Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Vatican Opposes Civil Union Plan

The Italian government is looking at passing a bill providing many of the protections of marriage to unmarried couples, gay or straight. The Vatican, needless to say, doesn’t like it one bit. And in their usual hyperbolic manner, they’ve declared in an editorial in the Vatican newspaper that the move would “eradicate the family.” That’s funny, “the family” still exists in Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and every other nation where they have civil unions or gay marriage. In fact, there are more families than ever. They may not look like the families the Vatican likes, of course, but then again they lost their credibility a long time ago when they decided to transfer pedophile priests from congregation to congregation. I suspect that harmed far more families than civil unions possibly could.

Comments

  1. #1 paulh
    December 14, 2006

    Well – you’ve got to remember that an awful lot of heterosexual RC priests are leaving the church to get married; if gay marriage is allowed, all the gay priests will want to leave too.

  2. #2 NonyNony
    December 14, 2006

    “Vatican Opposes Civil Union Plan” and in other news, water is wet and politicians tend to exaggerate the facts to get elected.

    By the time the Vatican comes around to recognizing the rights of gays to mere existence we’ll be so far into some other “culture war” battle that the discussion of the day will be about whether human/AI couples should be allowed to grow children for themselves or whether marriages between humans and aliens from Zeta-Reticuli-7 should be allowed. In other words, I’m not expecting to see it in my lifetime.

  3. #3 GH
    December 14, 2006

    I’m onboard with this but this seems odd to me:

    bill providing many of the protections of marriage to unmarried couples, gay or straight.

    I can understand the gay folks needing protection because they can’t marry but the straight folks? This seems redundant upon first reading as they have the marriage option. But whatever.

  4. #4 jba
    December 14, 2006

    GH:

    It makes sense to me. Some straight people dont want to get married but have long term commited relationships. I think offering them the same protections as unmarried gay folks is perfectly reasonable.

  5. #5 GH
    December 14, 2006

    I guess but then why ask for the protections granted by marriage if one doesn’t want them in the first place. On this I simply don’t see it.

  6. #6 DuWayne
    December 14, 2006

    GH -
    I am not a big fan of the institution of marriage. Though I am unlikely to get into that sort of relationship, I would much prefer a civil union than a marriage to provide the rights and legal protections that marriage provides. The fact that straights can get married doesn’t mean they all want to. Growing up in the ’80s cured me of any real interest in marriage. I have learned over the years that I am far from alone. Most anywhere civil unions are legal, they are open to straights and I would imagine, used by straights.

  7. #7 GH
    December 14, 2006

    My point is that if one gets a civil union and one is straight what difference is there if it provides all the benefits and advantages of marriage. All you are doing is renaming the same. So how can one not be a fan of marriage if one wants the benefits of marriage?

    It seems to me this is just semantics.

    I know all straights don’t want to get married. Which is why then wanting the benefits of marriage under another name seems rather odd to me. If you don’t want to get married then don’t. But I don’t particuarlly see the reason to create protections for that either when a structure already exists.

  8. #8 MartinDH
    December 14, 2006

    As I understand it:
    Civil unions are a function of the state. Marriages are a function of the church. All legal protections and obligations are derived from the civil union and all spiritual protections and obligations (such as they are) are derived from the marriage.

  9. #9 GH
    December 14, 2006

    Civil unions are a function of the state. Marriages are a function of the church. All legal protections and obligations are derived from the civil union and all spiritual protections and obligations (such as they are) are derived from the marriage.

    This is false. The state provides all marriage contracts without which you simply are not married. The religious idea has no weight in and of itself. Your not married minus the contract no matter what anyone says.

    Whether you choose to have a religious segment to your marriage is a personal choice. The contract needs to be signed either way.

  10. #10 DuWayne
    December 14, 2006

    GH -
    It is entirely semantic for me. I do not wish any relationship of mine to be described as marriage. To me, it represents broken homes and friends in pain. Couple that with traditional marriage being a contract to transfer “property” (the woman) to new ownership (the husband) and you have a word that I find reprehensible. I certainly have no desire to call any relationship I might end up in, marriage.

  11. #11 GH
    December 14, 2006

    Fair enough. I can accept that for what it is.

  12. #12 DuWayne
    December 14, 2006

    To be clear, I don’t knock anyone else who gets married. I just have a serious distaste for the notion.

  13. #13 Herb
    December 14, 2006

    That’s funny because “the family” is how my gay friends refer to gay people.

  14. #14 kehrsam
    December 14, 2006

    GH: I think the argument being made for CUs is that they are not marriage, but provide many (not all) of the same benefits. It is a reasonable status, but I don’t see it as a real alternative right now (although I think that is likely to change).

    Things were easier when we used to have Common Law Marriages. In the 19th Century, CLMs were not equated with regular marriage and were much easier to break (as opposed to getting a divorce).

    People adopt CUs for much the same reasons. They are convenient, give some rights, but are not necessarily permanent. Given the large population of people in this country shacking up in more or less permanent relationships, it is inevitable that eventually the law will recognize such unions. The argument against — that there is a “better” alternative available in terms of public policy — is true, but misguided. As I keep pointing out here, government’s interest is not necessarily in achieving the best public policy, but to accept rather that sometimes good is the best we can get. CU will come in time, for both straights and gays. But it will take a while.

  15. #15 The Ridger
    December 14, 2006

    I’ve said for years that we should reserve the word “marriage” for the religious ceremony. Everyone in this country who is “married” had to have a civil ceremony unless their religious officiant was authorized by the state to combine the two. Plenty of people are married whom no church (or few) would marry.

    We should simply remove all legal trappings from “marriage” and attach them to civil unions, and everyone would get a CU – and a “marriage” if they wanted it. Some people could get “married” without a CU, but the state wouldn’t be obligated to notice it, or sanction it.

  16. #16 GH
    December 14, 2006

    kersham,

    I am not arguing against CU per se just that there already exists a structure for this. Not to open another avenue but people who ‘shack up’ for the most part do so as they are not ready to make a lifetime committment and are most often testing the water so to speak. The majority either break up or marry. Very few stay ‘shacked’ perpetually.

    I’ve said for years that we should reserve the word “marriage” for the religious ceremony. Everyone in this country who is “married” had to have a civil ceremony unless their religious officiant was authorized by the state to combine the two. Plenty of people are married whom no church (or few) would marry.

