New York Puts a Ring On It

Congratulations to same-sex couples in New York: In 30 days you can get married there, if you want to be. No more schlepping to Massachusetts or Connecticut! And what a relief that will be. Not that those aren’t nice states. But there’s something to be said for getting hitched in your own back yard, so to speak.

Andrew Sullivan has a nice piece on why New York taking this step is in fact a big deal, and rather than repeat him, I’ll just suggest you check out that link. He’s right; this is a big deal. It doesn’t mean that same-sex marriage is coming anytime soon to the 44 states that still don’t allow it; that’ll still be a long time coming, still. But it’s a pretty significant bend in the curve. I’m glad to see it happen. New York is not my state, but it’s in my nation, and I’d like my nation to be good and just to every couple who wants to be married. New York shows we’re getting there.

114 Comments on “New York Puts a Ring On It”

  1. I had no idea this was going to happen, so this counts as one hell of a nice surprise!

  2. That’s awesome, so very very awesome.

    I wish I had audio of the one Republican Senator who dropped the f-bomb while saying he’d vote for the bill, I’d make it my new ringtone.

  3. I’d forgotten what a wonderful movie Longtime Companion is. Thanks for reminding me; I think I’m going to have to put that on my list of must-have DVDs.

    Rock on, NY!


  4. Hope I live to see this everywhere in the nation instead of a few select states. So great to see this.

  5. Makes you remember that, no matter how stupid politics in this country gets, we get there, eventually.

    As a former New Yorker, this makes me very, very happy. For them wot care, here are some awesome pictures of the celebration from the Stonewall Inn last night.

  6. Bravo Noo Yawk! I’m only surprised it has taken this long to get it done. Like you, I hope that someday our nation can find a way to make the protections and rights that marriage conveys available to all who wish to be married.

  7. Congratulations and about time! I was wondering if this was ever going to pass. Listening to the news yesterday I heard that they decided to make Sweet Corn the state vegetable, and figured that if they were doing that silliness, that there was no chance for this. So now I’m happily surprised, and glad that finally any two people that want to be married finally can.

  8. Cuomo got a lot of heat for not bringing the bill to the legislature after he was elected because he insisted he wouldn’t submit it until it had the votes to pass it. It took a lot of wrangling but it’s finally done. Weeeee!

  9. Well done to New York. I wish my country would join it and drop the term Civil Partnership and allow same sex marriage, everyone already calls it that. Anyway, with NY having done this, and being the sensible one of America’s international cities (LA is the other, non-sensible, one), it means that the world momentum is finally rolling. No turning back now.

  10. Good on yer, New York.

    I hope this doesn’t immediately get challenged in court.

  11. I think it was King, quoting Gandhi, who said “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” This event supports that, and gives me hope for all the other fights for justice now and in the future.

  12. I think DOMA will finally die when gay marriage laws reach the same critical mass needed for a Constitutional amendment. That is, when about 37 or so states allow it, the federal government will have a mandate to do so also.

  13. Rachel, nice quote. I looked it up, from Wikiquotes:

    “King’s often repeated expression that ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice’ was his own succinct summation of sentiments echoing those of Theodore Parker, who, in “Of Justice and the Conscience” (1853) asserted: ‘I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.'”

  14. Court challenges are unlikely. The NY statute includes a provision voiding the whole statute if any part of it is thrown out by the courts. The NY statute has some language protecting religious folk opposed to gay marriage. So the religious folk are unlikely to sue as they would lose their new protections.

    This is the way representative deomocracy works and should work. Gay marriage become legal state by state as the people in each state change their minds and change their laws. This is a far better way to do things than for judges to make new law through their case by case rulings. Not everything is a constitutional issue. See the new July 4 “history” issue of Time magazine with the US Constitution on the cover.

  15. It still nettles me a bit that it’s considered proper for people to vote up and down on what has been long established a constitutional right for individuals. But on the whole, I’m pleased.

  16. Gary Willis @ 20:

    Your naivete is cute. I can easily see some far-right religious group challenging this just on principle.

  17. Gwangung @21

    The boiling hot issue of this generation is whether or not the right of same-sex individuals to marry is a Federal constitutional right (14th amendment equal protection of the laws) or is not a constitutional right. Were you correct that it already is one, then none of this would be happening. It would be a done deal and all 50 states would be mandated to recognize same-sex marriage by the Federal courts.

    So, in the meantime voters state by state elect representatives who vote up or down on the issue in their state. This being my point in my post at #20; this is the way things should be–representative democracy and the citizens decide what expansions we wish to make to the meaning of equal protection of the laws. I prefer citizens to decide to courts.

    Many don’t. Many would prefer the courts decide right away the constitutional right exists and settle the issue. Then again the courts could decide the constitutional right does not exist. Ready to take that risk? Then let the states tackle the issue one by one.

  18. Kevin @ 22

    Touche. I keep forgetting people will shoot themselves in the foot on occasion.

  19. yay! congratulations new york! and congratulations to everyone in that state who is now treated equally on these rights.

    now if we can only get some fedeeal judge to rule that a natural extension of the already existing commitments in our constitutiin say that gay people should be treated equally before the law, then we can finally end this ‘lets see how many decades it takes for the last state to finalky repeal its jim cro laws about gay marrige.

    anyone who think it better to let gays in, just say for example, Alabama, to wait a hundred years for the bigots there to finally give them their rights, than, *god forbid* a federal judge hold them to their already existing commmitments of human rights as spelled out in the federal constitution, need to examine their definition of justice. also, i think it safe to assume you are not gay and you dont know anyone of any importance to you who is gay, cause if you told someone who is suffering at the hands of bigots that their rights arent as important as the rights of some artificial entitity like a ‘state’ that that person woukd rightly tell you to get stuffed and never talk to you again.

    the mob is not always right. thats exactly why the constitution’s bill of rights were created.because some of the founding fathers rightly realized that a bunch of rules of how the government operated with no inherent principles of rights would eventually trample peoples rights.

    rules mongering how a law is passed with no higher principles and commitments to guide it is nothing but mob rule. democracy without rights is mob rule. majority vote without principles is mob rule. and anyone suggesting that a law passed by following some bureaucratic process without paying heed to any higher commitments or principles of human rights in the constitution, is defending mob rule.

