More on Gay Marriage

I have been away from my blog for a long time. Sometimes I have to retreat from my own rants and raves and just relax a bit.

I thought I would look through comments on prior posts to see if it ignited any writing ideas. I realized that there were a couple of comments that I have never replied to.

There was one comment left by someone I respect very much, C. L. Hanson, she posts regularly on her blog, 'Letters From a Broad', and she is one of the founders and keepers of a community blog, 'Main Street Plaza', that I read. 

I wanted to take the time to reply to chanson's comment and apologize that it took over two years.

The post was written in March of 2013, 'The Gay Marriage Battle'. There were some excellent comments on this post. I enjoyed the dialogue.

Here is the comment I never got back to:
C. L. Hanson April 8, 2013 at 3:50 AM
I totally disagree that "the definition of marriage belongs to church". While religions are free to attach whatever religious 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.
' is inappropriate that the United States grants religious ceremonies the legal/civil status to make a marriage legally-binding.' 
I agree that it would work much better to have a civil marriage (as the legal ceremony) followed by the religious, or other, ceremony of one's choosing. The idea that a civil ceremony is required to legally bind a couple followed by a religious ceremony to follow is perfect. However, at the time, this option was not available to us as a gay couple. It was available in way of a civil union with a ceremony to follow. But it was called something different than what other people were allowed. It was separate but not equal. I think I was saying the same thing; however, I did make the mistake of giving religion ownership of marriage.

I was struggling with the fear that gay couples would never be given the right of marriage in the US. I was trying to elevate the status of civil unions to be the more 'important thing'. The idea that everyone should have a civil union to legally bind and grant rights, protection and equality under the law. After the civil union the marriage ceremony was optional and could be celebrated in any way one chooses. I was trying to minimize the meaning of marriage and elevate the status of civil unions. This, I recognize now, was an opinion from my own small world view.
'While religions are free to attach whatever religious significance they like to it, marriage was not invented by or for any religion.' 
This is a great point. Many do get confused and turn marriage over to religion. Marriage isn't something churches have ownership of. Marriage, in a historical sense, wasn't even about love. One merely needs to watch HBO's Game of Thrones to know that marriage was a way to gain family status and land ownership. (I know HBO probably shouldn't be my source of historical fact, what can I say). According to the book 'Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage', it wasn't until the mid eighteenth century that the definition started to change from arranged patriarchal marriage to more of a love based, male-bread-winner type of a marriage. And as recent as the last 30 years the 'male-bread winner' definition has been thrown into question.

When did Christianity assume ownership of marriage? Perhaps it was because the priests, as early as 313, were the tax collectors and record keepers of the land. It was under their jurisdiction, at the time, to perform the legal ceremony. This is no longer the situation in Europe or North America. Today government has taken over these responsibilities.

Just last summer, in Oregon, I was able to legally marry my love of nearly 20 years. Why did we feel it was so important? After all we already had a legal civil union and 17 years prior we had sealed our love in a beautiful ceremony with friends and family. So why bother?

Several reasons come to mind. We wanted to celebrate the victory and progress of gay rights in the US. We wanted to stand, once again, before friends and family and declare our love and share a few bottles of good bourbon with them. We wanted recognition by the state, and the country, that we have all the same rights and protections under the law that any married persons have. We wanted to share in the declaration that separate is never equal. The civil union we were allowed previously was not the same as marriage, it did not create equality; it was not afforded the same dignity and respect that marriage was.

Even though Suzie and I are now legally married there are still many committed gay couples that do not have the marriage option. I do believe the momentum has shifted in the US. Gay marriage still faces many challenges and battles, yet it has become the more popular mainstream view. The religious right have become the outliers. Those who oppose gay marriage are suddenly the ones who have lost their dignity and the respect of society.

There are many, in the Mormon church, who have accepted the inevitably that gay marriage will soon be legal throughout the United States. Now the cry of the Mormon leadership is that gay marriage, though legally accepted by law, is 'counterfeit'.

To those who still hold to the idea that my marriage is lesser than a hetero-marriage. That my marriage and my family is counterfeit. I say...


  1. The ban on gay marriage was just struck down again in Alabama. The decision will be appealed and will go to the Supreme Court. But still, this is indeed a sign that the times have changed. And I too wish the Mormons especially would shut up about gay marriage. (Counterfeit? really?) If they're so concerned about the institution, they should turn their attention to the creepy polygamists in their own community who marry minors and flagrantly skirt the law.

    Cheers to you and Suzie! And so great to see your post at the top of my blog roll!

    1. Thanks Donna. Yes indeed there is still a ways to go. All eyes on the Supreme Court.

      Suzie and I have so many anniversaries we can't keep track and it's a challenge to know which one to celebrate; so, we celebrate every day. :O) (I know sickening sweet):

      * Commitment ceremony: October 19, 1996
      * Marriage license received from Multnomah County: March 9, 2004 (taken away soon after)
      * Domestic partnership: February 4, 2008
      * Marriage ceremony in case the courts reversed the decision: May 31, 2014
      * Larger wedding ceremony: July 12, 2014

      You're absolutely right, the Mormon Church has plenty of beams in their own eye.

      Thanks for reading and connecting! One day we'll raise a glass together.