    This is where I always totally disagree. Marriage has always been civil and later coopted by various religions for various reasons. The word belongs in the civil world and I for one oppose allowing it to have sole religious mention.

    And the vast majority of all churches will marry just about anyone as they should.

  17. #17 Julia
    December 14, 2006

    Marriage has always been civil and later coopted by various religions for various reasons.

    Whether this is accurate or not, I don’t know, but I do like to see facts cited where historical claims are made. Where, please, is the evidence that early societies, usually riddled with superstition, clearly separated religion and state, to the extent that marriage could be civil alone and only later “coopted” by religion? Of course, marriage contracts have involved property, but that in itself isn’t conclusive evidence that religion had nothing to do with the origin and development of the institution.

    My second question is how it is possible that long ago history (when we aren’t even talking about the English language, so the word “marriage” didn’t exist) should be the deciding factor in our modern discussion of how best to afford equal rights and protection under the law. The fact is that the word “marriage” is now so entwined with religion that we have about as much chance of convincing people to use it in a purely civil sense as we have of convincing the general public that “kitties” bark and are also called “dogs.”

  18. #18 GH
    December 14, 2006

    Where, please, is the evidence that early societies, usually riddled with superstition, clearly separated religion and state, to the extent that marriage could be civil alone and only later “coopted” by religion? Of course, marriage contracts have involved property, but that in itself isn’t conclusive evidence that religion had nothing to do with the origin and development of the institution

    You answered your own question. The earliest documents we have regarding marriage are property contracts. Thats what it was intended to be. Religion isn’t even mentioned. There is mention of the procedures needed to make it so. But there is no mention of superstition whatsoever. I’ve posted links to this on previous threads.

    The fact is that the word “marriage” is now so entwined with religion that we have about as much chance of convincing people to use it in a purely civil sense

    I think this is also wrong. Virtually everyone I know is knowledgable of the fact it is a social contract that they may choose to have religious significance or not. Some do, some don’t.

    so the word “marriage” didn’t exist

    I’m not sure on this one as I think it is derived from another very similiar word. But like I said I’m uncertain.

  19. #19 Uber
    December 14, 2006

    For all the blather people like to do about marriage being a religious idea the simple and indesputable fact remains that minus the civil contract you simply are not married. You can have a ceremony and all the blessings you wish but without a contract your just in a nice relationship in which some dude made you recite some words. The religious angle is of personal significance only. The marriage is always civil no matter what a person believes.

    Likewise the fact that for much of histrory the church and state where essentially the same makes the preacher/priest component clearly visible as an original 3rd party witness to the signing of the contract. It’s easy to seee how among the superstitious that religion gained a foothold.

  20. #20 Sastra
    December 14, 2006

    I’ve said for years that we should reserve the word “marriage” for the religious ceremony.

    And I’ve said for years that people who want to distinguish a “religious marriage” from plain old civil marriages should coin their own word (ie convenant marriage) and not try to downgrade the status of everyone who isn’t religious.

    I’m with GH on this one. Although there are people who through circumstances have evolved a distaste for the word “marriage,” there are a lot more people who recognise that THIS is the word which is used to indicate importance and significance. It’s got all the warm sentimental fuzzies. Taking it from the nonreligious would the worst kind of insult.

    And why stop there? We can go on and grant that religious people are the only ones who can claim “morals.” Secular ethics would be called “guidelines.” Religious people are “citizens.” Nonreligious folk are “residents.” It’ll be the same thing, but they can keep the term for themselves, and that will placate the Christian Nation folk. And of course, we ought to try to limit the use of the word “love” to the religious, since so many people think that without God and the example of Jesus dying on the cross for us you can’t comprehend what real love is. Too many religious connotations. People without religion can be said to have “affections.” It’ll all be the same thing, since it’s only a matter of semantics. Why not roll over and let them have what they’re whining about? They’ll respect us more.

    The fact is that the word “marriage” is now so entwined with religion that we have about as much chance of convincing people to use it in a purely civil sense as we have of convincing the general public that “kitties” bark and are also called “dogs.”

    You know, I bet personal background and where someone lives must really make a difference to whether this makes sense to them or not. From my point of view, you might as well have said that celebrating birthdays is “entwined with religion.” As I see it, marriage is a completely secular institution which is only tangentially related to religion. Religion just puts a little “ta-da” on in a ceremony. Sometimes.

    Sounds like even some atheists buy into the “marriage is a union between a man, woman, and God” propaganda.

  21. #21 DuWayne
    December 14, 2006

    Sastra said –
    Taking it from the nonreligious would the worst kind of insult.

    The notion of seperating the word marriage from the legal framework is not taking it away from anyone. I don’t really care whether the word remains in civil law, but I would support efforts to remove it. Anyone who wishes to have some sort of ceremony to denote their relationship as marriage can. I am just tired of the government requiring people to get married to recieve the benifits of marriage.

    Ultimately, I think that the federal government should abolish marriage as a civil institution, making civil unions the standard. Let the states do as they will, but it should be required by federal statute that states have to recognize legal, civil unions – whether they call it marriage or not. To be clear, federal statute should protect relationahips without discriminating against GLTs. What states do after that is incidental – the protections would be there.

  22. #22 Jason I.
    December 14, 2006

    DuWayne said:

    The notion of seperating (sic) the word marriage from the legal framework is not taking it away from anyone.

    How would forcing people to have a ceremony to be declared married not be taking it away from people? I am not religious, and would not get married in a church or religious ceremony. However, I may eventually want to get married. I would expect all of the legal protections and benefits of marriage, without being forced to participate in a ceremony that I did not want. I’m all for extending many of the benefits of marriage into civil unions, but I see absolutely no point in removing marriage from the legal framework.

    Also, asking if someone is civilly unionized or not just sounds awkward.

  23. #23 Kenneth Fair
    December 14, 2006

    kehrsam said:

    Things were easier when we used to have Common Law Marriages. In the 19th Century, CLMs were not equated with regular marriage and were much easier to break (as opposed to getting a divorce).

