Friday, June 15, 2007

Marriage



Although it wasn't well covered in the press, this week was a milestone for marriage equality. A Romney-sponsored challenge to the Massachusetts marriage law was rebuffed. What has been legal for three years now will very likely continue to be legal: two persons regardless of gender may enter into a fully legal marriage in the state of Massachusetts.

I'm quite moved by this reversal of fortunes. Until last week, it was thought that Romney's challenge would be successful. He needed only 50 votes out of the 200 Massachusetts legislators. This is a profound level of support by the legislature, and it came by individual people telling their stories to the legislators.

Rather than restate what has been better said elsewhere, I'll just give a few links:

  • A summary by Dan Savage in Seattle


  • Personal comments by conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan


  • The irony here is that many Mohos are against marriage equality, even though the fight for gay rights more broadly in society has been the driving force for reducing prejudice and making conditions better for gay Mormons inside the Church. BYU's changes to its honor code are not occurring in a vacuum.

    8 comments:

    Tito said...

    But there is a different between opposing gay marriage and supporting a deeper culture of compassion and understanding for those who choose to pursue gay relationships or be open about their same-sex attractions.

    I recognize fully that I've benefitted from the efforts of many both in and out of the Church to nurture openness and dialogue. And the fruits of that openness will benefit many more after us.

    At the same time, even while firmly supporting many important civil rights for committed gay couples, I believe that the there needs to be a social ideal that is promoted by the laws of the land and that gay marriage does not fall within that social ideal.

    Chris said...

    At the same time, even while firmly supporting many important civil rights for committed gay couples, I believe that the there needs to be a social ideal that is promoted by the laws of the land and that gay marriage does not fall within that social ideal.

    The irony is thick. Mormons were not so long ago the target for failing to live up to the "social ideal."

    One day soon, we'll view this the way we viewed laws that prevented mixed race couple from marrying. Tito, the problem that the LDS Church will continue to run into in its attempts to support "a deeper culture of compassion and understanding" is that opposition to same-sex marriage is ultimately rooted in bigotry.

    Tito said...

    ...opposition to same-sex marriage is ultimately rooted in bigotry.

    That's a pretty strong statement, Chris. Invoking emotionally and politically charged rhetoric like 'bigotry' and 'homophobic' (I realize you didn't use that word, but it inevitably comes out in similar discussions) don't do much, imo, to legitimize arguments in favor of gay marriage.

    I tend to agree with the arguments stated here, by Bruce Hafen.

    Chris said...

    I know "bigotry" is a strong word. I used it quite intentionally. I did not use the word "homophobic" -- and if you read what I've written on my blogs, I rarely invoke that word.

    I have little interest in re-reading Hafen's article (I read it some time ago). I don't share his religious beliefs, nor am I terribly impressed by his attempts to cherry pick research to support his point of view.

    iwonder said...

    Personally, I favour allowing same-sex couples to marry, have civil-unions, domestic partnerships, or whatever other name they feel they need to come up with to make it more palatable.

    The reason I support is because of situations like Scot's where the possibility of marriage would only strengthen that family and give them and their children the security and legal cohesion that is taken so lightly by so many people.

    I know that many people in and out of the LdS church disagree, but I have a problem forcing my beliefs on someone else, especially when that which the other person desires to do, in no way affects or harms me.

    But that's just what I think.

    Switch said...

    "That's a pretty strong statement, Chris. Invoking emotionally and politically charged rhetoric like 'bigotry' and 'homophobic' (I realize you didn't use that word, but it inevitably comes out in similar discussions) don't do much, imo, to legitimize arguments in favor of gay marriage."

    Similar to your use of the words "compassion" and "understanding".

    They sound good on paper, but when it comes down to the cold hard legal facts, nothing gets accomplished.

    We're not asking for a pity-party.

    J G-W said...

    Personally, I would like to see the U.S. adopt a marriage policy similar to that of many European nations, where there is a clear separation between civilly recognized unions and religious "marriage." Under this scheme, all couples, same-sex and opposite-sex, would have equal civil rights, while "marriage" per se would belong to the religious communities, each of which could recognize and perform marriages according to their own standards.

    I would think Mormons, of all the different religious voices in this debate, could enthusiastically endorse this notion. After all, Mormons do not in any event recognize any non-temple marriage as having the same standing as temple marriage. Even if the state legalizes same-sex "marriage" tomorrow, Mormons have always maintained, and will continue to maintain their own quite distinct definition of marriage, and will have the power to determine who has access to it and who does not.

    On the other hand, I would think all religious communities -- Mormons included -- would see the clear benefits of promoting stability and monogamy among gay couples. In fact, promoting things like family stability has been recognized in American courts as a valid state interest... From that point of view, the argument against gay marriage is pretty weak, I think.

    FYI... Dialogue will be publishing a gay marriage debate in its next issue, the case "for" and the case "against."

    Holly said...

    j-g-w-

    I think your argument here is excellent, so much so that now that I've encountered it, I'm astonished that I haven't it heard it sooner or more often. It certainly allows for a way to maintain some sort of "specialness" for straight marriage for the people who feel that institution really deserves it.

    Having recently been a legal witness at a gay wedding in Belgium, I'm pretty enthusiastic about the European approach.

    All that said, the only objection to gay marriage I take seriously is the argument made by gay men and women themselves that straight marriage is an institution so tied up with oppression and inequity that lesbians and gay men would be foolish to adopt it.