  20. As married men of just over two years my husband and I are very happy for New York. We were very pleased when we had the ability to get married in DC.

    Our domestic partnership took place in the Department of Public Health. My big fear was our marriage vows would end up taking place in the Department of Motor Vehicles. But, no, happily we – with our friends who came to witness – found ourselves in the DC Superior Court. From there we went to the National Arboretum and had a picnic.

    Thank you so much for your ongoing support. I can tell you it means a lot to me and, I’m sure, others here.

  21. I had not been too sure that it would pass, but boy am I glad that it did. I am proud of my state legislature (which I definitely cannot say very often!)

  22. Dear Bill @26
    I am not the type of person to cry at weddings – not even at my own. When my friends Neil and Kevin were married here in Toronto I cried. Being there meant so much. So happy that we can celebrate more love add joy.

  23. Re Gary Willis’s comment @ 20, without trying to rekindle our previous debate, I think a person can simultaneously be pleased when the courts striking down bans on same-sex marriage and yet still prefer to see this work done by legislators or voters. Personally, when people do the right thing, it makes me happy, but when people do the right thing voluntarily, it makes me extra happy.

    I agree about the arc of history bending toward justice. Not only are people supporting same-sex marriage by increasing margins, the social stigma of being LGBT is wearing off. Younger people, especially, are less likely to find being LGBT to be a moral failing. I sometimes imagine what I’ll say my young grandchildren, when they ask, three to four decades from now, why this was a big deal at all.

    And that’s why I do have a bit of compassion for the folks out there who are decrying this news. Because it must be really crappy to see one of your deeply held beliefs become repudiated by the rest of society. Because it must sting to realize that people will talking about you in 2050 the way we talk about opponents of desegregation today. Because it must be really distressing to be on the wrong side of history.

  24. CLP, a judge ruling a law unconstitutional is voluntary. we previously agreed to protect certain rights. and when some of us try to take those rights away, a judge reminding us of our previous commitment isnt doing something we didnt agree to, he is reminding us of something we agreed to but forgot.

    A small scale version would be someone going to a weight loss group and pledging that they are committed to losing 50 pou.ds in a year. then three months later that person is eating cheesecake and someone from the group reminds them of their earlier commitment.

    that isnt making the person do something involuntary. its reminding them of and holding them to some larger commitment that the person already made.

    someone who says that the majority should be pass any law it likes is someone who would promise their family to stop drinking one day and then buy a six pack the next day. its the kind of person who has no relationship to their commitment. their word and promises mean nothing. they only want what they want when they want it, and they expect that to be good enough for.everyone else.

  25. Congratulations New York at protecting both the right for citizens to marry the consenting adult person of their choice, while protecting religious rights to practice one’s religion.
    In spite of all those ridiculous claims by naysayers that the institution of marriage will collapse if there is same-sex marriages, I do not see any collapse here in Canada, nor a collapse in the state of Massachusette.
    Keep up the great work there in America.

  26. Greg @30: Look, man, I’m on your side. I think it’s great, fantastic, awesome, spectacular when courts protect people’s rights, including the right of all couples to marry. And I agree, submitting to the court’s will is “voluntary” in the sense that states agreed to follow the constitution. And I also agree that the people should not be able to pass unconstitutional laws no matter how popular.

    But I’m still happier when the work of overturning these laws is done by the legislatures rather than the courts.

    Let me use this analogy: Let’s say I sell a used car to my neighbor. My neighbor agrees to pay me $2,000 now and another $1,000 a month from now. Let’s say we sign a contract to that effect. Now, what do you think will make me more happy? (a) The neighbor gives me $1,000 a month from now. OR (b) The neighbor says he’d rather use the $1,000 to by a new TV, so I take him to court, and the court awards me the money. Even though I’m not going to feel bad in the slightest if (b) occurs, I am still going to much prefer (a). For one thing, (a) happening instead of (b) means I’m not living next to a complete jerk.

    Likewise, the State of New York has decided to give same-sex couples their due, without having to be hauled into court. I say yay to that.

  27. Dear Anne @ 28

    I’m very glad you were at Neil and Kevin’s wedding. I say that because I know how happy it made David and I to have our friends with us on such an important day. So I know it made Neil and Kevin happy to have you with them.

    We’re somewhat of an older couple (57 & 60). We’re fortunate to see same-sex marriage in our lifetime. There was a time I had no hope at all for being married. Wasn’t even on the list of possibilities. Sometime in the past five years I realized it really was possible to live long enough to see my partner as my husband. And here we are!

    Another aspect of being an older couple is that we find our friends fewer in number because some of them have passed on. Some of our friends are still alive but we see them much less because they’ve retired and have moved to other parts of the country. I’ll tell you there’s nothing that can make you appreciate your friends in quite the same way as these two things.

    Neil and Kevin have a great friend in you, Anne. And they know it. That’s why they wanted you with them on their wedding day.

    It seems to me that saying friends and family may be a little redundant. For some of us there’s little if any difference.

  28. Two additional things about this news made me feel good — (1) the guv signed it right away and (2) that the big celebration was at the Stonewall.

    Dr. Phil

  29. Props to my home state and to state senator Saland, who represents my home district and was one of two Republicans who changed their votes to “aye” at the end.

    And I hope my fellow Californians are suitably ashamed.

  30. Greg @ 30

    “a judge ruling a law unconstitutional is voluntary. we previously agreed to protect certain rights. and when some of us try to take those rights away, a judge reminding us of our previous commitment isnt doing something we didnt agree to, he is reminding us of something we agreed to but forgot.”

