Wednesday, October 29, 2008

no on 8, #9

another video...

There are those who would argue that this video is unfair, but I remember when interracial marriages were illegal in some states. These arguments, along with the same religious arguments used in support of prop 8, are the very ones that were used to try to retain laws against interracial marriages. It is a fair reminder.

Others will bristle at the characterization of prop 8 as "prop hate." While, I understand that and know some folk who are voting for prop 8 who are anything but hateful, the result is the same... discrimination and hurt. I wouldn't call it prop hate, but I understand why others would.


Michael Mahoney said...

There's a serious flaw in the logic of this argument equating same-sex marriage with interracial marriage. They are apples and oranges, and the two situations are in no way equal.

Bans of interracial marriage in the U.S. were designed strictly to continue to keep minorities - specifically African-Americans - down and subjugated. After all, how can you say a black man is less than a white man, if you allow him to marry and procreate with a white woman - or so the argument goes.

This is not the case with same-sex marriage. No one is calling certain gay men inferior to other gay men. No one is trying to keep them apart so they cannot interbreed with straight people - they do not want to interbreed with straight people anyway.

In fact, many people who oppose gay marriage support the idea of civil unions, which would give homosexual couples the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples. So there is obviously no intent to "keep the gay man down."

Even the traditional reasons for racial discrimination in marriae do not apply here. Those were typically for "racial purity." Since homosexual couple cannot procreate, there is no danger of "polluting" the bloodline, as if such a thing weren't rediculous to start with.

This is clearly not a discrimination issue, Roy. Are we discriminating against paedophiles when we pass laws against that? What's next? Allowing siblings to marry? Where do we draw the line?

gen said...


I can listen to your arguments with an open mind up until the point you introduce pedophelia as somehow related to this, or being next on the list of behaviors that will be approved. Same sex relationships and pedophelia are not near the same nor are they even comparable. Talk about comparing apples and oranges! That is hurtful to the LGBT community. Pedophelia blatantly exploits a weaker and more impressionable individual. It is self serving and does immeasurable damage to the victim. A loving relationship between two people of the same sex does not.

And regarding the issue of how "cleary this is not discrimination" - People didn't see interracial marriages as a discrimination issue either. They didn't see women's oppression as a discrimination issue either. They didn't see slavery as a discrimination issue either. It is difficult to see those things as discrimination when you think the oppressed group is somehow inferior, or flawed, or weaker, or less than human. And that was the prevailing attitude. To think we really thought an African American was 3/5 human. Our country legally believed that. Our history informs us that we don't do well dealing with people, ideas, etc, that deviate from what is considered the norm.

And finally, you do not need to draw the line for two consenting adults if they decide they want to marry. Let them draw their own lines. Again, laws are meant to protect society. What does prohibiting marriage between two people who love each other do to protect society?

Michael, these are people who love each other. LOVE. They want to have a legal container for that love. They want to be able to travel from state to state and be recognized as a couple so that if one person is hospitalized, they can see them in the hospital. They want to have the same tax and financial benefits any other married couple has. Basically, they want to be able to do what any other loving married couple would be able to do. They don't want to convert the world to be homosexual. They just want to be. I will be honest, I want these things. I want to have this option for me and my partner. I want to be able to commit to this person and have the legal blessing and benefits that go with it. I am a better person for participating in this relationship with her. I am becoming less selfish, more giving and all of the other character transforming things that happen when two people come together in a commitment. Why would you feel the need to restrict that for me?

roy said...


the most vociferous arguments against interracial marriage said that it was not "natural."

Obviously there is a difference between civil unions and marriage or we wouldn't be having this discussion... at least not in the same way.

And Gen is right on target with discounting the pedophilia argument. It is clearly a situation where one person is exploiting another who is weaker.

Michael Mahoney said...

Fine, we can replace paedophilia with incest. Or anything else that has been considered taboo for recorded human history.

I hate to sound cliche, but it's a slippery slope argument. One group gets it's way, then another. The question still stands - where does it end? There's a group in Spain that actually wants to give chimps legal personhood. And before you laugh, what would someone have said about legal gay marriage fifty years ago?

Why was interracial marriage "unnatural?" Because it was one of "them" marrying one of "us." This is not the case here, and so the argument doesn't carry. No one ever stopped blacks from marrying blacks because it was unnatural. They did do it to control breeding, which is clearly not an issue here.

