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Week of 5.22.09

Issue Clash: Gay Marriage

In this Issue Clash, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage debate gay marriage in America.

You're the moderator. Select questions and answers by clicking a name or photo. Rebuttals can be found at the bottom of each response.

Vote for who you think won the debate and make your own arguments.

View a printable version of this page.

The opinions expressed belong solely to the participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOW, PBS, or local stations. The facts stated by the participants have not been verified by NOW.

Are recent laws and rulings allowing gay marriage a sign that Americans are changing their views on the issue?

Click a name to read his/her response to the question above.

Maggie Gallagher: Iowa and Connecticut are court decisions. They don't say much about what people think. The legislative push in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and now New York (soon to be followed by New Jersey!) reflects the failure of social conservatives to organize politically, as gay marriage activists have done.

Gay marriage is not high on the list of priorities for voters right now anywhere. Not even in blue states. Politicians are betting they can play to the base without incurring the displeasure of the majority. But I think they are going to be surprised by how tough the battle has been even in these one-party states. That is why I founded the National Organization for Marriage.

Gavin Newsom: Yes, all across our country, communities are reaching the same conclusion that separate is not equal, and that we should not harm our friends, neighbors and co-workers by denying them equal treatment under the law because of their sexual orientation. But, the struggle for marriage equality still has a long way to go. The fight will continue both in the courts and at the ballot box.


Click a name to read his/her rebuttal to the opposing answer given above.

Maggie Gallagher's Rebuttal: The majority of courts and the majority of people recognize that our marriage traditions are not discriminatory—they have deep roots in real and enduring truths about human nature. Unions of husband and wife really are unique and deserve their unique status in law, culture and society.

Gavin Newsom's Rebuttal: Elected Representatives in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have stood up for equality in recent weeks. There have been setbacks. In 2000, California voters rejected marriage equality 62% to 38%, and in 2008 it was defeated again, but this time the margin narrowed to 52% to 48%. Polling shows that younger Americans are much more accepting of marriage equality. They believe, in growing numbers, that their friends, family and co-workers deserve the same rights that straight Americans enjoy. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, "the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice."

How does allowing same-sex marriage affect American culture?

Click a name to read his/her response to the question above.

Maggie Gallagher: When government changes the definition of marriage it changes for everyone—especially if the law says the contrary view is discrimination. Public schools will teach about gay marriage, whether parents like it or not. And scholars are increasingly concerned about the impact on faith communities. Clergy may be protected by the First Amendment but religious schools, charities, fraternal organizations, and small businesses and professionals are not. Law is a pretty powerful thing. Gay marriage will have consequences.

Marriage has its own dignity and purpose and its own mission: bringing together male and female so that children can know and be known by, love and be loved by, their own mother and father. Same-sex marriage is unjust because it is founded on an untruth. Same-sex unions are not marriages.

Gavin Newsom: States that allow same-sex marriage project a welcoming and progressive image of tolerance, openness and diversity that attracts creative people. In these difficult economic times it is crucial that communities do everything in their power to attract creative people. Business thrives where talented people live.


Click a name to read his/her rebuttal to the opposing answer given above.

Maggie Gallagher's Rebuttal: Only a fairly small minority of same-sex couples actually enter marriages where they are available. What gay marriage will do and is doing is disconnect marriage as an idea from its natural roots, and increasingly stigmatize the people (and institutions) who adhere strongly to our traditional views of marriage. A new poll by the National Organization for Marriage shows that, in Massachusetts, public support for the idea that the ideal for children is a married mom and dad dropped eight percentage points in just five years. Opposition to that idea, meanwhile, leaped six-fold. At the same time, among voters who oppose gay marriage in Massachusetts, 36% percent agreed with the statement, "If you speak out against gay marriage in Massachusetts you really have to watch your back because some people may try to hurt you." Of course people may be imagining this threat, but they are feeling apprehensive and stigmatized.

Gavin Newsom's Rebuttal: Marriage equality makes the U.S. a more open and welcoming society. Our gay brothers and sisters want nothing more than to be treated equally under the law. They want to be able to share their wedding day and relationships with their family and friends.

The more Americans have the opportunity to see their gay friends, co-workers and relatives in loving and committed marriages, the more Americans realize that their relationships are no different than their own. Gay marriage in turn is becoming less of the scary wedge issue pushed by the Bush administration. Instead it's becoming more accepted.

Is same-sex marriage a civil rights issue?

Click a name to read his/her response to the question above.

Maggie Gallagher: No. Here's the difference. Bans on interracial marriage were about keeping two races separate so that one race could oppress the other, and that was bad. Marriage is about bringing together men and women so children can have mothers and fathers and that is good. I mean not to sound like that statue in "Animal House" or anything but it comes down to this: Racism is bad, and marriage is good. Same-sex marriage is profoundly unjust because it misuses the law to require something that is not true: these unions, however great they are in other ways, are not marriages and nobody should be required by law to treat them as marriages.

Gavin Newsom: Yes, same-sex marriage is the civil rights issue of our time. In recent months, Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut and Maine have joined Massachusetts to stand up against hate and injustice, and stand up for equality. In California, we became the first state in the nation to use our constitution to strip rights away from our fellow citizens when voters banned same-sex marriage in 2008. If a simple majority of people can take away the rights of a minority, such as our gay citizens, it undermines the constitutionally guaranteed right to liberty and pursuit of happiness.


Click a name to read his/her rebuttal to the opposing answer given above.

Maggie Gallagher's Rebuttal: In all of the 30 states where they have had the chance to vote on this issue—including California, Florida and Arizona this November—Americans have made it clear they do not view marriage as discriminatory, bigoted, or hateful. Same-sex unions are not marriage and there is no civil right to insist that others view them as such.

Gavin Newsom's Rebuttal: There is a growing realization that marriage equality is the civil rights issue of our time. Separate is not equal. It is really that simple. Civil unions and gay marriage are inherently different.

This is why a Republican-dominated California Supreme Court ruled last year that laws forbidding gay marriage are unconstitutional. In an historic opinion, the Court made its case clearly: an "individual's sexual orientation—like a person's race or gender—does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."

Are civil unions an acceptable alternative to institutionalized gay marriage?

Click a name to read his/her response to the question above.

Maggie Gallagher: There are many benefits that could be extended to gay couples without necessarily threatening marriage or religious liberty. But in practice civil unions have not proved a compromise; they've proved a springboard to gay marriage. Gay marriage advocates in Connecticut and California promised that civil unions would not hurt marriage, then they turned around in court and used the fact that civil unions had been passed to say there's no good reason to withhold the title of marriage either. Two state Supreme Courts so far have agreed with this logic. I don't think it should be that way, but that is the way it is right now.

Gavin Newsom: No, civil unions create a separate class of relationships. I did not ask my wife Jennifer for a civil union. I asked her to marry me. Words have meaning. That's why $45 million was spent against marriage equality in California. People understand that marriage is not the same as a civil union or some other rubric that denies equal rights.


Click a name to read his/her rebuttal to the opposing answer given above.

Maggie Gallagher's Rebuttal: Gay marriage advocates like Gavin sincerely believe that there are no morally relevant differences between same-sex and opposite sex unions and that the people who see a difference are either ignorant or bigoted. So of course civil unions aren't acceptable to gay marriage advocates. Civil unions are an attempt to provide practical benefits to help gay people live their lives without disrupting the meaning of marriage. It's very clear this is not what gay rights advocates want.

Gavin Newsom's Rebuttal: Gay marriage does not threaten traditional marriage or require churches to perform marriages. This is a scare tactic that has been supported by millions of dollars in ads in California and other states throughout the nation. By allowing gay Americans to get married it in turn makes marriage stronger by affirming their commitment to their each other.

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Viewer Comments

Commenter: Ray
Gay "marriage" will turn the culture upside down and inside out for the worse! Nevertheless, the gays have too much power today and are hell bent on ramming this monstrosity down our throats despite their losses in the elections. The gays will never take no for an answer until our society breaks apart and no one is left to defend their agenda. This is coming as sure as day turns into night.

Commenter: dazed and confused
What if an individual wants to also have "equal rights" and, say, marry his mother. Or marry his 1 year old daughter, or his pet cat. There has to be a simple definition of what it means to be married (1 man and 1 woman). Otherwise, the floodgates of individuals will require equality based on personal preference. Are all of these examples of marriage? I do not think anyone on either side of the debate would go to the extreme amd let a sex offender marry a young boy, or let a stalker marry his teenage victim. Any thoughts?