    Eleven states and the District of Columbia still recognize common-law marriages. I am most familiar with common-law marriage in Texas, which has recognized common-law marriages (also called informal marriages) since at least 1847. Under Texas law, a couple is married if (1) the couple agrees to be married, (2) they live together, and (3) hold themselves out to others as being married. See Tex. Fam. Code ยง2.401(a)(2). Once established, a common-law marriage lasts until it is dissolved by death, divorce, or annulment. Estate of Claveria v. Claveria, 615 S.W.2d 164, 167 (Tex. 1981). There is no such thing as “common-law divorce”; a couple in a common-law marriage must have their marriage dissolved by judicial decree. A common-law marriage is, therefore, in this sense no different from a ceremonial marriage.

    People adopt CUs for much the same reasons. They are convenient, give some rights, but are not necessarily permanent.

    I’m not sure this is the case with civil unions, or at least, that it’s any different for a civil union than for a marriage. Certainly not as civil unions have been implemented in the jurisdictions that have recently adopted them.

  24. #24 kehrsam
    December 14, 2006

    Kenneth Fair: Yes, Common Law Marriages are now identical to traditional ones except for the inception: This has not always been the case, at least according to my understanding.

    As there appears to exist a large group of couples looking for a middle way, that is why I predict CUs will evolve into such a form of marriage lite. In their current incarnation I agree that they are just marriage without the tax benefits.

  25. #25 GH
    December 14, 2006

    Eleven states and the District of Columbia still recognize common-law marriages.

    I think this is 2-3 less now.

    Under Texas law, a couple is married if (1) the couple agrees to be married, (2) they live together, and (3) hold themselves out to others as being married.

    This is of course true but the big problem with these relationships is proving all 3 exist and they must for any legal standing. This is Texas’s three prong test and all require some verification and cannot be ‘off the cuff’ or accidental in nature. This means forms, tax records, etc.

    Now in some cases they are there and some they aren’t which has led to legislation being introduced to abolish these arrangements in Texas. It should also be noted that after 2 years time it is said that no agreement to be married ever existed between the two parties.

    As there appears to exist a large group of couples looking for a middle way, that is why I predict CUs will evolve into such a form of marriage lite. In their current incarnation I agree that they are just marriage without the tax benefits.

    I don’t think it’s marriage without the tax benefits at all. But that aside I don’t think there is this mass of people looking for a middle way. I think there are people who ‘shack up’ for various reasons and either break up or marry. I do not see or believe there is a huge populace of people who wish to just perpetually live together minus these two events.

  26. #26 Julia
    December 14, 2006

    I appreciate the responses to my questions. You’ve helped me understand more about the variety of attitudes and attachments to the word “marriage.” Personally, while I am deeply attached to certain people, places, and concepts, I find it difficult to be attached to a word, and so imagined that it was only those who conflated the term “marriage” with “blessed by God” who could/would be so determined to keep it as a legal term.

    I still think it isn’t the place of government, or the job of my tax money, to provide anybody with celebratory rituals, warm sentimental fuzzies, or constant verbal reminders that women were once considered property. I want the government to provide the legal benefits and protections of “marriage” (or whatever you want to call it) not only without gender restrictions but also without any implications of licensing sex, to any two partners who want it, and yes, that includes siblings, cousins, or whoever.

    As for this:

    As I see it, marriage is a completely secular institution which is only tangentially related to religion.

    I would say that however you see things is fine, but it’s not helpful unless you know of a way to make yours a substantial-majority opinion. For clear evidence that it isn’t a substantial-majority opinion in many states, and implied evidence that it would be extraordinarily difficult to make it so, I call your attention to the states (such as mine) that have recently voted to alter their constitutions to define the word “marriage” as referring to a union between one man and one woman, without altering any of the restrictions (based on the assumption that marriage features sexual relations) against marriage between close relatives.

    Uber, I agree with you that it seems (lacking any other evidence) that

    the fact that for much of histrory the church and state where essentially the same makes the preacher/priest component clearly visible as an original 3rd party witness to the signing of the contract

    GH, I must disagree with your position (if I’m understanding it correctly) that the fact that a legal document doesn’t mention religion means religion had nothing to do with it. The recently altered state constitutions don’t say a word about religion either, but we can have all seen that the force behind those changes has been heavily religious.

    Furthermore, even if you were 100 percent correct, I still can’t see how it makes the slightest bit of difference. Words change, circumstances change, meanings change. It is not a supportable argument to say that a word in general use today must be construed to have the meaning it had at some time in the past. Language just doesn’t work that way. And the recent effort in some states to turn “marriage” into a frozen legal term has resulted in freezing into it the discriminations I (and I think you) object to.

    We can put our effort into changing the scope and popular meaning of a word (with an incredibly low likelihood of success, in my opinion) or we could put our effort directly into achieving equality of protections and benefits under the law (a goal, I think, that will be only delayed by any sentimental attachment to the word “marriage”).

  27. #27 steve story
    December 14, 2006

    “In other news, Italian Minister of the Interior Stevio Storetti came under harsh fire today after responding to the vatican’s anti-gay-marriage editorial at a press conference this morning. Mr. Storetti’s comment, ‘who cares what an international gang of perverts from the dark ages thinks about modern society?’ has prompted fierce argument.”

  28. #28 GH
    December 14, 2006

    Steve that was pretty funny.

    Julia-

    I’m not sure exactly what problem your having with this idea of marriage being a secular idea. It predates the religions that I would think you think originated it. You ask for evidence that it didn’t have a religious component but provide no evidence that it did. This despite all the ancient marriage contracts we have predating the modern religions and making no mention of any supernatural event or meaning.

    still think it isn’t the place of government, or the job of my tax money, to provide anybody with celebratory rituals, warm sentimental fuzzies, or constant verbal reminders that women were once considered property. blockquote>

    I don’t think the government does these things at all. If you want to celebrate then celebrate. The government provides the contract. This is the crux of our discussion. Your married once you name and someelses is witnessed to sign the contract. If you choose to have pomp it’s up to you. The government cares not one wit.

    I want the government to provide the legal benefits and protections of “marriage” (or whatever you want to call it) not only without gender restrictions but also without any implications of licensing sex, to any two partners who want it, and yes, that includes siblings, cousins, or whoever.

    You lost me on the cousins and siblings but I’m ok with the rest.

    I must disagree with your position (if I’m understanding it correctly) that the fact that a legal document doesn’t mention religion means religion had nothing to do with it. The recently altered state constitutions don’t say a word about religion either, but we can have all seen that the force behind those changes has been heavily religious.

