Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gay Marriage?

Prologue:
I recognize that some are going to want to attack me for these thoughts because they don't agree with them. Before you do so, know that such aggressive behavior has already done more to hurt your cause than help it.

I'm not entirely at peace with either side of the gay marriage debate. What I do know for certain is that I don't want anyone unable to live without physical or undue emotional harm because of their moral decisions unless those moral decisions directly hurt another person's ability to live without physical or undue emotional harm. Hurting someone in any way just because they don't agree with you is inexcusable.

This is rambling, because rambling is exactly how I feel about this issue. I can see good and bad to both sides of the argument. Originally, I supported legalizing gay marriage. But, as I've listened to the debate, the pro-gay-marriage side has made me a lot more hesitant to support it. Their arguments for gay marriage have done more to frighten me about the possible ramifications than the arguments against have convinced me.

"Sexual orientation is not what I do, it's what I am. Either accept what I do, or you are rejecting me, and are my enemy."
For me, sexual orientation IS a choice. I choose as a woman, not only to be attracted to men, but to be attracted to a certain type of man. For me, having sex is even more of a choice. Sometimes it is a more difficult choice than other times, but it is always a choice.

I believe sin is anything that turns us away from God and His purposes. I believe homosexuality is a sin. So is extra-marital sex between a man and a woman. So is incest. So is sex with a minor. The last two are punishable by law, the first two are not. If I suspect the latter two, I'm going to get involved. The former two, I am not. I'm not going to avoid anyone just because they don't agree with me. I am going to avoid people who tell me I either have to agree with them, or I'm their enemy. That gets scary, and reeks of fanaticism.

As much as some people would like to make it so, this is not a simple decision between being homophobic or accepting homosexuality. Homosexuality is ALREADY tolerated by the majority of people, even if they don't like it or agree with it. There are shades of gray between toleration and condoning.

"Marriage is a right. You are denying us our basic rights."
Marriage is not a right. It has nothing to do with basic survival. I don't have the right to marry whomever I want. I have no right to marry a family member or a minor. I don't have the right to marry multiple people. Marriage by law is a privilege. Some think it is a privilege that should be extended to same-sex couples, some do not. Some think it is a privilege that should be revoked entirely.

"If you don't let us marry, it is because you hate us."
Sometimes I don't give my children what they want because I love them, and I think that what they want will hurt them.

I have made many decisions that were unpleasant for both me and the other person because I loved them. I choose to see homosexuals as more than just their homosexuality. I see the person, not just the orientation.

"People should be allowed to do what they want to do. It's not hurting anyone else."
There are some moral decisions that are not compatible with society. That is a given. That is what law is for. Whether or not gay relationships should be sanctioned by society, whether or not each individual believes them to be compatible with living in a society, is the issue. It is not just a matter of allowing gay relationships, it is a matter of believing whether or not it is something that government funds and support should be given to the same way as heterosexual relationships wherein future citizens, children of both parties, could potentially be given life. It's also a matter of convincing the general populace that it really won't hurt anyone else.

Marriage is not an island. It affects law and society in a myriad of ways that can't all be foreseen. Any great societal change should be done with caution. In order to change how marriage is done in society, we should be careful. The burden of proof always rests on those who agitate for change of any kind.

I believe that children benefit by having a good role model of each gender. I don't think that having two parents of the same gender immediately harms a child. But if I had a choice between two sets of equally great parents, one gay and one heterosexual, I think there is an advantage in a child having access to both gender role models. I reject the notion that the male and female genders are the same. I think that biology gives each uniquely different ways of coping with the world that are often strengthened by cultural bias (at times strengthened too much). But I still believe there are differences in general, though they vary from individual to individual. I believe they are differences that can complement each other as a parental unit seeks to teach a child ways to cope with the world.

"This is no different from segregation."
The civil rights movement came after a majority had already voted in favor of emancipation, after a war was fought over it. Some people were disobeying law that had already been decided by the majority and the outcome of the war. So far, the majority has decided against (not for) gay marriage, so far, the war is not yet won by either side. At this time, the analogy is not a good one.

Once the legislative body creates a law requiring the extension of marriage to gay couples, until gays are forcefully kept from drinking at certain water fountains, patronizing certain public establishments and sitting in certain seats, the analogy does not hold up. If that does happen, there should certainly be steps taken to punish those who instigate it. That is unequivocal in my mind.

"You can't use your religion to vote."
You have no right to tell me what can and cannot factor into my voting decisions. I have every right to let my religion affect my votes, just as you have a right to let your sexuality affect yours. More than anything, this argument irritates me the most and makes me want to vote against merely to prove I can. It is my vote for a reason, not yours.

Epilogue:
All of these rantings make me nervous that those who want to marry are not truly trying to help gays or society in general so much as they are wanting to win. It feels like they think that all who disagree with them are closed-minded bigots, and they just want to crack their heads open both figuratively and literally. Their goal seems to primarily be to force others to agree with them, not to win something tangible for themselves. It is almost like the marriage itself has become a side note.

And an actual quote:
"We hope you’ll change. You might not, but we hope you and the church will. This is why we insist on calling your stance homophobic and bigoted, so that you don’t feel comfortable about your positions."
Which sums up perfectly what I mean by this post. This openly admits an attempt to manipulate through shame, to control another person's behavior. While I understand the same can be said in the other direction, that still makes me suspect the motives. I don't call you names, please try to extend the same courtesy to those who are genuinely trying to understand.

I know a lot of people have been hurt because of things that other people have done to them, and want to lash out. Understandable, but not reassuring. Not calculated to persuade me to change my mind back to what it was.

I hurt most of all for those who are caught up in the crossfire: those who are truly wanting to follow God's will, but struggle with feeling inadequate or intrinsically deficient. I know how that feels, and I'd not wish it on anyone, no matter why you feel that way. I wish we could all have a good cry on each others' shoulders.

So I've saved for last what I think is the most important part of this whole debate. Know that even though I'm confused and conflicted about the various points, and I definitely don't understand all the ins and outs and possible ramifications of one decision or the other, even though I most definitely do not agree with certain tactics and attitudes on both sides of the fence, there is One who knows and understands it all. It doesn't matter who you are, He understands you and loves you. He wants your eternal joy, not just your immediate happiness. It doesn't matter if I ever fully understand how you are feeling, because He does.