Commenter: AndroidBoy420
Gay people have got it rough. I can't think of one modern religion where homosexual relationships are encouraged.

I am against gay marriage on one point, and one point alone. Any society needs families to produce children. These children will replace those who pass on. Maybe some day we'll have a society like the ones portrayed in Aeon Flux or Brave New World, but for now, this is how a civilization moves forward into the future. A gay marriage doesn't produce children. Therefore, it isn't a marriage at all. I wouldn't call a heterosexual marriage without children a marriage, either. Sorry.

On a practical note, if two gay people get together with the intention of raising children then I would say "hitch 'em up!". There are plenty of kids who need a good home and we shouldn't do anything to keep them out of a family environment. Every gay person I know is a product of a heterosexual married couple, so I'm not afraid that gay marriage will produce a disproportionate number of gay children.

Issues like this are usually framed too narrowly. I think we need civil unions apart from marriage--for everybody. They would be the same thing, except when it comes to dissolving them. Without children, the dissolution of a civil union would be less complicated then a divorce, which would involve children.

How's this for a compromise. EVERYBODY gets joined in civil unions at first if there are no children involved. Upon the birth (or adoption) of their first child, the relationship gets upgraded to a full marriage.

Commenter: Mercedes
I'm all for anything that would make all people feel equal and protected under the law. When you exclude a group, you make it easier to dehumanize them later. I think our society would be better served by allowing gays to marry. It may broaden our perspective on humanity.

Commenter: Sherri McFerran
I think that Maggie Gallagher should be applauded for her work, especially for trying to improve life for children currently growing up in America.

Commenter: Luxana
im one for gay-marrige i support it 100%

Commenter: Megan
I take issue with Kenballer's statement that "every world religion and culture defines marriage between a man and a woman, and no culture has ever sanctioned same sex marriage as a tradition." because this simply isn't true. As history tells us the Ancient Greeks actually sanctified the union between two men even within their religion with such myths as Ganymede and Apollo and Hyacinthus. These myths were the Greeks way of justifying the union between same-gender unions...albeit only between men.

And the wonderful thing is is that it wasn't even the majority. Sparta took great issue with the Athenians views on this issue and urged it's own citizens away from such actions. But that doesn't change the fact that not only did the Greeks justify same-sex unions RELIGIOUSLY but they also did so legally stating into law that in order to become men boys must spend time in the company of older men, often a way of glossing over the same-sex affairs that went on within the borders of Athens.

So the argument that same-sex unions have NEVER been justified RELIGIOUSLY is a total farce. I find it insulting of my intelligence to imply otherwise. After all it is nearly impossible to know the subtleties and twists of every culture and every religion in the WORLD. Just because it is something that is spoken by the group with the loudest voice does not make it TRUE.

And I think this issue can certainly be compared to things such as Women's suffrage and Equal Rights between people of different skin tone. But that's not to say that they are one and the same. That would be a bit presumptuous. I believe it is more accurate to say that this is the true equal rights issue of our day. Though I still believe we have a long way to go in ALL departments as a society whether it be women's rights, the right's of minorities, or the rights of those with different sexual orientation.

Because when it comes down to it gay rights are very similar to the right's of women or the right's of African Americans. It is even easy to say that they are segregated in a way. Especially in California where the split between North and South is becoming more prominent. Homosexuals have separate bars, separate clubs, they are stereotyped and discriminated because of the way they live.

And America was founded on the right to live the way you want to. It was founded by Protestants who were persecuted for their beliefs in England. They came to America for religious freedom and now we are denying the same freedoms to a group of people simply because they are the minority and they are different. So yes, it is the equal right's issue of our day. And yes it is fair to COMPARE it to equal right's issues of the past.

The truth is that words do have a great deal of power. For those of us who believe that love is not limited by gender alone being told that you cannot get married is a harsh reality. There is a subtle difference in the minds of people between civil union and 'marriage'. While 'civil union' lawfully binds two people together it does not provide the same emotional or or even social standard as a 'marriage'. It places a stigma on those who cannot get married. And using an argument such as a case meant to outlaw polygamy (something which mainly was established to manipulate and control women) is not an upstanding argument.

To say that a gay couple are not 'married' but are 'civil partners' is providing them with a social stigma. It labels them as different and provides them with separate rights under the law. Separate...but not equal. In a country that upholds that EVERYONE regardless of belief or lifestyle is EQUAL it is a heavy blow to take.

Commenter: Erich Riesenberg
Get a grip William.

If you feel the need to call gay people abnormal, be strong enough to be called a homophobe.

Remember, they are just words.

Commenter: Andrea
I am all-for Gay-marriage. They do not harm anyone by being able to marry

Commenter: Jay Karam
I had 2 read Gallagher's article in my moral philosophy class and when I read it, I seriously started ignoring what she had to say nd came up with counter arguments. Basically Gallagher is arguing that Homosexual marriage breaks the traditional norm of "Nuclear Family" but that theory is BULL! I'm a sociology major nd I can tell you that the concept of nuclear family is slightly more than half a century old. The thought that men and women have to live together to raise "perfect" children is utter absurdity. A modern construction to tame society after terrible conflicts and hardships of the early 20th century. Honestly, ppl have been living in constantly changing ideas of marriage and family. There was a time when ten kids was normal, bcuz the fact was that half wouldn't make it to their teen years while neother 2-3 would die off b4 adulthood. Homosexuality has existed since the beginning of early civilization and while not normal/typical, there is nothing wrong for the majority of ppl r heterosexuals and ensure the continuation of the human race. Y should we give trouble 2 the ppl on the fringe? Is there ne valid reason 2 justify lawfully denying the homosexual community the option to marry? Gallagher doesn't mention it, but I honestly think her religious views r the main reason nd motivation 4 her 2 oppose homosexual marriage. Some of the true roots of modern problems in moral ethics is connected to religion and it doesn't matter which 1 you belong to, most contradict themselves and r similar 2 others, but yet ppl defend their faith w/zeal. I do not mean 2 change the topic to religion as the root of evil here, but I just wanted 2 make a note of it so that ppl re-examine how much religion plays in2 their morals, beliefs and way of thinking which affects the way you see the world.

Commenter: kenballer
1. the claim that it is a equal rights issue:

your analogy to homosexuality and race is misguided. being gay may or may not be a choice but choosing to live the gay lifestyle is a choice and that's why we are here. the government doesn't ask you whether you are gay or straight. sexual orientation has nothing to do with the can't compare an immutable characteristic (race, gender, etc) to somebody's behavior. A lifestyle is not a minority. Jews, blacks, and women were discriminated against for who they were not for who they were having sex with.

gays and lesbians have always been allowed to get married even to each other just of different sex and happen to be in traditional marriages as we speak. Are you implying that maybe they are all living a lie or unhappy in some way? if your going to say that they would be miserable in living such a way, then welcome to the club. everybody , gay or straight, is equally having a miserable time with opposite-sex marriage.Look at the 50% divorce rate.

besides, you can never fully achieve marriage equally in civil marriage because there are all sorts of abnormal relationships out there that the state does not recognize or have to support

2. the claim that it is a civil rights issue:

the U.S. supreme court has been consistent throughout the history of marriage ranging from plural marriage( Reynolds v. United States or Murphy v. Ramsey), from interracial marriage (Loving v Virginia), to even same sex marriage that marriage is between one man and one woman . Go to Wikipedia and type in Baker v. Nelson. The case will show you that the same court in Loving v Virginia not only distinguished same sex marriage from interracial marriage, but established it as a right that does not exist under the constitution and never did. In fact, the same majority in Lawerence vs. Texas that ruled that homosexuals had a human right to sodomize also said that the decision does not reach up to same sex marriage and this case happened in 2003:

here's a quote from wiki about the case:

"The non-binding concurring opinion of Justice O'Connor stated -- in refusing to overrule her prior decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, that 'preserving the traditional institution of marriage' is indeed a 'legitimate state interest' and that 'other reasons exist to promote the institution of marriage beyond mere moral disapproval of an excluded group'."

this quote proves along with all the other case law that civil marriage is not about fairness, equality or relationships, but its mainly about children, public policy, and whats best for society. this is why its not a civil right. The state is not there to issue love licenses. the main purpose of civil marriage is to produce and develop children and insert them in the legal system in order to sustain and maintain society through the future. the same reason we don't allow same sex marriage is the same reason we don't allow incest and polygamist marriages. this is why it is mostly a privilege, hence the word "license",(license means privilege) because the state does have a right to discriminate against those type of relationships( not individuals) for legitimate state interests, such as procreation/child-rearing or both, and not against interracial marriage because it affirms marriage ( loving v. Virginia/baker v. nelson).

in addition, Same sex couples do not have a SPECIAL right to redefine marriage for everyone; the " will of the people" have a FUNDAMENTAL right under the tenth amendment to do such a task because we live in a democracy not an aristocracy. In baker v. nelson, the case called citizens for equal protection will show you that citizens do have a right to vote on rights just as long as they are NEW rights , such as same sex marriage.