    Greg, I see and understand your argument cited immediately above. I even agree with you. But you cannot use this argument in every situation. I think you misapply your argument to same-sex marriage. The right of same-sex individuals to marry was not a right 19th century citizens agreed to protect when the 14th amendment was ratified. Quite the contrary, the whole nation post civil war held to the belief expressed in their laws that no same-sex individual could marry. So a judge today who finds same-sex marriage a protected 14th amendment right (as some have) is NOT reminding us of a right we earlier agreed to protect and forgot to do so along the way. Such a judge is expanding the meaning of the 14th to include the right as protected in the present day. This is far different from reminding us of an earlier agreement to protect this specific right.

    Bravo NY State. The arc of the future continues to bend toward humanity, compassion, and justice, despite my personal faith-based views on the issue. As a person of faith, I can certainly understand that secular society may will choose to define social justice more broadly and very differently from the definitions in my sacred texts.


  31. Garry Willis @36: The rights of Wiccans to worship the Mother Goddess was also not contemplated by the Framers when they wrote the First Amendment, and yet somehow I’m thinking you wouldn’t argue that the Establishment Clause protects only those religions of which the Framers were aware. Nor does one hear “originalists” argue that the Second Amendment protects only those weapons that existed at the time it was passed, and can’t apply to (say) the Winchester repeating rifle. The actual wording of the Fourteenth Amendment is what we go by, and is not expansionist.

    Regarding the protection of religion: it’s worth noting that religious groups ALREADY had those rights. The law is redundant in that regard, but if it shuts them up, whatever. I find it particularly interesting that when the California legislature tried to pass such a stand-alone law, NOM and its fellow travelers actually opposed it. See, “if this passes your church will be FORCED to marry teh gayz” was one of the major selling-point lies they used to get Prop 8 passed, and they didn’t want to lose it.

  32. The state in which I live–Minnesota–is about to vote on an anti-same-sex-marriage constitutional amendment. I’m currently in transition from male to female; for a decade, my partner and I were not allowed to marry here. In a few months, we will be; it’s only a matter of time.

    The reason why I bring this up is simple: it shows that the right wing–and anti-gay forces in general–are all about controlling what is being done with other people’s genitalia. They’re fixated on it. We’re the same two people we always were, when all is said and done; the fact that I am changing my gender (which has nothing to do with who I am deep down inside, and isn’t being done in some lame attempt to circumvent the law) should be irrelevant.

    We should have been allowed to marry years ago. Period.

    Even though my Significant Other and myself will be able to marry soon doesn’t make me complacent in the fight for marriage equality…we’ll both still fight the good fight until it’s won.

  33. Robin Raianiemi @39: Congrats on your pending nuptials!

    Getting married last December has only increased my desire to see all couples have the same right. And, frankly, I am offended when opponents of same-sex marriage say that they are “defending” opposite-sex marriages such as my own. They are implying that my marriage is like a flimsy house of cards, vulnerable to the slightest perturbation, and I resent that implication greatly.

  34. The rights of Wiccans to worship the Mother Goddess was also not contemplated by the Framers when they wrote the First Amendment, and yet somehow I’m thinking you wouldn’t argue that the Establishment Clause protects only those religions of which the Framers were aware.

    I doubt the Framers thought that the Establishment Clause should to be limited for all time only to religions that they themselves were aware of when the Constitution was written. But I am even more doubtful that the people responsible for the Equal Protection Clause thought that it should protect same-sex marriage.

  35. This is coming from a conservative. About frickin time. I am glad to see this step, now if the other states could get their act together. The goverment should stop at your front door. Maybe that makes me a liberitarian? This issue has gone on for to long and to much energy spent trying to control others by the social conservatives. Why this issue matters so much to social conservatives I will never understand …. Oh yeah should I mention I am an actively practicing Christian?

  36. Nathan @41: You can’t have it both ways. If we’re going to limit the scope of an Amendment to “did the people who wrote this actually mean to include [people]?” then we should exclude anything the authors of that Amendment likely would not have contemplated, and especially anything they would have found abhorrent or out of bounds. No Establishment Clause for Wiccans or Satanists – groups respectively unheard of and abhorrent to the Framers – and no Equal Protection for same-sex couples.

    If, on the other hand, we’re going to take the approach in your first sentence – that is, assuming the authors meant to codify a set of principles that could be applied to many situations, even those they could not yet contemplate – then “they didn’t think [group] should be protected” is irrelevant. The only question is whether the rule was properly applied.

    The State does not have to offer marriage at all, but if it does, then it must do so in a way consonant with existing law including the Constitution.

  37. Mythago – you’re attempting to use logic to combat bigotry. I salute your persistence, but I fear it’s a hopeless battle.

    Seeing NY do this is great. I can only hope Washington state does the same thing and soon. People need to get over the prejudice and realize that rights aren’t dependent on whether people are comfortable with them. That’s one reason they’re called rights. I’ve never understood why people who otherwise rail about the government getting out of our lives are opposed to marriage between two consenting adults since prohibiting that is government interfering in peoples’ lives. It’s just not the government’s business.

  38. rickg @45: Sometimes people who are not bigots will offer bad arguments because they haven’t really thought them through. I’m sure all of us have had a situation where we’ve glibly offered an argument why X is true, and on having that punctured have said “Huh, you’re right, I never really thought about it that way. X is definitely false.” That’s what logic is for, and not everybody who offers invalid arguments does so out of bigotry.

    As for actual bigots, eventually their illogic causes them to /ragequit, and then everyone else can see their “logic” for what it is.

    So it’s win-win.

  39. Yea NEW YORK.

    Robin Raianiemi @39: I live in MN, too. It will be so nice to see everyone in our state enjoy the same rights. The sooner, the better. Have a wonderful wedding.
    Greg @ 25: I hope it will happen. What I still don’t get is how everyone doesn’t see this as a civil rights issue.

  40. I’m so ticked off at California. We should have been one of the first doing this, not going the other way. But, yea for New York all the same.I believe it’s inevitable. The arguments against are just too flimsy.

  41. #48 Kara, if you had told me several years ago Iowa would allow same-sex marriage before California, I wouldn’t have believed you.

  42. @Logan: California actually allowed it first; the difference is that it’s stupidly easy to pass constitutional amendments by ballot initiative in California, whereas it’s relatively hard in Iowa. I’m betting they will outlaw same-sex marriage there in 2013 or 2014, by which time California will probably have legalized it again.