And that is all that really matters, in the end.

51 comments :

  1. This is perhaps one of the best posts I have read written on this "hot bed" of issues. Thank you for expressing how many like you feel.

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  2. Thank you very much for your well thought comments of a difficult issue. While I am definitely on the traditional marriage side, I appreciate that some people understand I am not a bigot or a hateful person. At this moment, I feel very gun-shy about expressing myself on this issue, it's nice to know I'm not alone. Thank you.

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  3. Do you mind me asking how old you are? Your post seems to exhibit a lack of understanding of history and what has been the basis of marriage and sexual orientation in the past.

    I also find your claim that you chose to be attracted to men flimsy? Does that mean you experimented between the two orientations before settling on the heterosexual orientation?

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  4. I enjoyed your ramblings. I think that a law is in place for a reason. Not to be unkind but if you want to give someone your home your income yourself so be it.. but stop whining..

    Brooke
    http://www.momentsofelegance.com

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  5. SilverRain,

    I generally don't comment on this topic (SSM) on blogs because I can't see the benefit, but I appreciate you taking the time to articulate your thoughts on this very difficult issue and respect your thought process.

    I wonder about your assertion that SSM is not like segregation. I think you might be right about that but not for too much longer. It seems that at some point(a tipping point perhaps) society sort of collectively changes what types of personal views are allowable.

    You could have generally been a Mormon and opposed interracial marriage comfortably until the late 1970s. If you do so now, you are a bigot.

    We are, I believe, close to the point that society will not allow you or other Mormons to hold views like yours about SSM without being considered bigots. It's not that your argument changes, but society decides that such views are not to be tolerated anymore.

    You can stick to your guns as do those who refuse to accept racial equality, but you will become more and more marginalized over time.

    Like I said, I don't think we are quite to this point yet but I think we are very close.

    Do I make any sense?

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  6. an attempt to manipulate through shame, to control another person's behavior in a way that increases resistance and blocks communication.

    An attempt to use a method other than love and patience, one that has a core LDS doctrine attached to it (D&C 121: 40).

    Frankly, I tend to be persuaded against whoever has tried to persuade me last, most of the time.

    Bless your heart, I found it interesting to realize you had changed your position (I have read some of your posts in the past in support of SSM).

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  7. Thanks for writing this, SR. It really is such an emotional, complex issue - and too many people on BOTH sides fail to understand the complexity that really does exist.

    "I'm not entirely at peace with either side of the gay marriage debate."

    I, also, am not comfortable with so many of the arguments put forth by both sides. One of the reasons I am conflicted still is exactly that so many of the statements from people on both sides simply are wrong, simplistic, biased, uncharitable and/or flat-out stupid.

    "Hurting someone in any way just because they don't agree with you is inexcusable."

    Amen - and I see that so much in large group discussions, again, from both sides.

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    http://forlots.blogspot.com/

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  9. There are many things I would like to reply to in this blog, but I might correct you on one important point. Nobody wants to 'crack your head open', but it would be nice if you could learn more on the whole subject before offering somewhat slanted views. Education is the key to everything salient that requires discussion or comment. This is not an attempt to belittle you in any way. Education on LGBT issues is often shooed away by religious people because they are scared that they may agree with some of the reasoning. Equality for all does not mean that you have to 'lose' anything, or 'give anything away'. It is simply a matter of letting everyone enjoy the same rights that you currently do. I would urge you to take a look at http://www.wegiveadamn.org/ and look at the 'Faith' section. It is a website set up mainly by and for straight people to highlight the plight of their LGBT friends and family. Reading some of their stories may make it more personal and give you a more subjective view.

    One of the most annoying thinsg for gay people to read, (over and over again I might add), is that sexuality is a choice. Choosing an apple or an orange is a choice. Choosing who you find attractive, or fall in love with, is not, and is inbuilt into our psyche from the moment we are born.
    As for trying to change sexualities, thousands of kids try and fail at it every year, and it is more often than not to please religious parents. One letter from a straight girl on www.giveadamn.org reads:
    "When I was a freshmen in high school, I met a boy who danced with my best friend. The boy was funny, smart and a brilliant dancer, so full of life. During the summer, the boy had come out to his religious family and they had a fit. His mother cried and asked him why he was choosing to go to Hell. His father called him a “faggot” and told him to pack his bags. The next week, he was sent to a “straight camp” in Texas and spent 6 weeks there.

    The counselors showed them graphic, gay pornography and shocked them with electricity if they started to become aroused. They made them read from the Bible every day, and gave lectures on how being gay is a sin against God and how they all choose to become gay. The boy returned home for school, but his urges and feelings didn’t go away.

    The boy tried to act straight for his parents sake, but it became just too hard for him. I would see him at school and I could tell that something was wrong, even if he said he was fine. In September, the boy was found dead in his room after hanging himself. He left a note apologizing to his parents for not being able to be straight and that now he would join people like him in Hell. He was 15.

    I’m 20 now, but I will never forget how people’s intolerance and ignorance cut such a talented young man’s life short. Because of this, I give a damn."
    I would welcome any kind of reply, but I don't expect one. I hope you manage to find your way through your "confusion", and maybe see things from another person's point of view, even if it means you never change yours.
    Best wishes,
    Rob

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  12. Michael—I don't mind you asking how old I am, but I have no reason to answer you. I am old enough and attentive enough to history to have a decent understanding of the nature of the marital institution and how and why it has changed over the course of civilizations. Rather than trying to discount my opinion outright by casting empty aspersions on my intellect and understanding, perhaps you could try to bring up some specific historical points that you feel I've overlooked.

    You can find my claim that my orientation is a choice "flimsy" all you want. My claim is true, and I have no need to prove it to you by delving into why I know it is a choice.

    Brooke—"stop whining" is rather unkind. I don't think that the trouble people are having with this is mere "whining". I can understand why gay couples would want to be married under law, sanctioning their relationships. I don't know that their desire is sufficient to warrant a change in law, but I can certainly understand the desire and the magnitude of their dilemma. Please, at least acknowledge the seriousness of this topic for those families who it affects most.