    Julia, with all do respect if what you say is true then they did everything in their power to cover it up. There is no mention of it anywhere and many of these marriage documents where signed at celebratory events- weddings. Like I said when certain religions came along later they added the religious aspect. If you look at church history you can see a slow crawl this direction.

    but it’s not helpful unless you know of a way to make yours a substantial-majority opinion. For clear evidence that it isn’t a substantial-majority opinion in many states, and implied evidence that it would be extraordinarily difficult to make it so, I call your attention to the states (such as mine) that have recently voted to alter their constitutions to define the word “marriage” as referring to a union between one man and one woman, without altering any of the restrictions

    I don’t see this as evidence of your position as even those that vote for this idea likely know marriage is a contract through the government that they choose to give religious meaning. Now some won’t but I don’t think it’s close to a majority.

    My attachment to the word marriage is not sentimental. It is what it is and that is a contract between two people. I don’t see a reason to conflate this and have it be something else. But I have been wrong before.

  29. #29 Julia
    December 14, 2006

    GH, I appreciate your comments, and I’ll try one last time to clarify my view. (By the way, I know it wasn’t you who introduced the theme of the sentimental value of the term “marriage,” a value I don’t mean to disparage.)

    It doesn’t matter to me, except as a curiosity item, whether five thousand years ago the people who believed women to be property did so entirely without religious influence. I doubt it, as I doubt that people thousands of years ago made very many clear distinctions in their minds between state and religion. But it really doesn’t matter in this discussion at all.

    People in history could have believed marriage to be essentially a large blue elephant, and it still wouldn’t matter in today’s politics. In today’s USA politics, and in some other countries as well, fundamentalist religion (not just Christian fundamentalist) is a powerful force fighting the extention of marriage benefits and protections to gay people.

    Here is a source discussing an anti-gay-marriage position based on religion.

    Here is another.

    I expect there are thousands of websites that support similar views. It was fundamentalist religious voters, voting the way they did for religious reasons, that recently amended the constitutions of several USA states to include “marriage” as a specifically defined legal term excluding anyone except heterosexual male-female couples.

    My position is simple: I want to see the legal benefits and protections of what we now call marriage extended to as many couples as wish to have them. Doing that would involve such a drastic change in the present restrictions on “marriage” that I doubt it can be done while preserving the name. To sum up my argument:

    1. Domestic partnerships with the benefits and protections now provided in marriage are a valuable stabilizing force in the establishment of households. Such stable relationships with their legal protections and benefits appear to tend to reduce poverty and provide both emotional and financial security to the partners and their children.

    2. Therefore, it is in the best interests of citizens and government alike for the government to allow, even encourage, such stable partnerships for as many couples as wish to have them.

    3. The word used to describe these partnerships is of dramatically less importance than the existence of as many such relationships as couples wish to create.

    4. Marriage as presently practiced in most of the United States, and in many other countries unnecessarily limits such partnerships to only male-female partners presumed to be romantically involved, thus preventing such potential couples as two romantically-involved women or two romantically-involved men from taking advantage of these benefits and protections to improve the quality of their lives and the lives of any children in their household.

    5. Marriage as presently practiced in the United States, and in the other countries I have any information about unnecessarily limits such partnerships to those who are presumed to have, wish, or be eligible for a sexual relationship, thus preventing such non-romantic couples as a widowed elderly man and his middle-aged physically disabled son from taking advantage of these benefits and protections to improve the quality of their lives and the lives of any children in their households.

    5. Regardless of what may have been the origin of marriages, there exist now in the United States and in many other countries powerful religious forces determined to make the word “marriage” apply only to one man and one woman in relationships presumed to be romantically based.

    6. Fighting with these religious groups over ownership of the word “marriage” is an unnecessary distraction from the goal is of expanding the legal benefits and protections to as many people as possible.

    7. Eliminating “marriage” entirely as a term in civil law seems the easiest and fairest route to take. This leaves the term to any religious or non-religious groups who wish to perform marriage rituals and to any couple who wish to declare themselves married.

  30. #30 DuWayne
    December 15, 2006

    Wow, I was preparing a response to GH, when my power went out. In the meantime, Julia explained exactly how I feel about it, far more eloquently than I likely would have.

  31. #31 GH
    December 15, 2006

    Ok Julia,

    I think we agree on much. My entire point was that current marriage was sufficient to cover these scenarios you bring up. I still do not think such protections are needed for hetersexuals who already have the marriage option. Likewise I can see the need for CU’s if the war cannot be one when it comes to gay marriage but I am loathe to allow a group to redefine something that isn’t and hasn’t been theirs to define in any event.

    Eliminating “marriage” entirely as a term in civil law seems the easiest and fairest route to take. This leaves the term to any religious or non-religious groups who wish to perform marriage rituals and to any couple who wish to declare themselves married

    This is where I don’t think you get it. Marriage is a contract. You can perform a marriage ritual all day and night but it doesn’t make you married. The signing of the contract does. The ritual is entirely and completely meaningless in making one married. It’s an event that simply surrounds the signing of the contract that is witnessed as vows are taken.

    In today’s USA politics, and in some other countries as well, fundamentalist religion (not just Christian fundamentalist) is a powerful force fighting the extention of marriage benefits and protections to gay people.

    Here is a source discussing an anti-gay-marriage position based on religion.

    Here is another.

    Nobody denies that fundies have a voice in this. But fundies are not large in number but large in mouth. Those that go along with them don’t do so because of religious reasons but rather good ole bigotry. This is no reason to let the fundies have a name they don’t deserve.

    whether five thousand years ago the people who believed women to be property did so entirely without religious influence. I doubt it, as I doubt that people thousands of years ago made very many clear distinctions in their minds between state and religion

    The ancients where not stupid. The romans where very clear in this area. As are the marriage contracts we have prior to this predating Hammurabi. Gotta give them old folks a little credit.:-)

  32. #32 DuWayne
    December 15, 2006

    GH -
    This is where I don’t think you get it. Marriage is a contract. You can perform a marriage ritual all day and night but it doesn’t make you married. The signing of the contract does. The ritual is entirely and completely meaningless in making one married. It’s an event that simply surrounds the signing of the contract that is witnessed as vows are taken.

    This is where semantics and redefinition becomes important. The ritual carries far more weight, for most people today, than the contract. The contract is simple, legal nicety. What counts to most couples, is the ritual. So much so, that even people, who for whatever reason (usually financial) cannot get legaly married, still have a ceremony. It is certainly true in the eyes of the law, that such a couple is not married. But you will find churches, much less friends and family, who will recognize such marriages.