  43. Matt McIrvin @ 50:

    More likely 2012. There were a lot of anti-gay initiatives on state ballots in 2004, and I’m morally certain this was done to bring more Republicans out to vote for Bush the Lesser.

  44. Gary,

    re your sacred texts, do you believe homosexuality is immoral? a sin?

    that isnt a question of law or what society decides, but what you personally think of it.

    because that would explain the restrictive interpretation of rights and it would also explain putting the rights of an artificial entity such as the state above real live human beings. it would explain a lot really.

    if thats the case then all these discussions about what the constitution and ammendments say is pretty much irrelevent. we might as well be talking about spark plugs when the real reason we’re not making any progress is the four flat tires.

    intent is important. motivations are important.

    and if the motivation to drag feet around gay marriage is a religiously motivated one that is wholly legally different than if it were driven by some issue around states rights or what some ammendment said.

    if it really is just a states rights issue for you then I would like to hear you unequivocally say ‘the rights of gay people to marry is less important than the rights of the artificially created entitty known as the state’.

    but maybe the reason you havent said it is because the real driving motivation is whatever your sacred texts are telling you. and I can only assume it goes something like ‘homosexuality is bad and wrong’.

    the funny thing about commitment is a lot of times people commit to stuff they really arent committed to. people make all sorts of new years resolutions only to discover around feb or march that they realy werent committed to it.

    and I am getting the impression that you arent actully committed to states rights or some particular interpretation of the fourteenth ammendment. but rather there is some commitment in your sacred texts that you are holding to.

    cause if you say you are committed to losi.g weight and we keep talking about calories and weight loss stuff, but the reality is you are committed to something elsr entirely, then why are we talking abkut this when the real commitment is sometging else entirely?

  45. Why is government involved in marriage at all?

    It’s nobody’s fracking business who i play with or what promises i make.

    Marriage, from a legal point of view, falls under contract law. Only the parties to the agreement should have input. And we don’t, necessarily, need a government to enforce a contract. We certainly don’t need interference from any local potentate*.

    I have an idea: how about you stick your nose in your own business, and i’ll stick mine in mine. I think there’s a word for that. Oh yeah: LIBERTY.

    *Unless it’s Franka Potente. She can interfere with me anytime.

  46. Why is government involved in marriage at all?

    Because that’s where it started. Marriage is NOT a religious institution in origin.

    The boiling hot issue of this generation is whether or not the right of same-sex individuals to marry is a Federal constitutional right (14th amendment equal protection of the laws) or is not a constitutional right.

    As was the boiling hot issue of the 1960s was whether or not the right of differently “raced” individuals to marriage is a Federal constitutional right. The courts then declared marriage in and of itself to be a constitutionally protected right. Being a hot topic is irrelevant. Marriage is a constitutional right.

  47. Why is government involved in marriage at all?

    Because that’s where it started. And, as with all contract law, it NEEDS government (i.e., courts and legislatures) to support and enforce it. It’s really naive to think that you don’t need a court to enforce a contract; it’s the ONLY way that a contract gets enforced.

    The boiling hot issue of this generation is whether or not the right of same-sex individuals to marry is a Federal constitutional right (14th amendment equal protection of the laws) or is not a constitutional right.

    As was the boiling hot issue of the 1960s was whether or not the right of differently “raced” individuals to marriage is a Federal constitutional right. The courts then declared marriage in and of itself to be a constitutionally protected right. Being a hot topic is irrelevant. Marriage is a constitutional right.

  48. I’m confused by a couple of previous commenters regarding Minnesota. I believe there is a mistaken impression that the upcoming vote here will be about whether to legalize same-sex marriage. That’s not true. What they are putting on the ballot is a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit any such unions, but if it fails same-sex marriage will still not be allowed in our state. Am I reading the comments correctly, or did I just explain something that people already understood?

  49. Gwangung: And, as with all contract law, it NEEDS government (i.e., courts and legislatures) to support and enforce it. It’s really naive to think that you don’t need a court to enforce a contract; it’s the ONLY way that a contract gets enforced.

    Quite so. The question, I think, is rather why the govt. should automatically award a preferential contract, with all its contingent privileges (hospital visitations, the ability to speak for a partner in the event of their incapacitation, etc.) to a party simply b/c they’re spouses?

  50. It’s always a great move when significant change or a just law is passed in a state that holds one of the largest cities in the wolrd. This means not only is the rest of the country paying a attention to this but the rest of the world may be taking a peak too. It’s a great moment and so glad that loving couples can get their married on.

    Meanwhile, up here in Ontario, there is worries that the conservative government might start try to make a push towards the ‘good old traditional days’ where only a man and woman could get married. Because you know, there wasn’t any of that blasted homosexuality in ancient Greece.

  51. mothersmurfer@54: I imagine the reason the state is involved in marriage is the same reason it’s involved in real estate and vehicle sales. If I sell my car to another person, even though that’s a private contract between two individuals, I’m still going to file that sale with my state government, which will issue a new title. This makes sense: it’s in the interest of society to have an official record of our agreement, so to minimize the risk of dispute over the owner of the car. Likewise, if I buy a piece of property, or take out a mortgage on a piece of property, that is recorded by my local government. Again, this is to reduce the risk of dispute about whether the sale or mortgage took place.

    Marriage has some serious legal implications, and so it’s reasonable that the union be officially on file somewhere. Personally, I like knowing that I have a piece of paper, certified by a state government, verifiable with a state government, with a judge’s signature on it, that I can use to prove I’m married to my wife, in case some hospital administrator or tax official is skeptical. That’s going to be much more convincing than a notarized contract.

  52. Jesus Christ, I’m away for a day and we’re back to the goddamned “why is government in the marriage business” discussion. Seriously, people: the “Government shouldn’t be in the marriage business” argument at this point is the sign you’re a troll. Stop bringing it up every time a discussion of same sex marriage comes up. Stop it in this thread. I’m getting fucking tired of having to say this EVERY SINGLE TIME. From here on out I’m going to mallet these sorts of comments when they pop up.