    Stephen—I'm with you, I tend to disagree with whomever is doing the arguing at the moment. :D Unfortunately, people like you and me and Ray are not in a good position. I think the only person or group of people who survived long with a stance of neutrality is Switzerland, and that's because no one can bother to cross the Alps to get to them.

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  13. Sanford—Thank you for your calm and reasoned response. I can always count on you for that. :D

    Mostly, I don't feel it is the same for the reasons I articulated in the post. I don't think that orientation itself is the same as race. For one, race is a highly visible, generally easily defined, and completely involuntary set of genetic traits. I am not yet convinced that homosexuality is the same. I believe that active homosexuality is a choice, just like any number of other behaviors which turn us away from God and His plan for our happiness that may have genetic or situational underpinnings.

    I don't think that racial segregation was merely about what is popular opinion and what is not. Don't forget that a full war was fought over which opinions should prevail, and the legal war was fought long after the civil war had already decided which way the issue would blow. I don't think the analogy will ever be completely accurate because the roots of this situation are entirely different.

    I especially dislike the analogy because it is not really used for the real-life legal or historical similarities (which are few), but in order to mud-sling and label the opposite side as bigoted. In reality, the legal and historical similarities are much stronger with the fight over polygamy. You'll notice that analogy is seldom drawn, and never used to label, probably because those fighting for non-traditional marriage lost in that case.

    Remember, too, that "Mormons" or other religious groups are not the only ones who do not believe same-sex marriage is beneficial to society. They are merely the most visible and easiest to attack, especially since "society" is becoming increasingly hostile and intolerant of any religion at all.

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  14. Rob—You are wrong about those who would force others' opinions to change. The quote I shared is only one of many sentiments that express exactly that. I have seen far too much "if you're not with us, you're against us" mentality. I have expressed disagreement with both sides at various times, and have been met with ample viciousness from both sides.

    I have listened extensively to both sides, so rather than labeling me as ignorant or "too scared", feel free to share what you think I'm missing. I've heard poignant stories like the one you relate. They convince me of the need for genuine love and understanding in this situation, but I still remain unconvinced that SSM should be legalized.

    Don't confuse that with unfeeling.

    As I said, I have been marginalized and hated for my personality for much of my life. Some parts of my personality I have agonized over and softened or changed. Other parts I have so far been unsuccessful changing. I can choose my behavior and expression of that behavior far more than I can choose the color of my skin.

    I recognize the difficulty of dealing with natural inclinations. I have NEVER trivialized the difficulties that many homosexuals have had by making the argument that gay people should just switch or change. That is not the same argument as love being a choice.

    This quote from you, "Choosing who you find attractive, or fall in love with, is not," is what I utterly and completely reject.

    I don't just reject it from the standpoint of gay marriage, I reject it across the board. I rejected it to my roommates who "helplessly fell in love" with the wrong men. I have rejected it to friends of mine who have cheated on their spouses or "fallen out of love" and thought about divorce.

    I have rejected it in myself when I find myself beginning to be attracted to someone inappropriate.

    Love is NEVER, EVER a helpless act. It is an act of choice. I refuse to believe that we, mankind, are simply victims of our hormones.

    That is the least convincing argument of all, and it smacks of self-victimization, which because of my life experiences, I find extremely distasteful. It strips the spark of dignity out of a person, and makes them little more than a spoiled child, unable to control themselves and blaming their environment for it.

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  15. Okay I will agree with you that we all have some control over who we fall in love with. 'Love' is an intangible, over which we either choose to indulge in or reject. The one thing that we are unable to reject is the gender that we find attractive. There is no element of choice involved. You refused to answer Michael when he asked if at any time you made a conscious decision to choose your orientation, and simply answered, "My claim is true, and I have no need to prove it to you by delving into why I know it is a choice."

    Reiterating a belief does not make it true. Do you honestly believe that thousands of kids would rather hang themselves than have to pretend to be something they are not? Do you think that if someone had strapped electrodes to you and showed you pictures of men that it would have automatically made you a lesbian? If the tables were turned and you were told that you *had* to fancy a woman, any woman, and settle down with her as a life partner, could you do it? No, of course not, unless you are bisexual. The diversity that exists in the human condition can not so easily be pigeonholed into 'all must be born heterosexual because I am'. Hating someone for their sexuality is exactly the same as hating someone for being tall, or for having blue eyes. It makes no sense. Also, why would you believe that someone, anyone would 'choose' to be attracted to someone of their own gender when life is made so much more difficult by a judging majority?
    I am speaking as a gay man with several years experience of dating women. I didn't date them because I wanted to, because I honestly didn't find any of them sexually attractive. I have never found any woman sexually attractive. I dated them because I grew up in a judgemental society that told me that I was wrong to find men attractive, even though I had done so since puberty. I dated them because I didn't want to disappoint my parents. But most of all, I dated them in order to 'fit in'. I didn't want to feel the odd man out, the exile, the outcast, and nobody does. But we can't argue with nature.If you are born with certain traits, there is little you can do about it. The only option to any gay person is either to find someone who feels the same way, or to live a life of celibacy. Two consenting adults in a relationship affects nobody but the two people concerned, whether or not they are allowed to marry. Being allowed to marry is not about 'winning the fight'. It is about being recognised as being exactly the same decent, upstanding members of a community that deserve the same rights as their heterosexual brothers and sisters.
    If you could offer up any reasonable explanations against gay people or their choice to marry that didn't involve your religious indoctrination, I would love to hear them.
    Thank you for at least involving yourself in discussion on the subject,
    Rob
    http://www.youtube.com/robnorthampton

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  16. Rob-
    I know from personal experience that I am not the only one in the position I am going to describe to you.

    I am a man in a very committed, loving, heterosexual marriage relationship. During high school, I had several dating relationships. In high school, I was attracted sexually to the girls I dated. I even had moments of strong sexual attraction to boys. I chose not to have sex with anyone in high school because I'd been educated on the consequences.

