Same-Sex Marriage: Degrees of Harm

First off, my headline should in no way prepare you for a diatribe on what harm same-sex marriage might do to society; in fact, I think it harms no one and nothing. (Yes, I’ve posted in the past about trying to sort out whether same-sex marriage and homosexuality are spiritually appropriate but I’ve never really been able to embrace an anti-gay stance [nor believed that homosexuality was a “go straight to Hell card”] and now I’ve pretty much settled on the “God doesn’t really give two shits about consensual adult sexual choices” path)

Second, screw you, North Carolina.

Look, I hear that North Carolina is a lovely state physically, and I’m sure many of the people there are fan-fucking-tastic. But this week, voters approved a measure to amend their state constitution to narrowly define marriage and forbid same-sex marriage (see here and here for recaps). It is one of only a few states (three or four in total, I seem to recall) that have so narrowly defined and constrained marriage rights.

When I heard about this, I may or may not have posted something on Twitter that called roughly two-thirds of the voters in North Carolina “fucktards” (for the record, I *did*).

Now, I was wrong about that. After hearing that less than a quarter of the state’s registered voters bothered to show up to weigh in on whether their constitution should be amended, apparently more than 80% of them are fucktards.

Anyway, back to my point…

After making this tweet, one of my fellow liberal folks (who I know offline as well as online), took me to task a bit for pointing fingers at North Carolina when recently here in Maine there was a measure on the ballot regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage and a little more than half of the people who voted shot it down. His point was that we are just as guilty here of holding back progress on sexual freedom and marriage equality.

I beg to differ. In fact, he and I already differed on Twitter and I think we reached a “we’ll agree to disagree” point (So, yes, my few conservative followers, I don’t just argue with you; I also argue with fellow liberals at times…though usually it’s with the hard-core atheists).

First off, there is a big difference between the final returns, even if it doesn’t seem like it. In Maine, what happened was that the government enabled legislation to allow same-sex marriage and then a citizen referendum repealed that law. The final vote tally was 53% vs. 47% (though, interestingly, polls have shown that 51% of Mainers support same-sex marriage. In any case, it’s clearly very close). In North Carolina, 61% of the voters said they wanted a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and 39% voted against it.

Now, 61 may not seem a lot bigger than 53, and of course it isn’t, but if I were in a fight with a total of 100 people when you combine both sides, I’d much rather be outnumbered by only 6 people rather than by 22.

In other words, there clearly isn’t as much of an uphill battle to win hearts and minds in Maine as in North Carolina. You may say I’m splitting hairs, but I think it matters. It suggests to me that the battleground in North Carolina is a lost cause for years to come, whereas the fight can still be won for marriage equality in the foreseeable future in Maine.

Also, let’s not forget that what happened in Maine was the repeal of a marriage equality law by some scared, nervous people who apparently mobilized well. No one instituted a specific ban on gay marriage nor codified a narrow definition of marriage. In contrast, North Carolina specifically forbade same-sex marriage and didn’t just do so as legislation but made it part of their constitution.

That, my friends, is a huge hurdle to overcome. You not only have to convince people that same-sex marriage isn’t bad, but now you also have to undo a constitutional amendment.

Again, you can accuse me of splitting hairs, but I think people in Maine would be a bit reluctant to change the state constitution in that way. Time could prove me wrong, but I doubt it.

Yes, in both Maine and North Carolina, people who want to marry and should be allowed to are denied that ability. That is unconscionable. But I have a lot more hope for sunlight at the end of the tunnel in my state.

In North Carolina, that light at the end of the tunnel seems to be an oncoming freight train instead.

8 thoughts on “Same-Sex Marriage: Degrees of Harm

  1. reviewboard

    Man you are courageous. This is a hot topic and to be honest I really don’t know how I feel about the situation. I’ve been brought up in an era that is much different than the one we live in and sometimes I feel like one of those old white guys from down south that has no problem with the N word when the F*G word comes out of my mouth while joking with a friend about his sexuality. It’s weird because now I think I finally understand people who appear racist because of the things you overhear them say when not in mixed company.

    Let me clarify. I’ll joke around with a friend and call him a F*G because I know there is no one around that would be offended. I would feel terrible if there were. I feel 90% normal and 10% self-conscious around gay people and the 10% is me being worried that a life time of being free with the gay jokes will pop up and make them feel angry or hurt. I’m not at all threatened by homosexuality and am quite set in my own orientation. But all my life growing up the F*G word was always the go-to word with all the kids I knew growing up. I do not believe that gay people need special rights because they are people and already have them. I do believe marriage is an institution and that we live in a society where the majority is supposed to rule. I think the majority of people don’t have a problem with the idea people of any gender can be married, Up until just today actually I thought it should be called something else. I realized though while writing this comment that I am wrong. It shouldn’t be called anything else but marriage.

    That said, I don’t feel that it is wrong to not want my children to be Gay. I don’t feel that it is wrong to not want schools to teach this as an option to kids. They should leave sexuality up to the parents. I think there is nothing wrong with me having no issue with what others do with themselves, and at the same time wanting my children to grow up and be the way I am. In fact, I think everyone wants that from their children (whether they are Straight or Gay). If they do decide that they are batting for the other side than it is my job to accept that and to support them.

