Against North Carolina Amendment One: Gale and Elizabeth

On Tuesday May 8, voters in North Carolina will go to the polls to decide who will represent their parties in general elections for President, Governor, and a host of less exciting but still important offices such as school boards and the like.  Voters will also be asked to decide whether to add these words to the State's Constitution:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.

For reasons already explained, I believe these words (also known as "Amendment One") have the potential to open a most ugly can of worms.  I recommend that voters reject Amendment One.  The Amendment does not define marriage (that's already defined by statute):  It prohibits the State, as well as city and county governments within North Carolina, from allowing or recognizing civil unions or domestic partnerships between same-sex couples, or for that matter opposite-sex couples who choose not to marry.

In the case of one couple, Gale and Elizabeth, it has the potential to bankrupt them.  If Amendment One passes, it will leave Gale without health insurance (at least until ObamaCare's prohibition of coverage denial for preexisting conditions comes into effect, which may never happen).  It will do so because they never considered, when Elizabeth's employer Durham County offered to provide health insurance coverage for domestic partners of its employees, that strangers living 200 miles away would one day have the opportunity to vote that coverage out of existence.

This is their story.

Gale and Elizabeth could be your neighbors, but they are mine.  They're good neighbors:  They don't yell and scream the way I do; They don't ignore the stop sign at the entrance to our street , as I do; They don't blast loud music at 2:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, as I often do. They're the nice ladies who walk their dog, a Siberian Husky, past the house at about 6:45 most mornings, driving my dogs insane and making me feel guilty that I'm barely capable of drinking my coffee because I was up until 2:00 a.m. yelling and screaming and blasting loud music and driving dangerously and neglecting my dogs.

I  sat down with Gale and Elizabeth a couple of weeks ago to discuss what passage of Amendment One would mean to them, emotionally, legally, and otherwise.

Patrick: I'd like to thank you for agreeing to talk with me about yourselves.  Could you tell our readers a little bit about who you are?

Elizabeth: I work for Durham County in [a department Patrick will not name because Elizabeth's job involves fundraising and public outreach].

Gale: I have a partnership in a small homebuilding company here in Durham.

Patrick: As a matter of fact, your company built my house, didn't it Gale?

Gale: All of the houses on this street, yes.

Patrick:  And how long have you two been together?

Gale:  It will be twenty-nine years on May 5.

Patrick:  How did you meet?

Elizabeth:  We met at AnotherThyme [a restaurant in Durham] at some progressive women's group meeting.  I'd been attending for some time, and Gale showed up one day.  We got to talking and hit it off, and we've been together 29 years since.

Gale: It was a storytelling conference, but I wasn't a gifted storyteller.

Patrick: What was Durham like in those days for lesbian and gay people?  I would have been in high school back then, and my impression of Durham was that it was a pretty rough, sort of industrial town.

Elizabeth: Not at all.  It was a university town, too. Depending on where you were from, it was a beacon in those days.  I'd been out since 1980, and no one gave me any problems.  I served on boards, vetted grants for [unnamed County agency], and worked with a group helping battered women.  It was a far cry from Americus, Georgia, where I came from.

Gale: Yes, I remember when a friend's partner died back in 1983, and she was given family leave.  That sort of thing wasn't uncommon here even in the 80s.

Patrick: Your friend was gay or lesbian, I take it?

Gale: Oh yes.

Patrick: You're a couple.  Do you consider yourselves partners?

Gale: Yeah, we own our home, we've been together almost as long as some of the neighbors have been alive.

Elizabeth: We've done what we can.  We've written wills. Gale is my beneficiary for retirement, life insurance, and vice versa.  She's on my health insurance policy, vision, dental, you name it.  We saw an attorney to arrange everything so it would be legally as close to marriage as we could get, power of attorney, living will and what have you.

Patrick: Why did you feel the need to do that?

Elizabeth: I still get down to see my mother in Georgia.  I'd hate to get into an accident and have the hospital ignore Gale's decisions.

Patrick: Let's talk about insurance.  Elizabeth, you're a county employee.  Does Durham offer insurance benefits to lesbian and gay couples?

Elizabeth:  It does. Most private employers in this state don't offer that sort of thing, so it's a good recruiting tool…

Patrick: To attract employees the County might not be able to afford otherwise?

Elizabeth: I think so, but Durham isn't the only one doing it.  I know it's offered in Charlotte, and Greensboro and Chapel Hill.