    By the time I met my future wife, my reasons for dating had changed. I fell in love with something my future wife said publicly where I was in the listening audience. I fell in love with her, and not with her body. She had A cup breasts and a plain if not more masculine face. I wasn't attracted to these things (I was attracted to big breasted women in high school), but I realized that there was something else that controlled my love: Sacrifice, unselfish giving, and working together. I know at least two friends of mine who have followed the same example. I'm not saying we have ugly wives. I'm saying we married for the right reason.

    Gay marriage opponents don't often say this, but I feel compelled to say it: Merely showing stable, long term relationships in the gay community is not going to persuade Middle America to support gay marriage. Showing that the two of you are together for the right reasons makes all the difference.

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  17. To Anonymous above:
    I think I understand your point. You are trying to say that the majority of people, especially in Middle America, assume that gay relationships are short-lived, unfaithful, and largely sex-based. I won't deny that in the younger generation, there will always be a wandering element, or a chance to jump into bed with the next bright, shiny thing to catch their eye. However, I think that is the same for many straight young people too. On the other hand, there are also those whose only wish is to find someone to love and settle down into a committed, stable relationship.
    Having made that decision, of course it has to be based on more than just a sexual attraction if it is to last. There has to be a meeting of minds, a respect for each other, and a certain amount of 'give and take', as in any relationship. You wrote, "Merely showing stable, long term relationships in the gay community is not going to persuade Middle America to support gay marriage." The point is that no matter what Middle America is exposed to or educated about, they will always treat gay relationships as second class, because it suits their 'agenda'. to throw back one of the stupid words always meted out at gay people.
    I have known many committed gay and lesbian relationships that have lasted much longer than most straight relationships these days. One couple I have known since I was 23 shared 50 years together in 2009, and are now in their seventies. The reason? Love, pure and simple. It's certainly not for the sex when you reach that age. And what will happen when one of them dies? The nearest living relative of the deceased, no matter how estranged, will have to be consulted about what to do with the body because the partner of 50+ years has no rights. That is why gay people want and need the security of the 'marriage' tag. It is to show that they are legally joined, and have equal rights with anything connected to their relationship, including the decision making when one is seriously ill, or dies.

    I am lucky that I met someone that I fell in love with when I was 25 and he was 19. We stayed together for 21 years. I suppose as can happen to any couple, gay or straight, we just sort of grew apart, but we wouldn't have lasted that long if it was purely about the bedtimes. I am doubly lucky in that I am now in another stable, committed relationship which has lasted 9 years, and is ongoing. Monogamy is not the forte of straight couples. The fact that so many gay couples stay together despite being married is a testament to their love and committment to each other.
    Rob

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  18. Rob, "No, of course not, unless you are bisexual."

    And you see why I refuse to get into details. This is a no-win argument. To use a bad analogy, you are convinced the sky has to be either gray or blue, and I'm looking at a pink sky. Nothing I tell you about what I see makes a shred of difference to you. There is no place in your world view for accepting a concept that I take as a truth: that we have choice in what we find attractive. I believe that biologically, sexual attraction is for procreation, and other forms of attraction are outside of the biological purpose. I never said it was a simple or easy choice, or that the choice wasn't affected by genes or our formative environment. But I still feel it is a choice.

    Just as you say that my assertion of truth does not make it true, so does your claim that it cannot be true make it so. Between the two of us, I feel uniquely qualified to comment on my experiences of sexuality. I fully intend to act on what my experiences have been, since I have no tools to judge the reality of others' experiences.

    "Hating someone for their sexuality is exactly the same as hating someone for being tall, or for having blue eyes."

    I disagree. Period. I do not believe that sexual orientation is purely a genetic trait any more than I think that violence is purely a genetic trait, or a preference for vanilla ice cream or no ice cream at all. If you believe that you can't help your orientation because of your experiences, I'm more than willing to cede your opinion to yourself. I can't judge something I've not lived. Please be willing to do the same for me.

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  19. (continued)

    And actually, although my opinion is certainly biased by my religious background, most of my legal concerns with legalizing SSM rest in concern over the short-term impact to the tax base, my suspicions about the motivations for pushing for SSM in the way it is being pushed, the middle-term impact to my freedom to teach my moral code to my children, and the long-term impact to society which cannot be proven, only postulated.

    I also have a fundamental, deep-rooted belief that marriage is not only about the two partners in in the marriage. I believe that its social purpose is completely unrelated to love, though love is a great thing within marriage.

    I believe that marriage has gone through a redefinition, making it into something much more selfish and me-based. This redefinition has led to an increase in divorce and broken homes, cheating spouses and societal chaos. I feel that gay marriage arguments as I have seen them so far reinforce these misconceptions about the social construct of marriage and will therefore serve to weaken it further.

    I do not believe that marriage should be nothing more than an expression of love. I realize I'm in the minority about that.

    See, part of the problem is that marriage itself is so complicated. You have an emotional aspect, a sexual aspect, a biological/procreative, a social, and a societal factor.

    Where I can see that emotional and sexual attraction might cause someone to want to be together, same-sex marriage can certainly NOT be about the procreative drive.

    That boils the argument for SSM down to using the emotional/sexual aspects to drive the social and societal ones.

    I remain ambiguous about the societal reason. The social one concerns me. I feel that there is a huge primary factor for pushing for marriage when another structure (like civil unions) would serve just as well to satisfy all the other aspects (except biology/procreation, and let's not go there). That factor is social. Same-sex couples want to be accepted.

    And that's where I get edgy. I feel that homosexual relations take us away from God's plan for our happiness by focusing on the temporary aspects of sexual relationships. (Just for the record, they're not alone in this.) I really get worried when I feel like someone is trying to force me to say otherwise. From watching the debate rage, I think there is a significant vocal majority of pro-SSMs that are pushing for it in order to force social recognition. Other purposes seem to hit a dead end.

    In short, I think this debate is merely a small scuffle in a much larger anti-religion vs. anti-science war.

    And that, I find unacceptable.

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  20. For me, sexual orientation IS a choice. I choose as a woman, not only to be attracted to men, but to be attracted to a certain type of man." --SilverRain

    Wow. As someone who has never felt any choice in their sexual orientation I find this remark kind of astonishing, SilverRain, and I ask you, kindly, to contemplate that, though true for you, it is not true for everyone.

