The Gay Marriage Battle

I have been absorbed by the blog world. In particular the Ex-Mormon blog world. One of the blogs I have come to enjoy is Irresistible (Dis)Grace. I have found the author, Andrew, to be intelligent, respectful and eloquent. I agree with so much of what he writes and I enjoy his command for words; words that hold power and respect in balance. He has a protagonist named Seth who writes in opposition of whatever Andrew says. I don't ever agree with Seth but he is also respectful and intelligent.

Recently Andrew wrote about 'Gay Marriage'. I have some interest in this subject because I am gay and I have been in a committed relationship since 1997. I also know a thing or two about Mormonism and where many of the Mormon community are coming from. The string of comments on this post was interesting and it prompted me to write a comment as well.

Another blogger I enjoy is 'A Post-Mormon Life'. Post Mormon Girl has also recently posted about Gay Marriage. Thanks PMG :O).

I wish this battle would end (and by end I mean gays achieve the right to marry at a federal level and this arduous process of each state duking it out ceases). I look forward to the day, and I believe this day will come, when sexual orientation isn't an issue and there is no question of equality.

Below is the comment I wrote on Andrew's post:

IMO the gay marriage battle continues because some people believe being gay is wrong and others don't. The battle is primarily waged from these two camps. I have had numerous discussions with friends and spent countless hours trying to reason with those in the 'gay is bad camp' with no success. Their belief is so entrenched that the best I get is 'I love you but...' and eventually; I find myself grateful for that and I move on. I'm sure those friends feel the same way about me.

My thoughts, though not unique or new, are that we need to separate church from state. (Sound familiar?) Civil rights belong to the state and the definition of marriage belongs to church. Mind you church has a broad and very diverse definition in this country.

What if the civil rights and protections, that are now connected to marriage, were connected ONLY to civil unions and church/religion had absolutely nothing to do with the civil ceremony. What if there were no civil rights connected to the institution of marriage at all; what if marriage was an optional ceremony. Everyone wishing to be in a committed relationship and enjoy the many civil rights now afforded to marriage would have to have a civil union. The government would govern civil ceremonies/unions.

Everyone wishing to have a marriage could choose to do so in whatever church/temple/beach/vineyard they wanted. It wouldn't matter to some because there would be no rights or protections with marriage. Marriage would still carry special, and important, meaning to others based on individual beliefs. Churches would continue to choose who they will 'allow' to marry in their institutions and any couple desiring to get married could find a religion or secular venue that suits their belief system. Some people would choose not to marry at all because what is important to them is the commitment and the civil rights and privileges.

The legal requirement for civil rights would be shifted from religion to government and the spiritual and religious importance of marriage would be shifted from government to religion and individual belief.

What business does religion have in dolling out civil liberties and what business does government have in determining the meaning and importance of marriage?


  1. Exactly - we need to keep church and state separate. And if marriage is *only* a religious institution, than churches could come up with the policies they choose. But it's not and here we are.

    Thanks for pointing out this post. :)

    1. Life would be better if we only would keep church and state separate. I think the importance of 'church' or religious belief in America is declining slowly. With the importance declining perhaps it's power will also decline. It's hard to imagine though. There are numbers out there to support the idea that religious belief has risen in the US; however, many studies show a steady, slow decline. It's hard to imagine the American people ever electing a President who is not Christian; who knows though! We were able to get Obama elected as the first black man in the Whitehouse. Keep up the good work PMG

  2. Many countries outside of the United States have this tradition where they are married civilly first, then are married by the church. When I lived in Chile I attended two Civil Marriages and both were from couples that had decided to get married in the church. It just works out!

    1. Thanks for hanging out in my coffee chat room Jeremy! I hope the US will trend like many other countries and see that civil and church are two distinctly different things and need to remain separate for the good of both entities. In your experience in Chile did you notice that the emphasis was on 'civil' marriage and this didn't take away from the importance of the 'church' wedding? I tend to think that once separate each will hold it's own power and the focus will be on civil rights in one and spirituality in the other.

  3. Andrew and PMG are two of my favorite people too!

    I didn't really want to leave this as part of my comment on the thread on my blog, since it already seems to have attracted its share of TBMs wanting to duke it out. In response to the OP and thread, I got an email, from a fairly close friend, asking me if I was gay, or maybe trangendered. I was kind of confised (I am married for the third time, to a man each time, have four children. While outspoken on civil rights of all kinds, (starting as a preteen) I try not to bring too much of my friends' private lives into a discussion without their permission.) So, I asked this friend, just to see what her reaction would be, if realizing I was a Transgender man/Tramsman who is a homosexual (only interested in men) if it would change our relationship. I got a reply a few minutes ago, and I thought it was pricesless:

    "You're kidding right? There aren't gay transgender people. You have to like the opposite of what you are to be transgender and you have to like the same sex to be gay. So I guess this is your April Fools joke a few days early. I think having Scott out of town for a week has given you too much time to think of mean things to say."

    Sigh. A liberal, post-mormon woman, who gives a lot of money to non-LDS gay causes, and even after tons of conversations about gender and sex being a huge three dimensensional continuum, she still can't quite get out of the black and white thinking about sexuality, even 5 yearss after not being a member.

    I am not saying that all Mormons can't understand, but the training in black and white thinking is relentless. I am active, and consider myself as Mormon as any liberal Mormon, but I spend a lot of energy with my kids teaching them to look for the joy in the grey areas of life! My son told me the other night, in response to a question, 'life get lived in all the grey areas, huh mommma?' Yep Josh, that they do.

    Glad to have found your blog! Julia

    1. Thanks for the comment Julia and I'm glad you found my blog as well. So far it has been a nice quiet place to think and share ideas.