3. the claim that this is a human rights issue:

Even if the U.S. supreme court overturns baker v. nelson today or the country establishes gender neutral marriage into our constitution, just on philosophical grounds same sex marriage could not be a human right. every world religion and culture defines marriage between a man and a woman, and no culture has ever sanctioned same sex marriage as a tradition. nature even defines marriage this way because traditional marriage is a human natural act (procreation and child-rearing). same-sex marriage whether it be procreation, child-rearing, or both cannot NATURALLY create and develop a family the way that it should be.

Therefore, it could not possibly be a human right according to our Constitution or declaration of Independence document because human rights by definition are suppose to be UNIVERSAL to all people at all times. Also, the federal courts have specifically said or implied case after case that marriage between a MAN and a WOMAN is a fundamental right. same sex marriage is no fundamental right than polygamy was for the Mormons.

4.miscellaneous: the analogous to race

bans on interracial marriage were about separating and keeping the races apart and that was racist. when we lifted up the bans, it not only integrated the races but it integrated the sexes as well which is what marriage has always been about sense the beginning of history ; uniting the great halves of humanity. Our side simply wants to sustain and maintain that idea of integration, but same sex marriage repudiates that idea and celebrates the separate but equal concept (two men/two women). yet, your side calls this an American value and accuses us of backwards thinking. HYPOCRISY to the highest degree

the separate but equal concept was mainly applied to race relations. We have separate but equal situations for men and women that permeate our country ranging from restrooms, the military, and boy scouts and girls scouts; however, we no longer have that with blacks and whites even though the civil rights bill of 1964 specifically says that no government officials or municipals shall discriminate or segregate citizens in public facilities on the grounds of race, religion, ethnicity, and GENDER. Obviously, Its because there's a fundamental difference between race and gender. This is why we no longer have bans on interracial marriage or have Jim Crow laws but still have and always accepted separate bathrooms for men and women, etc and define marriage between one man and one woman. you would agree that men and woman are equal but different just like civil unions and marriage.

Commenter: Will
I'm on Gavin Newsom's side (as a young, gay male), but he came across as a partisan hack to me. Maggie Gallagher may be wrong, but at least she seemed to be involved in the debate and not referencing canned lines. I'm disappointed for our side, frankly.

Commenter: Rob
Phayngula targeted this website poll. beware of poll fornicators like pharyngula.

Commenter: MikeyV
@Pro Choice said:

"So, religion was important enough for the founders of our Country to mention..."one Nation, under God, indivisible..." and "In God, we trust" and the Oath of Office for our President, but no longer important or applicable for the times of today?"

Methinks someone didn't pay much attention in history class.

The motto of the United States was "E Pluribus Unum" (One from many) from our inception until 1956, when the motto was officially changed in response to McCarthy's scare tactics.

The original pledge of allegiance did not contain the phrase "under God". That phrase was also added in the 1950's.

Likewise, "So help me God" was tacked onto the oath of office during the 1950's. If you'd actually look at the Constitution however, you'd notice that the oath does not contain that phrase. The person taking the oath is not compelled to say that final phrase.

Notice that these three changes were initiated during McCarthy's witch hunt against "godless commies".

Commenter: Raiko
Maggie Gallagher's point comes down to "We don't like change, so it's wrong" and while Gavin Newsom's argument condenses to "It's not equal and therefore not fair" he at least has a legitimate point and an actual argument. Maggie Gallagher is just blowing insignificant hot air, whining about her "lost traditions". I'm always sorry for people who use that argument - your marriages must be worth so little if they lose significance because other people can have it, too. I know the feeling - I had it in kindergarten when I was no longer the only kid with a red lunchbox.

What I'd like to say to Maggie Gallagher is that her implied idea that children need to grow up with a married mother and father is fundamentally and painfully flawed and therefore totally useless. Too many children grow up in separated households and with single parents or among homosexual couples who have found they do wish to live their love as they feel it late in life - and they're doing fine. Kids who are really not doing fine are those with abusive parents, in broken households where only 'tradition' keeps the couples together, or those who get so 'indoctrinated' with 'tradition' that they have problems integrating into a normal society and those who do not have a family. By the way, hetero- AND homosexual couples could provide a loving family.

However, the issue here is not "will my favored group of Americans be happy?", be they the suppressive majority or not, but - as Newcom keeps pointing out - whether this is fair and therefore legal. Inequality is not fair, no matter what your reasons for keeping this inequality may be. And pounding on 'tradition' is a really bad argument. Tradition has always been changing and often for the better - or are you still giving your children a good beating evey now and then? What about wearing long skirts and dresses and staying at home to cook?

Maggie, get over it.

Commenter: Josh
Their whole concept of "traditional marriage" is full of holes. They cite the Bible, but Deuteronomy 21:15 begins with "and should a man have two wives..." sounds like the Bible supports traditional one-man one-woman marriage to me.

Also, even if, it doesn't matter. We don't govern based on Religion. We govern based on the closest thing we can design to a "just system." "God Wills It" is not a just system - God's opinion about matters tends to be strikingly similar to the men and women who oppose it.

There is no such thing as "traditional marriage." It does not exist. It's a combine fallacy - the appeal to authority, the appeal to tradition, and the appeal to fear. You'll note that Gallagher kept going back to what the majority wanted. If that were the case, and we listened to the majority in this country, there'd still be slavery. Obviously we can't always listen to the majority, because they've got their heads screwed on wrong, and are easily swayed by colorful words, verbal smoke and mirrors, and handwaves.

It's pathetic, really, that this is even a debate in America. It's a foregone conclusion - Gays and Lesbians have the right. And the Social Conservatives will stomp their feet and cry, but in the end, social justice will (I hope) prevail.

Commenter: Qwerty
The sky is falling. The sky is falling. Why do I think of Chicken Little when I hear those who oppose gay marriage?

Commenter: Carlyn
Personally I feel that marriage should be thrown out of the system and just have a "civil union" for ALL. Then if you want a religious ceremony then do so for yourself. With the "civil unions" rights should be affored to ALL. Everyone pays into the system. I feel you should be able to give your benefits and property to whoever you want. I was NOT put on this world to judge anyone but myself. Equality for EVERYONE.

Commenter: Athena Y.
I believe strongly in same-sex marriages for the following reasons:

1) Under the Constitutions, "all men are created equal". By refusing to legalize same-sex marriages, the US is refuting its own Constitution.

2) The LGBT community pays taxes just like heterosexuals do. How can the law discriminate them simply because of their sexual preferences when they are contributing equally to the country?

3) Everyone has the right to pursue happiness. Again, the Constitution.

4) And finally? Heterosexuals SHOULD HAVE NO SAY as to whether homosexuals should be allowed to marry. It is none of their business. They are neither forced to attend or congratulate homosexual marriages nor forced into homosexual marriages themselves, which means that same-sex marriages will have no effect on them unless they themselves CHOOSE to look. And you know what? Why should heterosexuals be allowed to vote on homosexual marriage when homosexuals never voted on heterosexuals marriages?

Commenter: Waldo5
Maggie made a huge slip in her statement: "Bans on interracial marriage were about keeping two races separate so that one race cold oppress the other."
Same with Prop 8: it keeps gays separate so that the straights can oppress the gays. California now has a Jim Crow law; don't be surprised if some launch initiatives to put down other minorities. Who is next? In 1942 the huge majority of California looked on and did nothing while 110,000 citizens of Japanese ancestry (even if one appeared to be Japanese !)were imprisoned far from their homes and had to sell all that they had--some wealthy farmers and educated professionals! Prop 8 opens the Pandora Box to political demagogues who use persecution of minorities to gain power.

Commenter: Moy
It makes no rational sense why the chubby lady in pink insists on trying to convince an educated population (PBS readers)that he cause is just and fair.

