Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Same-Sex Marriage Revisited 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
This morning I received a letter from a [heterosexual] friend who read my previous post on the AFA Gay Marriage Poll. He'd wanted to leave a comment below the post, but unfortunately the commenting server wouldn't work. He called me on the issue of "loading" the ballots, pointing out that you can easily fool an online poll through various means - he was right; I didn't think of that before I posted, so can I say "thank you for setting me straight...ahem...correct?"

My friend, however, disagrees with the idea of gay marriage - and in fact isn't too crazy about marriage as an institution per se. I know other people who feel the same way. I think we can all have varying viewpoints, and I wanted to share a bit of the letter (edited to preserve his privacy) because he makes some very good points; and I wanted to share my response.

I would have liked to have commented on a few of your postings and wish the comments work, I wanted to say something about yesterdays'.

You made the statement "I took the poll myself, and can vouch for the fact that the site was configured to reject repeat votes from the same computer or IP address, which would tend to discount the theory that a small number of users "loaded" the survey." I found this very funny, I had spent the day 'loading' a survey on our local newspapers site. I don't think it will reject an IP address. With dial-ups every time you connect you get a new IP address. With a high speed connection your IP address can change, I have been registered from several different addresses. A person can also vote from work and from home (okay that only counts for two) If they vote from work your computer doesn't get an IP address, your business does. You have a router at work with one IP address that then routes it to your computer.

Most of the "you can't vote twice" protection is done with cookies. Cookies can be deleted or rejected totally. If you reject cookies and the site doesn't check for rejected cookies you can vote all day. If you delete cookies you can vote all day. Try it, it is FUN!

I wanted to comment on being against same sex marriage. I am. (hold that gasp and homophobia comment for...just...a...sec) I am also against opposite sex marriage. I think "marriage" is wrong and nothing more then a piece of paper. The commitment comes from the person, from the heart, and if it can't be proved with that, the legal piece of paper wont do shit for you.

On a side note, it does bother me that someone can have a same sex domestic partner and get all the rights as a married couple. But an opposite sex domestic partner is not entitled to those same rights...well...unless they get married.

But more than marriage (same sex or opposite sex) I am against the American Family Association. While I believe that a family can be a wonderful thing the "all sit down at the dinner table to talk about the day, hug your kids, discipline when they are bad" type of family values are a good thing to have and should be encouraged. But a police force such as the American Family Association isn't what is needed. I think the American Family Association are the same people that once said "The Simpson's" are horrible, and then turned around later when they saw the family values that the Simpson's have. The American Family Association is like a condo association, they want to impose rules that they think the world should have. FEH!

Dear XXXX;

Well, I supposed I jumped the gun with the last posting...I should remember that "Google is forever"! Computer technicalities aside though (I did not think of the cookies perspective, you're absolutely right, though), it is such a hot button issue that it takes considerable effort sometimes for me to put logic before emotion. I agree, 99% of the Internet is bullshit...our websites excepted, ha, ha...but speaking of the AFA poll, what I neglected to mention is that it would be an unfair and biased poll no matter -how- it was done - and it would be just as biased if it were hosted on a pro-gay-marriage site (or on a CNN Quick Poll for that matter). After all, you're 'preaching to the converted' in any case, and drawing from a non- random selection of 'poll-ees'.

Anyhoo: I agree (on the corporate level especially) that allowing only same-sex couples to receive domestic partner benefits is unfair. However, with the exception of Vermont - which provides for gay couples who have a civil union to receive these benefits statewide, as opposed to the luck of the draw with how progressive your employer happens to be; and a few states here and there with less comprehensive laws - there is no option or possibility for two people of the same sex to marry, whereas a heterosexual couple has that choice if they wish. They are penalized for not choosing to marry, but same sex couples are penalized, period, and are considered single individuals. To me that's what the issue boils down to: choice.

Don't worry about the gasp and accusations of "homophobia" - I've heard far worse. I agree that the institution of marriage isn't perfect and there seem to be more dysfunctional familes around than not, but I feel that doesn't really stem from "marriage" per se or the gender of the spouses. I think incompatible psychologies, interpersonal dynamics and ingrained social patterns are at the root of the majority of marital problems - and legislation (George W's 'promote marriage' proposal included) probably won't do a damned thing to help. It's true; plenty of couples that are married now probably have no business being married, and they're only making themselves and their kids miserable.

But think of it this way: whatever the government issue legislates or doesn't legislate on gay marriage will not change the fact that just like straight couples, thousands and thousands of same-sex couples are now living with the joys, pains, and responsiblities of couplehood whether or not the state or the nation will allow them the document of "marriage." (personally I think that's the wrong term to use, because the words "gay" and "marriage" both have such loaded meanings.)

The only difference between gay couples wishing to marry and their straight counterparts is that they currently have no option to give their committed relationship legal standing. Thinking logically, and putting 'moral arguments' aside, allowing same-sex couples to marry/civil union will have no effect on heterosexual marriage or families. Period. Why?

For the sake of argument, suppose tomorrow a law was passed nationwide that allowed same-sex couples to marry. I know you mentioned in your previous message that you're not too fond of the marriage institution yourself, but honestly, do you think that fact that gay couples -could- marry would make heterosexual people less likely to get married, or have families? I don't really think that barring gay people the option of legalizing their relationship is going to convince anyone to "switch sides" and enter into a heterosexual marriage, nor strengthen/weaken straight couples' resolve or desire to marry. I also don't think that allowing gay couples to marry is going to suddenly provoke a tide to folks to do so who would be inclined otherwise.

Truthfully, if you take the religious component out of the marriage concept you are left with a legally binding interpersonal economic and familial contract. In some less conservative countries like the Netherlands, Sweden or Canada providing the (same-sex union) option probably didn't seem like that much of a big deal.

Why would I push for gay marriage? Because although my partner and I are committed and we have had a civil union in Vermont, outside of that state our personal commitment has no legal standing.

That commitment will not let me see her in the hospital or make decisions for her, if, God forbid, she had an accident and was unable to do so for herself (and vice versa); we cannot in this state be each other's life insurance beneficiaries (we tried to, but the company had the legal right to bar that decision and force the beneficiary as "estate") or pension plans or inherit each other's property. No matter how long or close our relationship is, right now we have no legal status in Illinois and the law basically considers us strangers to one another. To me, being allowed to get married is about these types of fundamental legal issues so many people take for granted.

I think you can understand that it's a deeply personal issue for me.

Personally, I am very surprised the issue of same-sex marriage has come to the legal forefront so soon in the historical sense; I always that it would happen when I was very old, or even generations from now. A lot of people wonder whether our country is ready to make a decision on such a groundbreaking and divisive topic. But, looking at the global perspective and seeing how narrowly cyclical the political tides can be - things can be up or down, left or right in a matter of months rather than generations - I think: "why not now?"

We'll see. No politic (or any politician) is forever, and even Constitutional Amendments can come and go.