  53. Re 58

    Quite so. A separate question indeed.

    Now, government and custom recognizes a preexisting right of family/parents and rough ties of blood, if you accept that right, how do you create new ties of blood; if not, why not when creating default positions?

  54. Matt @50: I think the useful example is that it’s easier, in terms of the number of votes you need, in California to reinstate slavery than it is to raise taxes. People forget that (as with pretty much any other state) California’s vaunted liberal-bubbleness is concentrated in large urban areas, while the rural areas tend to be a lot more conservative.

  55. Kevin Williams @51: If Republicans try this in 2012, it’s unclear that it will work. Attitudes have changed quite a bit since 2004. In fact, nowadays, Republicans are complaining that Democrats are using LGBT rights as a “wedge issue”. Of course, I don’t feel too sorry for the GOP here. Even in 2004, looking at long-term trends, it was pretty obvious that opposing same-sex marriage was a long-term losing position, even if it was a short-term winner.

    As a relatively young voter (age 30), I’ve spent a good part of my voting life thinking of the GOP as the anti-gay party, because of what they pulled in 2004, because of their reaction to Lawrence v. Texas, and because of the foot-dragging they are engaged in now. (Yes, Democrats haven’t been perfect, but they’ve been much better.) Many people aged 30 and younger have similar feelings. That’s going to be a significant barrier to the GOP winning our votes in the future.

  56. CLP @ 29:

    At age 82, as far back as I can remember, one of my most deeply held beliefs has been simply that people should have as much freedom of action as is possible or practical. I’ve never seen, in civil law, any convincing reasons that marrying someone (or several people) of a different race or religion, or of the same sex, should be considered impossible or impractical. (In general terms, that is — I, personally, have never been a good candidate for any kind of formal marriage relationship, so my pleasure at hearing this news is quite abstract.)

  57. Andrew Sullivan has a nice piece on why New York taking this step is in fact a big deal, and rather than repeat him, I’ll just suggest you check out that link.

    Yup, but here’s something worth repeating: This bill passed a Republican-controlled chamber because four GOP state senators decided good arguments, and evidence, could trump ideology this time. Mark Grisanti (hardly a pinko liberal) shouldn’t have made me tear up, but there you go and here we are.

    (I’ve posted a link, because I’m not sure you can embed YouTube videos here, but his speech is worth five minutes of your time. Of course, the usual suspects have already declared war on the 4 Republicans and 3 Democrats who flipped but who needs friends like that…)

  58. Thanks, John. This bisexual woman appreciates being able to marry her partner, regardless of which sex s/he happens to be.

  59. Greg @ 35
    You ask several questions prompted by my comment posted earlier. I typed, ” As a person of faith, I can certainly understand that secular society may will choose to define social justice more broadly and very differently from the definitions in my sacred texts.” My sacred texts are the Old & New Testaments of the Bible. In those texts basically all human sexuality apart from sex between husband (male) and wife (female) are considered sin.

    Since marriage has been defined in heterosexual terms for recorded history, I do not see same-sex marriage to be a civil right. Could it become a civil right? Sure. Through the electorial representative process we can change our definitions and our law. Which just happened in NY State, to which I say “bravo” for NY State. Since I do not see same-sex marriage as a civil right, due to my Biblical faith, I also do not see social injustice or evil residing in States that keep marriage as a union only of male/female. NY State is not morally superior to Texas due to changing laws on marriage. NY State laws are just different from Texas laws as social justice is now viewed differently in NY.

  60. Since I do not see same-sex marriage as a civil right, due to my Biblical faith

    You’re in the wrong, just from that. Are you old enough to remember the arguments people made in the 1960s about interracial marriage? “The Bible says don’t plant two kinds of grain in one field.”

    Also, in America, just so you know, MY civil rights are not, cannot be, should not be dependent on YOUR “Biblical faith.”

    NY State is not morally superior to Texas due to changing laws on marriage.

    No, that’s not why. I would say changing the laws on marriage increases the degree to which New York is morally superior to Texas, but you’re right that it’s not the whole reason, or even most of it.

  61. Hey Gary, you said, “Since marriage has been defined in heterosexual terms for recorded history, I do not see same-sex marriage to be a civil right.”

    I think you’ll find that if you examine actual human history, you’ll find all sorts of different kinds of relationships that are considered normal by the societies in question. You might have to step outside your own cultural perspective along the way, which I understand can be tricky. In general, it’s good idea to study both history and anthropology (which is really where the question of relationship norms is housed) before using either to support your perspective. If you want to make a study of the history in question, Wikipedia cites some good sources.

    I’m not actually arguing from history/tradition, personally. I think I should be able to get married because justice is important and I am no less a citizen than a straight person. I think history is interesting and aids in understanding the context of any issue – for example, why anyone who isn’t inside my relationship actually cares about the sex or gender of my partner. There is no real reason anyone should care, but strangely enough they do. They hide their children from me, refuse to rent to me, even fired her from her job… because they actually do care, and some of the answers to the question of why are in our history.

    I would not, ever, argue that because something is historically common it is right, good, or just. You should probably hesitate before making any argument that rests upon that premise. It has been common throughout history for people to own other people, for example. If your argument requires that slavery also be considered good, you have, in the current cultural context, already lost.

    You may believe what you like about the morality of my relationship; I don’t care. But if you try to convince others that your opinion is justified in some way, perhaps you should choose justifications that are verifiably true. If you can find any – in this case the vast majority of the evidence is against you.

  62. Gary @ 68:

    Since I do not see same-sex marriage as a civil right, due to my Biblical faith

    I have to admit, my mouth dropped a bit when I read that. Seriously, things can’t be civil rights if they conflict with your Biblical faith? Does that mean the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment doesn’t protect polytheistic religions (“you shall have no other gods before me”)? That a state can outlaw using the Lord’s name in vain?

  63. People who take the picky rules of the Bible more literally than the much larger rule of “Love One Another” are people you can’t argue with — their minds and souls are too small.

