Monday, December 06, 2004

Final Group Opinions (written by our omniscient group narrator, Frank)

The opportunity to participate in a group blog at the end of this course has given everyone the chance to re-evaluate their stances on the issue of same-sex marriage. Undoubtedly, reading and writing about the issue for over six weeks has introduced new ideas and beliefs, and has given us all new perspectives on our own stances.

After being exposed to a variety of differing views, all presented with strong conviction, Alan has questioned his stance (pro same-sex marriage) on the issue several times; however, he ultimately remained strongly in favor of gay marriage. He thinks that homosexuals are no different than hetereosexuals, and are therefore deserving of the same rights. Anything less would be inhumane. He believes that this kind of rigorous exposure to radical views, left and right, is the kind of process that everyone who is “set in their beliefs” must go through. It is a great way to find out if you truly feel the way you say you do on any issue; if your convictions withstand the strongest opposition, at least in your mind, then you have re-affirmed your beliefs and kept an open-mind.

Vasilios says that his views have not changed either. He still believes that the term “marriage” should not be used for homosexual unions, but also that the government has no right to keep homosexual couples from attaining a civil union. He also has learned that most arguments against gay marriage are slippery slope arguments that will sooner or later fail. In the near future, he says, the nation will have to either accept homosexual unions or face a bit of a revolution.

Jeff says that at the beginning of the group project, he believed that it was wrong to allow two gay people to participate in civil unions, let alone marriage. His perspective now is that gay people have rights too, so it would be wrong to discriminate against them on those grounds; however, that does not mean they should be allowed to marry. He believes marriage is the union of a man and woman, and only a man and woman, and is holy and sacred, in the eyes of God. As he sees it, if it is necessary for a gay couple to be recognized then they should be allowed to engage in a civil union.

David says that researching and writing for the group blog has given him a greater insight into the gay marriage debate. In his initial blog entry, he stated his belief that it is wrong to deny homosexuals the right to marry and that the proposed constitutional amendment--now a few steps closer to an official vote--amounted to little more than majoritarian politics. Now, at the conclusion of the group project, he stands even more firmly behind that position. Reading articles and arguments from both sides of the issue has, over the course of several weeks, given him second thoughts. However, he has found that the underlying motivation for those hoping to ban gay marriage stems largely from religious belief--a factor which has no place in the public policy of a secular nation. And thus, he continues to stand by his initial position, especially so now that he has the knowledge and understanding to support it.

Regardless of whether the group blog has changed our opinions, we have all learned a lot about the same-sex marriage debate, and have had the chance to reconsider our opinions from new perspectives. This thought process can only help us to form more informed and rational opinions on any issues in the future.

Slippery Slop

In her article “Slippery Slop”, Dahlia Lithwick argues that the slippery slope argument that is commonly used against gay marriage is trite and ineffective at logically proving a point. She quotes the statements of several people including Bill O’Reilly and speaker on the Hannity and Colmes show in defense of her argument. She also points out that the slippery slope argument is, in general, not to be ignored or discarded, but should instead only serve as a metaphor, while each part is carefully analyzed and interpreted. This, she says, would be a reasonable way to incorporate such an argument into the gay marriage debate.

Lithwick starts off her article with a comedic approach to the slippery slope argument, emphasizing its absurdity by facetiously saying that “having sex with penguins outside JC Penney's” will be legalized. This humorous start to the article helps comfort the reader when discussing such a volatile and divisive issue. Lithwick quotes Bill O’Reilly saying “if anybody can get married, then I want the McGuire twins and I have to have a nice honeymoon in Provincetown.” This, she says is as ridiculous as the popular idea that marriage will not be able to withstand the recent “problem” of gay marriage, despite the fact that it has withstood centuries and centuries worth of other problems. She also points out that the reason that such acts as prostitution, incest, bestiality, and pedophilia all have “sound policy and health reasons” to be made illegal, while masturbation and fornication, she says are simply enjoyable acts practiced by most adults, obviously causing harm to no one. This logically debunks the common argument that gay marriage should be made illegal on the same moral grounds that the above are.

