Same-sex Marriage


Brendan EichEarlier in the week it was reported that three of of Mozilla’s (the people who make the Firefox browser) board members resigned when Mozilla co-founder, Brendan Eich, was appointed as CEO of the company.  Why?  Because Eich gave $1,000 to support California’s Proposition 8 in 2008, a ballot initiative that sought to define marriage as an institution exclusive to male-female pairings.  His appointment as CEO so irked the dating site, OkCupid, that users attempting to login to the site received this message: “Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.”

Now, it’s being reported that Eich has “resigned.”  Surely he wasn’t tired of the job yet.

Apparently some in the gay rights movement think that those who think natural marriage is the only valid form of marriage don’t deserve a job. As Todd Starnes writes, “Why not demand that those who oppose gay marriage relinquish the right to own property? Why not take away their right to vote? Why not take away their children? Why not just throw them in jail? Why not force them to work in chain gangs? Why not call for public floggings? Or better yet, let’s just strap them down on gurneys, stick a needle in their arm and rid the world of these intolerant anti-gay bigots once and for all.”This is the face of liberal tolerance.  Where is the uproar?

In 2004 Michigan added an amendment to their constitution clarifying that marriage is only between a man and a woman. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled the amendment unconstitutional. Michigan’s Attorney General, Bill Schuette, has asked for a stay on the ruling.

This is the sixth state in the last four months to have their marriage laws ruled unconstitutional: Michigan, Texas, Utah, Kentucky, Texas, and Virginia.

In a matter of just two weeks, three states have had their constitutional amendments that recognize a man and woman as being essential to a marital relationship struck down in whole or in part as unconstitutional.  First, Kentucky was told they had to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages as marriages in the state of Kentucky.  Then, Virginia’s constitutional amendment recognizing natural marriage as the only valid form of marriage was struck down.  Now, on February 26, federal Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that Texas’ constitutional amendment that recognizes a man and woman as being essential to a marital relationship is unconstitutional.  Like Virginia, however, the ruling does not go into effect immediately.  Judge Garcia determined not to enforce his ruling until two similar cases are decided by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Judge rules KY must recognize out-of-state SSMs

Seventy-five percent of Kentucky voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 that recognized the necessity of opposite-sex partners for a marital relationship.  No other union was recognized as a marriage, which would include same-sex marriages solemnized in other states where same-sex marriage is recognized.

On February 12 United States District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that the state of Kentucky must recognize the relationships of same-sex couples who had their marriage solemnized in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, as marriages. He stopped short, however, of declaring Kentucky’s marriage law unconstitutional. For the time being, Kentucky is “only” being required to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages as legitimate marriage; they are not (yet) required to solemnize same-sex marriages in their own state.

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I don’t know how I missed this news story, but on December 20 U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby declared that Amendment 3 in Utah’s constitution – which defined marriage as between a man and woman, and the voter’s passed in 2004 – is unconstitutional.  Same-sex marriages began immediately.  Utah appealed to the SCOTUS for a stay, which was granted by Justice Sotomayor on January 6.  In the 17 days before the stay, ~1300 same-sex couples were married.

Then, there’s Oklahoma.  Similar story.  On January 14, Judge Terence C. Kern of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma ruled that Oklahoma’s constitutional ban of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it is based on a moral disapproval of homosexuality and has no rational basis.  In light of what happened in Utah, however, Judge Kern stayed his own ruling.  It is almost certain that Oklahoma will appeal the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, CO – the same court where Utah’s appeal will be heard.

Credit: CBS

Credit: CBS

Another cake maker, this time in Colorado, was sued for refusing to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding celebration.  Judge Robert N. Spencer ruled that Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop discriminated against the couple based on their sexual orientation, and would be fined in the future if he ever refused to provide a cake to another same-sex couple again. He wrote, “At first blush, it may seem reasonable that a private business should be able to refuse service to anyone it chooses.  This view, however, fails to take into account the cost to society and the hurt caused to persons who are denied service simply because of who they are.”  So the law can force a man to violate his conscience just so someone else’s feelings don’t get hurt?  What about Jack Phillips’ feelings?  Should the law protect him from feeling bullied by the government?  Surely his feelings are hurt at the prospect of having to close his business.  I don’t see his feelings being taken into consideration.  And finally, Jack Philips is not denying them service “because of who they are,” but because of what they are doing.  It’s not as if Jack Phillips refuses to make birthday cakes for people who are gay.  He is refusing to provide a cake that will be used to celebrate an action that he considers immoral.  There is a big difference.  But I don’t expect the law to recognize such distinctions anymore.