Gale: I had my own health insurance before the County offered it, but the County rate was cheaper so we went with the group plan.

Patrick: Let's talk about Amendment One. If Amendment passes, what will happen to your health insurance, Gale?

Gale: You tell me.

Patrick: Touche! Well, as I read the Amendment, the County will have to stop offering any sort of domestic partnership benefits to any of its unmarried employees. Gale, if that happened, could you get health insurance now?

Gale: Probably not. Since I went on the County plan I've been diagnosed with a neurological disease. I control it with medication, and that's expensive, probably over a thousand a month. It could get worse. I haven't looked for another policy yet, and hope I won't have to, but I'm not sure I could get it with a preexisting condition.

Patrick: You couldn't get health insurance through your own company?

Gale: We have two employees, including me.

Elizabeth: I don't think so.

Patrick: It's rude to ask a lady her age, but I do it all the time at depositions. So how long would it be before you were eligible for Medicare, Gale?

Gale: Five years.

Patrick: Let's play a game.  The people behind this Amendment, and I know a couple of them, would tell you that the best way to interpret a law is to use its plain meaning, just to apply the dictionary definition of every word in the text. The Amendment says: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State."  What does that mean to you?

Elizabeth: That we're second class citizens.

Gale: That my government doesn't give a damn about me, and that it discriminates against us.

Patrick: Would either of you consider leaving North Carolina if the Amendment passed?

Gale: No.

Elizabeth: We'd miss you all.

Gale: We've lived here [on my street] since the early 1990s.  We're lucky to live a few doors from family and we've felt safe and loved by our neighbors as well.  We had only lived here a couple years when Elizabeth and I were walking on Ninth Street and some guys yelled homophobic remarks at us. When we told Greg [the toughest guy in the neighborhood] about it he was livid and ready to go get them! And now, as we drive to and from our home, we see all the anti Amendment signs and again, we feel cared for and protected. We also read so many of you supporting Facebook postings. All in all, we know you all have our back!

Patrick: And on that note I'll close the interview.


I doubt many North Carolinians are undecided as to how they'll vote at this late date, but if any of them are reading this post, ask yourself:  What is the purpose of laws?  Why do we have them, and what distinguishes a good law from a bad law?

My own guiding principle is that laws are necessary evils.  All laws restrict freedom in some fashion.  All laws harm some subset of people within the body public, by punishing them for exercising their freedom, but sometimes that's justifiable.  A good law is one that protects the public, or individuals who make up the public, from a discreet, identifiable harm, while doing as little damage as possible in the process.

By that measure, Amendment One is a dreadful law.  I cannot perceive any harm that Amendment One will prevent or redress.

The proponents of Amendment One claim that it is intended to strengthen the honorable institution  of marriage, to protect it from rogue judges who would dilute it by extending the privilege of marriage to gay and lesbian people.

I've been married, mostly happily, for twelve years.  Amendment One will not strengthen my marriage in any way whatsoever.  Likewise, if Amendment One does not pass, my marriage will not be weakened in any way whatsoever.  And that's true for the entire State.  If the Amendment does not pass, its absence will not cause a rash of divorces, nor of children growing up in broken homes.  Not a single man or woman will go before a Judge claiming, "Your Honor, my marriage is irretrievably broken because the Constitution of the State of North Carolina does not define marriage as solely between one man and one woman."

Likewise, if Amendment One does pass, marriage counselors will not suddenly lose their jobs.  No couple on the verge of a breakup will suddenly turn things around, finding new love because the Constitution now restricts marriage to heterosexuals.

If the Amendment does no good, does it do any harm?  Ask Gale and Elizabeth, and other couples in their place.  It absolutely does.  Why would I vote for a law that harms my neighbor, but doesn't protect me from any harm whatsoever?

And why would you?  Why would anyone vote for a law that does no good, but only harm?

Vote against Amendment One.

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. Laura K says

    This is a wonderful and thoughtful post. Good luck to voting down that ammendment today.

  2. RLMullen says

    I'm off to work, but first I'll stop by the polls and cast a vote AGAINST this piece of shit amendment.

  3. PLW says

    Best of luck. They seem like great neighbors. (Little aside: why do you call them "J" and "R" in the post?)

  4. Chris Berez says

    Will your local media be covering the results or exit polls regarding Amendment One tonight after polls close or will the results not be in until tomorrow?

