Assigning freedom

You want your freedom, do you?

I know you do, because you post about it on Facebook, and you talk about how the government better not come and try to take it from you. You are an American with God-given unalienable rights. No politician is going to take your freedom any more than a welfare queen is going to take your money. You will, as you’ve said, fight to the death to be free.

And you want it, you say, not for yourself. You know you’ll be gone someday. You’re thinking of the children, those sweet innocent children who might be forced to live without the freedoms you’ve enjoyed.

I believed you. I may have disagreed with you on some points. We may have looked at politics differently. Our spirituality might have not aligned exactly. But I believed you, because you were earnest. You spoke of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and our forefathers. Our visions of America were different, but I believed you honestly believed in freedom.

I guess I was wrong.

I don’t know if you know any gay people. Even if you don’t think you do, you probably do. But that’s not the point. The point is this: I wish you did, and I wish you had the kind of love in your heart for your fellow man as you do for your own freedom.

I need to tell you a story.

Ordinarily, this would be the place you stop reading because I’m not writing about you and your freedom anymore. But I’d like you to just stick with me for a few minutes.

I knew several gay people in my teens and early 20s. They were acquaintances more than friends. Though I came from a place where discrimination was a sport, it never resonated with me, and I never found any reason to dislike homosexual people or, for that matter, any group of people that wasn’t like me.

But that’s not the story. That’s just letting you know where my head was a little more than a decade ago when I met a guy with whom I instantly clicked. He dug music. He played guitar. He was smart and hilarious. And the first night we went out together, I watched him make out with not one but two women…at the same time.

Over the next few years, this guy became one of my best and most trusted friends. He became family. And as you probably already guessed, he eventually told my wife and me that he was gay. It wasn’t any great surprise in retrospect, but it was a crucial moment in my life, because it was the first time I had any hope of understanding what it meant to be gay in America. This was a person for whom I would do anything, and he was gay. He would not be my only gay friend, but he was the one who helped me grow as a person of tolerance. I had never been prejudiced, but I’d also never had any frame of reference about truly caring for someone who was gay.

I wish you knew him like I do. In fact, I wish you had someone in your life for whom you cared with all your heart, for whom you would take a bullet, and with whom you would trust your whole family. And I wish you would discover that person is gay, because then you might begin to understand.

Understand what?

Well, here’s the thing. You have spent months telling me how much you value freedom and how much we have to protect our liberty. You’ve grown red-faced. Your anger has been righteous.

And today?

Well, today you let us all know you oppose letting certain Americans get married. Because of your religion, or your fear, or your bigotry, you want to deny a community of people—American people—the same rights you and I have. Maybe you believe that the current system of marriage—the one you believe you are protecting, the one that’s riddled with divorce, abuse, and adultery—has resulted in grand success for America.

We disagree on this point. You should know that. I know gay parents who have wonderful, well-adjusted children. They have served as good examples, and are much better than some straight parents I’ve met in my day.

But just because we disagree on this point doesn’t mean we can’t agree on freedom, right? Because of all the things I found detestable about you, I at least could admire your commitment to your cause. It’s confused me, because now I think you’re saying that your family deserves more freedoms than mine does.

You were honest, righteous, and a defender of freedom.

But, now it’s clear that’s just not the case.

I’m afraid you might be inching up to a line people would call bigotry. And even if you don’t accept you’re in that danger, consider this. You are in critical danger of becoming a hypocrite.

Take a moment and reconsider how you’re thinking. Educate yourself. Reach out to people you don’t know. Find the same compassion for other people that you would expect them to have for you.

Otherwise it will be clear you do believe in it all—God, country, the Constitution, and unalienable rights—just as long as it’s you who gets to decide who gets to be free and who doesn’t.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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29 Responses

  1. Bob Woolley says:

    Not very many people are consistent about having a desire to maximize personal liberties across the board. Those of us who try very hard to make that the fundamental organizing principle of our political positions and decision typically constitute just 1-2% of the electorate. I join you in scolding the people who champion freedom of religion and the right to bear arms, for example, but want to limit who can marry whom. But I wonder if you are any more consistent than they are. I don’t claim to know; I’m asking.

    Are you in favor of ending drug prohibitions and letting people eat, drink, smoke, and inject whatever they want into their bodies–no FDA, no prescriptions required for medications? Are you in favor of legalized prostitution? Polygamy? Cutting the size and cost of government by, oh, 90% or so in order that people can keep more of the money they’ve earned? Letting anybody walk into a gun store and purchase any firearm they want, even machine guns–no prohibited classes of people, no background checks, no waiting periods, no governmental paper trail of any kind? Dismantling the regulatory state in favor of a laissez-faire system in which anything goes except fraud and force? Ending state licensing of professions? Allowing private businesses to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, or any other stupid, arbitrary criteria that they wish to use in hiring, firing, who they serve as customers, etc.? In favor of open borders for any immigrants who want to come here? For abolishing the minimum wage?