Overall, Lithwick’s logical and humorous approach to the exposing the faults of the slippery slope argument are successful and effective.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Ban in Oregon takes effect

A state constitutional ban on gay marriage took effect on Thursday the 2nd of December as the Oregon Supreme Court awaited final briefs from lawyers to determine whether nearly 3,000 marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples are valid. The amendment approved by voters Nov. 2 defines marriage as a union between a man and woman, partly a reaction to a Multnomah County decision last March to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples to avoid claims of discrimination prohibited by the Oregon Constitution. Gay marriage opponents, thereafter, went to court arguing the constitution's authors clearly intended to limit marriage to heterosexual couples. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Frank Bearden halted issuance of marriage licenses to homosexual couples and referred the issue to the Legislature. He asked lawmakers to settle the controversy, perhaps by allowing the alternative of civil unions that provide the same rights and benefits as marriage. But the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Basic Rights Oregon and nine same-sex couples, including four who were married after receiving licenses in Multnomah County. Kelly Clark, attorney for the Defense of Marriage Coalition, argues that the Oregon amendment renders the case moot because voters have decided. "Gay marriage is banned, and the licenses were never valid in the first place," Clark said. But Dave Fidanque, Oregon executive director for ACLU, argues the licenses were issued before Nov. 2 and the change is not retroactive. I believe that it is wrong to revoke the licenses that had already been issued.

The real reason people oppose gay marriage

The real reasons people oppose gay marriage as put forward by Scott Bidstrup are that people are not comfortable with the idea. He says that for many years, society has promoted the idea that a marriage between members of the same sex is ludicrous. But if those objections don't make sense, neither does the idea that gay marriage is necessarily ludicrous. Societies have long recognized that allowing civil rights to certain groups may offend some, and at times, even the majority. But that is why constitutional government was established, to ensure that powerless, unpopular minorities are still protected from the tyranny of the majority. Simple discomfort with a proposal is no reasonable basis for not allowing it. He adds that marriage is a sacred institution. To everyone, the assumption that the state has the responsibility to "sanctify" marriages is a fundamentally religious idea. Here we're dealing with people trying to enforce their religious doctrines on someone else, but by doing it through weakening the separation of church and state, by undermining the Bill of Rights. He then offers evidence to disprove that gay sex is unnatural. This argument, often encoded in the very name of sodomy statutes betrays a considerable ignorance of behavior in the animal kingdom. The fact is that among the approximately 1500 animal species whose behavior has been extensively studied, homosexual behaviour has been described in at least 450 of those species.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Comments on Arguments For

I actually agree with lots of this, other than the term "marriage". Marriage to me really does define a certain relationship between a man and a woman. And since there no real church, Christian or otherwise, which is a big fan of homosexuals (other than those new protestants splits), and the church does the marrying moreso than the state, how can thetre be a marriage. But I see no problem with extending gay civil unions the same rights that all married couples have. If someone is going to decide to spend their life with another, they should be allowed to make it known in the government. To me, marriage is defined by religion though, and simply should not be defined in government. That's about it though

Comments on Arguments Against

Wow, all of David's arguments against gay marriage are part of the "Slippery Slope" type which Justice Scalia, among others, defined. Truthfully, why would the allowance of homosexual marriages lead to sexual deviancy. I understand how poeple could think of homosexual relationships to be sexual deviancy, I believe that myself to a degree, but it is still the relationship between two consenting adults. I know I just opened myself up to, "Well, incest could be between two consenting adults," and my response to that is that incest is illegal due to it's tendancy to create genetic abnormalities, and no one can deny that. The next argument to be flown my way would be "Homosexual incest would not create genetic abnormalities," which is true. To that all I can say is that it's still wrong. To me, homosexuality, incest and, yes, even homosexual incest are all immoral practices, and considering that when one has beliefs as such, they become hard to defend. But they are still there. I have nothing against homosexuals, I just don't believe it's correct, but I may be wrong, so I let homosexuals do what they want as long as they don't bother me about it. The difference is that there is a long stretch in my book from homosexuality to incest and bestiality and adultery, mainly because the latter three all cause harm to someone or something, while homosexuality is just a simple lifestyle choice which causes no harm to anyone. I might not agree with the choice, but as long as it's not harmful, what's the big deal?