She needs to stop caring about gays and start a gym membership. She looks like Barney's bloated biggot T-rex sister.

Commenter: William Daniels
Personally, I don't see how you can "change" the definition of marriage for homosexuals without changing it for any alternative group that wants to be married. In Islam, a man can "marry" 4 wives... and when 3 men want to "marry" 9 women, what grounds will the state have to regulate them once the precedent has been set? Homosexuals call this a civil rights issue because marriage laws are (in their view) discriminatory.

A flaw in their argument (in my opinion) is that societal discrimination does not necessarily equate to a civil rights crisis. We have lots of discriminatory laws that are quite reasonable. We discriminate against people younger than 21 when it comes to who we allow to consume alcohol. We have women only exercise areas in gyms. We even have separate bathrooms for the sexes. The selective service has different requirements for men and women who reach 18. So for me, the first issue is which discrimination is reasonable and which discrimination is unreasonable.

Another issue is that despite all of the left's efforts to portray it as otherwise, the nature of homosexuality is far from settled in the minds of most Americans. If it was, these issues would be resolvable legislatively. As much as homosexuals like to compare their plight to the path of African Americans, the fact remains that the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments specifically addressed the issues of race. Even so, it was still another 100 years before this country took those Amendments seriously.

In the meantime, African Americans and others performed and continue to perform all tasks performed by whites; AND YET it is obvious that gay couples cannot perform all of the tasks performed by heterosexual couples... they cannot procreate. This does not make them inferior (especially given the state of heterosexual marriages these days), just different and as such, in my opinion, in need of a different word to describe their unions. If the state is to regulate marriage at all, I don't see how it can without discriminating against someone whether it be proponents of plural marriage, muslims, old-style mormons, family members, or anyone else with an *alternative* view of what marriage should be.

Furthermore, I also fear the unintended consequences of dismantling all gender based discrimination. Boy scouts vs. Girl Scouts, Men's dorms vs. Women's dorms, Men's bathrooms vs. Women's bathrooms, Men's schools vs. Women's schools. Are heterosexual couples seeking to adopt children ready to compete more agressively with homosexual couples who will be depending more heavily upon adoption to experience parenthood?

Personally, I would like to see the proponents of this alternative lifestyle simply create the alternate mechanisms and institutions to support it instead of hijacking other people's institutions, traditions, and histories in an apparent quest for court dictated acceptance. The question of race was settled legislatively and via a civil war in which this country was far more divided and polarized about racism than it is about homosexual marriage.

Commenter: Elaine carpenter
i strongly do not believe in the same sex marriages however i feel that everyone has the for happiness with out judgment from others weather its family.friends. or co-workers, or public we all will be judge the day we die we do not need to judge each other now.

Commenter: Brad
I'm surprised by how few of the posters understand just how many and how significant are the rights granted to married couples. According to a report issued in 2004 by the US GAO there are 1,138 statutes in which marital status is a factor in determining benefits, rights, and privileges. For the complete list, see the official report:

In a previous version of this government report ( it also listed about 400 benefits, rights, and privileges granted by various state governments for married couples. And while "civil unions" grant some of those rights, in some states, they aren't guaranteed to be honored in all states the way the rights of a marriage are.

Some key marriage rights highlights:
* Automatic right of inheritance of property. Imagine being thrown out of the home you've shared with your spouse for many years when he/she dies unexpectedly and the brothers and sisters of your spouse sell "their" half. Unless you could come up with the necessary cash to buy back that half, you'll be on the street.
* Right to survivors benefits on pensions, including Social Security.
* Automatic U.S. permanent resident status is granted to the spouse you married overseas.
* Right to make choices on medical care for your spouse when he/she is incapacitated, and the right to decide what to do with your spouse's body when he/she dies. Imagine, as above, your spouse has died and the "blood relatives" decide to sell your home and then notify you that the funeral will be held hundreds of miles away from where you and most of your friends live. And you have no say in the matter, because you couldn't marry the love of your life.

These aren't "special" rights. Oh, wait, they are special, because they're only granted automatically to married couples.

Commenter: Beth
Secular country ... not enough said regarding our Constitution.

Ownership of the word Marriage. Religions have no, "intellectual property right in this word."

My, "marriage license was issued by the state of California, not by a church.

We have an 80 year history in our family of secular marriage. Why would the question of gay marriage be under the vote of other's, defies common sense.

Commenter: Mike C.
Ms. Gallagher is correct about one thing, this issue isn't anywhere near the top of concerns for a majority of voters. This is a wedge issue that does nothing distract from the real concerns in our country, like the soundness of our currency, our deficits and over 11 trillion dollar debt, our insolvent Social Security, Medicare programs, an out of control Federal Reserve that devalues our currency...yet Gay Marriage is the issue that makes the news.

As a voter who voted against Proposition 8, I accept the results. The result was not what I hoped for, but this is strictly a California issue. So first I generally tune out people who don't live in California, yet feel like they need to get involved in an issue that is frankly, none of their business.

Commenter: Artemis Eneldo

You make the case against your own arguments.

What if demographics shift and the majority changes?

You fear a Muslim majority. That is exactly what is wrong with Prop 8. This is why the constitutional democratic republics protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. The majority should never be able to remove the civil rights of the minority. Then you don't have a free state. Your freedoms are just the whim of the majority. Scared by this? Don't limit the freedoms of others, it could easily be your rights that are limited next!

What if marriage were to fundamentally change?

You fear polygamy. The bible you cherish permits polygamy, so why are you concerned by this? I'd think you'd actively work toward it to realize your pseudo-Christian theocracy. And you are in bed with the Mormon church on Prop 8 support. Be careful of the company you keep!

None the the dire predictions you make have come to pass in states or countries that have marriage equality.

What has really made you unsafe is opening this Pandora's box of temporary civil rights and theocratic majority rule, which can easily be turned against you!

Commenter: Artemis Eneldo
To In My [not so] Humble Opinion

I love how the opponents of marriage equality seem to disregard the "sanctity" of their own marriages!

"For those who've forgotten, Rudy Giuliani has been married three times. The first was to his cousin. He left his second wife, Donna Hanover, by announcing it in a press release -- before telling his spouse. After Hanover kicked him out their home for alleged serial adultery, Giuliani marched in a St. Patrick's Day parade with his mistress." Steven Benen

Note: Rudy was married to his COUSIN! Marrying a family member is legal in all states, only closeness of relationship varies. If this worries you, then don't marry a family member! And maybe stop worshiping Rudy.

I'm an American living in Canada. I enjoy equality as a women and a lesbian in Canada and my family is safe and protected here.

The world did not end with marriage equality in Canada!

Even CATHOLIC SPAIN has defied the Pope and made marriage equality the law of the land! The world hasn't ended there either nor have any of your dire predictions come true!

Canada and Spain are civilized societies! Take a trip!

Commenter: Artemis Eneldo
To Pro-Choice

Keep your religion out of my government!

BTW, there is no prohibition of lesbianism in the bible whatsoever!

There are older versions of the bible that have the creation story different. First were Adam and Lilith created as equals. Ever wondered where the children of Adam and Eve got spouses? The children of Lilith.

In the Coptic bible, Mary Magdalene is a disciple and writes a gospel, as does Phillip. It predates your new testament. Which shall we use?

Slavery is permitted by your bible. Who shall we enslave in California?

Don't like gay marriage, don't marry a person of the same sex! And please do not cast the first stone unless you are without sin!

Read that bible a bit more. Your Jesus was a model of love, compassion and tolerance. Try it sometime!

Commenter: Artemis Eneldo
If marriage were a religious institution, you could get a divorce in church, but as it is, you have to go to court!

Equal protection is not being appropriately applied and California is being transformed from a constitutional democratic state into a theocracy.

When civil rights can be voted away by the majority, all are diminished.

And if the tide turns, and the majority becomes the minority, will they so willing relinquish their rights?

If Mormons were to become the majority, would Californians willing take their orders from Salt Lake City?

For the protestants that voted against equal marriage, would you take your marching orders from the Pope?

We have separation of church and state. We had freedom of religion that necessarily includes freedom from religion.

Now we have "temporary" civil liberties in California. Unamerican!

I find it incredulous that with the raging debate going on in public opinion and the courts, that addressing the issue of guarantee of basic civil rights to a segment of society should not be so confusing. The fact of a society that is or has been so swayed by the influence, undue or otherwise, of religion and religious organizations who do not understand the basic interpretation and writings of the constitution. Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers put "separation of church and state" in the document for a reason! Why is there not greater clarity here? What is to be misunderstood?!?

