Subscribe to
Posts
Comments
NSLog(); Header Image

QotD: Marriage

Question: Do you define marriage the same way as eleven states yesterday voted to define it?

My Answer: Sure do. Doesn't mean two women or two men can't do certain things, or live together, or raise children - or that I would have a problem with it - but even dictionary.com defines "marriage" as "a. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife."

How about the gay/lesbian community come up with a different word for it? I really don't know: my knowledge of this particular topic is rather miniscule. I'm hoping that the comments will inform me.

What's the real crux here? That someone's "life partner" be eligible for health care under their partner's plan as a "spouse," or that they get to file a joint tax return, or simply the ability to call themselves "married"?

You are encouraged to answer the Question of the Day for yourself in the comments or on your blog.

34 Responses to "QotD: Marriage"

  1. Okay I live in Michigan one of those states... and this is what our new law reads

    State Of Michigan

    PROPOSAL 04-2

    CRC Analysis

    PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

    A proposal to amend the State Constitution to specify what can be recognized as a "marriage or similar union" for any purpose. (Proposal provided under an initiative petition filed with the Secretary of State on July 5, 2004.)

    The proposal would amend the State Constitution by adding a new Section 25 to Article 1. The language of the proposed constitutional amendment as presented on the initiative petition follows.

    Article 1, Section 25: To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.

    At the present time, Article 1 of the State Constitution does not contain a Section 25.

    The following is the official ballot wording:

    A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO SPECIFY WHAT CAN BE RECOGNIZED AS A "MARRIAGE OR SIMILAR UNION" FOR ANY PURPOSE

    This proposal would:

    * Amend the state constitution to provide that "the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose."

    The wording to me is fishy... almost as if the state can now deny benfits to "life partners". Personally my problem with the issue is this.. marriage, civil unions, life partners are all the same something... idea concept. I don't think the problem is with the "gay/lesbian community" as much as it is with society itself where the only way two people in a life long committed relationship can obtain benefits is if they are married. That isn't something that comes from the gay/lesbian community. I fully support the idea of marriage being only between a male human and a female human if and only if society no longer ties benefits to marriage. They should also have the same rights too. But it all goes back to the concept of a family... and traditional values states one man one women two kids and a dog is a family... step moms & dads and siblings need not apply.

    May people try and turn the issue into an argument about is it moral... and you know what... I personally don't care in the least. It isn't my place or anyone else to say they live a moral life... let those who have no sin cast the first stone... and if you do believe in some after life... well they you should be happy to know the after life will be a little less crowed.

  2. I myself don't believe the definition of marriage is the problem; it's the government's relation to the word. That is, I believe ALL unions that are recognized by the government should be labeled "Civil Unions," regardless of whether it's two men, two women, or a woman and a man. If someone wished to get married, they could still do so at the discretion of whichever church they chose to wed in.

    If this were the case, the "sanctity" of marriage would still be preserved, but the act of "marriage" itself would have no legal bearing upon a couple. After all, most proponents of anti-gay marriage laws cite morals, religion, or simply reasons of propriety and tradition in defending marriage as solely between a man and a woman. They'd still have marriage, at least within the churches that shared their views; it's just that the legal benefits (reduced taxes, etc.) of a governmentally recognized union would no longer be associated with the term.

    In other words: separate the damnable church and state.

  3. Erik, I know you're not married at the moment, but come the day you decide to go down on one knee, will you refer to a dictionary first?

    I'd guess not, because any proposal of marriage will come from within you, from the heart, because you've met someone you want to spend the rest of your life with; someone to whom you want to commit your heart and soul.

    I want the same. Opponents of allowing same-sex couples being able to celebrate their relationships and cement them in law often cite a desire to preserve the sanctity of marriage, but talk as if marriage has always been a statically-defined form. In truth, it's changed with the times -- would you demand a dowry from your future bride's family? How about if you had a married brother who died -- would you expect to marry his widow immediately?

    Those examples may be more than a little facetious, but they do show that over the aeons, human society changes, and what some people are trying to preserve is, in its current form, relatively new. And I really, really have difficulty understanding why some people feel so threatened by two people of the same sex marrying.

    Thanks for phrasing your question in such an open-minded way, Erik. It makes a refreshing change. I hope that they prompt a discussion in a similar vein.

    Incidentally, I would recommend anyone reading this who wants to explore the issues in more detail to read a book called "Gay Marriage: Why it's good for gays, good for straights and good for America", by Jonathan Rauch. From the title, I think you can probably guess which angle it's coming from, but it does so with an engaging, non-patronising style that I found very refreshing.

