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Gay marriage – what is wrong with us

Written By: - Date published: 10:48 am, May 14th, 2012 - 38 comments
Categories: families, us politics - Tags: , ,

Gay marriage. There’s been plenty of coverage in the American media, with echoes here in NZ. As reported by 3 News last night, it looks set to become a “key election issue” in the Obama vs Romney presidential contest.

How utterly depressing. There are major issues facing the world (climate change, peak oil, the ongoing financial mess, the fair allocation of resources, planning for a sustainable future). There are major issues facing America (poverty, unemployment, the hollowing out of its industrial sector, the legacy of its failed and ongoing wars). There are major issues anywhere one cares to look, and yet, one of the defining issues in the contest to lead the most powerful (?) nation in the world will be squabbling about whether consenting adults can legally state their love.

Why is this even a discussion? How is this even a debate? There is no question mark in the title of the post. That gay marriage can be an election issue defines what is wrong with what we have collectively allowed politics to be come. It defines what is wrong with us.

38 comments on “Gay marriage – what is wrong with us ”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    The proper and fair outcome is that marriage shouldn’t have any place in law anyway. Civil union should be what everyone gets. Then if your church or other favourite organisation wants to hold a special ceremony and call it a marriage, fine, they can do that. But the state will recognise it as a civil union.

    That way it is equal for everyone.

    • Kevin 1.1

      @Lanthanide
      “That way it is equal for everyone.” (civil unions)

      Gay people should be free to make their own decisions on the status of their relationships without the influence of a third party dictating that a civil union is equal for everyone.
      The biggest problem with this debate is that some people want to impose their views upon others without consent or consideration, ie Christain Groups, Colin Craig, when essentially their opinions are irrelevant and meddling with the privacy of others.

      • Lanthanide 1.1.1

        “Gay people should be free to make their own decisions on the status of their relationships without the influence of a third party dictating that a civil union is equal for everyone.”

        For the record, I am gay.

        Now, the point of my proposal is that the only thing recognised in law would be a Civil Union. So there is no “dictation” involved, it is simply a logical truth: when the only legal recognition is Civil Union, everyone must be equally represented in law. At the moment people in civil unions are not legally able to call themselves ‘spouses’, they are instead ‘civil union partners’. Under my proposal, everyone would be a ‘civil union partner’ and the term ‘spouse’ would cease to have any special legal meaning; or more likely the term ‘civil union partner’ would be deprecated and simply replaced by ‘spouse’ in all cases as no one really uses the term ‘civil union partner’ anyway.

        Whether your church or other group will go a step further and say you are ‘married’ is completely irrelevant to how the law would view the relationship.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1

          That’s pretty much the way I’ve viewed it for the last few years. The state is only interested in the relationship due to legal concerns. If it’s a marriage or not is entirely the concern of the people within the relationship.

    • Paul Campbell 1.2

      Lanthanide: words are important – in essence you’re giving “marriage” to the religious gays and taking it from the atheists (and the poor who can’t afford a church wedding) – this isn’t a word owned by the religious

      Why not take the French approach – they have a Civil Marriage (at the town hall) followed by an optional religious one

  2. BM 2

    Because the vast majority of people don’t know about or understand or care about
    climate change, peak oil, the ongoing financial mess, the fair allocation of resources and
    planning for a sustainable future.

    In a democratic system none of those topics are a winner.

  3. s y d 3

    D I S T R A C T I O N… National are going to follow exactly what is happening in the US..key wants to have the ‘debate‘ on this, please this, only this, lets make this the defining issue…nice way for the conservatives to get a big voice eh…

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Well identified s y d.

      National don’t really care about this issue but it keeps media eyes distracted and off all the stuff they really do care about – thieving the nation’s wealth.

    • Lanthanide 3.2

      Unlikely, because Obama can’t actually do anything with regards to gay marriage anyway.

      It is up to individual states to decide their own marriage laws, which is partly why Obama sticking his oar into this contentious issue is considered risky: there is very little he can gain in a legislative sense and a lot to lose in terms of political support by the all important ‘undecided’ or ‘swing’ voters.

  4. Immisc 4

    I concur with Lanthanide. That the legalities of marriage are accessible to everyone through a Civil Union which is internationally recognised and then Marriage becomes an extra ceremony that fits the particular couples beliefs. I believe, that would suit all parties that have differing issues in this debate.

