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Friday, March 6, 2009

2Cents (An opinion piece): "Marriage is a spiritual promise between 2 people"

[Editor's Note: Over lunch the other day, a friend and I were talking about this blog and then--in the middle of me complaining that, in spite of a readership of approximately 100 people a day, we rarely get comments on here--my friend informed me it was because I rarely take an opinion on anything. I explained that I had viewed "my job" as to share information about the LGBT community and events and not really to take opinions. She had a strong opinion on what I should do, so I asked if she'd like to be the "Opinions" writer on the blog. She was very interested, and yesterday, as a reaction to the Prop 8 hearing, wrote this post--her reaction and opinion. We need to come up with a clever name for her ongoing posts, and eventually she'll write an introduction article, but I wanted to get this up quick for its timliness. Without further "ado", here is her first guest post.]

Marriage is a spiritual promise between 2 people

Why do people in legally recognized unions declare they are “married”? Is it because this is the socially accepted word describing their union? Granted, “married” can refer to any 2 objects, people, etc. joined together. You can have a necklace and earrings that are “married” – meaning you purchased 2 similar items that you paired together because you thought they worked well together; however, in our society “marriage” is associated with a union recognized by God, overseen by a man of God.

I’m not a religious person. I’m spiritual; I believe in God, but not the power or social dynamics of church or tradition. I was married to my husband by a minister – it just worked out that way; we wanted to be married – and in a hurry! We happened to elope to a chapel in South Lake Tahoe where a minister presided over our nuptials. We spoke traditional vows; however, those words were just words that we infused with meaning and took to heart. What the law recognizes, which keeps our belongings and legal names bound, is a legally binding contract put into place after the minister signed and submitted a form to a local government agency. This agency filed a document legally acknowledging the validity of this union.

So, fine; you do not believe 2 people of the same sex should be allowed to marry in the name of God. Most churches doesn’t allow it. A church may choose or not choose to marry a couple, whether it be a man and a woman, 2 men, or 2 women, or even a man and multiple women. So be it. That is what freedom of religion is about.

That has nothing to do with the legal right of any 2 people to enter into a legal agreement. Many people are only married at the courthouse now, rather than in church or by a minister. This means they have entered into a legally recognized union; does this mean they are not really married in the eyes of religious people? Do people deny the validity of their promise/ vow/ oath? I’m sure some might, but the majority of churchgoing people may whisper and shake their heads over a civil ceremony while still accepting their union as a valid marriage.

Prop 8 is about an ethical or moral dilemma, not religious. Nobody has the right to decide that 2 consenting adults of any sex should not be joined in a legal contract except administers of the law based on interpretation of the Constitution. Voting yes on Prop 8 means people are saying they have the legal right to keep other people from legally binding themselves to one another through a government agency; just as, until 50 years ago, people believed they had the right to deny bi-racial couples the right to marry.

The worst of this situation to me is the number of “minorities” willing to side against civil rights of homosexual members of their communities in the name of morality or righteousness. Non-white ethnic groups, religious groups, women, the poor, the differently-abled, the obese, and I’m sure countless others I haven’t mentioned are all willing to discriminate against others the way they have been discriminated against in the names of religion and – interestingly enough – nature, (which is a little odd, considering instances of homosexual behavior observed in other animals).

Sad enough that minor physical or cultural differences between people can be considered important enough to violate the civil rights of others. Even sadder is that the desire to love someone of the same genetic sex, which is arguably one of the less obvious differences between people, can turn one person against someone they have loved and respected their whole lives in the space of time that it takes for them to comprehend the fact that said loved one is homosexual or bisexual or transgendered. That a good first impression of a man can be spoiled by finding out the love of his life is a man. That a woman can create a bad first impression solely by not conforming to society’s beliefs of what a woman should dress/ act/ sound like.

That people have allowed themselves to be reduced to the level of reproductive animals – which religious peoples are constantly telling us we are not related to - and nothing more in the name of spirituality and worship of God.

Thoughts? Reactions? Opinions?


  1. I don't want to discourage in any way articles like this being posted here, and while we can educate each other as well as lend support, I worry that we do too much "preaching to the choir", or talking among ourselves, and not enough reaching out to the people who's minds and hearts we need to change.

    I'm not sure if you have been following the articles and replies on the NVR, but it is a good source for seeing how your arguments will be debated. But, my main point is, again, how do we reach and persuade those who would deny us equal rights, to grant them.
    I've been trying on the NVR and a few other places, but feel like I'm debating with people who will never change their minds, no matter what facts, or appeals to logic or emotions. Does anyone have any idea if anyone reads these threads besides the people who post? Can any minds be changed?

    On one local site though, I've noticed some of the more abusive commentators seem to have stopped posting, which, since they aren't spreading hateful messages, is a good thing I think.

    While marriage is the current topic, I believe we should be concentrating on the repeal of DADT, as it's very existence teaches discrimination and stigmatization of gay people to the general population as well as to all of those recruits who are taught that it is ok to discriminate, instead of being taught that discrimination and stigmatization of gay people is not acceptable. If we are to be successful in our attempts to educate people, the government must stop using our taxes to teach that we should be discriminated against.

    Anyway, I think it is important for you to share this with the straight community, but I would suggest you change one word. I would change "most" churches don't allow it to "some" (as there are now many who do accept marriage equality). You might want to rework the end some as well.

    Also, just so no one feels left out, when I use the term "gay people" I'm using it in it's original generic way, which includes everyone who isn't "straight".

  2. In response to your guests comments, I agree 100%. To each their own and everyone else should keep in mind that the shoe has been and could be again on the other foot. As for reaching out to people that are not of the gay community as mentioned in reply to your guest, I think that sometimes because of awkwardness, homosexual people tend to keep to themselves or not let their prefrence be known to other people. I don't mean that anyone should walk up to someone and introduce themselves as so and so the homosexual, but I think that once you are in a workplace or in a social setting where and when the opportunity presents itself, maybe you should let it be known in a subtle way and let people see that not every homosexual is the stereotype. I think that day to day contact with people is the best way to get your message across. You don't necessarily have to preach anything but give people something to go by. Let them see that there is no shame in who you are and that believe it or not there are homosexuals that lead perfectly decent and productive lives.