    So that said… if there is an entire state of people that is interested in getting together and not allowing something like Gay marriage why is that a bad thing if there are 49 other states that do? Why is it wrong for some people to say I don’t want that, and my rule of law… vote and make it so? As long as there are options for Gay people, why can’t people who are either offended by the activity, or are afraid of it get together and create an area of the country where they can feel comfortable too? Why does 4% of the population get to trump 96% of the population in ALL AREAS. Isn’t that why we have States? Was this not the original design? Aren’t we supposed to have the freedom in this country to pass laws in each State that differ to accommodate differences like this so we can all live well as a whole? I don’t know man, I’m just a fat guy that doesn’t have an education but it seems fair to me. I’d have more of a problem with it if it were 49 states saying no and only 1 state saying yes. Seems to me like it is a good idea to have the people that feel strongly enough about this to be in a state all by themselves to avoid trouble. It isn’t segregation because Gay people can still live and love in those states, they just need to go somewhere else to marry. Why would you want to live in a state that felt that way if you were Gay anyway?

  2. Deacon Blue

    The issue for me is more that gays and lesbians are consenting adults and are denied all of the benefits of marriage (tax filing status, inheritance, power to make end of life decisions, etc.). To get even some of those benefits, they have to go through huge legal hurdles and even then risk that those legal protections they had to work (and pay) special for might be challenged by blood relative in a way that could never be done with a spouse.

    The majority rule notion falls flat for me because it’s the same thing that led states to ban marriage between different races of people. I don’t see same-sex marriage as a special rule because this is simply a matter of adults wanting to be life partners and be legally recognized as such, and they shouldn’t have to live in another state to get married any more than a black person and a white person should have to.

    At least that’s my take on things.

    As for not wanting one’s kids to grow up gay, that’s natural. We tend to want our kids to grow up in ways that we personally identify with and that will cause them the fewest hassles in life. I wouldn’t be hurt, angry or disappointed if my daughter grew up to be lesbian, but certainly, my mind tends to view her as growing up to be attracted to men.

    1. Philip

      One part of me: Well I think it’s unconstitutional regardless and I don’t believe we needed any laws to deal with it at all to be honest. Death benefits have always gone to the person you list as your beneficiary, and your property has always gone to the person you put in your will (and while that can be contested there has to be good cause for a judge to undo your last wishes [i.e. you were brainwashed, beaten and made to sign, etc…].

      Marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman, and the only change that needed to be made should be at the local level to reflect between two people instead. This change should simply be made across the board because it is a constitutional way to deal with it.

      The Other Part of Me: There should be a place a bunch of people can go and not be around “it”. I think we need to allow towns (not cities, they are too big) to put these types of restrictions in place. This will allow people who are offended for whatever reason to live in relative peace. A side note about Christianity… it is about freedom of choice so I really don’t know why Christians are up in arms at all about it. Yes it says in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 that it is an abomination, and in 1st Corinthians 6:9-11. BUT, it is tempered with Matthew 7:1-2 and with John 3:16. In addition we have Jesus and his words to the crowd who wanted to stone the woman… “let him without sin cast the first one.” It’s not really a Christians business (who is doing what behind closed doors), that is between the person and their maker. There are too many hall monitors in the various religions and that is what gets people into trouble. It is also what turns people off about Christianity.

      Anyway I’m done babbling. It’s been nice chatting with you Jeff you have a great head on your shoulders man. I’m very fortunate that things went the way they did and you and Shay got together. Our son (and I do mean we share him) could not have been in better hands when he was visiting over there, and now that he is moving on with adulthood he gets the sage advice from both us. It’s pretty damn cool man. I’m sorry I wasn’t grown up enough to appreciate it for many of those years.

  3. Deacon Blue

    As a supplementary note, I should say that a lot of time I cringe when people conflate black civil rights issues with gay/lesbian civil rights issues because there is a huge difference. Blacks are very obviously black and discriminated against often upon sight, whereas it’s not always obvious when someone is homosexual and/or in a same-sex relationship.

    But with the marriage issues, the parallels are almost identical and the situation is VERY comparable to miscegenation laws of the past (and the not too distant past at that).

  4. Deacon Blue

    I think we’ve all been guilty at times for not appreciating things at times. In hindsight I find it strange, wonderful and gratifying all at the same time the mix of traits our son has brought into himself from all three of our influences and examples. I look at him at times and wish I could have had a head like that on my shoulders at the same age and the drive to follow one’s passion’s so devotedly.

    In the end, though, at his age I was a bit too much of a slacker to go all the way to the wall, and Ultima 3 called my name too many nights… 😉

    1. Philip

      Ultima III: Exodus was my first RPG man… I know the feeling well. By his age I was onto Ultima V I think :) But ya… nothing was getting done (productive anyway). He is indeed a wonder.

  5. Deacon Blue

    Well, you and Eric also help to make Texas look smart, but you’re slacking on moving the entire state the to center ideologically. Please get on that right away. 😉


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