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  21. From SilverRain: "I feel that homosexual relations take us away from God's plan for our happiness by focusing on the temporary aspects of sexual relationships."

    Please, SliverRain, gay people want to get married because they love each other and want to spend their lives together. It is no more about sex than is heterosexual marriage. Why would it be?

    If you are talking about eternal marriage offered by getting married in the temple, that has absolutely nothing to do with civil marriage and the civil rights it confers.

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  23. I have some clarifying thoughts on each of your points as I feel you have misinterpreted certain arguments (granted, which arguments aren't very aptly made):

    "Sexual orientation is not what I do, it's what I am. Either accept what I do, or you are rejecting me, and are my enemy."

    I would argue that what one does, what one believes, etc. are integral parts of who a person is (notice the present tense; I'm not talking about what one can become, referring specifically to the LDS argument about who one is in an eternal sense).

    For example, you are a mormon. It is your choice to be a mormon, but it is still a significant part of who you are.

    You are a mother. It is your choice to be a mother, but it is still a significant part of who you are.

    I am gay. It is my choice to "be gay" (that is, it is my choice to date boys), but it is still a significant part of who I am.

    It’s also not about acceptance. It’s about being treated equally.

    "Marriage is a right. You are denying us our basic rights."

    Legal rights are not synonymous with basic needs. Basic legal rights are things to which each human being is entitled equally.

    Nonetheless, it is still debatable whether or not each human being is entitled to marriage.

    Nonetheless II, the 14th amendment states: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." (emphasis mine)

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  24. "If you don't let us marry, it is because you hate us."

    Firstly, the argument isn't about letting or not letting people get married. It's about recognizing and protecting marriages equally.

    I can still marry a man here in Utah. It just won't be recognized by the government, and said relationship will not be equally protected by the law.

    Secondly, "you hate us" comes from the not seeing our marriages, not seeing us as equal people. By "equal" I mean deserving the same protections, privileges, and liberties that you, yourself, enjoy. For example, your choice, as you put it, to be heterosexual is more protected by the law than my choice to be homosexual.

    Perhaps "hate" is a strong word, indeed. However, being seen as a lesser person feels quite the opposite of being loved, to be completely honest.

    "People should be allowed to do what they want to do. It's not hurting anyone else."

    The argument isn't about "not hurting anyone else." It's about serving the same function, providing the same benefit, as the counterpart.

    The only “societal change” is legally protecting in an equal sense what already is.

    "This is no different from segregation."

    I don’t think anyone is really saying that this is exactly like segregation. There are nonetheless similarities, some of them significant. If you haven’t already, I suggest watching Hairspray and see how similar the situations are.

    "You can't use your religion to vote."

    What is meant here is that one cannot legislate one’s religious beliefs. That is to say, yes you may believe that gay marriage is sinful; however, that alone is not sufficient grounds on which to make a law.

    Frankly, “societal change,” “traditional families,” et al. are merely covers to one’s religious beliefs. There is no proof, whatsoever that gay marriage changes society, affects one’s own personal family, damages children, etc. In fact, the proof is quite the opposite, that gays serve comparably as straight people in their relationships.

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  26. "This is no different from segregation."

    I don’t think anyone is really saying that this is exactly like segregation. There are nonetheless similarities, some of them significant. If you haven’t already, I suggest watching Hairspray and see how similar the situations are.

    "You can't use your religion to vote."

    What is meant here is that one cannot legislate one’s religious beliefs. That is to say, yes you may believe that gay marriage is sinful; however, that alone is not sufficient grounds on which to make a law.

    Frankly, “societal change,” “traditional families,” et al. are merely covers to one’s religious beliefs. There is no proof, whatsoever that gay marriage changes society, affects one’s own personal family, damages children, etc. In fact, the proof is quite the opposite, that gays serve comparably as straight people in their relationships.

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  27. SilverRain, thanks for articulating your thoughts. I am continually thinking about this issue and reassessing my position and thoughts. It is a complex issue to be sure and I appreciate hearing others' thoughts on it.

    FWIW, I just wanted to add one additional reason why I'm concerned about gay marriage (yeah, so I'm not tired of talking about it, I guess).

    There continues to be comments that "this won't hurt you at all." But if my religion has a fundamental belief that homosexual relationships (not attraction, but sexual acts) are sinful and that heterosexual marriage is fundamental to God's plan, and gay marriage passes and provides "equal protection" then rights of those with religious beliefs like mine will be affected. There's no way they won't be.

    In my mind, there's no way to really have gay rights and protection for religious perspectives that take a stance against homosexuality and/or gay marriage.

    So to say that this won't affect me or my life or my church to me is not true. The evidence of intolerance for such beliefs is already so striking, and that's even without the full backing of any legalized gay marriage nationwide.

    I can really sympathize with the flip side of this issue. I can understand why gays want equal footing in terms of marriage -- because they want legitimacy to their sexual orientation and relationships.

    And I have yet to see anyone supporting gay marriage really be honest about this potential impact, which to me would be inevitable.

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  28. Michelle, your concern is not inevitable in the least bit.

    Churches opposed to homosexuality are able to operate exactly the same in countries that allow gay marriage.

    There may be social pressures to change (and such will come no matter the legal status of homosexual relationships); however, there will not be any legal ramifications to force churches to operate differently.


    Furthermore, what you're saying is rather hypocritical. For how many years have religious people been saying things like, "Homosexuals are sinners!" ? (Such is said in this very post.)

    And you want to stand against homosexual marriage because society will consider your beliefs sinful? (And, yes, I do believe the way so-called Christian churches view and treat homosexuals is extremely sinful and quite the opposite of Christian.)

    Again, nobody, NOBODY, will ever be able to force a religion to practice anything (specifically a church as privatized as the mormon church).