Commenter: Marlon Woodward
Ms. Gallagher persists in the belief that it is permissible, even laudable, to deny fundamental rights to ALL citizens. Her reasoning is based upon group bias, fear, and lack of knowledge of her subject. She insists that it is permissible to put to popular vote the civil rights of a disenfranchised minority. Remarkable, given that less than 100 years ago, women were considered chattel and denied the right to vote. She is on hte wrong side of history. Justice will prevail, and all Americans, regardless of whom they love, will soon have the right to marry the partner of their choice, regardless of gender. The California Supreme Court upheld the will of the people in this instance, without seriously considering the "separate but equal'' (which is not equal at all) classes of people created by their ruling. The times are a' changing, and old beliefs, however wrong, die hard. Love and justice will prevail in the end.

Commenter: bob the phenomenologist
actually i would like to propose a question : why not get rid of marriage altogether? seriously. the government should not be in the business of validating religious rites and rituals. the government should be in the business of protecting and guaranteeing rights. the so-called "traditional" notion of marriage is based in religious practices and archaic rites. the government is separate from the church, is it not? so, why not extend civil unions to everyone, with all the political, social, economic rights currently associated with marriage, and leave the rite of marriage to the churches. the government can recognize all civil unions equally, and if a couple, any couple, also wants to go through the ritual of marriage, they can do it in their church, if their church allows it (and if it doesn't, well, that's church-business, not state-business). everyone is then equally subjected to the procedural order and equally protected by the state, and the ritual practices can (and should) remain a private matter. so, what's wrong with that? why can't that be achieved in america, as it has been in a growing number of european countries ?

Commenter: Pro Choice
We live in a society today where homosexual couples can openly live together, adopt children and raise them as a family. Whether you agree with that or not is really not the issue, because this is the current state of our Country. It is irresponsible for rational people to think homosexual couples shouldn't have the same benefits married men and women share, such as bereavement leave, insurance breaks, medical decisions on behalf of a partner, social security survivor benefits, the list goes on and on. To deny these rights causes the adults and children involved in these relationships to suffer, and that is just not fair.

However, how easily does our society sweep under the rug the definition of marriage. In Gen. 2:18, 21-24
in the Old Testament of the Bible, it says that "..the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man.' For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." There are many references in the Bible about marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

So, religion was important enough for the founders of our Country to mention..."one Nation, under God, indivisible..." and "In God, we trust" and the Oath of Office for our President, but no longer important or applicable for the times of today? I think we are too quick as a society to disclaim the importance of religion in order to provide convenience for our current culture. And from a religious standpoint, I believe the term and act of marriage should apply just as it always has: between a man and a woman. If people choose to live together in a homosexual relationship and raise families, there is nothing legal preventing that. Civil rights lobbyists should work harder to provide the same civil benefits afforded to married couples to same sex couples. But the legal act or term marriage should not be changed to apply to same sex couples, because if all the benefits of marriage are provided, it is not a civil is only a moral issue. And our Country makes legal decisions based on morality all the time. You can't legally marry your sister; you can't legally marry a minor, can't legally marry your mother, and you can't legally marry an animal. This is just another decision in a long line of moral decisions of our society; to break that moral fabric will only serve as a stairway to other immoral decisions in our society.
Does Sodom and Gomorrah sound familiar to anyone here?

Commenter: David
I haven't done much investigating into either of these people but I'd have to say that I really liked Gavin's answers. If this was a political race I'd probably vote for him. From past experience I tend to go with the candidate whose answers are clear, I can see where they are coming from, and actually answer the question being asked. Gallagher's response to civil unions being an acceptable replacement to gay marriage was essentially a long paragraph of nothing. She never gave a yes or a no, but turned it into a slight against pro-marriage supporters. Gavin's response? Started with a firm 'no' and he then explained why.

Rarely will I defend someone who makes a habit of twisting or wiggling out of questions to avoid actually having to answer them.

Commenter: Elizabeth
Thank you,

We need more debates like this. I get so sick of watching pundits on tv scream at each other.

I appreciate that each side was given equal chance to answer the questions.

Commenter: Kathryn Hall, M.D.
Maggie Gallagher's answers do not make sense, are not family-friendly or psychologically healthy.

Commenter: Kernan
Thank you Maggie Gallagher for the masterpieces of unintended hilarity that are your NOM ads. You have shot yourself in the foot so many times with these video tributes to stoopid, that your poor feet must be full of lead.

Commenter: Mike

I can appreciate that you took offense to my "nuff

As far as you're concerned the issue is far from
settled, and nothing I've said (or apparently
that anyone else has said) has or will convince
you otherwise (up to this point).

Every definition that I've seen, of marriage defines
it as "a social, religious,spiritual, or legal union of individuals". That definition neither includes
nor excludes anyone. A biblical definition probably
excludes same sex couples, but, the "legal" definition is (or should be) based not on the words
or theology of the bible but on law as a separate
entity from anyone's religion, not yours, not mine,
his or hers because to do so is discriminatory
against you, against me.

My proposals focused on very specific counter-arguments I have heard raised by many in objection
to same sex marriage. And I quote: "...make your own arguments." Is that not the main topic here - or am I missing something?

Because, you don't see the sense of my post, doesn't
mean there wasn't one or one or a credible one.

Anymore than whether or not you agree with me that
two plus two is four.

It is stupefying that you would claim:

"...that no one of African American heritage has taken offense at the comparison of the gay marriage issue to the civil rights struggle..."

since, I stated that I am "bi-racial" - African-American and white. Perhaps you meant that someone
other than me takes offense, since, clearly, I do
not. And I consider myself African-American as well
as white.

How is it illogical to claim the counter-argument
to those who claim the primary purpose of marriage
is procreation while protesting any attempts to
litmus test marriage (straight as well as gay) for
that purpose (as has been rejected in Washington
state) and ignoring the number of infertile couples
prior to marriage who are nonetheless conferred
with the right?

How is it illogical to counter-argue that allowing
same-sex marriage represents no threat to the "institution" of marriage (ultimately legal - since marriages are ultimately recognized (and rescinded) not by the institution in which they are widely consecrated (churches, synagogues, mosques) but, by courts, and by legislation) absent any direct and
irrefutable proof? Certainly if there is to be action based on damage real or potential, that
damage should be demonstrable and irrefutable - no?
Or is the mere suggestion absent proof sufficient,
in which case, should we invoke the "minority report"
philosophy of jurisprudence and incriminate on the
basis of crimes uncommited but highly likely? (Oops,
maybe that's premature - Evidence: Guantanamo - but, that's another subject)

Alright, I agree, marriage is NOT a civil right.
Furthermore, I agree, that it is, as I have stated
here, in so many words, "an institution regulated and licensed by the states".

Explain to me then, why, when it IS a discussion of
"civil rights" the answer is "no", not extra or special rights as some have claimed. When some say
they are opposed to discrimination against people
on the basis of their sexual orientation but, they
don't believe they should have the "right" (legal or
civil - take your preferential pick), they oppose
equal rights under the law to homosexuals?

If one is opposed to discrimination, than, denial
of the ability to marry the spouse of one's choice
is discrimination. If one is opposed to discrimination then there should be no problem with
extending the rights granted to every one else, every other taxpaying citizen in America should represent no problem.

Perhaps you have yet to see a credible counter-argument to the main topic of discussion here:

"Gay Marriage"

I have yet to see a credible argument in support of
ongoing opposition.

Certainly one of the most credible counter-arguments
I can think of or point to, is the current instances
of gay rights and gay marriage. As has been noted,
the sky has not fallen, governments have not crumbled. By all appearances, life appears to have
continued somewhat uneventfully.

For all the arguments to the contrary of what is
likely to happen and why it should NOT be allowed,
whether or not you accept ANY of my proposed counter-arguments, there appears to be little if any documented irrefutable and undeniable evidence of
the damage "sure to follow" of those who oppose gay

Or, what have you???

nuff said?

Commenter: Oklahoma Voter
I do not want my tax dollars going for special groups. One man and one woman should not get special rights while taxing everybody else to support their life style.

The churchs should control who they marry not the government.

My Traditional Family includes gays and straights. I bet yours does too.