    You've done a great job on this, Patrick. Good luck to you and the other people of North Carolina who believe in doing the right thing in voting this awful amendment down.

  5. says

    The local media will be covering it Chris. The Raleigh News and Observer and the Charlotte Observer will probably have the best coverage.

  6. Mercury says

    How long have domestic partnership benefits been available to NC public employees and what did Gale do for health insurance before that?

    Perhaps this kind of situation isn't really a gay issue at all. There are plenty of non-gay reasons why two adults might be living together in a semi-dependent relationship. Do people like that fall through the cracks when the surrounding legal issues become all about pro-gay vs. anti-gay?

    Also, this whole thing just underscores how f-ed up our healthcare system is (mostly from over- not under-regulation), not how nasty people in NC are.

  7. says

    They've had benefits in Durham County for more than ten years Mercury.

    And who says people in North Carolina are nasty? I'm pretty mean, but I wouldn't ask people to judge the State based on one cranky old man.

    I like North Carolinians. They're going to vote down this amendment!

  8. Andrew S. says

    Wish I still lived in NC so I could vote against it. Hope I did enough encouraging of my wife's parents to vote against (unfortunately I foresee most of her family voting happily in favor)

    Vote for Marriage NC locked down their FB page (where it had previously allowed anyone to post, they restricted it to only people who "liked" their page) and deleted all "anti" posts yesterday. Talk about not having the courage of your convictions.

  9. C. S. P. Schofield says

    This stupid amendment, and the traction it gets, is why Gay groups holding Pride events should highlight couples like your neighbors, and tell the inevitable moron in too little clothing and pierced nipples to put on a shirt or go home. The bigots we will (sadly) always have with us, but as long as we comport ourselves in public as less obnoxious than the bigoted, we won't drive the public into their arms.

    Playing shock the squares is fun. I've done it. Often. But it doesn't work to shock them and THEN need them to vote to defend your civil rights. When I was playing Shock the Squares I was doing so as an SF fan. I suppose that it's possible for SF fandom as a subculture to need votes to defend our civil rights, but I have trouble seeing it. It's relatively safe for us to shock the squares.

    Gays, on the other hand, need general acceptance. It ain't right and it ain't fair, but it IS so.

    Good luck with the election.

  10. says

    If you're advocating social acceptance for Furries, C.S.P., I could never get behind that.

    Those people ought to be locked up.

  11. C. S. P. Schofield says


    I'm not even pushing social acceptance for Goths; getting over the impulse to take on a persona that screams "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!" is a necessary part of the process of growing up. What you choose to do in your bedroom, or at a special, private event such as a convention where you are among your fellow nuts, is your business.

    People who wear their Star Fleet uniforms on the street worry me.

  12. Reed says

    As a registered unaffiliated voter, I felt compelled to grab a Republican primary ballot to vote against this amendment. Even if it passes, I'll feel I've done my part.

  13. Dan Weber says

    NPR and Nate Silver have both pointed out that the amendment loses in polls if voters realize that it bans civil unions. This aspect has been very much under-reported, although some media outlets have been trying to get that point out.

  14. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Dan Weber,

    I must say I'm surprised. I thought that the one thing I could count on the mainstream media for was to get out the salient points of their own political agenda. So much for that. They truly are completely useless.

  15. perlhaqr says

    It seems very strange that NC allows issues like this to be decided at a primary event, rather than a regular election. Does NC even have open primaries? That is, can "non-affiliated" voters even participate?

  16. says

    Yes it's strange (the primary was chosen because higher Republican turnout was expected), and yes, unaffiliated voters are allowed to vote in the Libertarian, Republican, or Democratic primary, and to vote on any referenda on the ballot.

  17. Dee says

    Just came from the polls.. voted against of course.

    How sad to have seen one group vote on the civil rights of another. Even if it fails, the vote it self is a step backwards for society. A sad day to have lived to see.

  18. C. S. P. Schofield says


    No. As recently as 20 years ago (I'm 50, 20 years ago is recent to me) this issue would never have come to a vote because the idea that Gays might have a right to marry was a complete non-starter outside of certain fairly obvious venues. Now it's a political issue in north Carolina and they may yet lose. That is progress.

    For universal recognition of human rights to happen, each step of the way will involve one group voting on the civil rights of another.

    Prejudice against the other is instinctive (or part of Original Sin, if that's the way you roll). The only societies that are not racist are those that are too primitive to grasp a concept as large as race, and THEY are tribalist. And yet among societies with a Protestant Christian background we see, over the past couple-three hundred years a slow but measurable progression towards respecting minorities and the weak.