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  29. In response to Michelle:
    There is a blog by a straight lawyer who makes the point possibly more succinct than I could. I urge you to read it at:

    http://spaninquis.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/prop-8-decision-was-proper/

    In his summing up, he says of Prop 8 being overturned:
    "After reading this decision I’ve changed my mind, and agree that it would be much simpler to adopt the definition of Judge Walker and allow everyone to get married if they so choose. There is no harm to anyone in doing so. None. The idea that the “institution of marriage” would be diminished by it is soundly rejected as nonsense, another scare tactic of the religious. If that institution hasn’t been affected by the societal changes of the past 100 years, including the divorce rate of opposite-sex couples, then the marriage of homosexuals will have little impact on it.

    Churches will not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in situations they don’t approve, just like they don’t have to now if they find a proposed marriage to not be in the best interest of the church or the couple (usually the former). (I doubt, if I was gay, I’d want to be married in a church like that anyway, but that is the decision of the couple to be married). Opposite sex couples can still be married, and the gay wedding down the street will not affect their marriage or their ability to procreate if they so choose. Finally, as far as marriage goes, we will all be “created equal”.

    As Judge Walker said:

    Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples."

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  30. This blog might provide some insight into how someone who is gay can "choose" whom to love. Not an easy road, but full of rewards.

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  31. First, I would like to say that "Middle America" is not completely anti-SSM. There are few places more "Middle America" than Iowa, and Iowa is one of the few places where homosexual couples can marry legally. Do not make the mistake of thinking that individuals who do not live within driving distance of an ocean are somehow uneducated or ignorant. That is not the case. And those of us who live in such places take great offense at such assumptions.

    Oh, and for what it is worth, Iowa has not been drastically or horrifically changed since SSM became legal.

    That being said...My concern with the whole debate lies in where the logical extensions of all the arguments will take us.

    Will temple marriage be outlawed because the state will refuse to see the authority of the Mormon church? (Given that much of the fight against SSM comes from "Christians" who do not see the LDS church as christian, this is a distinct possibility.) Will no church marriage be sanctioned by the state, and require all to marry at the courthouse?

    And on the other side...will we allow marriage to anyone or anything, as they do in Amsterdam? (I have a good friend from Amsterdam, and she has related stories of individuals marrying their table and pets).

    We need to take a good strong and HONEST look at where our positions will lead. Rarely do individuals choose a great evil. Rather, they are lured there slowly, over a period of time, often by the best of intentions.

    Where will we be, in a period of time, if our little steps continue on their current path? Is that end truly a place where we want to be?

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  32. Chedner, thank you for your further explanation of your perspective. I appreciate it greatly. It has helped me better define what I'm trying to say, so I'm going to try to simplify for you and djinn. And bear in mind that I'm for the moment leaving religion out of it completely.

    There are two definitions of marriage: Marriage is about love, and marriage is about duty.

    From a civil point of view, marriage should be about duty. The government doesn't care whether or not you love the person you're with, it cares about whether or not a stable relationship is supported for the raising of future citizens. Supporting a structure wherein children are raised by parents with a biological interest in their well-being is the point of all the tax breaks and other marital benefits. Again, they frankly don't give a hoot about whether or not the parents love each other and want to live their lives together.

    When marriage becomes about love from a civil perspective, it weakens marriage by duty. For the record, I don't believe that gay marriage is at all the biggest weakener of this definition of marriage by duty. It's just operating under that already-destructive assumption that marriage should be about love and the convenience of the partners in a civil sense as well as a personal one.

    Obviously, the law can't force two people together. But the law isn't about forcing the ideal, anyways, it's about doing what it can to support it. Just as obviously, there is a great deal of grey area when you start getting into adoptions, etc. If SSM-proponents wish to win, that is the ground in which I find they should work to show that it is a viable option from a civil perspective. Gay marriage has no interest in keeping biological parents together.

    I really don't know from a civil and societal perspective how the law could be changed to better support the legal purposes of marriage by duty. Perhaps by demonstrating the intention to have children or adopt by any couple wishing to marry, and then allowing civil unions to take care of non-progeny-oriented unions. I don't even know if that is feasible. But, from a purely political and societal point of view, and leaving religion out of it, this is my main concern.

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  33. (continued)

    Taking religion up again, I also have a serious concern that this battle is about oppressing religious beliefs. Many of those who support SSM scoff at the notion that those to whom religion is important (I'll use the shorthand religionists for now) might feel that their base beliefs are threatened, but I feel it is a very real concern.

    It is not a wild jump to move from legalizing gay marriage to requiring that gay marriage be taught as a non-shameful, non-sinful, equal relationship to traditional male/female marriages. If a person truly believes that homosexuality a harmful choice of behavior rather than a helpless genetic trait, they could easily be forced to teach or allow their children to be taught otherwise. It has already begun happening.

    While I believe that homosexuals are children of God, and equal in value to anyone else, I don't believe that homosexuality is a behavior that will benefit them in the long run. EVERYone, whether they agree with you or not, should be dealt with in respect. EVERYone should be allowed to life, liberty and property protected by due course of the law. I have many friends who don't like my Mormonness, for example, but still manage to be my friends.

    ". . . believe the way so-called Christian churches view and treat homosexuals is extremely sinful and quite the opposite of Christian."
    I agree with you on this, except I'd prefer to change "churches" to "people" to focus on what is most important about what you've said. But it is possible to look at something a person is doing as a sin, and still see the person themselves as a child of God with the spark of divinity. Churches preach about all manner of sin all the time. EVERY SINGLE MEMBER of that church is bound to be doing something or other that is a sin, yet still be a member. It's just a matter of degree of sinning. That's what church is for, in my opinion. Among other things, to teach us how to love sinners including ourselves despite their sins.

    And it's not just a matter of letting the Churches themselves preach how they want to preach and practice according to their beliefs, it's a matter of letting the members of the Church do the same. If schools are going to be teaching my child morality of any kind based on the latest set of "scientific principles" (which is already being done, so please don't say it's not possible), I have serious issue with that. Morality should be mine as a parent to teach.

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  34. Rob—to quote your quote, "If that institution hasn’t been affected by the societal changes of the past 100 years, including the divorce rate of opposite-sex couples, then the marriage of homosexuals will have little impact on it."