Commenter: In my humble opinion
If gay marriage is allowed, shouldn't adult children be able to marry their parents and siblings be allowed to marry each other, since they too would be consenting adults? We live in a society that promotes procreation and the idea that the sexes are, although EQUAL, inherently different---b/c we are a "civilized" western culture. If not, then women should be drafted, women should be on football teams, men should be allowed to punch women and not be berated, there should be no single-sex sports or bathrooms. The reason why all of the aforementioned is frowned upon is b/c it is uncivilized! Think about this, if a group of people define themselves as a special interest group, i.e. the gay movement, solely based on what kind of person they are attracted to, isn't that group SHALLOW by definition. The gay agenda opens up a can of worms. We don't promote incest, polygamy either. Btw, if sexual attraction is allowed to be entered into the equation of the military service and war, morale goes down b/c it's natural that some soldiers would be judged on their physical appearance if a gay commander unconsciously or consciously favors an attractive soldier over an ugly one. Morale will be affected! Btw, no man who refers to women as Bitches should have ever been allowed to judge a civilized women's competition such as Miss USA.

Commenter: David
Most Scripture and public views of homosexuality were developed during ancient times when people thought that a man's "seed" was the whole baby. They didn't realize that women had ova until the 19th century. So, they believed that non-traditional sexual acts were "wasting babies." They knew little about biology. They didn't realize that the man's contribution was microscopic. Because reproduction was critical to a tribe's growth during those times, any thing that didn't "plant" a baby seed inside a women was taboo. There is also evidence that they feared some bodily fluids so nocturnal emissions and menstruations were feared and "unclean."

Pheromone research is beginning to show that it's tied in with sexual orientation, and that a person's response to the opposite or same sex gender could be genetically determined. Trying to pry someone away from their genetically determined condition could, and has, create problems beyond repair in forms of repression, psychosis, and suicide.

Commenter: Mark Carnivale
Rick, you need to take your definition problem up with someone who writes the dictionary. No one ever successfully defended denying someone a right because "Webster says so". Laws are not based on nor defended by dictionary definitions.

That said, you seem to be uneducated as to how civil unions are not equivalent to marriage.

I'd start your understanding with a New Jersey commission finding the following:

"After eighteen public meetings, 26 hours of oral testimony and hundreds of pages of written submission from more than 150 witnesses, this Commission finds that the separate categorization established by the Civil Union Act invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children. In a number of cases, the negative effect of the Civil Union Act on the physical and mental health of same-sex couples and their children is striking, largely because a number of employers and hospitals do not recognize the rights and benefits of marriage for
civil union couples."

More at:

Commenter: Dottie
Marriage has always been a unique relationship between a man and a woman; only in the past few years have homosexual and lesbian advocates proposed that a "right" exists for men to marry men and women to marry women. Why is this such a sudden civil rights issue? Have I missed something? I do not understand how people of the same sex are being deprived of a valuable right because they cannot marry one another any more than someone from another culture is deprived of a basic civil right because she cannot demand the "right" to marry ten husbands at once in the United States. Have her civil rights been violated? If every man is free to marry a woman and every woman is free to marry a man, obviously homosexual and lesbian people are just as free to marry as everyone else-- just not to people of the same sex. There is really no civil rights issue here, especially since sexual relations between people of the same sex are not actually punished at law in the United States (as they are in many other nations around the world). I also wish to point out that homosexual and lesbian couples would probably be the very first people subjected to actual human rights violations under color of law on account of their sexual practices were polygamy to become legal in the United States and were immigration from some nations that sanction those types of sexual relationships to increase to such an extent that a constitutional amendment were passed to make our nation an Islamic Republic. (The latter idea is really not out of the bounds of possiblities when one considers that the Muslim population in traditionally Christian Belgium is projected to be in the majority by 2050.) I am not advancing this argument to be either antiIslamic or homophobic, I respect both other religions and human diversity, but I am merely expressing views that have not been reiterated very much in the very "politically correct" mainstream press. Every culture discriminates to some degree or another and I do not believe that reasonable discrimination amongst societal norms is unhealthy, especially when a legal exception that devours the previous rule may lead to the total obliteration of traditional marriage as it has been practiced in the United States and other nations for literally hundreds of years. My wellbeing as a heterosexual and a woman are in my opinion severely damaged if traditional marriage as an institution is fundamentally altered-- especially if polygamy is legalized in the United States in the future as a result of this change.

Commenter: The Davids

I would guess you don't have any close friends who are gay. We have been married in Massachusetts ever since it became legal here. My question to you is, If a close friend of relative came out to you as gay, would you then calmly explain to them why they could never get married to some one they loved? Society needed to be protected from them having that status.

That his or her marriage would contribute air pollution, global warming, the financial crisis, unemployment, nuclear proliferation, or perhaps the failure of someone to complete heterosexual act?

We scorn some religious organizations for imposing harsh punishments for what amounts to indiscretions in our society. We call them intolerant.
This country was founded by people that were trying to escape religious persecution.
How many wars have been fought in the name of God / religion? Isn't it about time we stop the madness? And by the way whose god is the genuine God? Every religion has one. Some folks in India might damn a person to hell for eating beef. Why not just let God decide, or have you and yours taken on that role?

David and David
Married in Massachusetts May 20, 2004

Commenter: Rick
Mark Carnivale, you make this as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. You asked, "Did black people committed to white partners redefine the word "marriage" when they attained the right to inter-racially marry?" The answer is NO, the race of the man and woman involved was never part of the definition of "marriage". You asked, " Did women redefine the word "vote" when they got the right to vote?" The answer is NO. If you will take the time to look it up in the dictionary, you will see that nowhere in the definition of the word "vote" is there any reference to the sex of the voter, nor was there ever. [You answered, "I guess so." You guessed wrong on both counts. Or could it be that you don't know the definition of the word "definition". Here's a hint. We usually refer to a dictionary for the definition of a word.]
And, as a married person who believes strongly in the "ideal" of marriage, I take personal offense [as I'm sure I was meant to] at your statement of "that ideal is antiquated and unfairly prejudicial to a cultural majority." Besides the fact that this is your opinion, which I believe is not shared by a "cultural majority", that argument does not address your central issue, which I thought was equality of treatment under the law, not rewriting the dictionary. But let me ask you this â why would you want to take on the label of "married" when it has such negative connotations to you?

P Duncan, you make it even easier than Mark did. You state that "Posters such as Rick ⦠imply that there is no problem with the government creating privileges for some that are not extended to others". I'm not implying it. I'm stating it outright. Of course the government can grant privileges to some and not to others. They do it all the time! For instance, only citizens of the United States have the right to vote in our elections. Resident aliens don't. Persons under the age of 35 cannot become President of the United States. Neither can naturalized citizens. There are many more examples, but I'm not going to do all of your homework for you. Most of the time I would like to think that the distinctions made have a purpose. When they don't we should change the laws, not try to circumvent the laws by rewriting the dictionary.
You also state that married couples enjoy "privileges such as the significant monetary advantage in the tax code related to marriage status." With regard to income taxes, have you never heard of the "marriage penalty"? Do your homework!
As for your argument that "denying a government created privilege to a minority group is discrimination", why not just do away with "married" as a legal/tax/etc. classification altogether? Think about this before you answer.

Come on, boys and girls, let's play nice. You might just get some support from me if you would explain clearly what advantages we "married folk" have that are unjustly denied to gay couples. Especially if you could do so without denigrating or changing the meaning of the estate of marriage.

Commenter: Sean W
I could care less if straight people are affraid they will lose their "right" to be openly homophobic. To them I say, "Be affraid. Be very affraid."

As for your right to pass homophobia onto your children. People still teach their kids to be racist. So you can hang onto that for sick hope.

And for all the people who want to split minute hairs over definitions and legal arguments against gay rights, "The DEVIL is in the details."

Commenter: P Duncan
"Privileges vs Rights"

I find it strange that some would resort to drawing a distinction between marriage as a privilege verses a right. Posters such as Rick, by using this argument, imply that there is no problem with the government creating privileges for some that are not extended to others... privileges such as the significant monetary advantage in the tax code related to marriage status or immigration privileges related to marriage.

People make the distinction of driving licenses as a privilege rather than a right because it is a privilege which one must earn by demonstrating reasonable ability to use it safely and which may be revoked if substantially abused. I don't think anyone would argue that driving licenses should be something that are arbitrarily denied to groups within the population. Any suggestion to deny driving licenses to gay Americans would be roundly rejected by all but the most extreme bigots. The only difference with marriage is that it is a government "privilege" that also has a religious context. Just as conservative churches are free to deny marriage to the divorced they would always be free to deny their blessings to same sex couples... but the government should clearly not base the granting of privileges on these religious constraints.

