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The Internet Responds To The Times’ Gay Marriage Op-Ed: “Reconciliation”

by David Badash on February 23, 2009

in Discrimination,Marriage,Media,News,Religion

As I said, “the Internet is abuzz today“. There were many, many commentaries, including mine, below, on the Tmes’ Op-Ed, “A Reconciliation On Gay Marriage“. What I found fascinating is there were so few in favor of it. My own piece, An Embarrassing Reconciliation On Gay Marriage, has some strong misgivings and questions the authors’ motives. It seems I’m not alone. Here are some excellent responses to the piece, both from blogs and from comments to blogs. An assortment.

Over at Episcopal Cafe, the Rev. Sarah Flynn leaves this comment:

“What this proposal is is really a surrender. Conservatives know they are losing the battle even in spite of Prop 8, and are suing for the best terms possible in the face of inevitable defeat. … Gay and lesbian people should not bargain away their right to full equality in this society for the sake of a false and unjust peace. There is no need to make a bargain with the devil for the sake of second hand citizenship in our own country. We should see this proposal as really a recognition by the Right that they are ultimately going to lose this issue, and not be deterred from finishing what we have begun at such cost and effort.”

Josh Becker at NYU Local writes,

“…ignorant assumptions about broad swaths of American minorities is equally dangerous, as is the arrogant assumption that your own prescription for what’s proven to be a thorny legal and moral issue is the only “reasonable accommodation” available.”

Georgetown Law Professor Nan Hunter adds these important observations,

“…if federal law is going to continue to follow state law for the purpose of defining who is eligible when a federal program requires marriage, then it should recognize as marriages  – not as civil unions – the Mass and CT and other same-sex marriages that are legal under state law.  Following the status recognized by the state has always been the federal approach.”

It was  striking to me that the op-ed completely omitted any discussion of the impact when non-church (etc) entities – like charities or hospitals with a religious affiliation –  accept public funds. When all of our tax dollars are supporting these organizations, then all of us have a legitimate concern about the services they provide.”

And, this, from Doug Mataconis at The Liberty Papers:

“Modern marriage is a civil institution governed by the state, so long as that is the case then the state has no right to discriminate against people when it decides who is and is not entitled to claim the benefits of that relationship.”

Rottin’ in Denmark writes,

“First they hated you because you were going to molest their kids. Then they hated you because being gay was a choice and a sin. Then they hated you because you were promiscuous. Then they hated you because you wanted to settle down. Now they hate you because you’re the bigot, potentially restricting their freedom to teach their kids that your nature makes you a cancer on the human race. Tomorrow they will hate you because you put mustard on your French fries, or because you pushed ‘Avenue Q’ into profitability.”

Pam Spaulding at Pam’s House Blend makes an excellent point, one that I have been espousing here as well. “The law leads”. Well, it should.

“…the law leads, not follows the people when it is a contentious issue. And even when the law extends civil rights, that doesn’t mean the public is ready to or willing to accept that change. We’re clearly still fighting race-based civil rights issues, and that reflects a society that has not fully matured on the matter. It will be no different as LGBTs win civil rights, one by one.

In making compromises to tamp down the conflict that make Blankenhorn and Rauch so uncomfortable, we all must go in with our eyes open that the impact of compromise may have unintended consequences that may take years to extract ourselves from by creating a separate and unequal system. Is it worth the price?  In Blankenhorn’s and Rauch’s compromise, it brings a host of rights to couples unable to obtain them because of the laws in their states. By rejecting compromise and working incrementally, those in states with few or no rights remain second-class citizens at any level for who knows how long (before the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately decides the matter).”

Lastly, SanFranCal via Topix commented, 

“Reread the entire article, substituting the adjectives “same-sex” and “gay” with “inter-racial,” and you’ll see how insulting and blatantly discriminatory this so-called compromise is.”

**Late Edition Update!**

I really liked what Good As You had to say as well:

“Here again, we have church fears and desires casually tossed around as if they, in terms of American government, are interchangeable with testaments toward civil fairness. And once again the tone suggests that just because churchesdesire something, that they are automatically deserved of it. That’s a very dangerous concept. And not only for LGBT people, but also for any group that might at any time find themselves within cross-wielding crosshairs.”