    That’s a small sampling of the kinds of positions you’re forced to adopt when you decide that personal freedom is the highest value–higher than life itself, even (e.g., by supporting people’s freedom to endanger their own lives stupidly by motorcycling without a helmet or by shooting heroin).

    But I have a hard time believing that that’s where you’re coming from, based on just one political fact about you: You voted for Barack Obama twice. (Or, to be more precise, you said you were going to vote for him a second time, and I assume that you followed through.) There has been no president in my lifetime more staunchly opposed to personal freedom than he is. He is on the wrong side of every one of my list of questions here, just for starters–and that’s before we get to him claiming the right to preemptively assassinate people, indefinitely detain people without trials, etc. It is incomprehensible to me that he could get a vote from anybody for whom personal liberty is a core value.

    So I ask what I hope is a hard question: Are you really any more consistent in being a champion of maximizing personal liberty than the unnamed target of this post? Or do you just pick and choose different freedoms to be for and against than he does?

    I hope I’m wrong in my suspicion, and that you’re more libertarian than I have guessed you to be–or at least that you’ll ponder whether that’s a direction in which you’d like to move.

  2. KenP says:

    Otis, I don’t care if you have a leather fetish and love to hang from the ceiling or … well … we know about golden showers. What consenting adults do is their business. I just don’t want to hear about it, even if your are some kind of activist.

    I find equally disturbing the claim for equal rights. They could have had civil union rights already in most states. They want marriage and marriage has a religious basis. To wish it on a same sex basis offends many. Marriages were record only in a church until very recent times. The modern world needed better validation and marriage took on a civil and religious version. Many hetro couples chose civil union. It is legal in many forms. A church wedding builds on tradition and tradition doesn’t change in most home or on Broadway.

    Don’t say that all those people you classify as red necks aren’t the person you are. They might be better in some respects without toeing your version of how the world should turn. You don’t have the right to denigrate another person beliefs and that is as offense as gay baiting.

    There would be few topics you and I would ever agree on; yet, I like you and enjoy your views. We don’t have to agree on everything. The people you castigate have the same rights. As an elite media individual you may see things with a clarity that blinds the rest; but don’t just castigate people who aren’t as massively well informed and sensitive.

    Think back to your Missouri upbringing and tell me those are bad people with wrong ideas that you can straighten out with your one sided view at 6 and 10. They may not have the clarity that a fine reporter exhibits. But you need to look further at what has made them the fine neighbors you remember from your youth.

    All this one-sideness is what activism is all about. You keep moving the goal posts. I think the Sierra Club works for the land and I also believe they are self-perpetuating and will always have another cause that builds on their last fund drive. Hell, look at the thing that started this mess, the Republicans used the religious right and now are being used by it. It another version of the Sierra Club or Gay rights or whatever edge groups can promote.

    I don’t give a damn if they want to get married or be an Episcopal bishop. I just don’t want them throwing their demands in the face of people who beliefs don’t conform to their demands. There is the wrongness.

    The gay community is as diverse as any society. Your one size fits all view need more clarity defining and respecting the rights consenting adults already enjoy in privacy. That isn’t the issue and it is wrong to attempt to use it.

  3. Brad Willis says:

    Bob, Thanks for your thoughtful and appropriate response. You very point was one I considered a great deal as I wrote the piece and decided to post it. For me, it came down to this: I think it’s appropriate to point out when champions of freedom want to restrict the freedoms of others.

    It’s rare you’ll actually find me spending my day championing personal freedoms (despite the fact that I actually do in many cases lean a lot closer to Libertarianism and agreement with you than you might think). In terms of consistency and freedom, I think it’s helpful here to consider that homosexual people–because of their gender and sexual orientation–are being treated differently under the law than other people. I may not agree necessarily with all those laws–and there are a great many I don’t–but I believe in equal treatment under the law as it stands.

    Or put another way, I–consistently–believe the laws of our country should apply to all people equally.

  4. PokerLawyer says:

    Taken from a radio story I particularly enjoyed:

    “…when straights get the right to marry three people or their dog or a toaster, gay people should have that too. But until then, that’s not what we’re talking about. We just want to be able to marry someone instead of no one.”

    Thank you or being an ally, Brad.

  5. Bob Woolley says:

    Brad: Fair enough. Equality under the law is a big step toward maximizing freedom.

    Ken: If we were having this discussion 50 years ago, and the issue were miscegenation, would you be arguing that interracial marriage offends the religious sensibilities of many people and therefore shouldn’t be foisted upon society as a whole? Would you suggest that people who wanted to marry someone of a different race accept a legislative proposal of a “civil union” as a good-enough substitute?