    Nobody denies that fundies have a voice in this. But fundies are not large in number but large in mouth. Those that go along with them don’t do so because of religious reasons but rather good ole bigotry. This is no reason to let the fundies have a name they don’t deserve.

    First, while certainly a minority, I think the last six years should clue one in that fundies are a large and effective minority. Second, no one wants to “give them marriage.” You act as though we are suggesting that no one can use the word marriage at all, we are just making semantic changes as well as minor changes to allow for non-traditional households. Third, if it is nothing more than a contract, carrying no more import, than any other contract, what the hell do you care what it’s called?

    My entire point was that current marriage was sufficient to cover these scenarios you bring up. I still do not think such protections are needed for hetersexuals who already have the marriage option.

    Actually, she brought up the elderly man and his middle aged disabled son. I can also come up with a non-familial example, that will probably become relevant to me someday, caring for an invalid. With 4 friends, outside the support group I’m involved with, who have HIV/AIDS (heard the words, from another friend last night), I will likely be caring for at least one AIDS victim, in my home, eventually. Why should I not have one simple step to take, such as a CU, to secure legal rights and benifits.

    The other issue is straight people that appose defining their relationship as marriage. Certainly a minority, even a small one, but why should we have to attach “marriage” to our relationship to get that security? Ultimately a moot point in jurisdictions that allow CUs. CUs cannot be discriminatory, straight people in those jurisdictions are also getting CUs. Granted it is a very small number that is inflated by straight people who simply choose to get CUs, to stand in solidarity with their GLT friends who still can’t get married. But there are people doing it, some simply due to distaste of marriage.

  33. #33 GH
    December 15, 2006

    The ritual carries far more weight, for most people today, than the contract. The contract is simple, legal nicety. What counts to most couples, is the ritual. So much so, that even people, who for whatever reason (usually financial) cannot get legaly married, still have a ceremony. It is certainly true in the eyes of the law, that such a couple is not married. But you will find churches, much less friends and family, who will recognize such marriages.

    The contract is the marriage-period. There is no getting around this in any rational real world sense. You will find very few if any churches who will accept a marriage as valid minus the contract as well. The preacher knows full well what is right and where he needs to sign. I simply don’t find that line of argument compelling.

    The ritual matters to the couple but it is empty without the contract.

    while certainly a minority, I think the last six years should clue one in that fundies are a large and effective minority. Second, no one wants to “give them marriage.” You act as though we are suggesting that no one can use the word marriage at all, we are just making semantic changes as well as minor changes to allow for non-traditional households. Third, if it is nothing more than a contract, carrying no more import, than any other contract, what the hell do you care what it’s called?

    Sheesh how many ideas can you misrepresent? I said they where a loud and effective minority-so? If you want to make semantic changes for non-traditional households(whatever that is) so be it, but my initial point was for heterosexuals this is simply redundant. And lastly I have never placed a value on the contract in this discussion but apperently you think I find this contract devoid of meaning. In fact exactly the opposite. I think it is a contract that is the backbone of society and I don’t enjoy the prospect of seeing it weakened or eliminated.

    The reality of marriage is that it is a contract. This in no way predicates it has to be valueless and frankly I wonder why one would think it so. If I had no lavish wedding and I signed my marriage contract privately with my wife it would have no less value to me. That contract establishes us as family wherever we may go and makes mine hers along with a myriad of other benefits. It has tremendous value.

    As for your bottom paragraph I find the father/son thing a bit of a red herring and honestly would have to think about the status of such a situation. Certainly not a marriage and likely not a CU either. The rest I’m ok with.

  34. #34 DuWayne
    December 15, 2006

    GH -
    The contract is the marriage-period.

    You can say that all you want, it doesn’t make it true. Certainly people who get married are glad to get the legal niceties that go with it. But to most people the peice of paper is not the most important thing, the ritual is. Like wise many people call themselves married, though they are not – including a lot a GLTs. To most people, marriage is the relationship, not the legal niceties that go with it.

    You will find very few if any churches who will accept a marriage as valid minus the contract as well.

    That entirely depends onthe circumstances. Some churches will balk in any case, but many make exceptions for extenuating cirumstances. Prime example; my roomies mother in is a widow who cannot get any other insurance than that which she gets through her late husband’s pension. If she gets married legaly, she loses the insurance. Her church will recognize the ritual marriage she is planning, though it will have no legal force.

    If you want to make semantic changes for non-traditional households(whatever that is) so be it, but my initial point was for heterosexuals this is simply redundant. And lastly I have never placed a value on the contract in this discussion but apperently you think I find this contract devoid of meaning. In fact exactly the opposite. I think it is a contract that is the backbone of society and I don’t enjoy the prospect of seeing it weakened or eliminated.

    Sorry, if my definitions for a non-traditional household were not comprehensive enough. List; Single parent housholds, single parent housholds with roomies (my situation), plutonic domestic partners, polyamorous relationships (menage’ trois) and many other veriations.

    Sorry, it was your claim that the ritual is completly and utterly meaningless without the contract, that I derived the value. While you might find them valueless, those who engage in such do not. My sister has debilitating arthritis. She cannot get married legaly, yet she is “married.” She and her husband had their ritual and that is enough for them, I am certian they could care less that you would call their relationship soemthing else. What counts, is that they consider it a marriage.

    I think it is a contract that is the backbone of society and I don’t enjoy the prospect of seeing it weakened or eliminated.

    No one is talking about eliminating it, just changing the word that represents it. If by weakening, you mean to make it more inclusive, then yes, I do want to weaken it.

  35. #35 DuWyane
    December 15, 2006

    To be clear, I believe that the federal government should change the standard from marriage, to CUs. Not infringing on the right of the state to define such relationships, while doing so. I think the federal standard should be available to anyone who wishes, the state then carries to burden of proof as to why it should deny any couple the right to a CU. Furthermore, that right is the right of any American regardless of the state in which they reside. Leave it to the states to decide what to call whatever relationships. But ensure that every American has the right to the security that contract provides.

  36. #36 GH
    December 15, 2006

    DuWayne-

    I think we’ve entered a part of the discussion where it’s impossible to progress. This is getting silly.