Just more of the same.

Earlier this week, Hawaii’s senate passed a same-sex marriage bill.  Yesterday, the House approved a similar bill.  It needs to go back to the senate for reconciliation, and then on to the governor for signature (who will sign it).  This will make Hawaii the 15th state (not including D.C.) to approve same-sex marriage.  Same-sex marriages will begin in Hawaii on December 2, 2013.

11/14/13 update: Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the bill into law on Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

conscience violateIn recent days, I’ve reported on a florist who was sued for not providing flowers for a same-sex wedding, a baker who was sued for not providing a cake for a same-sex wedding, and a wedding photographer who lost a case in New Mexico’s Supreme Court because she would not photograph a same-sex wedding.  Many who support same-sex marriage applaud this phenomena, reasoning that people should not be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples.  But what about personal liberty?  What about the liberty to follow one’s conscience in these matters?  Why is it ok to require people to violate their conscience, or lose their livelihood?

Can you imagine the outcry if a homosexual printer was forced by the government to either print anti-homosexual propaganda, or get out of the printing industry?  What if a homosexual filmmaker was sued for refusing to direct a film arguing that homosexuality was immoral or harmful, and forced to either direct the film or find a new line of work?  What if a screenplay writer who was also an anti-gun activist was forced to write a script for a movie promoting the use of firearms?  Would this be acceptable?  No!   No one should be forced by the government to lend their services to projects or events they believe to be immoral, and which run contrary to their conscience.  Yet this is exactly what the government is requiring of its citizens when it comes to same-sex marriage, and many same-sex marriage advocates are applauding this.  If you support people being forced by law to violate their conscience, don’t be surprised if one day the government forces you to violate your conscience as well.  It’s ironic that those who argue for more liberty in the case of same-sex marriage are willing to take liberties away from those who disagree.

In 2011 Illinois created civil unions.  Now, just two years later they are on the cusp of creating same-sex marriage.

The IL Senate had approved a bill in February to allow same-sex marriage, and now yesterday, the IL House approved the bill with minor changes.  It’s been sent back to the Senate for reconciliation, and will be signed by the governor.  Illinois will be the 15th state (not including D.C.) to approve same-sex marriage, beginning June 1, 2014.

 

UPDATE: Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law on November 20, 2013.

I have written in the past of gay men who opposed same-sex marriage (for various reasons).  While it’s old news at this point, I ran across a couple of more recently.  Rupert Everett, a gay British actor, told The Sunday Times magazine he opposed same-sex marriage (and all marriage for that matter) and same-sex parenting because children need mothers and fathers.

At about the same time, Doug Mainwaring, also a gay man, published an opinion article in The Washington Post:

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Mary C. JacobsonIn 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the NJ legislature must give same-sex couples all of the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex couples, but did not demand that the state amend its marriage laws.  The legislature responded by creating civil unions that had identical benefits to marriage.

Fast forward seven years, and Judge Mary C. Jacobson of the State Superior Court ruled on September 27, 2013 that this is not enough – the state must call same-sex unions marriage as well starting Monday, October 21, 2013.  Governor Christie vowed to appeal the decision to the NJ Supreme Court, but when that court refused to block the law while Christie challenged it, and made it clear that they would not rule in his favor, he decided to withdraw his appeal, meaning NJ is now the 14th state to offer same-sex marriage.

Same-Sex WeddingFor those of us who do not think “same-sex marriages” are legitimate marriages, how should we respond when invited to attend a same-sex wedding?  Al Mohler has some insightful words about this difficult issue, showcased by a recent event in which the elder President Bush and his wife attended a same-sex wedding.

Many people who are opposed to same-sex marriage, nevertheless, say they would attend a same-sex wedding (or have done so). Their reasons for doing so vary. For some, the simple fact of the matter is that they truly don’t see anything wrong with same-sex marriage. Their opposition to same-sex marriage is confessional in nature, and does not reflect their true convictions. It’s just one of those things they pay lip service so they can fit in with their community of peers. They will attend a same-sex marriage because deep down they approve of same-sex marriage. For others who have genuine convictions against same-sex marriage, however, the conflict runs much deeper. As much as they disapprove of same-sex marriage, they feel the need to attend a same-sex wedding to preserve a friendship, to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, to avoid a family feud, or because of social pressure.  While I understand these motivations, the fact remains that attending a same-sex wedding will be viewed by others as your personal approval of the same-sex union (if not same-sex marriage in general).  This is clear from a statement by one of the brides at the wedding attended by former President Bush, who told The Washington Post, “Who would be best to acknowledge the importance of our wedding as our friends and as the former leader of the free world? When they agreed to do so we just felt that it was the next acknowledgement of being ‘real and normal.’”

