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Minton's Playhouse
On Gay Marriage
 
If the Poop and the Pope
BOTH say it's wrong...
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...it's gotta be right!

 
Common Sense, the Church and the Law
Churches have a right to decide church policy,
but absolutely and explicitly
NO right to establish civil law.

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I recently came across this very typical bit of nonsense on an internet forum:
 
[Why do people oppose gay marriage?] Well, to begin with it is not natural. The ultimate purpose of sex is to create offspring. Since male on male or female on female cannot produce children, it is a violation of nature. Where would we be if God created Adam and Steve or Anna and Eve?
  
Needless to say, I felt obligated to post a polite response...
 
Well, to begin with [gay marriage] is not natural.
=== That arguement -- "Just 'tain't natural" -- has been used against everything from interracial marriage to heavier-than-air flight. In  The African Queen  Hepburn said to Bogart, "Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we were put on this earth to rise above." Indeed, it is probably "natural" that big people beat up little people and take their food, but we devise UNnatural systems of law that prohibit such behavior and ensure freedom and justice. Marriage itself is not actually "natural" since it is a cultural construct, like grammar, free market economy, the Olympics, or the Internet. We do not, as a species, limit ourselves to what is "natural." That is for the lower orders.
 
The ultimate purpose of sex is to create offspring.
=== There are 46 valid arguements against that statement. Whose purpose? I've been sexually active [very active] for 36 years, and my purpose for sex has very [very] rarely been procreation. I am probably not alone on this. I've had sex for many reasons; to express love, to release tension, to raise my self-seteem, to raise the other person's self-esteem, to chase away boredom, to assure myself of my virility, to take advantage of an irrisistable situation, to get to know another person, to satisfy curiosity, to win a bet, to show compassion, to comfort grief, and on about twelve occassions, to create children -- of which I have three. Sex is like language -- it can be used an an infinite variety of ways to express or create a limitless range of human experiences. I suspect you are referring to "god's'" purpose, but in our not-yet-a-theocracy, that is irrelevant.
 
=== It seems also that you have shifted the subject from equal marriage rights to the 'morality" of same-sex sexual relations. One has virtually nothing to do with the other.
 
Since male on male or female on female cannot produce children, it is a violation of nature.
=== My father, at 77, married a 72 year old woman. By all reports, there was a disgraceful amount of sex, but -- alas! -- no baby. Should their marriage have been declared a crime against nature and their marriage license recalled? Fecundity and virility are not required for marriage. Sexless marriages are perfectly legal and [from what my straight male married friends tell me] not at all uncommon. You are seriously begging the question when you presume that procreation is fundamental to legal marriage. Not only are there many, many marriages without procreation, there is a hell of a lot of procreation without marriage. That, I belive, is nature at it's most basic.
 
=== There is an implied religious underpinning to your specious arguement. Please understand how irrelevant your religious views are. When we speak of equal marriage rights, we are not requiring anything whatsoever of any religion. The various churches may practice their diverse 'one-truths" in any way they may choose. They can marry gay people or not marry them. It is irrelevant. The Catholic Church chooses not to marry good Catholics to thrice-divorced Jews. So be it; and who cares? It is still perfectly legal for for Mary Catherine to become the fourth Mrs. Cohen. "Marriage" as a religious sacrement is legally irrelevant. Equal marriage rights refer to the right of two consenting adults to enter into a legally recognized civil relationship, not to get up in front of any given church and perform a ritual. Many churches already perform church marriages for gay couples, but they are not legally recognized by our secular legal system. Should gay marriage become legal, neither would churches be required to perform marriages if they don't "beleive in it." Atheists get married without involving churches. People on death row marry people. Greedy ho's on game shows get married. Anna Nicole Smith gets married. Gay men can marry lesbians. Democrats can marry Republicans. No one's church has to approve of any of these unions, and no church has a right to prevent them.
 
Where would we be if God created Adam and Steve or Anna and Eve?
=== What a compelling and original line of inquirey. There is a religion that believes that the world rests on the back of a giant turtle. Where we would be if that turtle rolled over? Amazingly enough, I don't expend much thought contemplating the what-if's of anyone's mythology, including yours
 
MAX 

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Civil society can't wait for religions on this one

