Friday, March 29, 2013

Seeking Equality

It has been interesting to hear speculation on what the U.S. Supreme Court might do with the two cases concerning gay Americans it began hearing this week. It has been particularly interesting to hear what the Justices, themselves, have said and the questions they have asked during the proceedings.

Of course, we learned in the court's hearings concerning ObamaCare that what the Justices say and the questions they ask don't necessarily give the slightest hint to their ultimate ruling. The same could very well be true in this round of hearings concerning gay rights.

I'm probably a pretty rare individual in that I am not a gay man, but I have been to two gay weddings. I call them weddings, though technically they were not. One was here in Texas where such weddings are not legal. The ceremony was, in reality, just a commitment ceremony presided over by a member of the clergy. I'm happy to say that the couple is still together almost 10 years later.

The second event was last August and took place in Europe. It was also not a wedding but rather a legal civil commitment ceremony presided over by a government official. But in every real respect, it was a wedding.

Like most other Americans, I have my own personal opinions on gay marriage. I hate to use the term I am about to use because it has some bad connotations, even for me; but the reality is my personal opinions on the subject are still evolving. At this moment in time, I think I would have to say I am not supportive of "marriage" for gay people. My personal opinion is they should have the benefit of a civil ceremony which gives them all the rights, benefits of protections of married people without marriage. I admit my opinion on this is greatly influenced by my desire to compromise on the subject. I can understand certain religious groups feel marriage is between a man and a woman. To limit gays to civil ceremonies takes the argument over who should be involved in marriage away from the fundamentalists.

At the same time, I have to admit marriage between two guys would not upset me personally. Nor would I feel it in anyway denigrated my own marriage. Those who contend same sex marriage would destroy traditional marriage are just being stupid. If anything has denigrated and almost destroyed traditional marriage it is those who have married multiple times and also divorced multiple times. These people, and there are millions of them, certainly have no real respect for marriage.

If I had to guess, my guess would be the high court will overturn Proposition 8 in California thus making same sex marriage legal in that state. My guess is,
the Justices will not extend their ruling outside the state of California. The rationale for such a ruling will be to put the various states on notice that the court is supportive of same sex marriage and the individual states must address the issue constitutionally or have the high court do it for them at a future date. By not imposing same sex marriage on all the sates, the Court avoids the social turmoil such a ruling would bring, yet gives support to the movement supporting same sex marriage.

As for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Court would fail to live up to its oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America if it did not strike down what is clearly an arbitrary, capricious and perspicuous assault upon the Constitutional rights of American citizens. I believe the Court will strike down DOMA. Such a ruling will mandate legal marriages between same sex persons in one state be recognized in the other 49 states, even states in which gay marriage is not permitted. It will also change Federal and perhaps state laws to forbid discrimination against those in a same sex marriage. Such marriage partners will be beneficiaries of all the rights and privileges provided to traditional marriage partners including tax benefits, and other benefits traditionally extended to married spouses.

There is little doubt the conservative right will continue to rail against what they see as the advance of evil in the United States. However, I was actually pleasantly surprised last week by Rush Limbaugh's admission. As he sees it, same sex marriage is an idea whose time has come and thus cannot be stopped. I think he's right.

Twenty years from now, same sex marriage will be a normal family option in the United States. The benefits of the normalization of same sex marriage will be many. Fewer kids will find themselves the victims of our child services programs. More kids will be growing up in loving and supportive two parent homes with all the benefits for the children and for society at large such homes bring. The scare tactics of the fundamentalists will have long sense been relegated to the dust bins of history where they belong. I wish I could live to see it.

Jack Scott


  1. As always (or at least most of the time!) I appreciated this latest tome. Since I am half of the above referenced European wedding/civil union, I thought I should comment. As is typical of most issues, people often don't really spend the time to think about the ramifications of various laws unless it has a direct impact on their lives. Senator Portman of Ohio changed his view when his son came out to him.

    In Europe, the influence of religion in civil law has all but dissappeared. There is a slight resurgence of it due to a substantial influx now of Muslims. This was demonstrated in France recently by the protests against gay marriages. In Ireland we had to submit the exact same forms that a heterosexual couple did and we received exactly the same rights as a heterosexual couple (except we cannot adopt). The terms "civil union" and "marriage/wedding" are interchangeable there because the majority of such ceremonies now are not held in a church building. When a female friend of ours in Ireland asked me if I was excited about my "wedding" I tried to correct her & say it was a civil union. Her husband nudged me and said, "She bought a dress for it. When a woman buys a dress, it is a 'wedding'!" I now just say that we got "married". It started me thinking as to why I had tried to avoid the term "marriage".

    Here in the US, our culture does not grasp "civil partner" as being equal to marriage. It seems to be viewed more as a statement of living together instead of a committed relationship. If John were being rushed into surgery and I was asked who I was, I would say that we are "married partners". If I said, "We are partners" it would sound like we ran a business.

    The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is creating an illusion. It is saying that our society must protect the historic definition of marriage. The problem is that in heterosexual marriages the "definition" has been changing for quite some time. The notion that a woman must have a dowry, stay at home to raise children, be the cook & maid while the husband is out earning the money has left a long time ago. The roles in marriage have melted into something that is less distinct and I think that is good. It does not mean that there is less commitment between the husband and wife. I recently visited my son & his wife. They have a two year old son and are expecting their second child in the fall. They both have serious careers which means that they have their son in a daycare facility during the week. There was a time when I would have viewed this approach as being sub-standard but I was impressed with the intense commitment they have to raising their children. It is just different than the approach that I am used to seeing.

    The objection to using the term "marriage" for a same sex union may have more to do with not wanting to think through all the changes that are implied by doing so. For those of us who are gay & have made a commitment to our partner with the same degree of love that a heterosexual couple has, it is important not to accept a label that can be used to classify our relationship as "second class". We are very public about our relationship so that there is a "face" to the type of union we are fighting for. One that is equal in all respects.

    1. Thanks for your comment. It is always good to hear from someone who is living cultural wave of the day as you are.

      I hope you and those like you are proud of the example you are setting for the world and for those who come after you. I have not the slightest doubt the world will be a better place when marriage or civil union between gays is just marriage.

      Already thousands and thousands of children who would otherwise be in foster care are being raised by two loving parents rather than be shuffled from place to place over the course of their childhood. That alone is worth the cultural change we are enduring.

      Knowing the two of you personally as I do, I see nothing "second class" about your relationship at all. When did John ever submit to second class in anything?

      Jack Scott

  2. Just a quick update on this subject. I have been informed by legal minds who are involved in the case against DOMA that if it is overturned, there still will be a problem on the Federal level. What I have been told is that unless I am "married" (rather than essentially the equal "civil union") my union with John will NOT be recognized. We will have to go to a state that recognizes same sex unions as "marriage" in order to receive equality.

    Just one more reason why it DOES matter!


I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott