gay marriage

Opponents of Marriage Equality Want to Control Straight People

Audrey Bilger at the Ms. blog has an interesting take on yesterday's argument before the Supreme Court in support of Proposition 8:

When opponents of marriage equality talk about "traditional" marriage, they want to roll back the clock on equality between men and women in marriage–hence the fear of "genderless" marriage and their insistence that marriage is a "gendered institution" even though the state does not currently force married couples to play traditional gender roles. If we don't guard against such archaic views of marriage, the state might start requiring pregnant women to marry, forcing men to marry women who can prove paternity and possibly even counting the number of allowed children within marriages.

Some Republicans Come Out in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage

More than 100 prominent Republicans signed an amicus brief last week, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage. Almost 300 businesses signed a similar brief asking the court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage, for purposes of federal law, as the union of one man and one woman.

The national GOP platform, adopted in August at the Republican National Convention, called for a constitutional amendment echoing the one man, one woman standard. When President Barack Obama instructed his Justice Department not to defend DOMA in court, House Republican leaders authorized spending taxpayer money to do so.

But as the high court prepares to hear arguments in back-to-back cases challenging DOMA and California’s Proposition 8, some big Republican names are asking the court to recognize that gay couples have a constitutional right to wed.

I suspect this just indicates that a few of the more foresighted members of the GOP have realized they need to get ahead of the game or face inevitable defeat, but I’ll take equality however I can get it.

The 300 businesses, on the other hand, may just be seeking good buzz, but I’m inclined to be optimistic and think that they really do want marriage equality. Let’s hope it becomes a trend.

Best Back-Handed Compliment Ever

Last week the Supreme Court heard opening arguments from the defense lawyers for Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, who are apparently both making the same argument: that the government may discriminate against gay people by refusing them marriage rights because they are not capable of having babies by accident:

Conservative attorneys did not argue that gays or lesbians engaged in “immoral” behavior or lifestyles. Instead they emphasized what they called the “very real threat” to society posed by opposite-sex couples when they are not bound by the strictures of marriage.

The traditional marriage laws “reflect a unique social difficulty with opposite-sex couples that is not present with same-sex couples — namely, the undeniable and distinct tendency of opposite-sex relationships to produce unplanned and unintended pregnancies,” wrote Clement, a solicitor general under President George W. Bush. “Unintended children produced by opposite-sex relationships and raised out-of-wedlock would pose a burden on society.”

I had to read this a couple times before I understood the nature of the argument, which is (I think) that unintended births cost the state more money when out of wedlock than in, so the government is justified in offering the financial incentive of legal marriage exclusively to straight couples, who are the only people able to get pregnant unintentionally.

Saying that gay people are, by their nature, more responsible with their family planning seems like a backwards reason to keep them from getting married, but at least this argument has the merit of not being based on something like religious belief or fuzzy evolutionary concerns. Still, I’d like to see some numbers that actually show how the state benefits financially from incentivizing straight marriage.

Even then, I wouldn’t care, though. The long-term social cost of depriving an entire group of marriage rights disturbs me more than the threat of a little additional government expenditure.

Marine Corps Enforces Marriage Equality in Spouse Clubs

Most likely responding to this story about a woman rejected from the officers’ spouse club at the Army’s Ft. Bragg because her spouse is a woman, Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary has instructed that similar clubs meeting on any Marine Corps base must open membership to same-sex partners of Marines.

Ary wrote that clubs cannot discriminate against any member because of “race, color, creed, sex, age, disability, or national origin. We would interpret a spouse’s club’s decision to exclude a same-sex spouse as sexual discrimination because the exclusion was based upon the spouse’s sex.”

This seems like a pre-emptive step, since no one in the Marine Corps has reported any issues similar to Ft. Bragg’s. Way to get ahead of the game, Marines.

The Gay Sky Isn’t Falling

Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Vatican Television Centre, has invoked the dreaded slippery slope argument against legalized gay marriage:

In short, preserving a vision of the human person and of human relationships where there is a public acknowledgement of monogamous marriage between a man and woman is an achievement of civilization. If not, why not contemplate also freely chosen polygamy and, of course, not to discriminate, polyandry?

Rather than dissect the problems with this line of reasoning (which Jay Michaelson, the writer of the linked article, does much better than I could), I will simply say, “Yes, why not?”

This is the libertarian me talking, but the government has no business being involved in marriage at all. Let the state authorize contractual civil unions if it finds a compelling reason to do so, but validating or enforcing types of relationships is just a way for the government to insert itself unwarrantably into our private lives.

Also, polygamy is not the opposite of polyandry, polygyny is. Polygamy is a gender-neutral word. Words matter.

Four More Years

The people of the United States have, by both the popular and electoral counts, re-elected Barack Obama to be our President. Congratulations to the President on a successful campaign; I will watch his second term with considerable interest.

In other election news the Republican party lost some elections because of inaccurate and insensitive rape commentary, Wisconsin elected the country’s first openly-gay Senator, Maine, Maryland, and Washington voted to legalize gay marriage while Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment to the contrary, and Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Pre-Blaming it on the Gays

However much damage Hurricane Sandy turns out to do, we’ve already got someone claiming it’s [almost] all the fault of our country’s persistent rebellion against God as exemplified by the fact that we haven’t… I don’t know… killed all the gay people?

In a wordy and occasionally rambling blog on his website, chaplain John McTernan seems to link Hurricane Sandy (and a number of other recent weather-related trends and natural disasters) on LGBT people and President Barack Obama’s recent backing of marriage equality. While most of McTernan’s wrath is directed at Obama, he has some choice words for GOP candidate Mitt Romney, too.

So I guess we can let them live as long as we don’t let them get married.

Gay Domestic Violence Survivor May Sue For Discrimination

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) has ruled that a gay man has probable cause for a gender discrimination case against the R.O.S.E. Fund, which provides free facial reconstructive surgery to victims of domestic violence.

This is a pretty big deal, since straight and same-sex domestic violence share a lot of the same characteristics.

  • One out of four to one out of three same-sex relationships have experienced domestic violence – one in four women in heterosexual relationships have experienced domestic violence.
  • The patterns of abuse are similar, often including a cycle of physical, emotional, and psychological mistreatment, leaving the victim with feelings of isolation, fear and guilt.
  • No race, ethnicity, or socio-economic status is exempt.