    That's just it. I believe the "societal changes" already have seriously damaged "the institution of marriage", and this is just one more step. One that is much clearer to define than previous steps, and therefore easier to see.

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  35. I personally didn't mention love but focused on duty. The proof has shown and continues to show that gay relationships are comparable, duty-wise, to (barren) heterosexual relationships.

    School curriculum merely would teach that gays exist that families headed by gay couples exist, that two boys or two girls do start families together for the same reasons that one boy and one woman would. Schools would teach that we shouldn't treat these families any differently than any other family.

    In fact, this is straying away from teaching morality in schools. The way most schools are now, marginalizing gay people and their/our families, is implicitly teaching that "gay people are sinners, must be avoided." This does not belong in schools.

    What is the difference of teaching "It's okay to be gay" and, say, "It's okay to be Muslim" ?

    (I specifically chose Muslims as they practice polygyny where legal--which is also (presently) a sexual sin according to the mormon church.)

    This fear of one's kids being taught about homosexuality in school is especially telling about one's bigotry--yes, bigotry: "stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own."

    It may be against your moral code, but it's not against others'. Bigotry lies not in not accepting someone else's morals but in trying to marginalize them, being completely intolerant of them ("I don't want my kids even hearing about it!").

    Please tell me why your morals should get the upper hand in public education.

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  36. Someone posted a link to this entry in another blog. I found it so ridiculous that I thought I should share my response with the original author:

    This little write up is so full of holes it's painful. Naturally everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the author is so naive and self-satisfied that I feel embarassed for her.

    1. What makes the author think that because she claims that she "chooses" to be attracted to men that her experience is universal? Is she saying that she could just as easily "choose" to be attracted to women? If that is the case, I would suggest that she probably is not 100% straight. I highly doubt that an acquaintance who was raised Jehovah Witness and spent much time crying and praying not to be gay chose to be attracted to men. Yes, this is anedotal evidence. But all the author provides is anedotal evidence, so that's the standard I will hold myself to in the context of this discussion. If another person claims that they did not choose their sexual orientation, who is the author to question them? Is she a mind reader? A human lie-detector? It's incredibly naive to say, I chose this, so you did too.

    2. The claim that marriage is not a right because it has nothing to do with basic survival is laughable. Where is there a rule that rights must be related to basic survival? I am not familiar with equality jurisprudence in the US, but in Canada, a person claiming discrimination must show that they have been treated differently than another person on the basis of a ground enumerated in the constitution (like gender, race, etc). The point is not that the claimant has been denied something essential to survival, the point is that the claimant is being denied something on the basis of an enumerated ground. The claimant is not being treated equally in comparison to others. It is not the thing that is being denied that is being evaluated, it is the inequality. Unless the government has a legitimate reason to withhold something from one person that they are not withholding from another, the inequality will not be tolerated. What the recent California decision emphasized is that the state does not have a legitimate interest in denying marriage to gays and lesbians.

    3. The author's comparison of gays and lesbians to her children is really condescending. Is she implying that she knows what is best for them? So what she is saying seems to be, I don't want to deny you marriage because I hate you, I want to deny you marriage because I think I know what is best for you and I just have your best interests at heart, I am trying to save your eternal soul... That's crazy talk.

    To be continued...

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  37. 4. She cites her personal beliefs, unsupported by any sort of research, as reasons why it's better for a child to have a parent of each gender. I shouldn't have to point out why this is wrong. The evidence in court showed that it hasn't been shown that children of hetero parents do better than children of gay/lesbian parents. In fact, I recently read an article about children of lesbian parents and how well they do. Why are there people who still believe their personal beliefs are adequate proof of anything? Really, citing one's own subjective opinions as evidence in an argument is such an intellectual adolescent tactic.

    5. I really like how the author seems to be implying that if there hadn't previously been a vote to desegregate that it would be okay for segregation to continue. I think it's funny that she cites things like using different water fountains and sitting in differents seats as if these things are worse than being denied the right to marry. Like it wouldn't be okay if gay people had to use separate water fountains, but it's okay to deny them marriage. Again, crazy talk. We should punish people who deny lesbians a certain seat on the bus, but it's okay to deny them marriage? It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

    Overall, this is an intellectually lazy piece that everyone should read and shake their heads at. It would be one thing if any thoughtful and supported arguments were made, but I see none. It's one thing to claim the right to an opinion, but if your opinion is that you should be able to deny a group of people something as basic as the right to marry, without any compelling evidence, you shouldn't be surprised if they get angry. People shouldn't be expected to sit by idly and politely while their rights are taken away.

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  38. Chedner—I never said I didn't want my kids even hearing that gay marriage is okay. I only want to teach them in the time that I want to teach it to them, when they are ready. If you knew me, you would know that my family has never been one to shy away from other beliefs.

    Also, my morals are already forbidden from being taught in schools. Why should yours be allowed to be taught and not mine?

    Anonymous—I began to respond to you, but your text is more interested in mocking me than in recognizing me as a person. It is exactly this sort of response that puts me on the defensive and I forget that I care about these issues from both sides of the fence, and am just sharing those parts of my thoughts that contain hesitation and concern.

    I'm not going to let you force me into the pigeonhole you've created.

    I never intended this post to be legal proof nor intellectually sound. I shared it as a perspective from someone who is emotionally sympathetic to SSM and also fearful at the same time, torn between both sets of emotion. If you choose to react the way you have, I won't stop you.

    I believe homosexuality is wrong. You believe I'm wrong for believing that.
    Fine, I can accept that.

    If you stopped denigrating my beliefs, perhaps I would feel safe enough to discuss things from a less fearful platform.

    I'm sorry to those of you who are taking the time to discuss this in a more respectful manner, but I think I've reached my limit on this for now.

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  39. I hope you haven't found my comments to be disrespectful.

    Just to answer your question, and then I will respect your desire to be finished: The stance I've taken isn't merely based on morality but on what is here and now not just what I believe will happen in the afterlife. It's also based on empirical data instead of fears and prejudices.

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  40. I guess I do have one more comment to make:

    "If you stopped denigrating my beliefs, perhaps I would feel safe enough to discuss things from a less fearful platform."