    Other cultures, not so much except where Protestant Western cultures had them over a barrel. Don't know why. Based on my limited reading and experience it would seem that Buddhism would produce very nice people, yet cultures with a Buddhist background tend to have sprawling masses of peasants who are treated like farm animals. And don't even get me started on the Hindu Caste system. Catholics don't come off a lot better, though, as a passing glance at South American can attest.

    BTW; I'm an agnostic.

  19. Dee says

    @CSP Schofield,

    Thank you, your perspective has given me a whole different outlook on this.
    Thanks… really !

  20. Mike H says

    Thanks for these posts, Patrick.
    And Dee, you are right to feel sad that the issue of basic equality has to be "decided" rather than taken as self-evident under the equal protection clause. Whether or not "morons wearing too-little clothes" during a parade sickens the faint-hearted hardly undermines our status as persons under the law.

  21. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Mike H,

    You miss my point. Maybe ultimately Gays can obtain their rights without having to worry about the "fainthearted". Certainly, they should be able to. But should is cold comfort in the face of is.

    If tomorrow, by magic, every State in the Union suddenly accepted the legality of Gay marriage, Gays would still be facing a decade or more of legal battles dealing with every little gatekeeper (public or private) who believed they had the right to say "no" to a Gay couple who wanted to be treated as a married couple. Just little sphincters, clenching up for the sheer joy of being little sphincters clenching up. Not shocking the "fainthearted" wouldn't stop that, but it would shorten it. It shouldn't, but it would. Not shocking the squares would make the passage of nitwit bills like this one harder.

    Gays have a right to play Shock the Squares if they want to. But doing so is a tactical error that will make societal acceptance take longer.

  22. David Schwartz says

    Surely part of freedom is for people who don't want to treat gay couples as married couples to not be forced to do so (assuming they don't work for the government, of course). If your freedom is fully consistent with my freedom, then I have no reason not to give it to you.

    Sadly, it looks like the amendment will pass. I'm particularly saddened by the fact that the majority of African-American voters support the amendment. The desire to slam the door shut after you've walked through it appears pretty universal.

  23. Mike H says

    C.S.P. – If you're playing devil's advocate, I do see your point, and agree that substantial social change on a massive scale can't happen overnight.

    Still, I think you give some people too much credit for their capacity to compromise and adapt. There are sphincters, as you say, but then there are just plain assholes. If gays marching in combat gear, doctor's scrubs, and pastoral robes isn't enough to "normalize" the community in the eyes of its critics, I don't think a few less nipple rings would make much difference.

  24. Reuven says

    "Why would anyone vote for a law that does no good, only harm?"

    Ask the 79% of African Americans who voted YES on CA Proposition 8.

  25. says

    What I don't understand is how this amendment is even legal in the first place. Doesn't the full faith and credit clause of the US constitution mean that this amendment has no power over civil unions and same-sex marriages contracted in other states? I think this amendment is going to fall, and hard, under a very heavy legal assault very, very soon. (Then again, IANAL, and I very well could be mistaken about this.)

    Of course, it should never have been passed in the first goddamn place. Now the people of NC are going to be saddled with the legal bills to defend this ridiculousness in court.

  26. David Schwartz says

    Josh: I would have thought so, but courts have held that the full faith and credit clause does not require States to recognize marriages that are against their public policy. The parade of horribles used to justify this includes examples like one State making it legal to marry an eight year old without parental consent or legalizing bigamy.

  27. Piper says

    This is so clearly a violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause to me that it isn't even funny, just sad and pathetic and heartbreaking.

  28. Quantum Mechanic says

    The FFaC clause reads: "Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof."

    Looks to me that in passing DOMA Congress has "prescribe[d] the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shell be proved, and the effect thereof", by saying that no state has to give effect to a gay marriage performed in another state.

  29. RunningMn9 says

    Very well done sir. While I was never really against gay rights, coming to know a gay couple as friends really did have a profound effect on how I thought about things. It really angers me that people would go to the polls to vote to deny people what is such a fundamental part of who they are. And it boggles my mind that they do it, with *nothing* to gain.

  30. says

    There might be some legal fighting required, but there may be some hope for Gale to retain coverage until 2014 or at least late 2013 (depending in part on how quickly the amendment actually goes into effect). It's not cheap, but I believe there'd be a heck of an argument that COBRA would cover the state-mandated dissolution of a civil union that causes the loss of healthcare coverage. In addition, most (all?) of the drug companies for the expensive neurological treatments have patient assistance programs that can cover a big chunk of costs ranging from copay assistance to completely covering the cost of the drug (though not costs of office visits, MRIs, etc.). I wish her luck.

  31. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States says

    Patrick, you make a good case against it. I haven't searched out anyone attempting to make a good case for it, since I'm not in NoCa so my impression really doesn't matter much.

    Part of the overall failure here lies at several levels

    a) People DO have strong feelings about this behavior. Part of that is religious in nature.

    b) It's not the same as "being black". It DOES have direct ramifications on one's life and health, esp. when you recognize that the majority of G&Ls are not the same kind of long-term relationship people that your two neighbors are. Promiscuity is hardly atypical. (No, that's not what this is about, despite appearances to the contrary). That can have a substantial impact on health care costs and thus on the bottom line for insurance companies. Which means higher costs… or are you of the opinion that it costs YOU nothing to pay for Gale's medication? Because that gets paid for in your county taxes, one way or another. That has nothing do with promiscuity, no — but the idea that there is NO COST to anyone is just blatantly ludicrous. Adding people to insurance rolls who would not be covered IS going to cost more money. There's a reason Gale said "it was cheaper to go with the county". Gold-plated government insurance is USUALLY cheaper for the employees and their covered relations.

    c) Sorry, one thing I've noticed about just about EVERY "victim group" or other "protector" organization — including groups like MAAD and the ADA crowd: There's no freaking middle ground.. If you give them an inch, they'll demand another inch, and another, and another, until they have virtually everything THEY wanted and you have nothing YOU wanted. People "on the other side" have gotten really SICK of this. So now asking for something that is reasonable — like defeating this amendment because it's got lots of flaws and doesn't do the job it perhaps ought to do any better than a shotgun kills cockroaches (no, the example is not to suggest anything but dysfunctionalism) — well, they're not having any. So it got passed when it might, in a more reasonable climate, not have been.

    Sorry — there are lots of things sociologically wrong with homosexuality. I am utterly in agreement that jailing, killing, or tormenting someone because they're gay is flat out inarguably wrong.

    I don't ack that total acceptance of the lifestyle by society is right.

    I believe it's one of those things that there needs to be a strong measure of tolerance but not acceptance.

    There's a distinction there, and the general G&L crowd doesn't like that distinction. But it fits with the belief of most individuals.

    And same-sex marriage is a form of full-bore acceptance. I will agree that there should be a lot of contractual stuff that is allowed to mimic the general legal insitutions surrounding marriage open to G&Ls — but when you allow the laws to require a religiously-based organization — or a professional individual — to do things it/they consider morally unacceptable… That's AT LEAST as wrong as telling G&Ls they can't get married.

    This law is almost certainly overreach. But it comes from the fact that many Americans believe that marriage is under fire — and if you can force a religious hospital to perform procedures it has religious objections to, how, then, can you possibly argue that the law can't be used to force a church to allow an SS marriage on its property?

    No, I don't care how likely that is Right Now In North Carolina. I care about that as a general problem.

    G&L demand respect and acceptance of how they feel about their lifestyle — but they don't respect or appreciate that religious people may well not be willing to utterly and completely accept what they do as "A-OK", and have every damned right given human beings to do so.

    This is how gays see the opposition:
    What hurt her most about the passage of Amendment One was "the lack of information and the lack of compassion," she said.

    People who don't CARE. That's the only possible reason why someone might support this legislation, or oppose gay marriage. And that — the demonization of the enemy — is just as bad when G&L groups do it as when religious groups do it.

    There's a conflict of individual rights here, and the problem is that neither side (but much more so the G&L side) acks that the other has a right to feel and do as they do, and that the other side is inherently stepping on the oppositions toes — not because they are mean or evil or want to hurt the other, but because they just feel as they do, and the dispute matters to them…

    This is what COMPROMISE is all about. And unfortunately, while most religious people not part of a particularly rigid sect are willing to compromise, the G&L group really doesn't accept any form of compromise at all. So the end result is a lot more opposition to ANYTHING they're about, rather than just some of it… because eventually those who've been compromising and seeing nothing in return are tired of it and going "eph that!" instead.