  64. I wasn’t even going to bother with the Biblical-morality thing. People who refuse to accept that their personal religious concept of morality is not sufficient cause for legislation drive me batty – but rarely change their minds.

    I know lots of wonderful Christians. I live with one, and not in that “roommates” way. She holds opinions I don’t, that are religious in basis. She does not attempt to legislate her morality, because she understands that a secular state is a good thing. I’m really glad that people like her (and my United Methodist pastor friends, who are risking their denomination’s sanction to perform Holy Unions for same-sex couples) exist; they help counteract the twitch-response I have to any mention of the Bible.


    We won New York! Even a solid round of being told I’m going to hell can’t possibly dampen my happiness about this.

  65. Gary @68: You’re not even right on the Bible. Go back and take a look at some of the laws about concubinage and prisoners of war, none of which were rejected in the New Testament.

    The founding document of the United States is the Constitution, not the Bible. If you’re uncomfortable with that, work to change it, but right now saying that civil rights are limited by the BIble is nonsensical.

  66. Gary Willis:

    “In those texts basically all human sexuality apart from sex between husband (male) and wife (female) are considered sin.”

    Oh WOW has someone not actually read their Bible. Likewise, as Mythago cogently notes, what are civil rights here in the US branch specifically from the Constitution of the United States, not the Bible.

    As for your not seeing same-sex marriage as a civil right: Surprise! It IS a civil right, by law, in six states here in the United States and in several countries around the world, on at least three continents, and for millions of people.

    In other words: You’re better off not trying to pretend that the world isn’t as it is, or that people don’t have the rights they do.

    I do notice, Gary, that you spend a lot of time here in the comments trying to argue points of law from what amounts to positions of wishful thinking for you. You should probably re-evaluate the efficacy of such a method.

  67. My understanding of case law is that Loving v. Virginia established marriage as a constitutionally protected civil right of individuals.

    Given that, it’s dawning on me that it’s appropriate to deal with same sex marriage from that same position, and thus make it more appropriate that this be a judicial determination, not a legislative nor executive determination. The argument has to be from a judicial argument that same sex marriages are legally different from other types. I have a bit of a qualm about legislatures monkeying around with constitutional rights at anything short of the constitutional amendment level.

    That’s pretty rendering unto Caesar what’s Caesar and not mixing it with God’s….

  68. Looks like our exalted host caught it before I did, but I’ll remind Gary that it’s possible to interpret the so-called “anti-gay” passages in the Hebrew & New Testaments in ways that are both faithful and theologically/academically defensible which also don’t result in anything like the typical, American conservative “anti-gay” outcomes. And I say this as a lifelong Christian (of the mainstream, Episcopalian sort).

    IMHO, it’s terribly misleading to represent the Bible as being “anti-gay,” and I really wish my coreligionists would stop presenting such a debatable viewpoint as a settled issue. Just tell the truth and say, well… that it’s a “debatable viewpoint” within the faith.

  69. David H. @ 79:

    c.f. Scalzi’s blog post about Leviticans versus Christians.

  70. Gary, first of all thanks for the honesty. It was not uncommon for me to be arguing intelligent design people who were obviously religiously motivated in their pursuit to teach creationism in school, but who had decided that lobbying under false pretenses was to their tactical advantage.

    secondly, I think the world would be a lot better place if everyone were in touch with whatever it is they are committed to, so if this is one of your true commitments, then I wont try to divert you. if it was a question of some legal interpretation of states rights and so on, I would continue that track, but if this is what you are truly committed to then I would respectfully withdraw.

    finally just something to consider, sometimes we think we are committed to something but we really are acting on a ‘should’. people take on diets all the time saying they are committed to losing weight, but really they think they ‘should’ lose weight. and that isnt a commitment.

    no one becomes committed to anything because someone told them they should be.

    something to ask yourself (though you dont have to answer here) is how much of your notion of gay marriage is a should and how much is it a commitment.

    all the best

  71. Coming late to the discussion, but I’d like to note that it is *absolutely* within the proper role of the courts in the US to take on this sort of thing when properly presented to them. Anyone who believes otherwise is showing their ignorance of both the full purpose of the judicial branch of the US government and of US history in general. The path Massachusetts took toward equality is no more or less valid than the path New York took.

    And the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment makes the concept of “equal treatment under the law” more than just a really good idea, even if it’s taking us a very long time to recognize all the implications.

    And as far as the “my favorite interpretation of my favorite translation of my favorite sacred text should take precedent”, well, others have already addressed it but I’d like to add my own hearty “fuck *that* shit”, plus an expression of annoyance that New York had to include redundant language in order to try to forestall dishonest objections.

  72. I enjoyed the prior comments by Republican Senator MacDonald:

    “I’m tired of Republican, Democrat politics; I’m tired of blowhard radio people, blowhard television people, blowhard newspapers,” MacDonald said Tuesday while venting about the political scrutiny surrounding the vote. “They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background, I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.”

    We need more people like him at all levels of government. I was also was also a little astounded by the Bishops’ comments on MSNBC:

    “We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization.”

    Since when did the Roman Catholic Church’s ideology become the “cornerstone of civilization”? The sheer audacity of that statement blows my mind. Another reason I don’t often see eye to eye with organized [Christian] religious leadership.

  73. Owen, I *think* what he meant was that institutionalized discrimination is a cornerstone of civilization, but I admit that I’m not entirely sure about that. It’s hard to say for sure.

    Seriously, though, I assume it’s the tiresome and historically absurd stance that the current legal and social definition of marriage is a definition that’s been an unchanged and central tenet of civilization for thousands of years. It’s bullshit, and the Bishop is either ignorant of the history of marriage or lying for effect, at least by implication.

    (Of all the presentations of this particular piece of BS, the most blatant version I heard was from Mitt “The Git” Romney, who as a Mormon can’t possibly honestly think that marriage has been an unchanged historical institution.)

  74. Bearpaw @ 85:

    Is Romney coming out as a homophobe now? Pity. He seemed like one of the few sane and grown-up Republicans running for President.