  5. Pete 5

    I doubt it will be the central issue of the campaign – at least for the presidential election. Obama was very clear that it was a state-by-state issue when he announced his support.It may be more important issue in the congressional and state elections, though. The Huffington Post has a good analysis of what seems to be Obama’s campaign strategy. I think Obama’s announcement is more a stake in the ground and an indication that the culture is shifting on this. I also think it’s his genuine view – especially given his repeal of don’t ask don’t tell in the armed forces – an action that conservative opposition hasn’t really gained any traction against.

  6. what is wrong with us

    As trivial as our politics gets sometimes I think the degree that US politicis is overwhelmed by what should be non-issues, or side issues, is far greater. I don’t see this being a key issue here, but who knows what will dominate debate across the Pacific.

    That an opposition MP has the time and inclination to put forward a private Members Bill, and our PM (and by implication National) is prepared to let the bill progress, seems a reasonable way to deal with a tidy up to an anomaly in our marriage/civil union laws.

    And if the bill is drawn from the ballot, amongst some inevitable indignation and inflation of it being a threat to civiliasation as we know it, Id bet on New Zealand managing a much more reasonable debate than the US on marriage equality.

    If anyone knows of additional MP positions on this please let me know, building a neutral post: MPs on same sex marriage.

  7. Remember the US is a highly religious nation with a huge number of born again conservative Christian evangelicals. As such this sort of issue is extremely….toucy in the US hence the level of political discourse it currently receives. 

    • Kevin 7.1

      @Contrarian
      Utah, is as you know, a Mormon State and will oppose gay marriage. As a consequence of that gay marriage will be a very difficult bill to pass through the Senate, the debate I expect will be vitriolic and plain nasty and may result in some states adopting gay marriage and others vehemently opposed to it, therefore the Bill will not survive on a nationwide basis.

    • happynz 7.2

      Remember the US is a highly religious nation…

      I have to disagree. There may well be significant numbers of people that see themselves as born again conservative Christian evangelicals, but the US is still a secular nation despite efforts to change that status.

  8. ianmac 8

    The last time I faced marriage, I was allowed to write the service which became only seconds long. I discovered that very very few words are needed legally. “Yes. I want to get married.” Or, “Do you want to get married?” “Yes.” That’s all.
    So taking Lanth’s point, if every couple followed that minimalist line, including Gays, then the rest could be as extravagant or minimalist as you like.
    And yes calling them all Civil Unions is a good plan. Don’t know what the fuss is about.

    • The fuss is about getting equality for all couples. Currently some people can choose between marriage and civil union, while others don’t have that choice.

      • Lanthanide 8.1.1

        “The fuss is about getting equality for all couples. Currently some people can choose between marriage and civil union, while others don’t have that choice.”

        ianmac is fully aware of that. He is saying take the choice away: Civil Union for everyone and no one gets (legally) recognised ‘marriage’.

        • Pete George 8.1.1.1

          I suspect it will be easier to widen access to marriage to all rather than take it away for some, to whom marriage is symbolically very important.

          • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1.1

            They can still use the marriage word – it’s just that it would no longer be a legal definition.

            • felix 8.1.1.1.1.1

              I get that, but Pete has a point about it being easier to do.

              There are, I reckon, a lot of people who couldn’t give a crap either way about gay marriage, and they’ll go along with it because extending the current law to gay people doesn’t really seem like it affects them.

              But as soon as you talk about taking marriage off the books, they’ll see it as “taking” something away from them. Even though it’s not really.

  9. Tiger Mountain 9

    This will be Obama’s own hell version of NZ’s Section 59 scenario I’m picking. Of course anyone should be able to marry anyone if they so desire, but is this a good tactical move? It is likely to sink the Dems. Barrrack should have gone for broke on a whole bunch of other issues as well as this one.

    I am not into marriage personally, or civil unions which are often more about legality, custody and property rights than human rights. Heh, the yanks should look at themselves with their track record of underage and “kissin cousins” marriages.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      Classic Karl Rove techniques- but adopted by Obama.

      Its what they call a red meat issue, remember its the extreme liberals who are having second thoughts …until now. As for the rest , they werent going to vote for Obama anyway

  10. Fortran 10

    Is this issue the most important thing that can currently be discussed, whilst Key sets fires and burns we sit back and watch gay marriage ?

    • It’s the sort of issue that parties in opposition are more likely to make progress with, becasue they don’t have budget implications. Far more chance of having success with this (subject to ballot of course) than the huge amount of probably futile time and expense being spent on asset sales.

    • Vicky32 10.2

      Is this issue the most important thing that can currently be discussed, whilst Key sets fires and burns we sit back and watch gay marriage ?