I can take a lot of the arguments in support of gay marriage at face value, but a comparison to interracial marriage falls flat. And I do sincerley apologize, Gen, if I insulted. This was not my attention. We can agree to disagree without personal attacks, and I did not mean one. But, as off-topic as paedophilia is to you, interracial marriage is to me.

roy said...

Michael, I think you're missing the argument. It went something like... "God meant whites to marry whites, blacks to marry blacks, asians to marry asians. Anything else goes against nature." It is the exact same argument - "it is natural that men marry women and women marry men. Anything else is against nature." Of course there were all kinds of irrational fears underlying the argument, but that didn't change the argument.

Any time we talk about human behavior, we're always talking about slippery slopes. That's why the pharisees constructed the hedges around the law.

Michael Mahoney said...

True, but the Bible says (and since you address theology in your latest post, I'll go there...) in the New Testament nothing about blacks and whites, nothing about the prohibitions of marrying across cultural (racial) lines. It does, however, in the words of Christ, that a man joins a woman and they become one flesh. It does say the husband is the head of the wife... so in a gay couple, which of the two husbands (or wives) are the head?

In any case, the "natural" process is not interupted by a mixed-race couple. They can still come together and procreate. A gay couple cannot. (and if this gay-marriage deal spreads across states or is nationalized, their adoption options may be limited as well.) And no, I do not think that procreation is the be-all end-all of reasons for marriage. But it's a big one.

I don't expect we will ever convince each other, Roy. To paraphrase Nick, we are looking out different windows.

gen said...


I appreciate your apology, and believe it or not, I do appreciate where you are coming from. As I said in a comment a week or so ago, I once thought similarly to you. This is not to insinuate you think incorrectly, but just to let you know I am not ignorant to your belief system or rationale.

I didn't want to jump into this commenting thing with the intent of arguing. It is like you stated, you and Roy are looking out two different windows. So, here I am also gazing out a different window. What I have learned though, is that it is interesting and often valuable to step away from my window and see the view from a different vantage point. It doesn't mean I have to reside there, it just means I am willing to look. Maybe even willing to borrow the other person's binoculars in order to use a different lens. I may or may not like what I see, but maybe in the process I shared something with that other person and understood and appreciated some of what they were seeing.

That is all I would ever hope from those that disagree with me and vice versa. I don't know you Michael, so I don't know how you have always approached this. I don't want to presume anything. I only ask one thing. I ask that you remember that we, LGBT folks, are human. We have feelings. Many of us have worked hard to change. We have surrendered to Christ. We have prayed. We have gone to counseling. We have felt immense shame and embarrassment. So, for those of us who have come to a place of acceptance, particularly those who come from the Christian faith, we have not done so casually. I can pretty much guarantee we have done a lot more soul searching on the issue than most straight folks. And regardless of whether or not you see this as discrimination, it really, really feels like it to us. That is the message heard. It is very painful to believe you need to change this rather profound piece of your identity in order to be able to have intimacy with someone because you have been taught any other way is an abomination. Strong word.

I am all about dialoguing, but I think I am going to stop arguing.

Michael Mahoney said...

Gen, I suspect if you and I ever had a face-to-face conversation, though we disagree on this point, we'd find some common ground. I don't hate LGBT folks, and have some friends with varying orientations. I do have a theological viewpoint that is different from Roy's, and I object to gay marriage out of those convictions.

I never forget you are human, that "you" are part of "we." I never desire for a rift between any of God's children, though I know they will happen.

This is a difficult situation, with no easy answers. What happens with Prop 8 in California, Question 1 here in Connecticut, and initiatives to come will be a key issue to define the world in the new century. Either way, the debate will not end here.

gen said...

Michael, yes I am sure we could find common ground somewhere.

I have to be honest, I am stumped by your statement that you don't hate LGBT folks. It took me some time to figure out what bothered me so much about that. And then it hit me - you state your relationship to the LGBT community in a negative voice...saying what you don't do (i.e. I don't hate LGBT folks), but not stating in the positive what you do (i.e. I ---- LGBT folks). I am not trying to play semantics here, but I do think it is an interesting difference. I had assumed you didn't hate. I would be more interested to hear what you "do" and not what you "don't."

It is the same for me too Michael, I want to love those who may be in opposition to me. I know the street goes both ways. It just struck me and took me by surprise.

roy said...

Michael, your construct - "the Bible says" is exactly the argument that was used against interracial marriage. "Be not unequally yoked" was a key passage but there were lots of others cited.