  6. KenP says:

    Bob, I honest don’t know. I’d hope I’d have held the view on that I hold today. But, I also recall driving to my office in the Loop with the south side spouting smoke and not liking MLK at all. And now I consider him a light. Guess we all experience change. Though, I don’t believe I was ever a Dixiecrat during that period.

    As to civil union, it is widely in use. You can go to city hall and walk out with a certificate that indicates a legal union that may be titled with a misnomer. On a religious basis, many of the faithful consider that inadequate. Do you or I have the superior knowledge to tell them they are wrong? Maybe the appropriate thing is for government to only recognize civil union under the law and let the separation of church and state reach their separate conclusions.

    It is interesting to be discussing law as being right and equally applied. That seems less true now than ever with Presidential Findings and warrantless searches hiding behind the stifling denial of free speech rights.

    Obama has seemed to turn into Dubya in finding lawyers willing to agree with anything. Legislatures are passing laws that serve special interest first. The papers seem filled with prosecutorial excess. I fail to believe anyone who say that the law is fair and that transcends whatever other views I or others hold.

  7. Lee Jones says:

    Once again, Brad, you’ve gotten it exactly right.

    Regards, Lee

  8. Grange95 says:


    You say: “I just don’t want [gays] throwing their demands in the face of people whose beliefs don’t conform to their demands. There is the wrongness.”

    So long as the law changes my legal status with respect to my partner every time I cross a state border, so long as my right to make medical decisions for my partner depends on where he happens to need emergency care, so long as some states declare my partner and I to be unfit to serve as adoptive or foster parents as a matter of definition, and so long as my my current employer (like too many businesses) regards my partner as my roommate for purposes of benefits, I will keep throwing my demand for equal rights in people’s faces, yours included. As one guy in a very small minority of the population, I don’t have any choice but to demand, request, and plead for equal treatment from the straight majority. You have every right to expect my discussion of the issue to be respectful, but you cannot expect me to stand silent. And I appreciate the voices of all of my straight friends who speak out on my behalf.

  9. Tammie says:

    I agree completely!

    Freedom is for everyone. No matter what race or sexual orientation.

    Some people have just drank too much of the Kool-Aid, and use their religion as a basis to justify their lives, and how they live it.

    I too have known, on a personal level, gay people – and likely as you said – they do also. I’ve seen a mother outcast her daughter for admitting she was gay, and for her partner to bear an offspring. We would have discussions abut how she would never accept that baby. I told her the first time she looked into that little ones eyes she would have a change of heart; and she did.

    People think that being gay is a choice they have made. I have to say to myself “well let’s see, think I’ll be gay today and get ridiculed and bullied”. I think not. Gay people are born, just like all of us are; and deserve to have the same freedoms we all share (what’s left of them).

  10. KenP says:

    Grange, I am not saying your rights aren’t being trampled. Make me Emperor and you can have equal rights tomorrow.

    I am saying that there is a more middle ground that can serve everyone. Finding it is always difficult. Doesn’t civil union for all implement your wants and wishes? The term many see in a religious context is the sticking point. Then, if you can find a church to move it beyond, go for it. That is a ministerial decision that can be discuss with the parishioners and not government or courts.

    The crossing of state lines and having different laws apply goes far beyond this discussion. Even if they don’t agree to allow it, the commerce clause should be basis for having to honor it from other states. Sorry, I also like Federalism.

    As a lawyer you’ve never been called on to enforce God’s law beyond how common law agreed. I guess we could go beyond and argue on a sociological basis the institution and really confuse things more. As a wordsmith, you must see at least a part of this weird divide. Both sides are using the term out of context with the other sides definition.

    I may not always agree with you but I have always respected the individual and your blog’s edge. Sorry you see me a d-bag o’ the day. 😉

  11. StB says:

    I raise a toast to you Brad. An article that gets people thinking and stirs up some debate allowing people to toss their chips into the pot.

  12. PokerLawyer says:

    Well said, Grange.

  13. Astin says:

    I’m sure whatever I enter here will be ham-fisted and misinformed, but hey, this is the Internet, right?

    First – “civil union” is a term that I had never heard of until “gay marriage” popped up. Nobody I know who got MARRIED at City Hall said “off to get our civil union!” or “me and my civil partner are going out for dinner.” No, they said “married.” In fact, if you want to get married in a church, you still have to swing by City Hall to fill out and pick up your marriage license. Funny that.

    Maybe that’s just Canada, or Ontario, or Toronto. Maybe it’s different in other places.