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Fox Sports has fired a former ESPN and CBS sports broadcaster, Craig James, after his first day on the job at Fox because it was discovered that he opposes same-sex marriage.  But remember, same-sex marriage will never affect you.

Traditional MarriageIn the debate over marriage, man-woman marriage is often referred to as “traditional marriage” by both liberals and conservatives alike.  For example, it’s very common to hear conservatives speak of the need to “preserve traditional marriage.”  Our use of language concerns me.  What we call something, and how we refer to something reveals a lot about the way we think of that thing.  In this case, the way we refer to marriage reveals a lot about the way we think of marriage, and the way we are arguing for our viewpoint.  I submit to you that part of the reason we are losing the battle over marriage is the fact that we are grounding marriage in tradition rather than biology; in social norms rather than human nature – as evidenced by the way we speak of and describe man-woman marriage.  I propose that instead of speaking of traditional marriage, we should start speaking in terms of natural marriage.

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An Oregon bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, has been sued by a lesbian couple for refusing to provide a cake for their same-sex wedding.  And now, some of the “tolerance-demanding-but-not-tolerance-giving” pro-homosexual citizens are dishing out heaps of intolerance against the business as well. They have been demonstrating outside of their shop, and threatening to shut down other vendors who work with Sweet Cakes by Melissa. As a result of these tactics, Sweet Cakes by Melissa saw a 50% drop in their business, and have been forced to close their shop and start working out of their home.

No, of course this won’t affect anyone. Carry on. Just remember, tolerance is a one-way street on this issue, and if you aren’t driving with the flow of traffic, prepare for the consequences.

NM Supreme CourtIn any given debate over same-sex marriage, invariably same-sex marriage advocates will pose the following question: “How will allowing gay people to marry affect you or your marriage?”

If we are being asked how any particular same-sex couple setting up house and having their relationship called a “marriage” will personally affect me, the answer is probably, “Not much.”  But this question is too narrow, and misses the real significance of same-sex marriage because it focuses too much on the individual and not enough on wider social implications.  The real question is how changing marriage law to say there is no difference between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples will affect society as a whole.

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Nigerian HouseIn contrast to the trend of countries and states legalizing same-sex marriage, today Nigeria voted to ban same-sex marriage in their country.  The bill goes much further than that, as well.  It also outlaws the organization of any group supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage, and criminalizes any public show of affection between same-sex couples (10 year prison sentence). Gay sex is already banned in the country, which is common in many African countries.

Same Sex Marriage Cake Tops

Lou Dematteis/Reuters

Rhode Island

On May 2, Rhode Island became the 10th state to permit same-sex marriage. The House approved the bill by 56-15 (the RI Senate approved the bill on April 24 by a 26-12 vote), and the governor signed it the same day. Same-sex marriages will be legal starting August 1, 2013. 

Rhode Island had just approved civil unions two years ago, and now the new law will replace these civil unions with marriage.  The Fox News article noted that “few couples” sought civil unions.  I wonder why they think many more will seek marriage.  What people fail to understand is that most gays do not want marriage.  What they want is social acceptance of their orientation and behavior, and permitting same-sex couples to partake of the institution of marriage is one of the best ways to accomplish this. 

Delaware

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ASSEMBLYAs expected, France legalized same-sex marriage today when their National Assembly voted 331-225 to approve a reconciled version of the bill that was passed by the Senate. They are the 14th nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples will be allowed to wed as early as June.

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Image courtesy of Bob Brawdy/Tri-City Herald/AP

A florist in the state of Washington is being sued by both the ACLU and the state Attorney General because the owner would not sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding.  This violates the state’s anti-discrimination law, which prohibits a public business from discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation.

The same would go for wedding photographers and videographers.  Anybody in the wedding business who cannot, in good conscience, lend their services to same-sex couples due to their personal beliefs about homosexuality or same-sex marriage, will have to make a choice to either violate their conscience, or choose a different profession.  Ah, but remember the tired old question supporters of same-sex marriage always raise: How will granting same-sex couples the right to marry affect you?!  Here is just one more instance of how it affects others, and I’m sure it will not be the last.

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