  4. Personally, I think that it's a combination of both. I can imagine it being very belittling to gays and lesbians to not be able to marry.

    However, with all of this talk about protecting the "sanctity of marriage", we really need to revamp our marriage system in order for that arguement to hold any water, specifically divorce.

  5. Josh,

    You completely miss the point when you suggest that marriage should be a "church" issue rather than a "state" issue. For the sum total of recorded history, marriage has always been a legal union between one man and one woman, no matter the church, no matter the religion. It's a *moral* issue which transcends the "church" or "religious" spectrum. As such, even a government that values a separation between church and state has every right to restrict immorality. If it just so happens that a lot of religious people support such a restriction, that doesn't turn the matter into a "church vs. state" argument.

    For example, let's say my "religion" supports infanticide. Why should the government restrict my right to practice my religion and kill my children?

    At the end of the the day, though, there is more to marriage than a man and woman falling in love. Even the Massachusetts Supreme Court understands that "Civil marriage anchors an ordered society by encouraging stable relationships over transient ones. It is central to the way the Commonwealth identifies individuals, provides for the orderly distribution of property, [and] insures that children and adults are cared for and supported whenever possible from private rather than public funds."

    Marriage between two men, two women, five men and one woman, or a man and his dog just don't satisfy that purpose.

  6. I don't have to look at a dictionary because I know what it says. I included the dictionary version above simply to include more facts.

    I'm all for separating "marriage" from the government, and simply allowing people to say "we live together and raise kids together" if that's what they do. Marriage, it seems to me, is more the property of the various religions than it is our government.

    But hey, I don't think "In God We Trust" should be printed on our money, either. So whaddo I know?

  7. Since you say that you don't have a problem with gay people and their lifestyles, I truly can't comprehend why you care whether or not they can marry. What difference does it make if two women love each other rather than one man and one woman? They still love each other and deserve the right to marry. They deserve to get all the benefits of a married man and woman. There's no way anyone can dispute that.

    Another thing that completely boggles my mind is how people can differentiate between "civil union" and "marriage". What does it matter what it's called? This crap of calling gay marriages "civil unions" or, as you suggest, some other word is completely unnecessary and wrong.

    Gay couples deserve exactly the same rights and treatment as a hetero couple. There's just no way you can successfully argue against that.

  8. Zach, you're not here to be rude. I think that marriage is a religious thing and that the government shouldn't be involved. Given that, marriage = man + woman. Call "whoever + whoever" something else, and let the government decide whether "partner of whomever" gets health care coverage the same way "wife of Bob" does.

    Furthermore, dare I point out the obvious: you apparently can argue successfully against it, as eleven out of eleven states proved yesterday.

  9. "Marriage, it seems to me, is more the property of the various religions than it is our government."

    So with that argument my marriage is void because I'm atheist? What rot.

  10. Thinking that this argument is about calling yourself married is very, very naive. While I am sure that many people are interested in that very right, and I think they should have it, that is not what this is about.

    This is about the 1,049 (literally, look it up) federal rights that married couples enjoy that gay couples who have been together for just as long, or longer, do not.

    This is about custody battles over children, this is about hospital visitation rights, this is about health insurance and taxes and home ownership and adoption. This is about creating a separate and unequal status situation that reminds me of America in 1956.

    There is no non-religious way to deny these people those rights that are currently being taken away. That's what this is about.

  11. There ought to at least be some legal standing for people living in common union (in a marriage situation or family situation) to share health insurance, hospital visitation rights, tax benefits, etc., whether it is husband and wife, gays, or a grandparents and grandchildren. To give these benefits only to married couples is to ignore a large portion of our population. The last situation will become even more important as children are left parentless because of terrorism and war casualties. For these states to outlaw the only legal standing that gives these rights to gays without giving something to non-husband-wife unions is socially unconscionable. And I, too, am a Christian. Although with the present attitude and actions of people going under this title, I need to think of a new term to distance myself.

  12. one of the things that makes gay marriage an issue is the laws pertaining to children.

    who keeps the child? does a lesbian "life partner" (as opposed to "wife") have any claimon the child of visiting rights at all?

    no. she wouldn't.

    not that i do or dont think gay couples are even remotely able to raise a psychologically healthy child. that's another issue.

    but having "mommy 2" suddenly completely out of the picture might be a bit damaging.

  13. Kyle writes: "You completely miss the point when you suggest that marriage should be a "church" issue rather than a "state" issue. For the sum total of recorded history, marriage has always been a legal union between one man and one woman, no matter the church, no matter the religion."

