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Part 3 of 3: In Defense of Gay Marriage

Published by Janus on May 27, 2008

Last Friday California’s Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, decided to actually call gay marriage, marriage instead of some other term that means exactly the same thing. Hilarity ensued.

This is part three of three of a series on gay marriage. In this part I will attempt to lay out exactly why I think same sex marriage should be legal.

I understand that hypocrisy is an inescapable and all-encompassing reality of politics. Politicians are always trying to say one thing and do another, but there are few examples of modern hypocrisy more blatant and more accepted than that which surrounds gay rights.

Of the many themes that lead to the rise and evolution of our nation, fighting against persecution and discrimination is one of the most central. The first settlers from England came in search of religious tolerance. Quakers, Shakers, Catholics and Protestants all flocked to the colonies to escape persecution and discrimination in Europe.

Before the ink had dried on the constitution, the fight for freedom and equality had already shifted to the abolition of slavery. As one of the principle causes of the civil war, the freeing of the slaves is considered one of America’s most redeeming acts. The battle for women’s rights and the repealing of Jim Crow laws officially lasted into World War 2, but they were not truly put to bed until the 60s and 70s.

Today, any politician that makes a statement that even approaches racism is tarred, feathered, and run out of town. Politicians are simply not permitted to make bigoted statements. Discrimination is not tolerated against blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, women, or even the sick and the disabled. Why then is it acceptable to discriminate against gays?

Why do we, as Americans, as the great beacon of freedom and opportunity, persist in denying certain groups equal protection under the law? As it turns out, there are a few reasons, which I will address in order of their validity to the argument: respect for the will of the majority, family values, slippery slope, religious intolerance, personal distaste, and bigotry.

Tyranny of the Majority

The strongest argument I’ve seen against same sex marriage is that a supermajority of voters want marriage defined as being exclusively between a man and a woman. We do live in a republic in which our leaders are democratically chosen, and the will of the people is the central tenant of any democratic form of government.

Unfortunately, we do not live in a democracy. We live in a republic. People are fickle and will change their mind on a whim. The founding fathers believed that part of founding a republic instead of a democracy was the temperance of unstable public opinion and the protection of minority groups. It was the reason that the Anti-Federalists demanded a bill of rights and was discussed by the Federalists as being a part of the dangers of rising factions. It is the reason we have a House (of the people) which serves for 2 year terms tempered by a Senate (for deliberation) which serves for 6 year terms.

Let us not forget President George H. W. Bush, a man reviled by the left as the least popular president in history, had over 90% job approval at one time. He won reelection in 2004 despite an ongoing unpopular war. Today his approval rating is 31%. If he were running for reelection in 2012, I have no doubt that he would have substantial chance of winning. Why? Because people change their minds all the time.

The fact of the matter is that the majority will change its mind. The fickleness of the majority is not limited to same sex marriage – the majority will change their minds on just about every question ever asked of them. Just because the majority wants to oppress a minority, does not mean they should be allowed to. Our government and our constitution is setup in such a way that, where it exists at all, such tyranny can be overcome.

Family Values

The way people talk about traditional family values, one would almost think that they want the government to tell them how to rear their children. The fact is no one wants to be told how to rear their children. Is it the government’s place to regulate family life?

Does anyone want CPS to take away the children of immoral people? Single mothers? Atheists? If we are relying on government to defend traditional family values, what values are we defending? Are we going to outlaw divorce? Prohibit remarriage? Are we going to pass laws that keep women pregnant and in the kitchen?

Of course not. What, then, are we defending?

Children’s spiritual, cultural, and moral values do not come from the government. They come from their parents. If you want to teach them to be good Christians, then do it. No one wants the government telling them how to bring up their children. No one wants to be told how to live their own lives. Values do not start with the government. They start at home.

Want your kids to grow up right? Then do your job as a parent and teach them right.

Other people want to change the way you rear your children just as badly as you want to change their ways. You don’t want them in your business. They don’t want you in theirs.

The Slippery Slope

“If you let gays marry, what’s next? Are you going to allow polygamy? Are you going to allow pedophilia? Are you going to allow bestiality?”