  75. I know people have said this already, but I just wanted to summarize these points in two quick sentences:

    1) Historically, there have lots of different kinds of marriages than one man/one woman.

    2) The Bible lists lots of different kinds of relationships that are acceptable besides one man/one woman.

  76. Well, the entire concept of marriage for “love” or as a means of choosing your ideal partner is a modern concept – very modern in fact. Traditionally that was not the idea behind it. Marriage was usually conducted for material (monetary) reasons, or political alliances, etc etc.

    I would posit that arguments based on “marriage is historically between a ‘man and a woman'” hold no ground in our modern society. In the United States, most of us no longer hand over our daughters for tangible and intangible gain.

  77. Kevin,

    Well, Mitt being Mitt, I don’t know his public stance on same-sex marriage at this particular minute, but in December 2006 he said: “I agree with 3000 years of recorded history. I believe marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman and I have been rock solid in my support of traditional marriage.”

    Even ignoring for the moment the many other changes in the history of marriage, in his *own* religious tradition it changed significantly less than a couple of hundred years ago, and was a major factor in the historical persecution of Mormons.

  78. Romney was governor of Massachusetts when the Goodridge decision came down, and he tried his hardest to fight implementation. Initially he wanted to keep same-sex marriages from happening pending the effort to overturn it by constitutional amendment, but that wouldn’t fly.

    Later on, he pushed to force the legislature to vote on a second attempted amendment. That time, it was pretty clear to me that he had the law on his side, and the courts agreed (the amendment was killed in a second session anyway). But it was clear he opposed same-sex marriage.

  79. Greg @ 81

    What I think is a civil right or not really is irrelevant don’t you think. I tried to make it clear that as a Christian living in a secular society I am fine with the majority defining civil rights through the representative process to include rights I may find distasteful personally. I just prefer the majority activing through representative government to do the defining as opposed to judges expanding the definitions of civil rights through rulings.


    Guilty. Wishful thinking, oh yeah. Give me that magical wand and with one wave all human warfare would cease. Maybe not. In an episode of the X-Files Fox Mulder wished for world peace once and the whole human population dissappeared except for Fox and the Jin that granted him the wish.

  80. Gary, you start out saying what yoh think is a civil right is irrelevant. you end with a comment about court rulings that implies gay marriage is not a civil right.

    If you stick with ‘this is something I oppose based on my religious beliefs’, then there isnt anything to argue about.

  81. We’ve had two centuries for Congress or the states to explicitly deny courts judicial review by means of a Constitutional amendment. No such effort has succeeded or even been explicitly attempted, to the best of my knowledge, which tells me that the vast majority of folks are just FINE with judicial review as one of the many checks in our tripartite government.

    That said, it’s gratifying when the will of the people finds direct expression via the votes of their elected representatives, if only because it shuts up the “judicial review is bogus” idiots.

  82. Gary @ 91:

    Would you also have preferred that the Loving v Virginia decision hadn’t happened? Are you aware that the last of the anti-miscegenation statutes wasn’t formally overturned “the right way” until *2000*, even though it was only symbolic as of 1967? Absent the Loving decision, how long do you suppose it would have taken for Alabama to legislatively recognize that mixed-race couples were already covered under the civil rights “definition” in the Fourteenth Amendment? Would it have been earlier than 2000 … or later?

    If a majority of legislators and/or voters in your state believed *you* weren’t entitled to equal treatment under the law, how long would you wait for enough of them to change their minds? At what point would you be tempted to try to take action via judicial powers inherent to and intentionally included in our system of government?

    Or, to put it another way, I don’t remember getting a vote on whether *your* marriage — if any — should be legally recognized. (I’m sure there’s a religion around that thinks it shouldn’t be.)

  83. hell, lets just put it into blatant contrast, shall we?

    the fifteenth ammendment, which protects the rights of blacks to vote, wasnt ratified by Tennesse until 1997. it was ratified at the federal level back in 1870.

    tennessee, no doubt arguing for states rights, had rejected the ammendment in 1869.

    if States Righters had their way, Tennessee could have denied blacks the right to vote for a century more.

  84. Andrew @ 93:

    It doesn’t actually shut those idiots up, it just means they find some other excuse to bitch about it. E.g., the butt-headed comparison of the NY legislature to North Korea.

    No doubt if the question had instead been decided in favor of same-sex marriage by a 2/3 majority of all registered voters, some people would have complained that their special rights were infringed by a tyranny of the majority … and gone to court to have try to have it overturned. (In which case it would *not* have been an attempt at “judicial activism” in their eyes, because God. Or something.)

  85. Bearpaw@89:

    Well, yeah… I call it Mormon Missionary position, where inconvenient facts are ignored by sticking your head up the nearest arse to hand. I don’t know about anyone else, but anyone making the argument from history re: marriage won’t have to look hard to find much in their own family trees that ranges from the icky (i.e. arranged marriages where the bride and groom had their meet-cute literally an hour before the wedding) to the downright criminal (I hope you can’t marry 12 year-old girls any more).

  86. Craig @ 97:

    That sort of thing is hardly limited to Mormons. (Or even to right-wingers, though it does seem particularly endemic among them these days.)

  87. That’s a fair call, but damn given the Latter Day Saints’ history with polygamy you’d think that’s one religious denomination that would be particularly adverse to dodgy arguments from history where marriage is concerned. Silly me. :)

  88. David 79: Looks like our exalted host caught it before I did, but I’ll remind Gary that it’s possible to interpret the so-called “anti-gay” passages in the Hebrew & New Testaments in ways that are both faithful and theologically/academically defensible which also don’t result in anything like the typical, American conservative “anti-gay” outcomes.

    Oh, I want it! This theology would be very useful to me in conversations I’m having elseweb; is an exegesis of such interpretations available online anywhere you know of? Failing that, any books?

    Bearpaw 85: It’s bullshit, and the Bishop is either ignorant of the history of marriage or lying for effect, at least by implication.

    I’d go with lying. I used to think these people were sincerely misguided, but now I think they’re just lying sacks of shit covering their deep and shameful bigotry with high-sounding rhetoric.