    Boy, this is the most ignorant thing I've read all day. You really need to read more than just Jack Chick religious tracts.

    Polygamous marriage (or polyandrous marriage) is still called "marriage".

  14. First of all, I live in Ohio. The admendment that passed last night states the following:

    1. ONLY A UNION BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN MAY BE A MARRIAGE

    VALID IN OR RECOGNIZED BY THIS STATE AND ITS POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS.

    2. THIS STATE AND ITS POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS SHALL NOT CREATE OR RECOGNIZE A LEGAL STATUS FOR RELATIONSHIPS OF UNMARRIED INDIVIDUALS THAT INTENDS TO APPROXIMATE THE DESIGN, QUALITIES, SIGNIFICANCE OR EFFECT OF MARRIAGE.

    The issue is that some straight people don't want to get married. Some of us who love each other and have commited ourselves to each other in our own private lives can never have the same rights as the same people whom the government sponsors in religious marrige.

    Me and my girlfriend cannot file a joint tax return (not that I'd want to, but I can see how some couples might), I can never be considered next of kin if she dies, I have no legal rights in a medical situation, we have severely limited rights when it comes to having a child (not that I'd want a child, but some couples do), there are no legal provisions for splitting propery if we were to "divorce".

    And there are a ton more reasons. We are looked down on by our peers, family, and fellow citizens. We are reminded daily and told by others that our love isn't the same as other people's love, that we're odd and strange for not embracing the ceremony that "everyone else does."

    The social ostracizing I can handle but it severely worries me that I might never have certain legals rights when it comes to the person I love so much. I don't see how my situation is any different than a relationship between two gay men or two gay women. I simply cannot logically make the distinction, and it seems as if the law and my fellow citizens see fit to discriminate against us in the same manner as they do gay couples.

  15. Erik writes: "you apparently can argue successfully against it, as eleven out of eleven states proved yesterday."

    By that standard, the Nazis argued successfully that the Jews shouldn't have the same rights as so-called-Aryans.

    Is that really the company you want to keep, Erik? Tyranny of the majority to preserve an online dictionary's definition of marriage?

    (By the way, Erik, the online dictionary argument is a classic case of 'smart people saying stupid things'. Dictionaries reflect real-world usage, they don't restrict it. If same-sex couples started getting married, dictionaries would change to reflect that fact.)

    It's interesting that you consider the genders to be vastly more important than the substance of the relationship. By your logic, a loveless marriage of convenience to get a green card is a "real marriage", and more valid than a same-sex marriage between two people who've been together for decades.

  16. Erik writes: "you apparently can argue successfully against it, as eleven out of eleven states proved yesterday." By that standard, the Nazis argued successfully that the Jews shouldn't have the same rights as so-called-Aryans. Is that really the company you want to keep, Erik? Tyranny of the majority to preserve an online dictionary's definition of marriage?

    Get fucking real, Jon. You know what point I was making: that quite obviously some "winning" and "successful" arguments were made against it to the residents of 11 different states. "Gee, I'll pull out the Nazi card cuz I'm an imbecile incapable of actual thought." Way to go, schmuck. More stupidity:

    (By the way, Erik, the online dictionary argument is a classic case of 'smart people saying stupid things'. Dictionaries reflect real-world usage, they don't restrict it. If same-sex couples started getting married, dictionaries would change to reflect that fact.)

    Was used simply to provide more facts, Jon. Historically, marriage has been between a man and a woman, and as such, the dictionary defines it that way. The question I posted up above is "how do you define marriage" and so a dictionary definition is completely relevant if for no other reason than to show how at least a hundred other people define it (those in charge of publishing a dictionary).

    It's interesting that you consider the genders to be vastly more important than the substance of the relationship. By your logic, a loveless marriage of convenience to get a green card is a "real marriage", and more valid than a same-sex marriage between two people who've been together for decades.

    What the fuck gave you that idea? Read the other comments before posting more drivel.

  17. I believe you'll agree with this but I need to put it out there anyway:

    If marriage is a religious institution then the government should only be able to provide civil unions. If they can only provide civil unions then they should be able to do so for men and women, men and men, or women and women.

    Marriage should be a purely religious institution. No one should be married through the government.

  18. I believe you'll agree with this but I need to put it out there anyway: If marriage is a religious institution then the government should only be able to provide civil unions. If they can only provide civil unions then they should be able to do so for men and women, men and men, or women and women. Marriage should be a purely religious institution. No one should be married through the government.