    So the States will be doing their job as a laboratory for G&L rights. North Carolina is going to be one of the less supportive states, while other states will allow them openly. If it's really important to you, you move to one of those other states.

    The passage of this amendment is hardly the end of the argument. There are plenty of civil rights issues where the US Constitution can and may override this, to limit its interpretation in those arenas you're concerned with. And probably the more objectionable parts of the law can be trimmed back that way.

    It would be better to write it correctly in the first place — or to tailor some amendments to the amendment which will weaken the more objectionable parts — but this way, the G&L crowd is going to be limited in what they can push for, and, frankly, I don't feel all that bad about that. They might finally start to grasp that compromise is the place to end getting what they want, not the place to start getting everything they want.

  32. C. S. P. Schofield says


    I used to be of your opinion. Much of what you say is superficially reasonable. But lots of behavior is bad for one's health, including heterosexual promiscuity. IF the "Gay Lifestyle" is wild and weird, I think it has something to do with the Gay Liberation movement coming into being during the worst over-the-top stupid period of the sexual revolution (only winners: STDs). I am for opening opportunities for Gay to experience a more stable lifestyle, and I think recognizing Gay marriage is part of that.

    OTOH, I think that amendments like this piece of sh*t are a natural (if bad) consequences of going through the courts rather than the legislatures to obtain recognition. I don't say that the Gays who went through the courts were wrong, just that it has had consequences, and the NC amendment is one of them. We will overcome them in time, and a government with the power to ignore the will of the people, even the mistaken will of the people, is a government to be very afraid of.

  33. says

    As little as I care about gay marriage, I see a sliver of good.

    Maybe some of these local and county governments will get out of the business of marriage all together. No benefits for anyone. Or even better, change policies to permit the extension of certain benefits to one other person, regardless of marital status.

    I don't think the government should be playing the marriage definition game at any level. Churches should be and other private organizations for the nonreligious, but the government has no more business being in a marriage contract than it does being in anyone's bedroom.

    I've never conceded the point that the government has any business in defining marriage, because if you are going to say they do, than come on, they have the right to define it how they like. If we take that away from the government at any level, than no discrimination is easily possible.

  34. Dan Weber says

    how, then, can you possibly argue that the law can't be used to force a church to allow an SS marriage on its property?

    Few people believe this. Polls have consistently shown that Catholics, for example support gay marriage more than the general population (and as of 2012 are more than 50% in favor). They would not stand for the government forcing their churches to perform gay marriages, but they seem to at least want the legal protections of marriage that they enjoy available to gay couples.

    Or maybe they're being duped.

  35. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States says

    I haven't vetted this for factual accuracy, but I'll assume JMS has done his homework.

    If you want ammunition to use in support of Gay Marriage, you might want to read it closely and more fully vet it.

    It's from Straczynski's Facebook fanpage. JMS is the guy who created Babylon 5, if anyone doesn't know.

    Fans of J. Michael Straczynski
    The interesting thing about watching the debate about same-sex marriage, especially the declaration by many that marriage has always been a Christian family tradition, is that so many of these folks seem not to have an actual grasp of church history.

    Leaving aside for a moment the fact that same-sex marriages were routinely conducted by the Catholic Church for nearly three hundred years, from the 10th to the 12th centuries under what was variously termed “the Office of Same-Sex Union” or the “Order for Uniting Two Men,” what’s more compelling is what the Church felt about marriage between a man and woman for the first nine hundred years of its existence.

    Basically, they were against it. Marriage created issues of property that could potentially be inherited by offspring rather than granted to the church or seized by lords in the absence of an heir. Marriage was considered by many of Christendom’s brightest lights to be something vile and repugnant. Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (160-225 AD), one of the most regarded Christian writers of his age, often derided marriage, saying that it “consists essentially in fornication.” Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus, the Bishop of Carthage, believed that marriage and childbirth was no longer necessary since the world was now full and ready for Christ’s return.

    Consequently, for over eight hundred years the Church refused to have anything to do with marriage. It refused to allow marriages to take place on church grounds and prohibited members of the clergy from taking part in marriage ceremonies outside church grounds. They were to be performed strictly according to local customs without Church recognition, sanction or involvement.

    It was only during the late 9th century that the Catholic Church, under pressure from followers, finally began to recognize marriage as a sacrament to be included in the list of other church rituals. But even then, it was considered a second-rate “lesser sacrament,” a poor cousin to the other, more important sacraments such as Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Orders. It wasn’t until the Council of Trent in 1547 that marriage was finally accorded equal status with the other sacraments. (Ironically, many of the arguments raised at Trent against including marriage with the other sacraments were similar to the arguments being made against same-sex marriage today.)

    So the next time you hear someone talking about marriage between a man and woman being a Christian tradition, after you mention the same-sex marriages of the 10th-12 centuries, remind them that conventional marriage, marriage between a man and a woman, was derided, ignored, prohibited, diminished or dismissed by the church for ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY SEVEN YEARS.

    Then sit back and enjoy the ruffled-feather symphony, knowing that history and the facts are on your side.

  36. Joe says

    "We're not anti-gay, we are pro-marriage" Says Tami Fitzgerald head of a group beind the ban on same sex marriage in North Carolina.

    For marriage? Really? Because she thinks us hetero's set such a great example?

  37. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States says

    >>> Or maybe they're being duped.

    Or maybe you're being duped. Since you didn't bother to offer any actual links to your claims, and they struck me as specious, I did some investigating. The "50% of Catholics" (indeed, the "50% of any religion" numbers only come by trumping up the stats by including people who "rarely attend". These are (insert religion here) in name only, not actually people of any Faith.

    I can SAY I'm a liberal. Doesn't make me one. So including me in any poll that asks liberals what they think on an issue is going to produce some pretty specious results. Numbers can even that out, but not when the numbers are inflated by taking a statement like "Well, I'm kinda liberal, sometimes" as a statement of political liberalism.

    First off, the typical quote carefully obscures this information, even though it's openly contained in the polls.

    Here's an example:

    “Most Catholic theologians approve of same-sex marriage and Catholics generally do not differ much from the overall population on this issue,” Maguire said.

    The most recent Gallup polling data backs up Maguire. When asked this month whether they think same-sex marriage should be legalized, 51 percent of Catholics said they think it should be, placing Catholics one percentage point higher than the national average. Forty-seven percent of Catholics said they think same-sex marriage should not be legal, compared with 59 percent of Protestants, and 12 percent of people who claimed no religious affiliation.

    In actual, fact, the latest Gallop poll says nothing of the sort, when you ACTUALLY pay attention(numbers are "support SSM as legal/illegal"):
    Protestants: 38/59
    Catholics: 51/47
    No Religious Identity: 88/12

    Sounds mildly supportive, right?
    Well, until you read the actual breakdown:

    Attend weekly: 31/67
    Attend "almost" weekly/monthly: 45/53
    Attend seldom/never: 67/32

    You can usually detect such articles looking for a honey quote like this one:
    One of those scholars is Frederick Parrella, a professor of theology at Santa Clara University, a Catholic institution in California. Parrella said he sees growing support for same-sex marriage among his Catholic students, and that he himself finds “nothing in the Gospels” that should lead the church to oppose its legalization.

    Again, nothing less than deliberately misleading. "The Gospels" is specifically the teachings of Christ. The Bible itself, however, is another thing entirely. I mean, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination" is not particularly ambiguous. Yes, modern "scholars" can deconstruct it to mean just about anything, since clearly God wanted to speak to peasants in the most "nuanced" manner possible. :-S

    Finally, it pays to look at the provenance of statistics, always.

    I haven't vetted the following link, but it does appear to match up with the numbers from the Gallop poll pretty closely, so I'm willing to bet that it's being honest. Feel free to spend your OWN time showing me that it's lying.

    LGBT-funded poll falsely claims that most Catholics support same-sex marriage

    It makes the case that one of these prominently quoted polls was, I quote:

    First, this much-circulated poll was paid for by Arcus – who we know about – and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. fund, which separately paid PRRI to “help develop religious education strategies supporting gay equality” in 2009. In the same year, the same Haas Jr. fund paid PRRI to survey Presbyterians on LGBT issues. In other words, PRRI provides polling to help gay-rights groups figure out how to better push their agenda among various faith communities.

    I'm not claiming the above blogger is unquestionably being honest, but, given some of his claims closely match up with what I noted with regards to the previous linked commentary and the associated Gallop poll, I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt until someone shows him wrong.

  38. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States says

    >>> Because she thinks us hetero's set such a great example?

    So if you're not perfect in regards to an issue, you can't be supportive of that issue?

    Interesting standard. Do you apply it to yourself?

  39. Joe says

    @IGotBupkis – sorry my sarcasm went over your head. That's not what I meant at all.