Let me lay it out for the traditionalists in the room:

The supporters of traditional family values are afraid of giving same sex couples equal protection under the law because they wonder if the next law we’ll want will allow traditional family values people like Warren Jeffs to do what they do legally. Last time I checked, the bible (which I generally consider to be a fairly authoritative source for “traditional family values”) had many, many examples of righteous men who took multiple wives when they were as young as 13 years old.

You want to know if legalizing same sex marriage is going to lead to pedophilia and polygamy? It won’t. Traditional family values legislation might – but gay marriage won’t.

I don’t know about you, but I have some measure of self control. When my brain sees an issue of equal civil rights, it doesn’t think, “Dude, I would totally love to nail that goat! Let’s legalize it!” Does yours? No? Then can we drop this rediculous line of thought? Please?

Bigotry and Religious Persecution

Everyone say it together: bigotry is not acceptable. Homophobic? Too damn bad. I realize it is socially acceptable for people to discriminate against gays these days, but these days are numbered. It won’t be long until such discrimination is no different than hating someone on the basis of their race, or sex, or religion.

Equal protection under the law is an absolute, inalienable right. America is freedom and opportunity. We are diverse, tolerant, and reasonable. Discrimination goes against every fiber of our being. It is not who we are, it is not what we are, it is not where we are headed. Same sex marriage is on the horizon. It is as inevitable as the first amendment. It is as inevitable as the civil rights movement. It is as inevitable as women’s rights.

Americans deserve a free and fair society.

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Your argument is totally bogus. We “traditionists” are not afraid of
same sex marriage leading to anything. We are firmily against it because it is against the principals set out in the Bible you want to so quote. Would it lead to other immoral actions sanctioned, probably if you bleeding liberals have your way. By the way, it seems to me watching all the protests of gays against the church, that the gays are less tolerent than anybody i.e. if you won’t accept me then you are a bigot. We of the church accept you but
cannot by principal accept your lifestyle. Our rights are set forth as
citizenship not as lifestyle a person chooses.

 Comment by JMM on November 11, 2008 @ 4:14 pm

In response to the first commenter:
The Bible has no place in law. Just because you do not accept the gay “lifestyle” does not mean you have the right to deny them the contract of marriage. Marriage is a civil institution these days, not a religious one, and therefore your religious text should have no bearing on the laws regarding same-sex marriage. Gay people are not intolerant of the church, the church is intolerant of them and takes an active part in influencing legislation that denies homosexuals their civil rights.

 Comment by Tyler M on November 11, 2008 @ 5:23 pm

What do you think our laws are based on. If you don’t know, they were based on judeo-christian biblical principals. Besides I did not bring up the Bible first. If you use the Bible to argue your point you better be ready to accept the truth that you really don’t know
or understand that which you use to argue your point with. It would pay you to read and seek to understand the Bible instead of superficialy trying to use it as backing of your belief. It won’t fly and you know it. Marriage was the first thing santioned by God and it did not involve same sex. He said to go forth and multiply. Explain multplication within the same sex. It. ain’t going to happen.
And don’t give me any bull about being born gay. All things in life are a choice. To your way of thinking all choices we make are someway covered by law which is fieceous. Your marriage may be civil but mine was divine. By the way been married for 33years. How many civil unions usually last that long

 Comment by JMM on November 11, 2008 @ 8:04 pm


The argument that I’ve made with this series of posts is that all Americans deserve equal protection under the law and that denying someone over 1100 rights, privileges, responsibilities, and legal changes because of their sexual orientation is legalized discrimination without a rational basis.

I find it amusing that you would call me a “bleeding liberal” for believing that the government should be less involved in regulating our personal lives. I always assumed that wanting the government stop sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong was conservative.

I also find it amusing that you find it troubling that us “bleeding liberals” insist on a strict reading of the constitution which grants us separation of church and state, freedom of speech, and the right to peacefully assemble. (sarcasm) If only there was a good, conservative judge would take a more active role and reinterpret the constitution to deny those uppidy gays their right to protest the world would be a better place, wouldn’t it?