    You can say that all you want, it doesn’t make it true. Certainly people who get married are glad to get the legal niceties that go with it. But to most people the peice of paper is not the most important thing, the ritual is. Like wise many people call themselves married, though they are not – including a lot a GLTs. To most people, marriage is the relationship, not the legal niceties that go with it.

    That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. How can you be married if your not married? It’s a marriage contract for goodness sakes.They have a relationship. They enjoy it. A marriage is a legal change in the status of the relationship. The relationship still exists and of course is the most valuable part of the marriage. But thats what it is- a part of the marriage. It doesn’t change what I’m saying one iota. Marriage is still a contract built upon the realtionship between two individuals. Not every relationship is a marriage.

    Her church will recognize the ritual marriage she is planning, though it will have no legal force.

    As I said this is few and far between. Most churches will not do this and see it as an aberation. She will not be married in any real sense. She will have a relationship that is important to her. I can tell you most pastors view this like this ‘How can you be married in God’s eyes if your not married in the eyes of man?’

    Sorry, it was your claim that the ritual is completly and utterly meaningless without the contract, that I derived the value. While you might find them valueless, those who engage in such do not. My sister has debilitating arthritis. She cannot get married legaly, yet she is “married.” She and her husband had their ritual and that is enough for them, I am certian they could care less that you would call their relationship soemthing else. What counts, is that they consider it a marriage

    Sheeesh, how many times do I have to say it. The ceremony is meaningless in terms of making the marriage valid. The contract does that, I never said or meant to imply it does not or cannot have deep individual meaning. Your taking this discussion far to personally.

    Your sister is not married. She has a relationship which she values. I wish there was some way to help her get married and keep her insurance. I am happy for her that she has a man she loves. Why you are so aggressive about this is beyond me. I would never begrudge her relationship neither can I lie and say she is married. She can call herself whatever she wishes and it matters to me not one wit. In the real world she is not married. It’s a contract. What counts day to day is that they love each other and have a committment to each other.

    People can pretend about a lot of things, hell entire religions are based on it. What isn’t pretend is their committment to each other. Its not a marriage but it is real. Living in a house doesn’t make you married.

    If by weakening, you mean to make it more inclusive, then yes, I do want to weaken it.

    I’m ok with more inclusive, never said I wasn’t. I wish your sister could get married and keep her insurance. But having a new set of CU’s for het’s when marriage already exists doesn’t seem to me the best option.

  37. #37 Julia
    December 15, 2006

    DuWayne, your further conversations with GH has caused me to change my mind a bit about what might be the best way to go. What would be your response to this slightly changed argument below (look at 6 and 7)?

    My position is simple: I want to see the legal benefits and protections of what we now call marriage extended to as many couples as wish to have them. Doing that would involve such a drastic change in the present restrictions on “marriage” that I doubt it can be done while preserving the name. To sum up my argument:

    1. Domestic partnerships with the benefits and protections now provided in marriage are a valuable stabilizing force in the establishment of households. Such stable relationships with their legal protections and benefits appear to tend to reduce poverty and provide both emotional and financial security to the partners and their children.

    2. Therefore, it is in the best interests of citizens and government alike for the government to allow, even encourage, such stable partnerships for as many couples as wish to have them.

    3. The word used to describe these partnerships is of dramatically less importance than the existence of as many such relationships as couples wish to create.

    4. Marriage as presently practiced in most of the United States, and in many other countries unnecessarily limits such partnerships to only male-female partners presumed to be romantically involved, thus preventing such potential couples as two romantically-involved women or two romantically-involved men from taking advantage of these benefits and protections to improve the quality of their lives and the lives of any children in their household.

    5. Marriage as presently practiced in the United States, and in the other countries I have any information about unnecessarily limits such partnerships to those who are presumed to have, wish, or be eligible for a sexual relationship, thus preventing such non-romantic couples as a widowed elderly man and his middle-aged physically disabled son from taking advantage of these benefits and protections to improve the quality of their lives and the lives of any children in their households.

    6. Regardless of what may have been the origin of marriages, there exist now in the United States and in many other countries powerful religious forces determined to make the word “marriage” apply only to one man and one woman in relationships presumed to be romantically based. There also exist individuals/groups desiring to extend marriage and/or civil unions to two men or two women, providing they are in relationships presumed to be romantically based. Fighting with these various groups and individuals over ownership and definitions of the word “marriage” is probably useless and is certainly an unnecessary distraction from the goal of expanding the legal benefits and protections to as many people as possible.

    7. The easiest and fairest route to take may be to work to establish household-establishment-type partnership contracts identical to present marriage, with all the same benefits and protections, except that, like business contracts, these contracts are restricted only to those potential partners who are both over a certain age and also mentally competent to enter into a contract, without regard for gender and romantic or sexual intent or interest. This leaves the term “marriage” to its present legal state and to any religious or non-religious groups or individuals who wish to go on with their struggle over ownership of the word.

    And, by the way “union” is used so often to imply sexual relations and is coming to be so tied to gay/lesbian relationships that I would prefer some term such as household partnership, or even civil partnership.

  38. #38 kehrsam
    December 15, 2006

    Strange that I have to make this argument in reverse, depending upon whether I am on a secular or religious blog. ;D

    Yes, marriage is a contract, as it involves the trading of valuable property, always the bride, and sometimes the labor of the husband or other considerations. But does this mean it is not also a religious act? Of course not.

    In the ancient cultures of Europe and the Near East (and I suspect everywhere else, but I am ignorant on the subject) EVERY act was religious in nature, from rising in the morning to going to bed. See, for instance, this link for evidence of religious belief at a very early date:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-2482418,00.html

    When the Psalms discuss praising God at all times and in all places, they were describing a literal reality. If you disagree, see Jon D. Levenson’s “Sinai and Zion,” one of the finest works on the intersection (and identification) of law and religion that I have read. Or see Robin Lane Fox’ “Pagans and Christians” making the same points about another culture.

    So contract and religion are joined in holy matrimony in every culture you can name. It is so for the Egyptians, the Hebrews and the Greeks. The Romans liked the idea so much that they had two forms of religious marriage, one for the Patricians and another for the Plebs (and divorcees) while also recognizing shacking up as an option.

    GH, it is true that in the US currently we have separated the two. But government recognition is not what defines the marriage; it merely brings the disbursement of various benefits and duties. The marriage exists between the people; where the people involved share the same or similar religious background, it also exists between the people and their god(s). You may argue this distinction is unimportant if you wish, and that states have been intimately involved in the marriages of their subjects for so long as there have been governments, and would be correct. But except for a very few persons in very recent times, however, the gods are also present in the room.