What is the big deal about same-sex marriage that seems to offend so many people? And I want logical, well-thought-out reasons, people; not this religious pablum so many people seem happy to dish out. We still celebrate the separation of church and state in this country.
We are talking about a legally-binding civil contract. It really is that simple. No one is asking any religious organization to rethink its archaic, centuries-old policies. The Catholic Church, Orthodox Jews, the Protestant denominations will not accept same-sex unions for many years to come. But who cares? No one is even attempting to coerce them into doing so. We are talking about a legally-binding civil contract. Period.
Most religious groups have restrictions on marriage already. A good Catholic boy can't marry a fine Jewish girl in the Catholic Church. A Catholic can't even marry another Christian from any of the Protestant denominations. So who really cares if Catholics allow same-sex unions? Or Jews and Muslims for that matter? If you take all of the religious arguments out of the picture and stick strictly to the law, what defense do you really have against same-sex marriages? I have yet to see one compelling argument against gay marriage that did not quote Scripture (wrongly in most cases) or drag God's name into the fray. Quite frankly, I think God has enough on His plate than to worry about a pair of lesbians buying a ranch together in Idaho or a couple of gay men picking out china patterns for their new condo.
This notion that it's "wrong" or "sinful" is really just a matter of opinion. Until 1967, people of different races could not marry legally in much of this country. Some people still don't think African-Americans and pure white Yankees should be allowed to marry. But you know what -- who cares? The blending of Americans is one of our greatest strengths. Most people got over it and the world did not come crashing down.
Jews are still marrying Catholics (in civil ceremonies) and Baptists are still marrying Episcopalians (in civil ceremonies) and the country has not ground to a halt yet.
If churches, mosques and synagogues do not wish to sanction gay marriages, gay people should still have the same civil rights as any other group.
The legal and emotional benefits of being able to marry are tremendous. The younger generations will get used to same-sex couples much in the same way my generation got used to seeing couples of different races walking hand in hand down Purchase Street. In the real world we all get up every day, go to work, pay our taxes and expect to find contentment with a life partner someday. Please tell me what is wrong with that! And who does it hurt?
ROBIN RICHARD
New Bedford

SHOCKING NEWS!

Canada survives gay marriage ruling

07/05/03  Tony Brown  Stratford, Ontario -

I've been in Canada for more than a week, and so far I haven't seen any thunderbolts striking our neighbors to the north dead. 
    
Traditional Canadian married couples, husband and wife, can be seen walking along together just as before. Traditional Canadian families - mom, pop and the kids - have not suddenly disintegrated.

I happened to bicycle by an outdoor chapel and witnessed three sets of June brides and June grooms taking their vows, and at my hotel I spied a sign advertising the 50th wedding anniversary of an elderly man and woman.

Ontario has legalized gay marriage, and nothing about the country appears to have been consumed by hellfire and brimstone.

None of the dire consequences predicted by conservative groups in the United States should our country welcome gays and lesbians into the blissful state of matrimony seem to have materialized here.

What we call the family unit has not been destroyed. The sacrament of marriage remains unbesmirched. The wrath of God has not been visited upon anyone in particular.

There are other signs that the far right may be all wrong about the gay issue in the United States as well.

The Supreme Court finally struck down the Texas sodomy law last week. An actual gay couple (not a fictional one on a sitcom) shared a passionate kiss on the nationally televised Tony Awards a couple of weeks ago after winning the prize for writing the score of "Hairspray." CBS got 10 phone calls and 68 e-mails from 8 million viewers.

Not only that, but the best actor in a musical Tony award went to a gay man who wears a dress and plays a woman in "Hairspray."

And the best-play award went to "Take Me Out," a show about a star baseball player who comes out of the closet.

Ramifications: none. Attendance jumped at both award-winning shows after the broadcast.

Meanwhile, Episcopalians in New Hampshire recently elected the first openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican communion.

I belong to an Episcopal church in Cleveland, Trinity Cathedral, which I have attended several times since this happy news broke, and no one has bolted the place. If anything, it feels even more inclusive than before. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that we picked up a few new members who feel more at home in a church that welcomes everyone.

We in Cleveland seem to have taken many strides of late to be more inclusive.

The dean of my church, the Very Rev. Tracey Lind, is a lesbian. In her nearly three years there, Trinity has expanded and prospered, not so much because of her sexual orientation but because she is a fine preacher and urban activist.

In Cleveland Heights, city workers who are gay can now share their workplace benefits with their live-in lovers, thanks to a city ordinance. That eastern suburb is also home to a recent petition effort that will bring to the ballot a proposal to officially recognize all such nonmarital unions.

And across town in Lakewood earlier this month, Mayor Madeline Cain stood her ground and let the rainbow flag of inclusion fly at city hall during Gay Pride Week.

The result of all this gay-rights activity in Canada, in the United States, in the Episcopal Church and in Cleveland has not been the diminishment of rights for nongays that conservatives have predicted.

I'm a straight, white, married male, and I feel nothing but joy in being able to commune more closely with my gay brothers and sisters, to celebrate being alive on the planet with them.

Of course, many conservatives say that my punishment, and the punishment of those who think like me, awaits the Judgment Day, when God's wrath will be unmerciful.

As colorful as this image may be, it is a twisted reading of scripture.

While the Old Testament's Book of Leviticus condemns homosexuality, it also proscribes wearing clothes made of two fabrics (forget those polyester blends), eating raw meat (carpaccio is out) and touching the skin of a dead pig (rendering football sinful).

Nowhere in the Gospels, on the other hand, does Jesus say anything one way or the other about homosexuality. But he does say, repeatedly, that it is good to embrace those who are different from us, repel us and offend us. Even those who wear polyester blends.

According to surveys, Canadians are far less likely than Americans to identify themselves as church-going Christians.

Which brings up this ticklish question: Why are the Canadians, who increasingly say they have given up the church, behaving in a much more Christlike manner than many so-called "Christian conservatives" in America?

If that question lands me in hell, so be it. For the time being, I'm in the other place. I'm in Canada.

Brown, theater critic of The Plain Dealer, is on assignment in Canada.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:  tbrown@plaind.com, 216-999-4181 2003 The Plain Dealer.

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LINKS:

Gay Marriage? Absolutely!

Debunking the Arguements