This is a civil rights issue because denying a government created privilege to a minority group is discrimination.

Commenter: Mark Carnivale
Did black people committed to white partners redefine the word "marriage" when they attained the right to inter-racially marry? Did women redefine the word "vote" when they got the right to vote? I guess so. So you see Rick, your saying this is a debate over definition is stupid. It's semantical. Take it to William Safire.

People who are anti-gay marriage are defending not a word so much as an ideal, in many cases a purely religious ideal. The problem is, that ideal is antiquated and unfairly prejudicial to a cultural majority.

This is a debate over rights, over fairness, about the inevitable triumph of respect for humans over homophobia and bigotry, and about the invalid arguments that civil laws should bend at the direction of religious directive.

I have an idea that you'd like, Rick. Let's go back in time and call black peoples' votes "blotes" and womens votes "wotes". That way they can have the same right to vote, but we don't have to worry about those votes being seen as equal to the votes of white men (wink, wink, the ones that are historically and culturally more valid). Who's with us?

Commenter: Rick
I am astounded and disappointed at the apparent inability of gay marriage proponents to stick to the subject and carry on a logical debate on a single topic. Could the reason be that they have no logical argument? It has occurred to me that the gay marriage proponents' propensity for straying into extraneous issues might be a tactic to pull gay marriage opponents off topic and into areas of argument that are impossible to defend with respect to gay marriage for the simple reason that they don't apply.
I also find it somewhat offensive when someone ends their argument with statements such as "nuff said" or that they have made a point that should "end the discussion", implying that they are the final arbiter of what is right. I find this particularly annoying when they have made no point at all.

One danger of redefining the meaning of marriage to include homosexual unions is that it could have unintended consequences. Don't forget that there are over 100 years worth of laws in our country that may include the word "marriage" in their text, which could result in additional constraints and obligations being placed on homosexual couples which do not currently exist. Just a few examples would be divorce law and alimony, estate law and how inheritance of property is administered should a person die intestate. I'm sure that there are other examples as well.

I am also surprised that no one of African American heritage has taken offense at the comparison of the gay marriage issue to the civil rights struggle in the 1960s. I see no comparison. One might be able to make the stretch if the issue was "gay rights"; i.e., gays were being discriminated against with regard to their civil rights (voting rights, separate schools, or having to set at the back of the bus, for example). Several gay marriage proponents have made the claim that this is a gay rights issue; however, this is not the case.
Marriage is not a civil right guaranteed by the Constitution. Rather, it is an institution regulated and licensed by the states, much as are licenses to drive a car, which carries with it certain privileges (not rights) and obligations. And, until recently, all of the states agreed on the definition of marriage and, therefore, agreed to accept the validity of marriages performed in other states. If the definition of "marriage" is changed in some states so as to differ significantly (i.e., same sex "marriages") from other states, the result could well be that some states would no longer recognize marriages performed in states with a different definition of "marriage" than their own, much as drivers licenses are required to be obtained in the state of one's residence. This would promote a state of confusion and disunity, not equality. And no, the definition of "marriage" is not a Federal matter. It is not a Constitutional right, 14th Amendment or otherwise.

So, again I say to the proponents of "gay marriage", do not try to obtain your perceived "rights" by changing the definition of words in our language. Rather, concentrate your efforts toward enacting legislation that addresses the inequalities that you say exist. We will all benefit if you seek to build a consensus rather than a conflict.

Commenter: Richard
Gavin Newsom supports Gay Marriage because he gets the Gay vote in SF. Of the 700,000 people in SF, only about 200K vote and there are about 90,000 LGBT voters in SF. As you can see, they have a lot of power as the large minorities dont speak english and dont vote. Further, the LGBT voters are very active and create Homophobic reactions from people. People are afraid of them because they try to hurt you if you vote agianst Gay legislation. All one has to do is see the Harvey Milk movie to see how they do business.

Commenter: Frederick
This is a legal issue, not a social, moral, or religious one. As long as their laws do not infringe on Constitutional rights, states may regulate the institution of marriage for protection of individuals, society and culture. They can determine age restrictions, require parental or guardian consent, etc.; they can ban polygamy (no one's right to marry is denied based on identity).

There are, however, rights, benefits and privileges which are automatically granted to heterosexual couples immediately upon marrying. Homosexual couples are denied these rights. If marriage were to become a merely symbolic ceremony, and straight people were then required to jump through the same legal hoops as gays now do, all the arguments about tradition would become valid, and a legitimate debate could ensue; but, as long as state laws deny those rights, benefits, privileges to some people, simply because of who they are, those laws are unconstitutional, a clear violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. As I see it, the only way to argue against this line would be to state that gay people are incapable of the same level of commitment, devotion, sacrifice, love, as straights, and therefore are not deserving of equal protection. I don't believe that even Ms. Gallagher would try to make that case.

Civil Unions? The Brown v. Board of Education provides the precedent, "'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." Each state will have differently worded civil union regulations, and certain entities will sift through these for loopholes in attempts to deny benefits. UPS has tried this in New Jersey.

Commenter: Mike

Allowing gays to marry is inconsistent with
the mandate of marriage to "go forth and multiply"
which only men and women can do


How does that explain the marriages of straight
couples who cannot have children?


Allowing gays to marry represents a threat to
the institution of marriage


How? Anymore than the existence of gays represents
a threat to the existence of straights. Anymore
than the existence of India represents a threat to
the existence of America. Anymore than the existence
of Al Qaeda represents a threat (It is not existence
in and of itself which represents a threat. It is
purposeful, persistent, counteraction against. Mere
existence represents a threat to no one.


Gay Marriage is wrong. The bible tells us so.


The bible tells us a lot of things. So does the
Talmud, the Koran, the teachings of Buddha, Confucius, Scientology etc. Our constitution grants
us freedom of religion or of no religion at all,
not just christianity. And we have a strict separation of church and state, the explicit reason
the pilgrims left England - to escape religious
persecution. "One Nation 'under God'" was an
addition to our pledge of allegiance not at the
founding of this nation (arguable since this country
at the time was occupied by Latinos and Native Americans) but added in the fifties as a rebuttal
to communism.


Gay rights is not a civil rights issue.


As a black who lived through the "civil rights"
movement and who remembers "Bayard Rustin" who,
if not for the fact that he was gay might've been
the face of the civil rights movement rather tha
Martin L. King, I submit that the gay rights movement is as much a civil rights movement as the movement of the sixties. Civil rights are not under the indisputable ownership of African Americans. The history of the movement of the sixties is certainly
dominated by the struggle of African Americans for
civil rights, but, civil rights, the right to
equal opportunity employment and rights guaranteed
under the constitution transcend race to encompass
gender, ethnic origins, religious practice and the
rights as taxpaying citizens to enjoy the same privileges and protections as any citizen.


Sanctioning gay marriage opens the door to all sorts
of abominations, where will it end?


With the marriage of man to man, woman to woman who
love each other - period. There's no guarantee that
gay marriages will last any longer or be of any better quality than straight marriages, but, just as
straight marriage has not led to or prevented the
abominations one might allude to, it's fairly safe to
assume that allowing gay men or women to marry will
not likely open any flood gates.


Gay marriage will disrupt the order and discipline of
our society as surely as it will disrupt the order and discipline of the military.


Explain then the careers of Lt. Col Cammermeyer, Lt.
Dan Choi and others who have served honorably and with distinction in spite of the fact that they were serving in an institution which despite that fact
discharged them when the knowledge of their sexual
orientation self stated. Will we continue to deny
the reality and act on a fiction of chaos in the face of evidence to the contrary? Rather than continuing
to deny rights and privileges on the basis of a proven fiction, perhaps what we should be doing and
thankfully more are is challenge the fiction, demand
the proof, the evidence.

Otherwise, YES, allow them to marry.

As the daughter of a representative who voted for
gay marriage in the state of Iowa told people who
opposed gay marriage, I paraphrase, "the debate is
over, you lost, my generation will be deciding the
future and we don't care"

I'm fifty years old, not nextgen or X gen or whatever
you might like to call me. I'm not liberal or conservative, democrat or republican - I've voted for
both and neither. I'd label myself a left leaning moderate, centrist. I'm bi-racial and far more interested in what works than partisan politics.
I realize that won't stop some from spewing vitriol
and nonsense rather than calm reason, but, I can hope.

I voted for Obama, but, that's no guarantee he'll
get my vote next term. Especially if he continues
to backpeddle on campaign promises.

'nuff said

Commenter: Bill Krewin
Gallagher's point that "Marriage is about bringing together men and women so children can have mothers and fathers and that is good" seems a rather narrow purpose for marriage. Following her reasoning, the state should grant marriage licenses to barren young heterosexual couples, heterosexual empty-nesters or late in life heterosexual lovers ONLY on condition of child birth or child adoption.

The opponents of gay marriage conflate two unrelated but emotional arguments of "child rearing" and gay marriage. Gallagher's conflated heterosexual-only-child-rearing-reasoning is the old and now statistically debunked argument of, "gays can not be good parents and we must stop them from birthing or adopting children".

For the time being, the state grants marriage licenses to heterosexual addicts, alcoholics, child abusers, criminals, those afflicted with depression, bi-polar or personality disorders, the rich, poor, homeless and unemployed. The state also grants marriage licenses those who offend the conservative religious right. The list includes those who have abortions, out of wedlock sex or pregnancy. Finally, state grants heterosexual marriage licenses to Muslims, immigrants, Catholics and Jews or those do not practice, according to the religious conservative, the "GOOD" kind of religion.

I live in South Carolina and I experience every day how the socially-conservative religious majority oppresses those of us they believe to be "BAD" and not "GOOD".

When one of us are denied our rights, all of us can be denied our rights. Gallagher's position that CHILDREN are the purpose for marriage is specious, given how society and the law grants marriage licenses to heterosexuals of unproven or neglectful child-bearing-rearing ability. In reality, her undefended core argument is that heterosexuality is the EXCLUSIVE requirement for the state to issue a marriage license.

Patriots stand for the founding-principle of equality and reject the discriminatory, intellectually-naked and simplistic religious view of the state granting heterosexual only marriage licenses. Gallagher's argument has no clothes.

Commenter: Rick
In response to Equality Man, words alone do not "bestow rights onto people"; our Constitution and laws do. Neither is there any "inherent" power of words to "take rights away from others". If there is a problem of inequality under the law, the problem resides in the way that the laws were written, not in the definition of the words that were used to write the laws. Therefore, I am not "playing games" with semantics; rather, I am suggesting that the laws should be written in such a way that equality is promoted, using words which are clearly defined and not subject to interpretation or re-definition. I believe that any attempt to use "marriage" to refer to a homosexual relationship simply confuses the issue (i.e., equality) and inflames the debate to the point of distraction from the real issue (i.e., equality).
And, it is true that I have not read "any of the numerous studies showing civil unions do NOT match up to marriage when it comes to giving rights". In fact, I am not aware of any such studies. Equality Man does not cite references to any such studies, nor does he explain how the laws granting civil union status do not promote equality under the law. Therefore, Equality Man has not made his point and his vague references should not "end the discussion".

Commenter: Kole
The main argument I'm hearing against gay marriage is that the union in question cannot produce children. And that because of this fact, these relationships are somehow less worthy of equal recognition under the law. If that is so, shall we also deny the "privilege" of marriage to those couples who cannot have children due to the infertility of one or both partners? What about older couples who meet and decide to marry late in life, should we deny them marriage also? Perhaps geriatric unions? Am I the only one who thinks this is just getting silly?

What we are talking about here is equal recognition and protection under the law. If you CHOOSE to believe that gay marriage is wrong, that is your right. But those Americans who are gay did not CHOOSE that aspect of their being, any more than they chose the color of their eyes, or their height. We must not allow the choices of some to deny those fellow Americans, who happen to be gay, an equal status under the law.

Commenter: EqualityMan
Rick writes: "equality under the law has nothing to do with rewriting the definitions of words in the dictionary." Well, it does when those words bestow rights onto people, or inherently take them away from others. And have you not read any of the numerous studies showing civil unions do NOT match up to marriage when it comes to giving rights? That point alone should end the discussion. If you are pro civil unions but anti-gay marriage, then you are the one playing semantical games when you should be thinking about civil rights and fairness.

Commenter: Rick
I find it difficult to logically follow the arguments of gay marriage supporters. What I seem to see is another attempt on the part of at least some factions of the gay population to create an "in your face" confrontation with non-gays, much like gay pride parades, etc. [Just think what the reaction would be if "straight pride parades" were held.]
On the issue of equality, I have little problem with the creation of legal categories (such as civil unions) which afford committed gay couples equal status with married heterosexual couples with regard to tax law, health insurance, etc. [Of course, this raises the issue of equality for "committed", but unmarried, heterosexual couples - but that is another discussion.]
Let's face it, equality under the law has nothing to do with rewriting the definitions of words in the dictionary. [Does anyone besides me remember when "gay" was defined as "merry; happy; light-hearted"?] Marriage always has, and always should be, defined as a particular type of relationship between a man and a woman who have become husband and wife. And no, you shouldn't change the definitions of "husband" and "wife" either. It has nothing to do with equality and everything to do with not confusing our language; i.e., when the term "marriage" is used, we should be able to understand what is meant.
It is nonsensical to argue that not to extend the term "marriage" to include a homosexual couple is tantamount to bigotry. Nature makes the distinction between a heterosexual couple and a homosexual couple. The first can conceive children; the second cannot. There is nothing wrong with having a word which distinguishes between two types of relationship which are, by nature, unequal.

Commenter: Scott
Ms. Gallagher lost the battle because she misunderstood civil rights. This is, contrary to her unfounded view, a civil rights issue. Simply put: one pays taxes and thus maintains a social contract with society, including the government (not a church or any rules the ecclesiastics preach--a.k.a. a tithe). If that government must decide which taxpayers get a right over others, then a civil rights issue surfaces. When a church instructs a state on governing, it is a violation of law. We have options here folks: remove a church's luxury of tax-free status, or reduce the tax collection on those individuals we choose to leave behind in the civil rights arena. Churches have a function within society, and it does not include making decisions for everybody. It all has to do with money, as Prop. 8 clearly showed us. I mind very little offering my taxable income at a significantly reduced rate to my government until I am afforded the same offerings as others.

Commenter: William
The fact that the last generation was taught in school that being gay is perfectly "normal" is the reason this debate is ongoing. The mere mention that being gay is in fact not the way we were biologically programed in order to reproduce and the result of abnormal occurances, be it biological or emotional, will get a person labeled as a bigot or homophobe. The issue of gay marrage is just another attempt to force this "normal" lifestyle on the rest of the people. If it's made law, every person who opposes gay marrage will be labeled a bigot and speaking against it will be a violation of their newfound rights, the rights given by this new law. In other words, if this is allowed to go through and become law, gay marrage will be taught in schools as "normal" and any attempt to stop this would be illegal.

Commenter: Catherine Maisey
I believe that Ms. Gallagher's use of the words "normal" and "traditions" contributed to her lose on this issue. It was once traditional that only men debate politics, preventing women from having the right to vote. The suffrage movement, sometimes painful, sometimes violent, proved that women were quite capable of handling the responsibility of politics and casting a vote. It was normal for blacks and other minorities to sit at the back of a bus, have separate water fountains,schools,etc in the communities they were born into. Until the civil rights movement and Dr King showed us in a most peaceful manner that what is "normal" can change overnight. What is normal or traditional today, may change tomorrow, and most of us understand this. Women, blacks and other minorities are breaking into careers and positions in society what has been traditionally and quite normally held by men. And...once it was required to obtain a license from the state to marry, marriage became a civil institution and left the realm of religion. In our society, you do not have to marry in a church, or religious ceremony, but you must receive a license from the state, every state, to be LEGALLY married.

Commenter: Reason
Gallagher doesn't have a leg to stand on. It's not an attack on religious freedom for <i>the state</i>, which is not a religious institution, to recognize same-sex marriage. Current proposals to do so explicitly exempt religious institutions from having to make such recognition.

What <i>is</i> an attack on freedom and personal liberty is for religious institutions to mandate to the government what is or isn't marriage.

Commenter: Fred
Maggie Gallagher said: "Bans on interracial marriage were about keeping two races separate so that one race could oppress the other". More accurately, they were about keeping the inequal status quo, and that is EXACTLY what she is pushing for, ironically. What does she think she's doing besides oppressing a minority by removing their rights? What a heartless, cold-minded, RELIGIOUS oppressor! This isn't about saving a culture; it's about religious imperialism!

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