April 26, 2024

Homosexuality, religion, and state definitions of marriage

[Editor's note: I submitted this editorial to the MN Daily a few weeks ago, when the state senate was debating the anti-gay marriage amendment. The Daily chose not to publish it, so I thought I'd post it on here instead.]

The proposal to amend the state’s constitution to forbid gay people the right to marry is a vitriolic piece of legislation that imposes the rational of a minority upon the will of the majority. A just society allows space for all citizens, whatever their stripe, to co-exist equally. The amendment is an assault upon this expectation of equality that serves as a foundation of Minnesota’s society.

I ask the people of Minnesota when contemplating the issue to separate within their minds the legal definition of marriage (a collection of rules, benefits, and responsibilities the state confers upon two people), and marriage defined by a specific religion. The two definitions are not the same.

They are similar. But while the first laws of the United States and Minnesota have been influenced by religion, those opposed to gay marriage for religious reasons need to realize that not everyone believes the Bible is the word of God today. I for one don’t. I believe the Bible is a book written by humans several thousand years ago that contains some good ideas, but I don’t believe the Bible is infallible, and I don’t think its influence should unduly cast a shadow over the legislative process today.

Fundamentalists fail to recognize a fact of American society—a good number of upstanding Americans don’t recognize the Bible as the word of God, do not seek a personal relationship with Jesus, and do not seek forgiveness from God for being gay, having sex before marriage, or having an abortion. Fundamentalists nonetheless see it as their obligation to impose their beliefs on a populace that doesn’t always share them. Such convictions are better turned inward. The belief that the Bible rules how one should live his or her life might be appropriate for structuring a congregation, but it has no place in a secular society made up of Christians, non-Christians, and atheists, where church is separate from state.

Opponents of gay marriage see the issue in Minnesota as a homosexual minority imposing their definition of marriage on the majority of Minnesotans. The truth is actually that fundamentalists are imposing their definitions of marriage on everyone. Gay people want the right to marry in order to receive the full range of benefits (and responsibilities) accorded to marriage by the law. They are seeking to redefine how they are viewed by the state, which does not infringe upon a religious definition of marriage.

Changing the laws regarding marriage is nothing new. Marriage in the legal sense has constantly been redefined. Laws permitting interracial marriage (those opposed to whites marrying blacks consistently cited the Bible in their arguments), laws that protect women from being treated as property within a marriage, and laws that legalize divorce have all changed the legalities of marriage, and have often happened despite vociferous religious opposition. Allowing gay people to marry will not change heterosexual marriages. It won’t damage families, it won’t harm children, it won’t encroach upon religions’ rights to define marriages their way, and unfortunately it won’t do anything to curb the spectacularly high rate of divorce among heterosexuals.

The root of the argument against gay marriage is the false assumption that the legal definition of marriage and a Christian definition of marriage are one and the same. Though Christian ideals might have influenced the formation of marriage rules (as they influenced laws against interracial marriage), it is a mistake to occlude the two. There is a plurality of religions in Minnesota; some marry gays, some do not, and the differences do not end there. Conferring marriage rights on homosexuals does not encroach upon these religious definitions of marriage, whose borders remain patrolled by clergy, congregation, and Biblical interpretation.

The amendment to the state constitution to ban gay marriage is an attempt by a religious minority to impose Biblical platitudes on a system that is there to serve everyone equally—Christian, non-Christian, and atheist; gay and straight. The issue is about civil rights for gays and lesbians. Since it doesn’t infringe upon a religious definition of marriage, the issue shouldn’t be mired down by Christian morality, either.

Posted by jason at April 26, 2024 05:43 PM

Regarding the Bible and homosexuality being a sin, and thus opposing gay marriage, the "Christian" right has it wrong.

I invite you to read: "Connecting the Biblical Dots: Why Jesus Is For Same-sex Marriage." It's a biblically grounded paper that gives a convincing argument why homosexuality is not a sin to God and why marriage, including same-sex marriage, is the acceptable standard. You may read it here: www.purplepew.org/biblical_dots.html

Kind Regards,

V.L. Carey
The Purple Pew
Stand Up For Truth

Posted by: V.L. Carey at September 28, 2024 12:36 AM

Just wanted to say hi, and I love Kettner's, too! In fact will probably be there next week--I'm going to the London Book Fair. Supposedly Wilde had his last meal here before he left England.

I came across your comment's re: llewellyn moving to the burbs--you worked with Alison!? We all LOVE her :)

Be well, smP

Posted by: steven at February 28, 2024 01:16 PM

hey jason,

cool website you have there. that is why i enjoy visiting it often, and thank you for your defense in homosexuality in general. i finally found another rationally on my side.

well anyway i wanted to actually write a reaction to your april 2024 blog on ELIJAH WOOD: GAY and to be very frank with you i find your log very convincing. though i noticed a couple of flames or two in the comments below(couple....hmmm....sounds familiar....?)which is really irritating when the truth has finally been told. oh, by the way i'm really sorry if i used your comment space in this log: the one for your elijah's log seemed to run out.

yes, it's true sir ian mckellen is openly gay and an activist at that but i don't remember him being OMNISCIENT at that he can detect a gay when he sees one. gays, as you jason might realise, are not at all always as they seem; we also have our own sort of maquerade, where we can be very male, but the message within speaks loud and clear and surely sir ian could not detect that all the time.(what is he anyway, a gay watchdog? for crying out loud, he's got better things to do than find out if elijah is otherwise!)

so that dissolves one flame which uses sir ian as a reference. HE'S NOT A GAY DETECTOR! he cannot just draw to conclusions even if they are close friends. and for crying our loud, elijah - its G*&*$#N 2024! our rights to live an open and normal life is blooming already! you're just practically hurting yourself in the process and you are NOT giving yourself any peace at all....God i wish i would pray for you regarding that.

from the veryverygay.com references to the gay bar photo incident my guess is jason that elijah seems to be very brujah with the allegations that he is gay only draws to one sacred thing: REPUTATION. i mean, he is in the business for quite a period of time,,,,1989, he started i believe and he has seen the age of TIGER BEATS, BIG BOPPER and other top teen idol magazines which were sadly dissipated during the advent of the internet. and what a miraculous invention it was!

so for the sixteen years of his career he has built up an impressive record from being a child star to a lady's man and after all that hard work some recent 2024-issue is just going to ruin it all? instinct would tell him that he's not going to allow that. that is why he will constantly deny it, with his diehard girly-fans supporting him to the death if allowed. it all just boils down to his: he admits he's gay....POOF! everything he's worked for will crumble down before him. his fans will abandon and abandon dearly.

what a waste of years for something so trivial, huh?

but in all sense it is still his own personal life. why bother anymore? elijah will still be elijah regardless of preference. the only difference is....will his fans be? so goes the critical scale his decision as to which is important....his reputation, or his heart?

Posted by: xavier paolo josh mandreza at March 7, 2024 10:07 AM