Gay Marriage: Truth or Truthiness. Which are you?

A post by Neil Hart on homosexuality, LGBTI, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE SPEAKING FROM PREJUDICE? ITS WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF REACTING TO STATEMENTS OF FACT IN A NEGATIVE WAY BUT YOU CANT EXPLAIN WHY.

Maybe Steven Colbert’s new word,  “Truthiness” will help.

 

Ok Reader, whats truth and whats truthiness? Well, it depends on how you react to the facts.  I hate to be the one to tell you this but…statements of fact are just that…facts! If you find ourselves reacting strongly against them you better check your gut. Why you are reacting the way you are?

Is the statement not, in fact, …fact? Ok then…reason it out, argue your case. But if the facts are indeed…well, facts…then perhaps you gotta question your gut. Coz Ill bet the Supreme Court to a used condom that those angry, indignant, righteous, anxious, fearful feelings in your gut are not likely to give birth to anything good.

Hey reader, here is a challenge. Check out your feelings against these particular facts.

First, an introduction. A few years ago the US state of California allowed same sex marriage. Then there was a thing called proposition 8. It was kind of like a referendum put forward by some Californian people seeking the banning of gay marriage. So, gay marriage wasnt allowed. Then some gay couples tested propostion 8 in court. Now gay marriage is allowed again.

Some interesting aspects of this case are already on this blog at…

Ok…I have decided that I completely agree with US Republican, conservative views on gay marriage.

Check it out when you got time. Anyway, the Judge of this case, Judge Vaughn Walker listed 80 Findings Of Fact after all testimonies and arguments had been made. These were not legal opinion or legal finding. Legal opinion and finding are open to challenge. Findings Of Fact, however, are rarely challenged. They are just…well…facts that the judge lists and according to which he makes his findings of law.

So, lets look at Judge Walker’s Findings Of Fact and test our gut shall we? (The numbers listed are the reference numbers for the Findings Of Fact from the case file.)

Truth or Truthiness.  Deep Breath…Ready?

Firstly, the players in the case. Judge walker found…

18.Proposition 8 proponents are a “broad coalition” of individuals and organizations, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the “LDS Church”), the California Catholic Conference and a large number of evangelical churches.

So, the idea that the community rose up against the California decision for marriage equality is not accurate. The facts are that propostion 8 was formed as an aliance of mainly religious institutions. So, to make things a little clearer, wherever proposition 8 is referenced, I have included the phrase “The Church”. Judge Walker continued…

19. Marriage has always been a civil matter.

Religious groups might claim that their particular religion forms the basis of our society’s understanding of marriage however it is and must remain a civil matter.  As it is, the courts and the church properly maintain a distinction between matters of societal law and matters of faith. The Lutheran Church understands and articulates this reality perhaps better than any other denomination in its Doctrine of Two Kingdoms.

The next set of Findings Of Fact outline the history of the changing nature of the laws surrounding marriage as they mirrored changes in societal human rights.

23. Former slaves viewed their ability to marry as one of the most important human rights they had gained.

25. An individual’s exercise of his or her right to marry no longer depends on his or her race nor the race of his or her chosen partner.

26. Under coverture, a woman’s legal and economic identity was subsumed by her husband’s upon marriage. The husband was the legal head of the household. Coverture is no longer part of the marital bargain.

32. (The law) has eliminated marital obligations based on the gender of the spouse. Regardless of their sex or gender marital partners share the same obligations to one another and to their dependents.

In other words the laws surrounding marriage have consistently change to keep track with the changing nature of society as one would hope and expect. It would be interesting to see how many of these changes were opposed by the Church. Most, I bet. This list also shows that there is no law in relation to marriage that is gender specific and therefore no legal reason that a marriage must contain both a man and a woman.

The next set of Findings of Fact speak to some arguments that are commonly heard against gay marriage. All of these arguments were regurgitated by the Church during the Australian enquiry into marriage equality.

21. The law has never required that individuals entering into a marriage be willing or able to procreate.

The idea that procreation forms the basis of marriage was the fundamental argument of the Australian combined Churchs’ (including the Lutheran Church) objection to marriage equality. The argument was that Gay people cant procreate therefore gay people cant get married…bemused face

 33.The elimination of gender and race restrictions in marriage has not deprived the institution of marriage of its vitality.

55. Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages.

This speaks against the idea that allowing gay marriage will weaken the fabric of society and the institution of marriage itself.

43. Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of sexual, affectional or romantic desires for and attractions to men, women or both sexes. An individual’s sexual orientation can be expressed through self-identification, behavior or attraction. The vast majority of people are consistent in self-identification, behavior and attraction throughout their adult lives.

44. Sexual orientation is fundamental to a person’s identity and is a distinguishing characteristic that defines gays and lesbians as a discrete group. The Church’s  assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence.

48. Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions. Like opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples have happy, satisfying relationships and form deep emotional bonds and strong commitments to their partners. Standardized measures of relationship satisfaction, relationship adjustment and love do not differ depending on whether a couple is same-sex or opposite-sex.

This should put paid to the prejudiced view presented by anti -gay campaigners that homosexual people are generally involved in a promiscuous and pernicious lifestyle and that homosexual relationships are not healthy relationships.

46. Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation. No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation.

And , hopefully, before too long we will stop hearing the ridiculous claims made by Exodus , NARTH, Focus on the Family and (God help us) the LCA,  that LGBT people are not born that way, that God doesn’t make them who they are, that they are making a lifestyle choice, that they might grow out of it or that their sexual orientation can in anyway be changed or cured or “prayed away”.

The next string of statements relate to the benefits people enjoy because they are married.

37. Marriage creates economic support obligations between consenting adults and for their dependents.

38. Marriage benefits both spouses by promoting physical and psychological health. Married individuals are less likely to engage in behaviors detrimental to health, like smoking or drinking heavily. Married individuals live longer on average than unmarried individuals.

39. Legal protections and social support resulting from marriage can increase wealth and improve psychological well-being for married spouses.

40. The long-term nature of marriage allows spouses to specialize their labor and encourages spouses to increase household efficiency by dividing labor to increase productivity.

41. The tangible and intangible benefits of marriage flow to a married couple’s children

But we already know this. These Findings Of Fact could have come straight out of a church marriage preparation course. Except that we deny these benefits to gay couples who wish to marry.

The findings continue…

50. Same-sex couples receive the same tangible and intangible benefits from marriage that opposite-sex couples receive.

51. Marrying a person of the opposite sex is an unrealistic option for gay and lesbian individuals

52. Domestic partnerships (Civil Unions) lack the social meaning associated with marriage,and marriage is widely regarded as the definitive expression of love and commitment.

54. The availability of domestic partnership does not provide gays and lesbians with a status equivalent to marriage because the cultural meaning of marriage and its associated benefits are intentionally withheld from same-sex couples in domestic partnerships.

We say that marriage is special. We tell people that “living together”, co-habiting, is not good enough, that it doesn’t matter if civil law gives you certain legal protections within the relationship. You need to be married because only the bonds and promises of marriage reflect life long love and commitment.

But then…total hypocrisy…

We say to gay couples who wish to marry..”There is no need for you to marry…Why would you want that? Civil Law already provides all of the legal protections that are required for your relationship.”  This was indeed one of the arguments put forward by the Australian Christian Lobby in their letter to parliament objecting to marriage equality. (Remember, reader? That was the letter signed by the LCA Council of Presidents)…very sad face

The next list of Findings Of Fact relate to the cost to gay families because of the Church’s refusal of their right to marry.

58. The Church places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians, including: gays and lesbians do not have intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples; gays and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals; and gay and lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of society

66. The Church increases costs and decreases wealth for same-sex couples because of increased tax burdens, decreased availability of health insurance and higher transactions costs to secure rights and obligations typically associated with marriage.

67. The Church singles out gays and lesbians and legitimates their unequal treatment. The Church perpetuates the stereotype that gays and lesbians are incapable of forming long-term loving relationships and that gays and lesbians are not good parents

68. The Church’s statements result in frequent reminders for gays and lesbians in committed long-term relationships that their relationships are not as highly valued as opposite-sex relationships.

very, very sad face

(There are several Findings Of Fact that relate to families and children of same sex couples. I will list these in a separate post.)

But, one more Finding of Fact. For me its the biggy.

77. Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians. (1)

Lets hear it again shall we coz i think you got distracted.

Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians. 

Get that church? We are harming people. We can say all we like about “calling sin. sin” and “all for the best interests of those involved” …but we cant sweep under the carpet the effects of these statement. We need to own this particular statement of fact.

Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians. 

We, as Church,  are denying this fundamental human right, this love, this shared life, this right to marry and we dare to say that our bigotted and hurtful stand is the work of God.

Anyway…how are you feeling? Whats stirring in your gut?

Truth or Truthiness?  Truth or Prejudice?

(1) Thanks to http://zackfordblogs.com for listing these findings.