Our laws are a series of rules designed to ensure order with the threat of force for violators. They’re based on mutual agreement, political debate, common law, and tradition. The first written code of laws is generally accepted as having originated from Hammurabi of Babylon, some 4,000 years before the birth of Christ. Laws have existed before the bible was written and are central to the governing of non-Christian countries including countries in which religion has been outlawed.

I don’t know who is “superficialy trying to use it as a backing” but neither I nor Tyler M mentioned the bible in any light except to point that it has no bearing on the debate. You, however, brought it up in your first post and are leaning on it as if it were the only thing propping up your second. The fact that you can’t give a solid, logical, or even coherent argument against gay marriage without it is rather sad and telling for your narrow point of view.

If you want an intellectually honest debate, I’m always here. If you want to spout slogans like, “your marriage may be civil but mine was divine” you don’t have a leg to stand on.

 Comment by Janus on November 11, 2008 @ 8:48 pm

if a person chooses to be gay, are you saying you have found men or your same sex sexually intriguing but have failed to act upon it and went for the other sex? You are not gay, dont make decisions you know 0 about. That is a decision, to be gay is something created. Do you think people purposely want to be this way and put up with hatred, disconnection to society? You’re an idiot, besides the fact that not all Gays are liberals beyond wanting rights whether named marriage or not.

 Comment by Seth on November 11, 2008 @ 11:44 pm

Good article Janus, unfortunately some people cannot compare views and facts and always refer to a very flawed bible and sustain things that it does not mention while they avoid things that it does mention.

My favorite crazy bible passage is:

MARK 12:18-27
If a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir.

Says a lot for the bible!

 Comment by RM on November 12, 2008 @ 6:16 am

To Seth — get your facts and Bible quotes straight. In Mark 12:18-27, the uber-religious Jewish leaders of the day were trying to challenge Jesus about who would be a woman’s husband in heaven. The leaders were referring to old Mosaic Law. In this passage you quoted, Jesus rebuttals them and says, Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

The editor in me also wants to point out to the author of this article that the Civil War is always capitalized, Bible is always capitalized (that old rule about proper nouns, you know), and in my extensive scholarly study of the Bible and in researching scriptures for books I have edited, nowhere does it mention 13-year-olds having multiple wives. In the Old Testament (which is the only place where you read about some men having more than one wife) — most young men lived at home until they were well into their 30s and 40s because people lived to be SO old then. This was even true of Moses. He didn’t marry his one wife Zipporah until he was in his 30s. The reason why other posters here and I are now rebuttaling you about the Bible is because you chose to bring it into your argument, but you did so with loads of errors.

 Comment by Janet on November 12, 2008 @ 9:08 am

Want your kids to grow up right? Then do your job as a parent and teach them right.

What do you believe is right. The only guide we as society have is our faith. Do people call me an idiot for teaching my children what I believe is right. You yourself have not given a solid argument for same sex marriage other than that you were born this way which you know is false. There is no scientific study showing such. I still say we live our lives by the choices we make, good or bad. As far as constitutional, It indeed was founded on judeo-christian principals and that tread is woven throughout our laws. I always hear about these laws before the bible but have yet to have anyone quote a law outside of biblical content. How do we know that it is wrong to kill except the Bible says Thou Shalt not Kill. Also If I cannot accept part of Bible I agree with and reject that which I don’t believe as some of gay community seems to do. This may not be your “intellictual” conversation you want but that doesn’t mean I am somewhat ignorant of life. I am sorry but if I cannot accept your lifesyle then how can I support or accept govt. sanctioning such. Again am I an “idiot” for believing different from gays? That sounds condesending to me.

 Comment by JMM on November 12, 2008 @ 9:31 am

RM wrote:

My favorite crazy bible passage is:

MARK 12:18-27
If a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir.

Says a lot for the bible!

Ditto RM, ditto. I just find that the bible is chock-full of strange dictums and contradictions. Must be the reason I don’t prescribe to it.

 Comment by LEK on November 12, 2008 @ 10:04 am

I am a gay woman, with children. I do not consider myself to be any less conservative than any of you just because I am with a woman. My children are happy and well adjusted, because all they want is for their mother to be happy. I always raised them to be accepting of everyone regardless of their differences. Children’s way of seeing the world starts at home. Stop trying to use the bible to deny people their civil rights.

 Comment by Jenny on November 12, 2008 @ 12:02 pm

“This was even true of Moses. He didn’t marry his one wife Zipporah until he was in his 30s.”

Except that Moses had at least two wives, Zipporah (an Egyptian) whom he married in Exodus and an Ethiopian woman mentioned in Numbers.

 Comment by Janus on November 12, 2008 @ 12:08 pm

Using the Bible as basis for laws is like someone trying to enforce Hammurabi’s Code. It simply does not match up to today’s world. From the Jesus I know, I think he would be pretty ashamed of people using his message for their own political ends.

 Comment by Tyler M on November 14, 2008 @ 11:29 am


Great article. I believe you are far more a Libertarian than a conservative. Conservatives, by the most recent definition I hear most often (not that it is right) is the government should regulate you in your personal life in all matters; the rearing of your children, your bedroom, your doctor’s office and in your choices of marriage partners. Conservatives have become draconian.

I’ll quote the Bible, too:

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” – Jesus; Matthew 7:12 (NRSV)

“You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” – Jesus; Luke 12:56-57 (NRSV)

I believe Jesus would be rather ashamed of so-called “Christians” who spew nothing but hate and blind faith. Jesus didn’t seem to intend blind faith, he preached love and personal responsibility. In other words, love God, love your neighbor as yourself, and think with the brain God gave you.

On a secular note, everyone is guaranteed equal protection under the law, and that gay and lesbian couples want to marry legally should be recognized as a right that already exists. As people of color had to fight for their equal rights, gays and lesbians must now fight for ours. We are a minority that is not equally protected under the law at present.

We don’t live in a theocracy, we live in a republic that separates church and state. When the argument is between church and state, the state wins because any church cannot impose it’s beliefs on the rule of law in the U.S.

To the person who claimed his marriage is divine, good for you. And congrats on 33 years. That’s awesome. But we don’t want your brand of divinity, we want equal, secular civil rights in our society.

Most of you will never like it that gays and lesbians will eventually have all the same rights straight couples have. But you don’t have to like it. It’s the right thing to do whether the majority likes it or not. There are many white southerners who still use the n-word and believe African Americans are not equal to them no matter what any law says. These whites have to abide by the law, but they hate it and that won’t change for at least a few generations.

Many of you reading this don’t experience racial hatred like we have in the south so you have no clue what hatred and inequality cause in society. It’s the main reason southern states are so far behind the rest of the country. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone whose ancestors were slaves. I know many and the arguments for slavery that existed here for a couple of hundred years before it was abolished were no more right than your arguments to deny gays and lesbians equal marriage rights.

Maybe you should think about how you would feel if your right to marry were taken away from you? What if gays and lesbians ruled the world and we denied you the right to marry someone of the opposite sex? You wouldn’t like it would you? You’d probably feel like less of a person if that law were imposed on you.

Civil rights have never been determined by popularity. They are already guaranteed by the Constitution. It just takes time and arguing and sometimes a war to make people realize those inalienable rights apply to everyone.


 Comment by On Being The Change I Wish To See - Sherri on November 14, 2008 @ 2:04 pm

“Conservatives, by the most recent definition I hear most often (not that it is right) is the government should regulate you in your personal life in all matters; the rearing of your children, your bedroom, your doctor’s office and in your choices of marriage partners.”

Then you should read this definion.

 Comment by Janus on November 14, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

I’ve added “rewrite this post” to my list of things to do. I have no idea when I’ll get around to it, but I want to tie some of this stuff togeather. This was always intended to be a reply specificlly to the case in California, but it’s blossomed into something more. When I do get around to it, I’ll post a new link to it.

 Comment by Janus on December 9, 2008 @ 3:53 pm

The ironic thing is that, as gays are more and more accepted by their heterosexual friends and family and take their rightful place in the mainstream of society with everyone else, the place of marriage at the center of society will be eroded by their not being allowed to marry.

