems more concerned with how the gov't will define it while giving equal rights.. The anti-gay and even pro-gay public is concerned with if gov't is giving a thumbs up for gay people. While most people frankly probably are concerned with other issues and would be okay with equal rights to all. All those weird anti-gay arguments are a minority part of the population that even agrees with it. Sizable but not enough to actually stop equal rights.

  31. Trenacker

    I agree with your solution wholeheartedly. I also concur that the "real argument" is "if gov't is giving a thumbs up for gay people." Of the SC justices, only Scalia seems to feel that their ruling will have something to do with that issue of acceptance.

    Over the long term, I do forsee equal rights. Over the mid-term, however, it is possible that we could see a patchwork quilt lose its red color only very gradually because of where population is clustered and how the SC is empaneled. The argument against gay marriage is to a large extent apparently self-evident to a majority of Americans in several red states. It is also a kind of sticking point among many conservatives that anti-discrimination provisions under the law, and explicit affirmations of rights for certain groups, are in fact discriminatory. The result is to perpetuate a situation in which it becomes legally possible to discriminate on grounds of sexual identity.

  32. EBounding

    If Christian Conservatives were serious about marriage, they would be working to get the government out of marriage and make tax benefits neutral to everyone. Marriage is a covenant with God, not the State. But of course, married couples are a large voting bloc and won't give up their bennies easily.

    I never thought I would quote from something called "The Daily Anarchist", but it's probably the best article I've read regarding the subject.
    http://dailyanarchist.com/2013/04/01/no-right-to-

    "On it’s face, it should be humiliating to everyone to grovel for permission to marry. We should also consider the reality that the paperwork couples sign is a contract with the State. Conventional wisdom suggests we should always read the contracts we sign, but this is impossible because the terms of this contract are obfuscated in 200 years of legal code, which are buried in legal libraries in language we barely understand. Even if we discover something objectionable, we cannot renegotiate the terms of this contract, and the State can change the terms at any time without our consent. In affect, signing a marriage license is consent to whatever laws they have passed, and whatever laws they will pass into perpetuity."

  33. Jake_Ackers

    Good post. That goes back to my point about the contract clause in the Constitution. Marriage from a civil/legal standpoint is a personal contract. So the individual should have the right to amend it as they see fit. The gov't can give a basic set of rights because then in that method people who marry in Las Vegas overnight or w/e at least have something rules set. But right now you can't change much, under a personal contract you can change w/e you want. And the tax benefits is a good point too. Yet our gov't keeps using our tax system as a tool of social policy.

    I do give you 3 seconds though before someone comes in here and says that marriage is not a covenant with God and that religious people should fine another word. Frankly, I think both sides should find another neutral word in a legal context which I think is the point you were making. But good luck. As Dryhad mentioned, people want to enforce their own meaning over the word (both sides) as it gives a implicit gov't approval or denial of homosexual. When in fact the Constitutional thing would be to what you said and get gov't completely out.

  34. Unknown Soldier

    Ill as it may be,life festers as it does.Arguments only make for what they are,if god is brought into this,well said is well done,so to make issues of this is a wonder why offense is even considered,yet the law is the law to those who abide and adhere to what principles/precepts/statues.

  35. @NotASeaDawg

    I'm so tired of the gay marriage debate. The only people I see fighting against gay marriage are the people who think that homosexuality is a bad thing that they don't want connected to something they love (the institution of marriage). How is this any different than me saying I don't want my favorite sports team to run beer adverts because I think beer is immoral (that's a hypothetical, obviously)? This is not a question of human rights, it's just a debate over who wants it more.

    Frankly I don't think there is any good reason to defend gay marriage against anything when marriage is only a symbol, not a real tangible thing. Anyone who wants to dicker about the tax loopholes and other goodies you can get from being married could just as easily argue that those things should be available to people who aren't married at all. Am I being discriminated against because I can't visit my best friend in the hospital at certain times? Perhaps, but I'm not convinced that it's a violation of my human rights to keep me from doing so.