  39. #39 kehrsam
    December 15, 2006

    Julia: What, define marriage purely in public policy terms? Makes too much sense to ever be adopted.

    Actually, my arguments on this thread are that exactly such a thing will eventually happen, precisely because society does (eventually) evolve its legal structures to take into account changes in the way people live. Sometimes, society redefines what a legal term means (“family” for instance in the period 1600-1800 Britain). Sometimes, a new class must be invented, such as the idea of intellectual property during the 17th Century.

    I appreciate your thoughts, as well as those of DuWayne, GH, and the other posters. Peace to all.

  40. #40 Julia
    December 15, 2006

    To be clear, I believe that the federal government should change the standard from marriage, to CUs. Not infringing on the right of the state to define such relationships, while doing so. I think the federal standard should be available to anyone who wishes, the state then carries to burden of proof as to why it should deny any couple the right to a CU. Furthermore, that right is the right of any American regardless of the state in which they reside. Leave it to the states to decide what to call whatever relationships. But ensure that every American has the right to the security that contract provides.

    Yes, that sounds very interesting.

    I’m interested in these details because if any progress is to be made in getting the laws actually changed, there needs to be a strategy identifying best approaches, for example at what level (federal alone seems right at least at first), and whether an effort should be made from the beginning to replace marriage with these inclusive partnerships or to add the partnerships to the present system, and whether it would be better to delay the more-than-two-partner arrangements until a two-partner arrangement has been accepted.

  41. #41 GH
    December 15, 2006

    Kersham,

    I have said everything you have said.

    So contract and religion are joined in holy matrimony in every culture you can name. It is so for the Egyptians, the Hebrews and the Greeks. The Romans liked the idea so much that they had two forms of religious marriage, one for the Patricians and another for the Plebs (and divorcees) while also recognizing shacking up as an option

    I have no problem with this but again I think your conflating 2 issues here. The joining of the couple done in holy matrimony or not surrounded the signing of the marriage contract. The romans also didn’t consider the shacking up a marriage just as we don’t now.

    , it is true that in the US currently we have separated the two. But government recognition is not what defines the marriage; it merely brings the disbursement of various benefits and duties.

    This is incorrect. The contract IS the marriage. It is a marriage contract. The benefits are the result of this contract being in force.

    The marriage exists between the people;

    The contract is between people. This is just semantics. The contract represents the fact that two people wish to form a family unit and desire the benefits such is entitled under the law of the land.

    where the people involved share the same or similar religious background, it also exists between the people and their god(s). You may argue this distinction is unimportant if you wish,

    I have gone out of my way to state this is as important as you wish it to be. It ultimately has no meaning on whether you are married or not as if I marry in a church i am no more married then if I marry at sea with a ship captian. As long as the contract is filed I’m married.

    and that states have been intimately involved in the marriages of their subjects for so long as there have been governments, and would be correct. But except for a very few persons in very recent times, however, the gods are also present in the room.

    No one has denied that as well. I think your arguing with yourself a little here. But it doesn’t change the fact that the earliest marriages we have record of are celebratory in nature and surround the simple signing of a contract.

    Oh and Julia I think you and I agre getting close to agreement.

  42. #42 DuWayne
    December 15, 2006

    GH – Your right it is getting pointless. One thing though. I had a meeting with my pastor this evening and I mentioned our discussion. He assured me that our denomination (Nazerene) does recognize church marriages that are not recognized by the state. He also assured me that, United Methodists, Four Squares, Assemblies of God and Apostolic churches, all would too. He seemed to think that most other Christian churches would as well, but he only knew for certain about the aforementioned. To quote him, “being married in the eyes of God and the church is the important part, the government interest means nothing to the church.”

    I would just like to finish, by explaining why this means a lot to me.

    My last roomie, is HIV positive. The only reason we’re not still roomies, is because he got onto a state program that would not allow him a room mate any more. He and I have become very close friends, I am now the guy that has authority to make sure his living will is carried through. When he starts to seriously decline, he will be moving in with me again, so he doesn’t have to die alone. He has yet to tell his family that he is positive. There is the possibility that they will find out, they may even raise objections to his end of life decisions. If they do, they could cause problems with the implimentation of his wishes. He also wants his ashes disposed of, in a particular fashion, he is afraid that his family may cause trouble with that as well. Now all of these things can be dealt with, but neither of us has the finances for an attorney. A civil union would eliminate every fear he has, giving me stronger ground, than the secondary status of our current arrangement. To be clear, he is a very close friend to both my son and I. I can easily say that I love him, though not in the romantic sense.

    It is also highly unlikely, that I will ever get into a serious, romantic entanglement. Certainly not until my four year old son is out of highschool. I could really care less, about the tax benifits, they would be nice, but I don’t give a damn about them. I care about having the legal protections that you currently enjoy with your wife, with my old roomie. And being involved with the AIDS support group, I have no shortage of dying friends (not that it is likely I could commit myself to something like this more than once).

    I can imagine many other scenarios, where similar needs apply, including tax benifits. But that is my main reason, for feeling so strongly about this. The other being purely semantic, not that that’s not important. I just refuse to get into a relationship, described as a contract, that traditionaly was a property transfer, the property being the woman, sold to the husband by her father. The very notion makes me nauseous. And growing up in the eighties, more friends parents getting divorced than not, marriage is meaningless to me – outside of some seriously negative conotations.

  43. #43 DuWayne
    December 15, 2006

    Julia,

    click my name and e-mail me, I would love to talk further about this. I have actually talked to people who are interested in trying to build a movement towards these goals. I have thought about doing some organizing here in Portland (great place to start things like this). I can’t put very much time into it, but I am getting a few people interested who do. I am all about brain-storming, to refine ideas, like we have here.

  44. #44 GH
    December 19, 2006

    He assured me that our denomination (Nazerene) does recognize church marriages that are not recognized by the state. He also assured me that, United Methodists, Four Squares, Assemblies of God and Apostolic churches, all would too. He seemed to think that most other Christian churches would as well, but he only knew for certain about the aforementioned. To quote him, “being married in the eyes of God and the church is the important part, the government interest means nothing to the church.”