The more people heterosexuals have in their lives who cannot marry, the less important marriage will seem for them.

It is the Christian Right who are destroying marriage’s central place, not the gays.

Conservative Christians are also impinging on the rights of an increasing number of both gay and straight Christians (including entire denominations now) who believe monogamous committed gays and lesbians to be spiritually acceptable for religious marriage.

Conservative Christians have every right to oppose same sex marriages being blessed by their own denominations but they have no business trying to force their way on other denominations.

 Comment by Andrew M. Potts on December 10, 2008 @ 4:08 am

“Judeo Christian values” are NOT at the center of our legal system. The U.S. system is rooted in the Enightenment counterreaction to centuries of European theocracy.

So-called “Christians” of the current era routinely lie about the Founders and their religion, or lack thereof. The first four presidents were Deists, not Christians. They didn’t believe that the Bible was divinely inspired, they didn’t believe that Christ as divine, they didn’t believe in the Trinity, and they didn’t believe in a God who actively intervened in daily life.

The Founders had many opportunities to declare this a “Christian nation,” or a “Judeo-Christian nation,” but they didn’t do so. Instead, the only mention of religion in the original Constitution was as something to be protected FROM.

So, the idea that a particular sect’s book of superstitions should be the governing force in the United States is not only ridiculous but is directly at odds with this country’s founding principles. “Christians” are well schooled at lying about all of this, but the repetition of lies doesn’t make them true.

 Comment by Rationalist on December 10, 2008 @ 9:35 pm

Marriage for gays and lesbians will be legal all over the country eventually. Everyone had better start getting used to the idea. Gays and lesbians are on your television, in your bank, your grocery store, and your children’s schools. They’re your coworkers, your personal trainers, your doctors, your lawyers, your barber or stylist, your friends and your relatives. They enjoy sex with other persons of the same sex. They find a person to fall in love with. They get married in some regard, with or without the law and the government. It’s only a matter of time until it’s recognized and legal rights are afforded to them. I don’t care how conservative, Christian, close-minded, or backwoods you are. You’re going to be the one left in the dark someday wondering why you are so goddamn angry about other people’s lives. And here’s a question, why are you so angry? Why do you even care? Maybe you’re afraid that you’ve had homosexual desires before… or that your kids are gay. Do you ever stop to think about why you spend your time thinking about gay marriage and reading about it online? Get a life. Get a clue. And get over it. Gay marriage is happening… sooner than you might think.

 Comment by Fagitron on January 18, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

Technically, weather the gays like it or not. There is no such thing as gay marriage.

Marriage is instituted by the church, not government.

The church’s definition of marriage = Man and Woman

To say a gay has a right to marriage is practically blasphemous

Gov. needs to create a civil union for Gays. I mean, are gays just trying to get “marriage” rights from the government just in spite of religious people denying it to them?

no no, they want to have the same benefits, treated equally, etc.

Then let there be a civil union for gays, not marriage.


 Comment by Taylor on April 8, 2009 @ 1:27 am


The problem with your theory is that traditional marriage laws do not discriminate against homosexuals. Straight or gay, everyone has the right to marry another of the opposite sex. The fact that many homosexuals do not want to exercise this right does not logically support the conclusion that the government is discriminating against.

The Fourteenth Amendment is the nail in the coffin for false claim of discrimination. No homosexual can claim he is being denied the same right as a heterosexual to the institution of marriage. What gay-marriage advocates are demanding is a new right that no one ever had before: The right to marry a member of the same sex. There is much mendacity behind this demand under the rubric of discrimination.

Furthermore, the other claims of discrimination you allege fail to make a distinction between proclivity and behavior. It is the difference between hating the sinner and hating the sin, of which the former is uncommon these days while latter remains grounded in rationality and not mindless disgust.

 Comment by Wm Tingley on April 20, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

 Comment by Janus on April 22, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

Thanks for the link to your previous commentary on the Fourteenth Amendment, Janus.