Now as for the passages you cite... is it possible that Jesus words were descriptive rather than prescriptive. And the passage from Ephesians... the context of the passage is a constellation of relationships including the way slaves are to relate to their masters and masters to their slaves. This was a key passage used by those who advocated for slavery. They pointed out, rightly, that the passage does not condemn slavery and instead assumes it as a normal and allowable part of society. We do not handle that text in the same way any more but instead read into it something that others for centuries did not see. Is it proper to read part of the paragraph is such a nuanced way while taking other parts at simple face value? Back to your verse - what does "head" mean? Is it "boss?" or is it a little midrash on the Genesis story and reflect a meaning such as "source" like we still use in head waters? And what does this have to do with relationships other than the specific one mentioned - between a husband and a wife? There are clearly other relationships not included in this catena... My point is that this is not a simple text and to use it as a proof text for marriage is problematic at best.

I do want to say that I appreciate your participation in the discussion Michael. As Gen said, I believe it is always good to look through someone else's lens. While it may not change my mind, understanding other viewpoints always changes my perspective.

And Gen, thank you for sharing in these discussions. Your contribution has made the discussion much more human. Thank you.

Michael Mahoney said...


I see your point, and perhaps I was just reacting to all the "hater" accusations that get thrown at those who beleive in man-woman marriage only - not by you, just in general.

What do I do? I'll be honest, not much that I don't do to anyone else. I don't go out of my way to find a gay man and preach to him. Those LGBT folks that are in my life, I suppose I treat like anyone else. I will, if the topic comes up, tell them what I think, as gently as I can, but I don't equivocate. It's delicate, because it touches my own family, and people who are defensive around my faith and that of my wife anyway. I pray that God gives me appropriate words, and often prefer saying nothing to saying the wrong thing. So I find myself not looking to get into those conversations.

Roy, I worry (as in any case) about bending scripture to suit our views, instead of simply taking it at face value. While I understand that scripture must be taken in context, there are universal truths to be had in each verse. All scripture is suitable... and so on.

Take the slavery verse you quoted. It stresses on the behavior of individuals, not society. It does not condone or refute slavery; it simply says "if you are a slave, behave like this."

I suppose that argument could be turned around and applied to verse 25 - that Paul is not supporting or refuting heterosexual marriage, just saying "if." But then there would be no instruction for those in same-sex relationships, and what does that say about that?

I don't see Jesus' words as saying "this is one example, and there are others." The Lord was generally pretty straightforward He could have easily said "one leaves their parents and joins another." Yet he chose specific words, which were specifically translated into specific Greek - which has non-gender words. When God wanted to create a "suitable companion" for Adam, he created a woman, not another man.

I will admit though, I am seeing this issue in a broader light. I'm still voting "yes" on Question 1, and will support a hetero marriage only law, but perhaps I will be a better minister of the Gospel.

roy said...

Michael, just one more quick and probably irrelevant comment on Jesus' quote of Genesis... "a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife"... This verse is a bit odd given the patriarchal society in Israel at that time. Men didn't leave their mothers and fathers, women did... and the women then entered into the household of the man's family. This verse describes something that didn't happen in that culture. Some scholars see in this verse a very early throw back to a time when perhaps Israel was matriarchal in structure rather than the strict patriarchy we see reflected in the rest of the Bible.

gen said...


I appreciate hearing your response to the LGBT people in your life. I am glad to hear you treat them the same way as others in your life. That does sound loving.

I can't help but jump into your conversation with Roy about scripture. You mentioned something about how we should take scripture at face value. Michael, I don't know if that is possible. And I think if you were really honest, you would see that you don't take it completely at face value. You interpret and you have decided what is applicable to you in today's society. If you didn't, I can guarantee life would look extremely different for you.

It is impossible to read anything at face value. We are always interpreting. You are interpreting what I write here to you and vice versa. To think we can take a document that was written in antiquity and just take it clearly at face value is a bit improbable and I would say, irresponsible - especially given the translation process it went through.

If we take the Bible at face value as you say, then nowhere does it say clearly, that the only acceptable form of sexual intimacy is between a man and a woman. You interpret that based upon what you read in Genesis and in Ephesians, etc, but it does not, at face value, say that.

Again Michael, I am not trying to nit pick. I hold the Bible very dear and I read it, study it and yes, try to interpret it as best I can through prayer and Bible study and other resources. I know I have my biases and I try to set them aside as much as possible. But, it is impossible to be completely neutral when approaching scripture. No one can. It doesn't mean we don't try, it just means we need to realize this and approach scripture with great humility. I imagine you do the same. And that is what is amazing - we both do this and yet we have a different understanding of what it says...