In this week’s column at 365gay.com, I address the issue whether civil unions should be considered a serviceable political compromise for the time being, while we await full marriage equality. As you might expect, lots of comments have come in already.
But I wanted to share a very different sort of comment; one that you wouldn’t often see on that site because it’s so negative. Here’s the text of an email I received today; you should read the 365 post first for context, although I think he fairly (not selectively) quotes me. I’ve highlighted my language from the column for ease of reference:
Regarding the article, “Culhane: Should we hate civil unions, or love them?“, I have a few thoughts.
Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle stated she took longer to decide this issue of ‘Civil Unions vs. Marriage’ than any other brought before her.And that she had decided to veto the civil union bill after much deliberation.
“With her body blocking the state seal – with its (loosely translated) motto of “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness” and its depiction of the Goddess of Liberty – Lingle issued the by-now boilerplate blather about letting the people, rather than the legislature, decide. It’s as though she’d just been transported to a place where the rules of representative democracy had been suspended”
The whole of the statement you made, as seen above, reeks with biased slander and a hint of self aggrandizement. Is “The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness” the translation of “Ua Mau Ke Ea O Oka Aina I Ka Pono” or not? If it is, and it is according to some those local boys I’ve known for years, your veracity has come under scrutiny.
Now, this “…boilerplate blather about letting the people, rather than the legislature, decide…” is the Governor simply doing her job in a representative democracy. So, what are you trying to say here…..we must leave the state legislature to do their job fulfilling their responcibilities under a representative democracy but, as Governor, she must kowtow to the wishes of the State Legislature!?! Surely you’re not trying to tell us that the Governor isn’t the representative voice of all the States population!?! Her job would be, as the State voice under a representative democracy, to consider what we the people want as a whole. Doesn’t this make sense to you at all?
But I want to focus on something the governor said during her press conference: Civil unions are marriage ‘by another name.” Since she opposes same-sex marriages (she didn’t say why), she also opposes civil unions.
“Civil unions are marriage ‘by another name.” There is no need to redefine the word marriage and a definite need to distinguish between a ‘civil union’ and a ‘marriage’. You may think there is some kind of underlying ill-will towards gays or perhaps some kind of homophobia in play. But the fact is you couldn’t be farther from the truth.
It has become apparent that there is an agenda being pushed upon the majority of the population of America and it is happening on the State level. Here is where the push began…when those who call themselves gay wanted what married people have…and I’m not talking about all the financial and other benefits that go along with being legally married. The simple truth is, and I’ve had enough gay friends to know, they want the title of marriage because they see their relationships as the same as those who are married. But they’re not! I’ve seen more gay sexual addicts than I’d care to shake a stick at….it’s like the ‘lust rheostat’ is turned on high and stuck there. It’s all about being “Out”…about being “In Your Face”…about “Being Gay and Proud Of It”. And most of all, it’s about bringing down the established white christian morals that have stifled this country for so long.So, you might want to start writing the truth.
“So how can it mean the same thing as marriage? Lingle might be right to say that civil unions are marriage “by another name,” but names have weight. The word “marriage” is particularly totemic, as we can emphasize by this table-turning little experiment: Imagine a suggestion that same-sex couples’ unions be called marriages, but that opposite-sex couples would be granted the right to enter into civil unions. Would anyone then really want to suggest that the name wasn’t terribly important?”
You’ve gt to be kidding? I would be willing to bet almost anything that, if the tables were turned, it wouldn’t be such a big deal! But, of course, we’ll never know will we! So, this little point is irrelevant!
Perhaps nowhere was the importance of this distinction better understood and deconstructed than by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Writing in response to the question whether the legislature might carry out the court’s mandate of conferring marriage equality on same-sex couples by creating the civil union, the court said this of the proposed bill:
[I]t is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status. The denomination of this difference…as merely a “squabble over the name to be used” so clearly misses the point that further discussion appears to be useless.
Are you cherry-picking bits of information and wording it in such a way as to reflect you will and desires? This is what I found:
“In a 50-page, 4–3 ruling delivered on November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that the state may not “deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by “civil marriage” to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.” Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, writing for the majority, wrote that the state’s constitution “affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens,” the state had no “constitutionally adequate reason for denying marriage to same-sex couples,” and “The right to marry is not a privilege conferred by the State, but a fundamental right that is protected against unwarranted State interference.” On the legal aspect, instead of creating a new fundamental right to marry, or more accurately the right to choose to marry, the Court held that the State does not have a rational basis to deny same-sex couples marriage on the ground of due process and equal protection. (the court gave the State Legislature 180 days to change the law to rectify the situation)
She said “It forbids the creation of second-class citizens….”! Big difference, wouldn’t you say!?!
I must say, Mr. John Culhane, Professor of Law, Widener University, I would not want to be a student sitting in your class where I’d be fed an assortment of lies served up by a biased, or should I say prejudice, bigot!
Well, I know I would need a thick skin when I embarked on a life of blogging. This is the kind of thing you get. Most of what “jim” said is, I think, self-refuting, and I want to turn to reading and then analyzing the DOMA decisions that came down this evening, so I’m not going to get into it in detail. Just a very few quick points:
(1) There was Goodridge, which jim summarizes, and then there was the Opinion of the Justices in response to a question presented by the state senate. The latter is what I was quoting.
(2) There are plenty of sex addicts — men, women, straight and gay. No one suggests that the presence of sex addicts in the heterosexual population should lead society to ban their marriages, so why is it different for gay couples? Note the implicit homophobia in the attempted demonization of gay men (what about lesbians, by the way?) while ignoring similar, heterosexual impulses.
(3) jim claims to have gay friends. If so, I hope he’s open enough with them to share this email. If he does, he could learn something through their responses — if they’re not so pissed they simply walk out on him.
Look for my analysis of the DOMA cases later tonight, or tomorrow morning.