“Yes, we still have work to do to get the president and the American public fully on our side. But you know how not to do that? By ceding ground on a matter that we know within our loving hearts and learned minds is nothing short of right!”

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k_michael February 23, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Is the denial of same-sex marriage a denial of religious freedom?

It has been well-argued that marriage is a state-sanctioned unwritten legal contract – most briefly, it is the State (meaning, the civil government) which grants a priest or preacher (or Justice of the Peace, or other official) the authority to declare people legally married following the exchange of a verbal oath/agreement. What has not been argued is that the prohibition of same-sex marriage is also a denial of an individual’s right to freedom of religion. What follows is a very brief article intended, not as an in-depth thesis, but mainly as a “seed for thought” to suggest one facet of this issue that might inspire further discussion.

When the various claims regarding the “evils” of same-sex marriage are examined, the sole argument that remains standing is the religious argument. People most commonly use King James’ somewhat creative translation of the German translation (of the Latin translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, itself in many places a translation from the original Aramaic) to cite, of the 31,240 of verses (as per ) in both Testaments, the following:
1. The story of Lot
2. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13
3. Romans 1:26-27
4. 1 Corinthians 6:9
5. 1 Timothy 1:10

Although a respect for Biblical scholarship is claimed, this scholarship I denigrated when it points out the following facts:
1. Emphasizing seven verses out of 31,240 seems to be disproportionate
2. All of the other 850+ verses in Leviticus are summarily reejcted as being “not applicable to modern times”, yet the two cited above are considered absolute
3. The citations made by the Apostle Paul (who penned the letters to the Romans, Corinthians, and to Timothy) not only focus upon pagan orgiastic rituals (which considered sex, specifically orgasm, to be a way of connecting with the gods), but also equally condemn drunkards, revelers, the covetous, adulterers, “the effeminate” (possibly meaning eunuchs, a condition forced upon certain slaves – whom Paul also extorts to “obey their masters), extortioners, adulterers, the malicious, the envious, maligners, “debaters”, the malicious, the proud, the boastful, the deceitful, those who disobey their parents, backbiters, the unmerciful, whisperers,
4. the implacable, and a few other sorts of other people – he does not set up any sort of “point system”, nor does he imply that a boastful man is “less condemned” than is a gay man.
5. Last but by no means least, Jesus himself never mentioned same-sex relationships, which is as astounding oversight if a same-sex relationship is, indeed, as “abominable” as has been claimed; Jesus did say that a man leaves his father and mother for his wife, but nowhere does he say or imply anything regarding a committed same-sex relationship – the main emphasis seems to have been upon admonishment to not betray the oath of loyalty that is embedded in marriage. Indeed, Mark 16:16 tells us that Jesus said “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

Although all those who give any thought to God or even more abstractly, to spiritual matters, must wonder whether they are living up to what God wants them to be, this self-examination seems to be bypassed in some people and replaced with an overconcern with the assumed lack thereof in others. As is said in Matthew 7:3, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” To claim that “God doesn’t make junk”, implying that people with a minority sexual preference are junk, is the very pride and conceit that both Testaments repeatedly descry.

More to the point, however, is that a belief in God, and in God’s Prophets, does not guarantee that any human is ‘perfect” – and, by the same token, being imperfect does not automatically mean one does have such belief. There is a vast difference between trying to be the best person one can be, and being an atheist or otherwise “evil”.

There are many homosexuals, then, who do have a strong faith in God, who attend Church, and believe in divine forgiveness. There are also sects, both Christian and non-Christian, which have examined their own holy books, and do not see absolute prohibition of a committed, loyal relationship, and who do perform commitment ceremonies despite the absence of their civil right to enter into the set of contracts which are called “marriage”.

Given, then, that such sects, most notably the MCC, do exist and are established religions, and given that the opposition to same-sex marriage is, when all the analyses are done, based upon religious beliefs, it is unclear how or why the continuing prohibition of same-sex marriage has not been descried as a violation of religious freedom, as well as a violation of civil contractual rights.

David Badash February 23, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Thank you for all your thoughts and research! You’ve covered so much. I would like to say yes to “Is the denial of same-sex marriage a denial of religious freedom?” I am not as well-versed as you, and I will happily defer to your response. I like your answer!

Thank you!

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