    Kevin 86: Is Romney coming out as a homophobe now?

    Kevin, Romney is deeply committed to presenting as a good Mormon. IIUC you cannot be a good Mormon without being homophobic at least in public. Whatever his private feelings, he has to act homophobic when something comes up in the political sphere.

    Of course, chances are he’s a genuine homophobe, but let’s not neglect the possibility that he could be a lying, hypocritical piece of shit…which, come to think of it, he is anyway.

  89. That was pretty much my original point re Mitt the Git. For a Mormon to talk about 3000 years of marriage tradition is particularly dumb/amusing.

    But the more general ignoring of inconvenient facts isn’t limited to Mormons, so I didn’t get the “Mormon Missionary position” remark.

  90. If Barack Obama won’t cop to supporting same-sex marriage, I doubt Mitt Romney will.

    It’s a weird political situation. Even though a majority in the US are now in support, I doubt support would actually be advantageous in the 2012 presidential election; support is concentrated in Democratic-voting states, and most of the crucial swing states probably still have net anti-SSM populations.

    That said, I don’t think the backlash will have anything like the mobilizing effect it had in 2004.

  91. mythago

    I’m not trying to have it any way. I’m pointing out that the framers probably did believe that the Establishment Clause protects unconventional and unpopular religions as well as popular ones. But I very much doubt they believed the Equal Protection clause protects same-sex marriage.

  92. Nathan @105: Yes, in fact, you are trying to have it both ways. You’re saying that one rule protects things the framers never imagined, but another rule shouldn’t apply because its framers never imagined it would work that way.

    (Seriously, you’re arguing that the Framers were A-OK with Satanism and goddess-worship and thought it should be protected by the Establishment Clause?)

    You’re also getting the Equal Protection Clause wrong. It’s not that the clause “protects same-sex marriage”. It’s that the government can’t deprive groups of people of their fundamental rights without a good reason. The real issue here is that the government can’t come up with a good reason to restrict marriage based on gender.

    Oh, and you may really want to think twice about trying to limit the Equal Protection Clause to ‘what its authors thought about marriage’. Unless you’re seriously arguing that we should roll back all that jurisprudence that suggested coverture was a bad idea.

  93. Craig @ 99: this whole discussion reminds me of the following:

    Aaron: Wait a minute, our ancestors? Dad, your grandfather had half a dozen wives, and the same goes for every single person in this room. I’d say we were the original definition of ‘alternative lifestyle.’
    Elder Farron Davis: Are you calling us hypocrites?
    Aaron: No, we’ve gone way beyond hypocrisy, Dad, now we’re just being mean.

    Latter Days

  94. Xopher @ #100: I suppose my favorite is a book by the Rev. Br. Tobias Haller entitled “Reasonable and Holy: Engaging Same-sexuality”, pub. by Seabury Books (2009). It’s is full of intelligent, careful argument and beautiful prose, and is avail from all the usual suspects (Amazon, etc…)

    Br. Tobias is the vicar of Saint James Episcopal Church, Fordham, the Bronx, NY.

  95. Hi, Xopher @100

    See also the works of Shelby Spong, who was (still is) a pioneer in the field of marriage equalisation for Christians. Here is a short primer on his ideas. Also, if you google “spong gay marriage” many of the links are frothy, incoherent critiques of his work, which you may find amusing. Some at least quote his original ideas, so they’re not completely useless.

  96. Thanks, vian, I’m familiar with Spong…in fact he used to be Episcopal Bishop of Newark, which is the diocese containing the church where I sing in the choir (and which flies a rainbow flag over the door all June, every June). He’s the first person I ever heard say that most of the Christian ideas about Hell were more about social control than theology (among other statements). He was the first Bishop to ordain an openly gay man, which ordination I witnessed as Visiting Clergy (in my presiding-at-weddings robe, with a nice big pentacle).

    That said, thanks for reminding me of him. I have to dig out his books and read them again.

  97. Nathan @105: I rather suspect the “Framers” had no real opinion whatsoever on any application of the Equal Protection clause, seeing how that phrase appears in the 14th amendment. Which was written, oh, a little more than four score years after the Framers did their work.

    As to your point, no, I rather doubt that the authors of the 14th amendment thought it should apply to same-sex marriage. Assuming anyone ever asked them. Which I suspect no one ever did. But remember, the 14th amendment, and its Equal Protection clause, were added to the Constitution specifically to secure the rights of a minority against the opposition to such rights by a portion of the majority. it’s wording is sufficiently open and vague to suggest that it was not intended to refer only to a certain set of rights for a certain minority. That aspect of it is why it is so often invoked. The absolute worst you could say is that invoking Equal Protection in support of same-sex marriage is that it’s a case of unintended consequences. But then again, the consequences are the protection of the rights of a minority against the opposition of a portion of the majority. Do you want to stand up and call that a bad thing? Are you willing to roll back every other advance of civil liberties and rights since the Civil War? I’m sure as hell not. So I’m still going to call this working as intended, a feature not a bug.

  98. doc, one of the more common misconceptions of the concept of commitment is when people try to turn it into ‘this specific thing was not mentioned in the original commitment explicitly, therefore it isnt covered by that commitment’.

    someone commits to losing 50 pounds, then a week later theyre eating mcdonalds meals every day. when you remind them of their commitment, they say ‘I never said I would specifically give up BigMacs’.

    well no you didnt say that but your commitment cant be held while eating sthousands of calories of junk every day. the dame person will say they are commited to losing weight while arguing that the big mac in their hand doesnt contradict that commitment, based on a mechanical interpretation of what the commitment did not explicitly exclude.

    this is the same sort of problem. we made a commitment to equality, and folks who want to say they are commited to equality while treating some group of people diffferently argue that the commitment to equality didnt explicitly mention the group they want to treat differently so its ok.

    whats interesting is that these people rather than acknoledge they have no such commitment and go from there, they prefer to have it both ways: say they are comitted ti something while taking action in direct opposition ti that commitment.

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