Terrorism vs. Gay Marriage

An interesting read, “The Gay Marriage Myth”

It’s an article about how Bush’s election win, which some claim was based on constituents voting on moral values, was really caused by those who voted based on terrorism. Apparently more people thought Bush would handle terrorism better than Kerry, and so they voted for Bush instead. Whereas others argue that the gay marriage ban which was on certain ballots caused a higher turnout of conservative Christian Bush voters in those states, Freedman argues that it was the other way around. Apparently, the ban was placed on the ballot in those states so that the conservative voters who would show up and vote Bush anyways would also ban gay marriage. I have to agree more with Freedman on this, being that I wasn’t really expecting to see the gay marriage ban on my ballot. But I did, and although I’ll admit I voted for Bush, I was part of the small percentage of constituency to vote against the ban. In my opinion, all that ban does is discriminate against homosexuals by not allowing them to be married and therefore not allowing them the benefits of a married couple. And I thought all mankind was uniquely equal…

Dahlia Lithwick on Gay Marriage

Although I don’t agree with all of the article, “Slippery Slop” by Dahlia Lithwick makes good points in the ineffectiveness of slippery slope arguments against gay marriage. Comparing gay marriage to adultery, bigamy, and even incest is a stretch, not to mention taking it all the way to bestiality. Amazingly enough, people use these arguments as a cornerstone of why gay marriage should not be allowed. Apparently, once you legalize one man marrying another, it’ll lead not only to the legalization of incest and child molestation, but also legalize the right to marry and have sexual relations with all manners of animals and things. Although I don’t agree with marriage for same-sex couples, it’s not my place to judge them or prevent them from being happy. Also, so far as to go that them marrying will doubtfully hurt me in any way, and even that it might lead to the apparent degradation of society as we know it (if the slippery slope leads that far), I’ll take the chance. Maybe it’s just me, but as long as same-sex couples marrying each other doesn’t hurt me in any way, then I’m not going to have a problem with it. Who am I to prevent others happiness just for the hell of it?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

After reading an article written by a bisexual, I came to a conclusion. She is disgusted that her gay and lesbian friends are denied the legal right to marry. By denying two women or men the right to marry is as cruel and absurd as it was to deny two people of different race the right to marry. She also brought out another interesting point in that the Constitution of the United States guarantee everyone’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That alone should be able to legitimatize gay marriage, since its pretty hard to feel free, liberty, if you don’t have the right to marry the person you love, the pursuit of happiness.

I would link the article but i can't seemt to find it anymore. Sorry about that.

What's different about gay wedding ceremonies?

This article is written by a Secular Humanistic Rabbi who is also intermarried. He asks the question: what’s different about gay wedding ceremonies? He quickly answers the question with a “nothing.” He talks about what he does when he is marrying people of the same-sex such as “when creating the wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples, we change the language that refers to the two individuals getting married from wife and husband to spouse or partner. Some couples prefer not to use the word marriage, so I may say life-long partnership or union.” He felt it as his obligation to serve the needs of Jews and their partners by performing intermarriages and incorporating cultural traditions from each of the couple’s backgrounds.

What would Jesus say about gay marriage?

This is a very interesting article on what would Jesus say about Gay Marriage if he was to return to Earth. On the ethics of homosexuality, it says, Jesus would most likely remain silent. If he wanted to take a position about the matter, he would have done so back in Galilee. Basically the article says that Jesus would think it is wrong that the United States government is passing amendments banning same-sex marriages. “If your people are determined to bring your country into accord with my teaching, then let them dissolve all second marriages and write my prohibition of divorce into their Constitution. But if they insist on overruling that prohibition, then let them look to their other prohibitions and consider revising them as well”, is what the article says that Jesus would say on the topic of same-sex marriage in the United States.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Let them wed

It really surprised me when I found out that only two countries, Belgium and the Netherlands, have given its citizens full legal status to same-sex unions. To me the definition of marriage is two people that are partners for life. Why should gays be not allowed to marry? In my opinion, the reason the government does not allow gays to marry is because it is not traditional. Nothing in the United States is traditional anymore, so why is the subject such an exception? It is ridiculous to me that the governemt had to set its foot on this topic. I think they should concentrate on a more serious topic such as the war in Iraq, the war on drugs, or homeland security, because that is where the problem seems to be. Maybe I’m not making any sense right now, but that is how I feel. There are many interesting topics highlighted in this article, I suggest everyone check it out. It definitely gave me another insight to same-sex marriages.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Collected Arguments For Gay Marriage

Arguments supporting gay marriage:

  • Fairness dictates that gay couples should be eligible for the same legal and economic benefits that married couples are entitled to, such as hospital visitation rights, tax benefits, adoption rights, inheritance rights, and legal recognition.
  • The legal definition of marriage should not be determined by religion (i.e. there should be a separation of church and state).
  • The legalization of gay marriage does not spell the end of heterosexual marriage, as many gay marriage opponents suggest. In Denmark, for example, the rate of heterosexual marriages climbed after the passage a law granting homosexuals a limited form of marriage (full marriage without the right to marry in a church or the right to adopt).
  • The argument that gay marriage would inevitably lead to the legalization of polygamy and incest amounts to nothing more than a slippery slope fallacy.
  • Studies have shown that children raised by parents of the same sex fare as well or better than children raised by heterosexual parents.
  • Gay marriage would reduce promiscuity, infidelity, and sexually transmitted diseases among homosexuals.

Collected Arguments Against Gay Marriage

I've decided, after reading countless articles for, against, and about gay marriage, to summarize the arguments presented by people on both sides of the issue. For the remainder of this blog entry, I will present a brief summary of the arguments against gay marriage. And, in my next blog entry, I will present a collection of arguments in support of gay marriage. Hopefully, this would help myself, along with readers of our group weblog, to gain a better understanding of the issue of gay marriage.

Arguments against gay marriage:

  • If marriage is redefined to accommodate homosexual couples, what prevents it from being redefined to accommodate polygamists and polyamorists, not to mention numerous other sexual deviants? Once the standard of marriage between heterosexuals is broken, there is no logical stopping point.
  • Heterosexual marriage is a civil institution. That is, heterosexual marriage serves a public purpose, not just a private purpose. Heterosexual marriage brings men and women together to create children and to socialize them in healthy, nurturing environments. In essence, heterosexual marriage is fundamental and necessary for the existence of society. Homosexual marriage will only weaken this vital institution.
  • The Bible condemns homosexuality.
  • Legalized homosexual marriage would legitimize homosexual behavior in the eyes of young people and encourage homosexuality.
  • Homosexual behavior is closely linked with higher incidences of sexually transmitted diseases, drug use, alcohol abuse, and mental health diseases.
  • Children raised by homosexual parents are more likely to be promiscuous and to engage in homosexual activity than children raised by heterosexual parents.
  • The legalization of homosexual marriage would create further stress on the overburdened system of Social Security by creating millions of new dependents.
  • The legalization of homosexual marriage in the United States would lead to the legalization of homosexual marriage elsewhere in the world.

Rebuttal to Kristof's "God and Sex" Editorial

Robert Gagnon, a professor at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, has written a rebuttal to Nicholas Kristof's editorial "God and Sex." In the rebuttal, Gagnon charges that Kristof intentionally misinterpreted the Bible for the political purpose of persuading readers that "there is little credible basis for opposing 'gay marriage' within the Bible itself." A link to Gagnon's rebuttal may be found here.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Should gay rights activists should slow down the push toward acceptance?

Afterword: Troubled Amendments

In his article “Afterword: Troubled Amendments”, Paul Starr makes the argument that gays should realize that being granted, in Massachusetts, the same legal rights as straight married couples is enough of a victory, and if they continue pushing the acceptance of the term “marriage” it could be detrimental to their overall goal.

Starr explains himself by considering the possible scenario in which a couple married in Massachusetts tries to find recognition of their marriage in a different state, at which time the state will refuse, based on the Defense of Marriage Act (which allows each state to decide for itself whether or not to recognize gay marriages). Then, the case will go to the Supreme Court. If the Court sides with the state, it could subdue efforts to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage, but if not, it could instigate enough indignation among conservative anti-gay rights activists to give the needed momentum to the Amendment to pass.

Starr emphasizes that he doesn’t think gay rights activists should dwell on the distinction between the terminologies used in marriage and civil unions; it could compromise their overall goal of obtaining equal rights. The author makes a logical point by laying out the possible situation that many gays would be put into if they continued pressing too hard for a change of terminology in their unions. It is also valid when he states that states can define the legal benefits granted to married couples, but are less likely to go so far as to change the actual wording of the arrangement. Overall, his argument is successful; however, some may still disagree that gays should give up so soon their struggle to be entitled to the title of marriage, not civil union.