    This is exactly what we homosexuals are saying save that it's not just our beliefs that are being defamed but our lives. It's not just our beliefs that are difficult to discuss "from a less fearful platform" but living our lives.

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  41. Chedner—No, I've greatly appreciated your input. Thank you. You do an excellent job of presenting another perspective without putting me down.

    I've thought much more about this yesterday evening, and I think I've rephrased my conundrum yet again.

    True: I can't expect governments to legislate according to a religious belief. Yet, I can expect them to legislate according to a moral belief. That is part of the underpinnings of society. Democracy is the heart of a vote of the people determining what moral choices ought to be enforced by law.

    I feel that moral decisions stemming from religious beliefs are being scorned. That is the wall I suddenly come to when I decide which way I should vote, were the vote to come to me on this issue.

    Previously, I felt no compunction about voting for marriage rights for gays, whether it be called civil union or marriage didn't matter to me. That was until I began to perceive a strong current of anti-religionism beneath the pro-SSM arguments.

    Now, I feel that in order to vote FOR gay marriage, I have to turn my back in some way or other on my religious beliefs; I have to condone gay marriage in order to allow it.

    This I can't do.

    In this way, it is also how I live my life that is being threatened. I know many people rain assurances down that religious practices won't be affected, but I feel such a growing hatred for any religious tint in a person's decision-making that I don't believe it any more.

    As well as the indubitable truth that there are well-adjusted gay couples who are genuinely hurting and truly ought to be given the right to marry, I see an underlying ulterior motive from a whole other subset of people that threatens MY way of life.

    These are not groundless fears, nor are they based in some nebulous future. They are things that are also happening in the here and now. Some examples can even be pulled from this relatively obscure thread on a small blog tucked into the corner where few people see it.

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  42. Wow,

    This post is excellent. You get to the heart of the issues and manage to look past all the propaganda on either side. Very insightful.

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  43. What you have described, Silverrain, as happening to you "here and now" is that your feelings are hurt by some very sharp words, perhaps even some very unfair and sharp words, directed against your religious beliefs.
    It is beyond incredible that you would think those hurt feelings the equivalent of the practical legal obstacles faced by gay men and lesbians every day of our lives: we are prohibited from visiting our partners of decades in hospitals, we can--and are sometimes-- prohibited from even shipping their bodies home when they die out of state, inheritance laws prohibit us from taking care of our life partners in the way that you can take care of yours on our passing, and while we live, we cannot even take care of our partners medical needs in the way that you can take care of yours (your husband can pay for your medical expenses, e.g., and then deduct them from taxes. If you don't think that makes a difference, try imagining for just one minute being in the situation of having a partner with $40K in medical expenses for which you hawk your life to pay, and then being unable to deduct them on your taxes)
    These are just a few of the more than 1400 Federal rights and responsibilities from which folks like me are excluded because folks like you are so concerned about protecting your hurt feelings that you're unwilling to look at the facts of the matter, or simply do not care. So, one more time: NO civil unions will not take care of this problem and it has NOTHING to do with "approval" or wanting your approval. I don't approve of your marriage, you will never approve of mine. But Federal law should not be different in the two cases-- your hurt feelings are not enough to justify that-- and the only way to make Federal *law* equitable here is to get rid of DOMA and either (1) have civil unions for everyone as a matter of law (do what you'd like in your temple, I could care less); or (2) marriage for everyone-- as a matter of law.
    In the meantime, it is beyond insulting to compare your hurt feelings-- and I don't doubt they are genuinely hurt, and I don't doubt people have said genuinely inapt things about your religion-- to the dreadful practical legal inequities faced by people like me.
    History will remember you at this moment.

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  44. I definitely understand where you're coming from, SR. I've sort of had to go into a closet of sorts concerning my religious beliefs because of some of my anti-religious friends.

    I disapprove of intolerance of religion as much as I disapprove of intolerance of homosexuality.

    The problem, as I see it, is that pro-gay marriage (or what-not) feel like certain religions are threatening their ability to live safely, securely, and equally so they tend to fight against religion, itself. On the other hand, certain religions feel like gay marriage activists (or what-not) are threatening their ability to live/worship safely, securely, and equally so they tend to fight against gay marriage, etc.

    Until we can truly learn to live together, share life and its liberties with those of different creeds, the cycle will just get worse and worse.

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  45. Anonymous—You are wrong. It is not mere hurt feelings. I've been dealing with denigrations about my religion since I can remember, and I can deal just fine with that. I doubt you've bothered to actually read what I've said.

    Chedner—Ditto on what you've said. It was much better phrased than I could do. Thank you again for a great discussion.

    I have the feeling that we would get along great offline.

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  46. this is the most recent anonymous.
    SIlverrain-- nonsense. I've read everything you've written here, and elsewhere. And aside from wild speculations about what might happen in the future that cannot be grounded in legal fact, *all* you have by way of justification for your opposition is your hurt feelings. After here, once again, being called out for getting the facts wrong (and I'm not talking the least about questions of nature/nurture which are frankly entirely beside the point ) you admit that all you've got as grounds for complaint in the "here and now" as you put it are your hurt feelings in your post of the morning of 11Aug.
    History will remember you. Not well. Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be apologizing for you and trying to excuse you on the basis of the ignorance of the age, while others are able to proudly point to the role their grandparents played in the fight for legal equality and fairness.

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  47. Well, I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt by saying you did not read it rather than saying you were other, less generous things.

    There is no purpose in continuing our conversation until you try to apply yourself a little more to understanding.

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  48. SilverRain, your insistence that you get to beat up the gay kid in the corner, and if anyone complains about it they're persecuting you is really not persuasive. Keep it up though, your complete dearth of reasons for those punches you keep throwing is quite telling.

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  49. SilverRain, I mean this in all sincerity; are you a lesbian? I'm getting this really strong vibe that you really really really are ambivalent about that whole heterosexual thing, and those of us that like it are just kidding ourselves. We're not, you are.

    Maybe you should think about joining a religion that doesn't hate your (presumed) essential nature.

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  50. Marmots: If you're trying to get a rise out of me by trolling, consider it failed.

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  51. Silver Rain, Thanks for your efforts here.

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