    Then I would say he is full of shit. I can assure you United methodists, baptists, catholics and churches of Christ and on and on would ensure that they have a marriage contract on principle as they as emboldened to follow the laws of the land when it doesn’t violate there precepts. I can’t speak for all of them but it is such a bizarre notion that I can’t believe it would be entertained seriously.

    As mentioned previously a Baptist pastor told me ‘ How can you be married in the eyes of God if your not even married in the eyes of man’. Your pastor is shoveling make believe rubbish. What church tells people they are married when they are just shacking up?

    Think what this man is actually telling people falsehood and fantasy and they are lapping it up. He is telling unmarried individuals that they are married and they are believing it. Only religion(and bad religion at that) can make people think they are what they aren’t. It is simply bizarre.

    Not to mention the fact that he simply is wrong about the majority of churches thinking this. I would suggest your ‘pastor’ consult studies by Tyndale that traces church teaching all the way back to original marriage contracts. Not to mention the fact that Jesus discusses bills of divorcement and such himself.

    All he is doing is advocating pretending by his flock and frankly as a Christian one should be offended. I told a friend of mine who attends an assemblie of God church about your comment and he just laughed and said that doesn’t fly in their view. The same for the methodist friend. So I don’t know where you pastor gets his info but thinking that having a church ceremony while ignoring the rest is simply silliness. I value the ceremony but it is symbolic around the signing of a contract between my wife and I.

    I just refuse to get into a relationship, described as a contract, that traditionaly was a property transfer, the property being the woman, sold to the husband by her father.

    Marriage is the name for a type of contract. As Julia mentioned earlier it has changed meanings through the years and is not so much about property transfer anymore. I say anymore because it still is in some parts of the world. Your revulsion is an individual matter and I have no argument on personal taste.

    Now having said all of that I do have alot of tender hearted feeling for your plight and your friends. I understand this issues importance to you. I am on your side emotionally and would likely vote to support you and yours. I just don’t find your stance on the religion end very logical. But I feel we are discussing two different enterprises there.

  45. #45 GH
    December 19, 2006

    And one last thing. I find this pastor and his approach very dishonest(delusional may be a better word). A church is a small and local body of people. If one travels alot as I do I cannot go to a muslim country and stay with my wife if I am not married. I cannot say well I’m married back home in podunk whereever because my nice guy pastor says I am in his church. I need the contract.It’s reality and that is where the rubber meets the road. Because of it I am married wherever I go and receive the benefits as such. This is magnified among many avenues of society here and abroad. My wife and I are a family unit everywhere in the world because it exists. Telling people to pretend in my view is an egregious offense to marriage and the people involved even if the mans heart is in the right place. I simply can’t fathom thinking oneself married when your not. If he truly thought what he does I guess he doesn’t bother to sign marriage contracts and likely tells people not to bother. Except I’m sure he doesn’t do this, why? Because he knows better on the inside. There exists only one way to be married and thats to have a marriage contract otherwise you have a relationship. Which is not to say that is less. Some marriages have good relationships, some don’t. But the marriage is an entity unto itself. And those in your church without the contract simply don’t have one.

    The battle is to get as many people as possible to enjoy these marital benefits. Those that don’t want to be married(if the laws become more accomadating), well they are making a choice. I find people like your pastor a part of the problem. He may be a nice guy but he is uninformed and frankly doing more damage to marriage than the religious right thinks gays could ever do.

  46. #46 DuWayne
    December 19, 2006

    GH – Dude, I understand you dissagree. I understand that you have run across people who think that my pastor is mistaken. That doesn’t change the fact that he is not dishonest or delusional. He was educated through seminary and is a damn fine man. He and I do not agree on a lot of things, but I respect him because he is honest and consistent. If you think he is mistaken, great. You needn’t be a complete and utter asshole about it.

    And you quenstion how seriously I’m taking this discussion?

  47. #47 GH
    December 19, 2006

    DuWayne,

    I’m sorry if you think I’m being an asshole. This is what gets me, stand up for rationality and your an asshole. Being educated through seminary means very little if one goes around telling people they are married when they are not. If he did attend seminary he should know the vast majority of Christian churches instruct their members to obey the laws of the land something he is failing to do. Going to seminary means he did just that just as many go to college. pays your fees make your ‘C’s :-) As mentioned in my above posts I said he means well but he is most definetly delusional if he thinks people are married when they clearly by any rational standard known to the majority of mankind are not. Reality is where the discussion ends.

    In this case I think he is honestly mistaken and perhaps delusional to think the way you have presented his thoughts. I think this thread is done.

  48. #48 DuWayne
    December 19, 2006

    No GH, you are not being rational when you accuse someone you don’t know of being, full of shit, delusional, dishonest, shoveling rubbish, etc. Then your being an asshole.

    The church is quite adamant about couples being married before taking up residence together. Some people have restrictions to their ability to enter a state sanctioned marriage contract. While every church would strenuously encourage people to get a state sanctioned marriage contract, most will make exceptions for those who are not restricted from legal marriage because of some incapacity, but suffer some other restriction.

    While some ministers may not support or agree with such actions, many do. The church is concerned about God blessing the union, not whether the state blesses the union. And when they do so, they are not violating any laws. Any more than a GLT who claims that their relationship is a marriage are. Or even those who liked to call my sons mother my wife, while we were still a couple, though we were most assuredly not married – nor did we claim such. Though it is illustarative of societies notion that marriage is a descriptive for certain types of relationships outside of the legal contract. Hell, I still get people refering to her as my ex-wife – believe me, I do nothing to propagate that notion and clarify every time someone mentions it, that I was never married. Yet still they persist.

    It would be unethical for a minister to tell a couple that they are legaly married after performing such a wedding. It would also be unethical for a minister to discourage couples from getting a legal marriage license. But we are not describing either of those situations. We are describing special dispensation from the church to bless a union that the state does not. Not common or even encouraged (outside of very narrow perameters), but it happens.

    And remarkably, I am able to express this without claiming that your minister friend is delusional or dishonest. Your lay friends, I discount out of hand. I have noted over my years in various churches, that lay members often know little about their churches actual dogma and bylaws. As this is a very rare occurance, few lay people have any reason to know their churches bylaws regarding this sort of situation.

  49. #49 bharath
    March 16, 2007

    Every time someone listens to the Vatican I hope they say to themselves “These were the guys who kept saying world is flat just 2 centuries ago”.

    and you will be able to keep your sanity.

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