I think you dismiss too lightly why the Fourteenth Amendment offers no ground for gay-marriage as a constitutional right:

1. Restricting marriage to its traditional definition does not discriminate against homosexuals, who are in any case a very small percentage of the population (which is a legally valid consideration in redefining rights that are as fundamental and broadly applied as the marriage laws are in this country).

2. Certainly marriage has been defined as the union of one man to one woman. This is not arbitrary. There are compelling reasons for it. That union is the one that creates families, and the family is the prepolitical foundation of any state. Enlightened states will therefore formally recognize this reality and the benefit of strong families to the state’s well-being. So marriage laws protect and privilege the formation of such families to the exclusion of non-familial or quasi-familial associations.

3. Civil unions aren’t analogous to the oppressive “separate but equal’ doctrine that was the bulwark of state-enforced racial segregation. Many civil union laws are poorly cast to be sure. But in an advanced society like ours, there is a place for lawful associations of persons who choose to be interdependent regardless of any sexual component those associations may or may not have. Of course gay-marriage advocate argue that civil unions are not marriage. No, they’re not, but they do provide homosexual couples with almost all of what they need to support their freely chosen interdependency. What civil unions don’t do (ideally) is recognize the relevance of any sexual component between associates and they do not force private parties in many (generally reasonable) cases to provide marriage-like benefits to the associates of a civil union. The reason is simple: Gay marriage by definition is sterile. It cannot create a family. Children can only be produced by going OUTSIDE of the union, which draws in a host of unstable factors unlike the traditional marriage union.

4. None of this is to argue that heterosexuals don’t abuse or make a mess of traditional marriage. But this is a cultural abasement of marriage in which marriage is deemed as a free association of the married individuals that is considered successful only if it serves the narcissitic needs of each. (Of course, the law has abetted this vulgarization of marriage with no-fault divorce and now gay-marriage laws.) That idea that the formation, development, and defense of a strong family is the primary rationale of marriage has been lost upon many for a long time now. And so I suppose it’s not so odd that homosexuals want to get on-board with the conception of marriage amenable to their worldview that many (maybe most) heterosexuals have of it these days. But that conception is adolescent and narcissitic, and so just like no-fault divorce, gay marriage will have the same corrosive effect upon the morally and culturally serious rationales for the state privileging traditional marriage over other unions. Nonetheless, that privileged place in the law does not run afoul of the Fourthteenth Amendment because no one is denied access to it because of sexual orientation or behavior.

Regards, Bill

P.S. For those who think opposition of gay marriage is nothing but religious bigotry, note that none of what I have argued is predicated upon any religious doctrine.

 Comment by Wm Tingley on April 22, 2009 @ 4:48 pm

Because virtually all of it was answered in some way above, I was thinking of letting your comment stand, however, I just can’t stop myself from responding to your first point: Denying citizens equal rights under the law simply because they are “a very small percentage of the population” is the very definition of institutionalized bigotry. Regardless of whether your bigotry is based on religon or a more secular mental defect, you should be ashamed of yourself for suggesting that mintorities don’t deserve equal treatement because they’re just minorities.

 Comment by Janus on April 22, 2009 @ 5:18 pm


If your best response to me is that I am a bigot because you don’t understand that the law is not required to be bent into a pretzel to accommodate everyone’s preference for how the law is to applied to them speaks poorly of you. Disagreeing with what you call bigotry is not a mental defect. And of course I never made any statement of the sort you claimed in your last line.

But I hold no grudge with you. We all make mistakes in the heat of the moment.


 Comment by Wm Tingley on April 23, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

I’m sorry, I just don’t feel the need to repeat arguments I’ve already made above to address points I’ve already addressed to a comment left 11 months after the origional post to a person who doesn’t believe minorities deserve equal treatment because they’re minorities. It’s just not worth my time.

 Comment by Janus on April 23, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

It’s been a full year since this was posted and more than a month since the last comment. I’m going to close this thread. If you’re reading this and would like to continue this debate somewhere, feel free to email, send me a DM on twitter, or IM me.

 Comment by Janus on May 28, 2009 @ 11:50 am