      There are times I am completely thrown when I find out what certain friends are actually thinking. Good for you for being a voice calling out from the grey areas. I have thought about starting a blog and calling it 'Grey Matters'.

      Your children are lucky to have you as a parent; pointing out that life is anything but black and white. The training many of us received in our childhood and our youth is hard to shake. I'm glad I did because as Josh pointed out 'life gets lived in all the grey areas'.

  4. Very beautiful and eloquently stated. Much better than I could have. I am still struggling to find myself to be okay with any religious people because of the fact that they (as a whole) are constantly battling to either remove more rights from me, or at the very least continue to keep my rights from me. I can't help but to take it personally. I know there are wonderful people who are religious, but unfortunately, the hateful ones are the ones screaming the loudest right now. Also part of me feels like the loving ones need to stand up to their leaders, and challenge the hate that they are spewing. Until the loving ones start speaking louder, I fear my opinion will not change. It doesn't help at all with their violent reactions. When we see a prominent individual/company has been ousted as a bigot, we spread the word and boycott. When they see an individual/company has been ousted as an atheist or doing anything against their beliefs (even as simple as just supporting gay people) they spread the word, boycott, and then the death threats start coming in. Very Christ-like.

    I get the sentiment you stated where part of you is happy that they love you for who you are. I can't say how many times people have said Landis and I are a beautiful, loving couple, but I know damn well when voting time comes, they won’t bat an eye to vote against us having the right to officiate that love. My mom has come a long way. She has finally acknowledged that it is unfair that we don't receive the over 1000 benefits and protections that married couples have. However, "Marriage is a religious term. So why do you want that? You should just have civil unions." While I am pleased my mom has come this far, I have yet to bring up it's still segregation if you call it something else.

    I agree with you that this can be resolved by shifting the civil rights to government and the spiritual stuff to religions. Everybody gets civil rights, religious people add marriage. However, I recently saw something that shifted that. "Holy Matrimony is religious. It happens in the Church. Its sanctity is defined, and can be defended. Marriage is a social and legal contract that provides rights, obligations, privileges, and protections that are not afforded to those who are unwed. Unlike holy matrimony, marriage is a civil right. To deny civil rights to our own citizens is, quite frankly, the most un-American thing we can do."

    Blah I blathered on longer than anticipated. You'd think this affects me or something. :-p I know one day this will not be an issue. We will look back to this time with the same disgust as we do now with the civil rights movements. It just really sucks feeling like every time we make progress, the bigots come out and spew their hatred even more violently than the last. And then churches say "Be kind to the LGBT people,” while still voting to remove their rights. It's kind of a back handed way of saying be nice, but you know we are better than them.

    I just want to touch on one last thing, in regards to one of my first points of the hateful screaming louder than the loving. I can see, and possibly understand the opposite point of view. MOST gay couples live quiet normal lives. We go to work, we come home, cook dinner, do yard work, go shopping, recreate etc. Nobody really notices us in our daily routines. However every year, we have a big parade. Always without fail this includes a rather large group of scantily, seriously down to their underwear, clad people, even so much as practically outright bondage on display. I can kind of see how people would get the idea that "all gays are sexual deviants". As one of my best friends said so eloquently; "You want equal rights? Put on some pants and we can talk."

    1. Hi RR, I get what you're saying. I like the notion of marriage vs matrimony.

      You said:
      | I am still struggling to find myself to be okay with any religious people because of the fact that they (as a whole) are constantly battling to either remove more rights from me, or at the very least continue to keep my rights from me. I can't help but to take it personally. I know there are wonderful people who are religious, but unfortunately, the hateful ones are the ones screaming the loudest right now. Also part of me feels like the loving ones need to stand up to their leaders, and challenge the hate that they are spewing. |

      Chin up; there seems to be a slow but steady movement among the 'active' LDS membership that is speaking up and standing up to their leaders. I've found a number of them in the blogosphere. There are a number of ex-Mormons who are supportive but there are a good number within the walls of religion who are making a difference. I applaud anyone who thinks and decides for themselves and doesn't simply follow the counsel of their leaders despite what is in their hearts. It makes me crazy to think there are millions of people who could, theoretically speaking, change their minds on gay marriage if their leaders simply spoke up and said 'Gay Marriage is okay with us.'

      As for religious people as a whole; beyond Utah and beyond Mormons there are a lot of religious organizations stepping up for gay marriage. Polling all religions of this country, you would find strong support coming from some religious groups.

      We hear the shouts of the religious right because they are opposed to our rights as humans. Right now their beliefs are being challenged; and they are scared. I have friends, friends I counted as supporters, who have recently spoken out against gay marriage; it always catches me off guard and breaks my heart a little. Some of these 'friends' believe that being against 'marriage equality' doesn't make them hateful or bigoted. I think they are wrong; I find them to be very hateful and bigoted. Because only a bigot thinks simply being gay is sinful and wrong.

      Anyway, my friend, I shouldn't get so worked up before work. Love you! And don't forget to put some pants on.

  5. I totally disagree that "the definition of marriage belongs to church". While religions are free to attach whatever religions significance they like to it, marriage was not invented by or for any religion.

    Jeremy is right that in many other countries people are required to have a civil ceremony in order to be legally married (and then they can also have whatever additional religious ceremony they like). It works great -- people typically do the two on the same day, and have their secular friends serve as witnesses for the legal ceremony and their religious friends serve as witnesses for the religious ceremony.

    I think it is inappropriate that the United States grants religious ceremonies the legal/civil status to make a marriage legally-binding. It confuses people into thinking that marriage is under the jurisdiction of religion, and that therefore religions should have a say in legal/civil aspects of the lives of people who belong to other religions or are non-religious.