Meaningful, Open, and Honest Discussion (September 7, 2005)
Meaningful, Open, and Honest Discussion: I continue to ask for a meaningful, open, and honest discussion in the issue of defining marriage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In my efforts to help facilitate such a discussion I have been presenting information to all 200 members of the Massachusetts State Legislature on an almost weekly basis beginning in April of 2005. In April the Massachusetts State Legislature held a Joint Judiciary Committee hearing on issues related to marriage in Massachusetts. I spent five weeks in the Ukraine at the beginning of the summer. You may see pictures of this trip and my previous trips on www.as4us.org. This is the thirteen handout and all of them have been posted on the Internet on www.banap.net. They may be found in the section Same-Sex Marriage in Massachusetts.
I choose to self-identify as a former homosexual. The parameters of a meaningful, open, and honest discussion must be framed around the following question. Is it Who one is a homosexual, or What one does, homosexuality? And the case for the latter is much stronger. This is even acknowledged and written about in numerous articles and books by those advocating for homosexuality and homosexuals themselves. The following two quotes are by individuals who self-identify as homosexual. John D’Emilio is a university professor, of the authors Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen Ph.D., one graduated from Harvard University (Kirk, 1980) and the other was a professor at Harvard University.
I have argued that lesbian and gay identity and communities are historically created, the result of a process of capitalist development that has spanned many generations. A corollary of this argument is that we are not a fixed social minority composed for all time of a certain percentage of the population. There are more of us than one hundred years ago, more of us than forty years ago. And there may very well be more gay men and lesbians in the future. Claims made by gays and nongays that sexual orientation is fixed at an early age, that large numbers of visible gay men and lesbians in society, the media, and schools will have no influence on the sexual identities of the young, are wrong. Capitalism has created the material conditions for homosexual desire to express itself as a central component of some individuals’ lives; now, our political movements are changing consciousness, creating the ideological conditions that make it easier for people to make that choice. (D’Emilio, Capitalism and Gay Identity, p. 473-474 in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader by Henry Abelove, Michele Aine Barale and David M. Halperin)
In short, the gay lifestyle - if such a chaos can, after all, legitimately be called a lifestyle - it just doesn’t work: it doesn’t serve the two functions for which all social framework evolve: to constrain people’s natural impulses to behave badly and to meet their natural needs. While it’s impossible to provide an exhaustive analytic list of all the root causes and aggravants of this failure, we can asseverate at least some of the major causes. Many have been dissected, above, as elements of the Ten Misbehaviors; it only remains to discuss the failure of the gay community to provide a viable alternative to the heterosexual family. (Kirk and Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of the Gay’s in the 90s, p.363)
I am amazed that those who are in opposition to the changing of the historical definition of marriage to include same-sex couples have failed to ask those who are advocating for such a change to simply support and defend their position.
Not all homosexuals advocate for asimilating homosexuality through marriage into the culture, but some homosexuals advocate for sexual liberation. The burden of proof is upon those advocating for change. There has been much discussion that by not allowing same-sex couples to marry they are therefore denied the rights and benefits that are realized by those who do marry. Yet there are many who fail to qualify for marriage and thus they too are denied the rights and benefits that come through marriage.
I support the proposed Constitutional Amendment that was past last year by the Massachusetts State Legislature in a Constitutional Convention. This proposed amendment will grant the rights and benefits to those same-sex couples who qualify and choose to legally sanction their relationships as civil unions. Passage of this proposed amendment with a second vote of approval by the current Massachusetts State Legislature will allow the citizens of the Commonwealth to also participant in the discusion and defining of marriage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Should the citizens approve this proposed Constitutional Amendment when voting in a 2006 election Massachusetts will join Vermont and Connecticut in allowing Civil Unions for same-sex couples. Those advocating for same-sex marriage say that Civil Unions for same-sex couples results in a second-class status for these couples. Whatever action a state shall take, whether by marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples, according to federal mandate marriage is defined as a relationship between one man and one woman (Defense of Marriage Act, 1996), thereby for federal recording purposes same-sex couples have second class status. This includes but is not limited to federal tax codes. The Federal Defense of Marriage Act also allows other states the possibility of not recognizing same-sex marriages performed in another state. By Massachusetts’ law same-sex couples that are not citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are not legally eligible for marriage in Massachusetts. The reality of allowing same-sex marriage by judicial decree in Massachusetts has created many challenges for same-sex couples.
Perhaps the greatest challenge is that of the possibility of same-sex marriage that was granted by judicial decree being overruled in a subsequent legal challenge. What is granted by judicial decree is often a fragile victory. What is granted by judicial decree may later be overruled in a subsequent court case. Such is the case with same-sex marriage or what is often referred to as gay marriage. Without assurances by securing through the legislative process the gains made through the case Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health may be lost in a new legal challenge. Those who raise a legal challenge to gay marriage will be presenting their arguments against gay marriage and it will be the responsibility of the Attorney General’s office to overcome them in defending the State of Massachusetts allowing gay marriage. I have discussed information that may be used in a possible legal challenge in three previous handouts. They are titled, Granted by Judicial Decree (July 27) ,Exclusivity, Mutual Support, and Commitment to One Another (August 3), and Constitution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (August 10).
When will there be a meaningful, open, and honest discussion in the issue of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples or what is called gay marriage.