      Exactly! It’s another great and glorious distraction from the real issues… 🙁

    • Lanthanide 10.3

      Seems a bit more important than boat people, which Key managed to find the time out of his hectic schedule of managing the economy to address.

  11. Enough is Enough 11

    Key is such a lying piece of shit.

    Obama says something that gets positive headlines around the world so this scum ball trys to jump onside with him.

    He is the leader of party that has always been homophobic. it is now a closet homophobe party but it is clear from their makeup and stands on issue that behind closed doors we all know what their opinions are.

    He is fuckwit that will say all things to all people.

    you know at the champagne function on saturday night with his rich white hetro male mates he would have been saying the exact opposite.

    • tc 11.1

      He’s already voted against it previously so be nice to see the MSM skewer the deceptive banksta with his own actions just for a change…..the we can all watch Fran/Audrey etc leap to his defence.

  12. Frida 12

    It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage. Or, as I like to call it, ‘marriage.’ You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not gay lunch. I parked my car, I didn’t gay park it. – Liz Feldman

  13. Bill 13

    Just me? Or is this thread meant to be a multi-contribution excercise in irony?

    The post asked “Why is this even a discussion? How is this even a debate?” and wha’d’y’know… most commenters have picked up on it as a topic of debate/discussion!

    It’s a debate because on all the other issues are ‘off the table’ due to the fact that both wings of the establishment in the US are reading from the same script on all of them. And that script just happens to be the same script the corporate and/or banking sectors are reading from too.

    Wonder how that can be? (That’s intended to be rhetorical btw)

    So in the interests of presenting a facade of democracy…of choice…of representation in the political scheme of things (ie, actual real people being represented, having a choice and a modicum of democracy as opposed to unveiling the fact that the elites, bankers and corporates have the whole thing tied up and in the bag), the only thing left to do is to generate debates where there actually is a divergence in viewpoint. So bring on the tittle-tattle and dress it all up in fine and sonorous tones…

    I can almost hear the unspoken subtext oozing from TV sets all across the states as people tune into CNN or whoever…

    “You want to cast your vote based on climate change, peak oil, the ongoing financial mess, the fair allocation of resources, planning for a sustainable future, poverty, unemployment, the hollowing out of the US’s industrial sector, the legacy of failed and ongoing wars…? Sure. Why not? Go ahead and feel free! This is America afterall! So flip that coin. ‘Heads’ (either Republican or Democrat)… we win. And tails (either Republican or Democrat)… you lose. But on underpants? Well, on underpants it ain’t that clear cut. So let us help you stick to underpants and together we’ll keep this democracy rollin’.”

    Hmm. How many years behind you reckon NZ is on ‘democracy as underpants’?

    • just saying 13.1

      Behind?

      And wee bit ironic that this post is written by a member of the Labour Party.

    • muzza 13.2

      Spot on Bill – Well said!

      Democracy is dead, other than getting to dicuss issues about “how free” people are/are not, such as this!

  14. Carol 14

    Marriage equality ids over due. I’m one who has never been interested in marriage, and think it shouldn’t carry as much cultural significance as it does. But obviously it’s important to a large number of people.

    If the time has arrived when a majority of people, left and right, to support a move for same-sex marriage, then it’s to be celebrated.

    If some the right are highlighting it as s diversionary issue, then they are doing lesbian and gay people a disservice.

    I for one, can focus on more than one issue.

    So if there’s a resolution to the marriage equality issue… great. And I can continue to focus on pressing issues of income inequality, the economy, greedy, and powerful corporates, etc.

    • just saying 14.1

      Fair call Carol.
      Didn’t mean to imply that it’s not important, it clearly is. I’m just disillusioned with there being such an ironclad neoliberal consensus in our two biggest political parties. I don’t see a conflict between class and “identity” politics (wish there was a better term).

  15. I find it most disturbing that Mitt Romney considers gay marriage to be something that could destroy America than the much more immediate threats that are the Euro crisis; exiting cleanly from Afghanistan; the complete and utter failure of the War on Drugs – which should never have started in the first place; Obama care among others.

    Hello Mitt. I don’t see how preventing two consent wo/men in love with each other in their bedroom from marrying if they so desire is going to help the American economy. Perhaps you could explain?

  16. One of the strongest (expressed rather than factual) arguments against marriage equality is that we should stick to what Christian marriage was intended to be. But “Christian marriage” has evolved alongside Christianity.

    If “marriage” was re-defined as only applying to Christian traditional marriage (as opposed to non-Christian marriage and pre-marriage Christianity) would I be compelled to get divorced?

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