    Yep. I'd go for that. Though, to state again, they could come up with a different word for it. Even "civil union" sounds silly - is it like a labor union? People wouldn't get it. If gays and lesbians want the right, perhaps they'd have an easier time convincing 11 or 50 states of it if they stopped using the word "marriage" and started using something else.

    Leave "marrying" to the church, but let anyone ("humans" should be understood) "unionize" with anyone else. Again, a better word is needed.

  19. Other cultures allow a married man to have more than one wife. The definition of marriage is not nearly has simple as most people would have you believe.

    There is no reason not to sanction same-sex marriages. You don't force the church to recognize them just like you don't force the Catholic church to marry people who have been divorced.

    Marriage is a word that has a different meaning in today's society. The Church can complain about it, all it wants but the definition of the word has changed from a purely religious ceremony to one that everyone in society takes part in regardless of their religion.

  20. Its been already said, but I guess you are saying my marriage to my wife isn't valid because neither of us believe in God. How we feel about each other would hopefully change your mind in that regard. We weren't married by anyone religious, nor anyone licensed by the court for that matter. In fact, we were married in your new home state, (and my old one) Pennsylvania. We paid ten dollars more for the license, and had to have two witnesses sign instead of one officiant. It was colloquially called a "Quaker" license by the person at city hall.

    You might look up some time what the Quakers think about marriage. To them, it isn't important to obtain God's approval of the marriage - instead, what matters is (in addition to how you feel about other, obviously) acceptance by friends and community.

    Acceptance of my marriage by your church or faith means nothing to me, whereas acceptance of my marriage by my friends, family, and community does... and acceptance by the government, for the legal and economic reasons.

    On the other hand, for a gay couple that did believe in God, it would be important to them for their Church to recognize it. And I have no problem with that Church deciding that their marriage would not be valid, although I'm sure the couple would be distraught.

    But the government should not have anything to do with it. The benefits, protections, etc. that the government provides are intended for people who have declared that they wish to be bound by the responsibilites and commitments that come with it. It really should just be that simple.

  21. Acceptance of my marriage by your church or faith means nothing to me, whereas acceptance of my marriage by my friends, family, and community does... and acceptance by the government, for the legal and economic reasons.

    And so what's that have to do with religion? I have said repeatedly that the government should use a different word. I don't really plan on getting married in a church: I'm spiritual, but I don't consider myself to be religious or to have chosen any religion (or range of religions) over any others.

    You and your wife, presumably, live together, perhaps raise children together, and love each other. Why people are so hung up on what that "we, together" thing is called is beyond me.

  22. Clint,

    You don't have the legal rights of marriage because you haven't done what's required. If I don't pay for the candy bar, then I don't own the candy bar. If I don't apply for a driver's license, I cannot legal operate an automobile. If you'd like to have all of those rights, get married. Simple, eh?

  23. In response to Jon H., who wrote

    Boy, this is the most ignorant thing I've read all day. You really need to read more than just Jack Chick religious tracts. Polygamous marriage (or polyandrous marriage) is still called "marriage".

    Think about it. You're wrong. Polygamous marriage is called "polygamous marriage." "Polyandrous marriage" is called "polyandrous marriage." Gay marriage is called "gay marriage." Marriage, "the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law" is called "marriage".

  24. @Kyle

    There is no legally defined thing as "gay marriage". I don't see your point.

    Also the United Church of Canada recognizes same-sex marriages and performs the ceremony. So it isn't as clear-cut a religious issue as many make it out to be.

  25. If the Oxford English Dictionary, the definitive record of the English language, is willing to add words like 'jiggy' and other popular phrases into their pages, they wouldn't be a problem extending the definition of the word 'marriage'.

    I looked the word 'marriage' today in the dictionary, and while does have the 'man and woman' phrasing, there is another version of the definition being, "any intimate or close union". That makes the definition very, very broad doesn't it?

    I, for one, don't agree with the 11 states' definition of marriage. I consider it to be discriminatory. I've been married for six years and I really don't see two men or two women getting married being a threat to my marriage. Maybe it's because aunt is a lesbian, and I've been around gays all my life. I really don't see it as a big deal.

    Allowing homosexuals to marry (or whatever the hell one would call it) is only the expansion of the definition. Society will just have to evolve like everything else. Primarily, I think people are scared of what would happen if gays were granted that right.

  26. IF being gay is a genetic disposition, I don't see how this issue is any different than giving blacks their freedom or women the right to vote.

  27. I guess I have to ask this one question:

    How does it affect you?

  28. i refer you to a rant that i wrote way back in february.

    to summarize: the *term* marriage has always been, should always have been, and should always be a religious term that follows religious rules. if you want to have the government augment the institution of marriage, (which it shouldn't!) the government's rules can't discriminate, and therefore should use a different term that just happens to partially sync with the religious institution.

  29. Well, OK then, wait a minute. You said:

    Why people are so hung up on what that "we, together" thing is called is beyond me.

    Why have a problem with that being called marriage, then? Try Merriam Webster's definitions. They accept all of the things we're talking about here.

    It doesn't sound like you a) oppose the idea of two same-sex people living together and considering in their own minds that they are married b) that you belong to a organized religion that opposes the institution.

    I'm not sure why you oppose a definition of marriage that includes same sex couples. I think in today's society, the word marriage is no longer solely a religious word. I think it has taken on other meanings - actually, all the definitions we quote frame marriage as a legal construct.

    OK, so I see three definitions of marriage: legal, secular, and religious. I don't think the government should restrict the legal (I described how I felt above: "The benefits, protections, etc. that the government provides are intended for people who have declared that they wish to be bound by the responsibilites and commitments that come with it.") I think the secular definition should not be restrictive either - if they want to feel that way, then I embrace it as well. The religious definition I think can be left up to each religion, but should obviously only be applicable to dealings with that religion.

    I guess my point is that the word should not be monopolized by/only applicable to the religious meaning. Why can't you use the same word and differentiate the meaning by context?

  30. Kevan, you're muddying the waters a little bit. Let me try to clear them up.

    I think that gays and lesbians would have an easier time getting the laws they want if they chose another word. I think that, to a lot of people, "marry" and "religion" are still tightly interwoven.

    I think that if they could find another word, they'd have an easier time - especially in the bible belt - convincing folks that they're entitled to the same tax breaks or custody or whatever as a heterosexual "married" couple.

    I don't oppose the idea of gay/lesbian couples "unionizing" (to choose a horrid word of the one or two that have been offered). But religious folks in this country have controlled the status quo and agenda for a loooooooong time now. Picking a word other than "married" may help them achieve their goal, because a lot of people associate the word "marry" with both religion and "man + woman."

  31. You'd think that with all their intelligence and creativity the gay community would have coined a seperate word by now -- if that was what they wanted.

    I am not sure that the group, as a whole, wants a mere civil union. Evidenced by their failure to coin an alternate word, it is pretty reasonable to say that they want more than just a civil union.

  32. It's definitely not just a matter of coming up with a different word. Most of these amendments go far beyond just defining "marriage." Most also deny non-married couples anything approaching the rights that would go with marriage, whatever word you come up with. That just seems petty. I think this stuff about the legal rights accompanying marriage being all about raising children is a bunch of hogwash. What does inheriting your partner's property, being allowed to visit your partner in the hospital or the like have to do with raising children? Generally, people who are in a committed relationship closely entwine their affairs. It's convenient to automatically provide each partner with certain rights to reflect the concerns that come with this. I believe this is the main justification for granting legal rights to the partners in a heterosexual couple, and I see no good reason why this justification doesn't also apply to the case of same-sex couples.

    It's also troubling that the states are not recognizing contracts made in other states -- civil unions from states allowing such. While they're "strengthening marriage," they're weakening all law.

    From a Google search: the text of the amendments

  33. David, they seem to only want the same rights and privileges that married couples enjoy. If that's all they want, and I could give it to them if they only agreed to call it "fooshunky" instead of "marriage," I'm guessing they'd all add a word to their vocabulary real quick.

    David #2 (a different David) brought more to the table, though, so there's that to debate. Me, well, I'm going to go watch The Apprentice or something right now. 🙂

  34. Worth reading, this is. Here's a part, which seems to back me up in saying that the language may be the biggest sticking point:

    Nationwide public opinion opposes changing the traditional definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. A Pew opinion poll of 1,512 adults nationwide conducted in August found that 60% of Americans either oppose or strongly oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally; only 29% of those polled either favored or strongly favored such a measure. However, in the same poll, 48% of respondents either favored or strongly favored non-marriage legal unions; only 45% opposed or strongly opposed civil unions. Other polls reinforce these results.

    Stick that in your pipe and smoke it! 🙂 J/K. I just wanted to say that.


Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

Please abide by the comment policy. Valid HTML includes: <blockquote><p>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, and <a href>. Please use the "Quote Me" functionality to quote comments.