    Also, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone on the pro-equality side talk of forcing religious institutions to accept this. I think that’s how separation of Church and State is supposed to work. You want to get married at City Hall? That should be allowed. You want to get married in Church? Well, isn’t that supposed to be up to the Church? If your denomination or chapter or whatever doesn’t support equality, and you do, then maybe you’re worshiping in the wrong place. What people want is exactly what Grange stated – equality and uniformity across the country. Hell, across the world. It used to be that a couple married in Canada, or Norway, or Fiji, or anywhere, could move to the States and STILL BE MARRIED. That’s no longer the case as I see it.

    Stop foisting a Christian context onto “marriage”. That’s not what people are looking for. After all, Christianity is only a couple thousand years old, and not the only belief system out there. Can Buddhists marry? Hindus? Jews? Muslims? Zoroastrians? Atheists? Pastafarians? Jedi? Satanists? Or do they each have to have their own word for it? How many divorcees get married a second, third, or sixteenth time in a Church? Religious arguments are moot anyway, as, once again, this is a governmental matter.

    Also, the fervor against marriage equality in the States is yet another example of how socially backwards the entire country has become in recent years. So many other countries of similar wealth, education, and whatever other comparables you want to use have settled this debate. There were opponents, they were listened to and then the decision was made that it was a no-brainer. If gay people exist, and if you consider them equals to straight people, then they deserve the SAME RIGHTS AS THEM. We’ve still got opponents in Canada, but they are few and relatively quiet. Even the most conservative government we’ve had in my lifetime won’t even consider re-opening the issue.

    I have yet to hear anyone against equality give a reason how their life is affected in any way by a gay couple being allowed to marry. A wedding between two gay people never killed anyone. It didn’t cause illness beyond that caused by extreme homophobia or hate. It doesn’t break up or devalue a straight marriage. It doesn’t endanger children. It’s worst effect? Making people feel a bit ooky because they were raised in a society that said it was wrong.

    It saddens and angers me greatly that there is still doubt about this issue, and that in reality it’s not about religious or social belief. It’s actually about the unbridgeable divide between two political sides and a puerile belief that bipartisan agreement on an issue is equivalent to ideological weakness.

  14. KenP says:

    The commonality, as I see it, is the total unwillingness to reach even a minor compromise. There seems a complete lack of respect for any position differing in the slightest from the one espoused.

    Really sad that this occurs with people with at least a passing acquaintance within this collection of tubes. Doesn’t bode well for the rest.

    Best wishes to all.

    P.S. I’m not terribly religious but I have vague hopes in that area — even if it is a 2nd rate one because it is only 2,000 year old or so. I fear it too late though to convert to the interesting ones on that list. Sorry! I’m sure it is another flaw on my part and thanks for point it out. Frankly, I don’t give a hoot what it gets called; my consideration was for those who do. Specious thought, what?

  15. Astin says:

    Why should there be a compromise on this issue? Why should people be told “I’m sorry, but you don’t get to have 100% equal rights as others because it will offend some of them.” Please provide a valid reason.

    My point wasn’t about how old other religions are, it’s that HUMANITY is much older. And people were getting married before there was a Catholic Church. Even if you want to stay biblical, there were wives and husbands well before Christ came along, so why does that religion get to say “no, THIS SPECIFIC GROUP can’t call it marriage?” What special claim do they have? And why aren’t they applying to every non-Christian then?

  16. Bob Woolley says:

    Ken: I realize that the situations are not perfectly parallel, but still your comment brings to mind this fine paragraph from Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”:

    We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

  17. TimJohnsonMN says:

    “I just don’t want them throwing their demands in the face of people who beliefs don’t conform to their demands. There is the wrongness.”

    I demand freedom of speech. I demand freedom of religion. I demand the government give it to me. And it doesn’t matter who agrees with what I say, or whether or not their “beliefs conform” to my demands. Free speech or freedom of religion is my right. That’s how rights work. There are somethings I am truly offended by, but I know that in order for my beliefs to mean anything, I have to allow opposing views… or the government anyway. As a private citizen I can deny anything I don’t like…

  18. BadBlood says:

    In pure logic form, you have an institution (or rather, event) defined historically by religious constructs. Yet you also have the status of marriage as part of governmental benefits and legal standing. This is 100% mixing church and state in my mind.

    To me, the pursuit of happiness trumps all. That’s a human construct. Human.

  19. KenP says:

    BadBlood just identified the sticking point. When the need to codify permanent relationships came along for the benefit of governments, they called it marriage for secular accounting purposes. That term today has a different significance in peoples minds. Today it is mixing church and state.

    I don’t particularly care for gays; it is unappealing to me — my bad. Don’t shove it in my face and we’ll get along fine and can be friends. But, I’ll defend their choice as personal and nobody else damn business. You want equal treatment under the law, that is fine by me. Just don’t dictate how I’m to accommodate your wants and dreams. That invade my personal space and nobody should have that right. It only generates resentment whether it is this issue or a host of others.

    It looks like the Supremes may throw out a lot of the crap politician used to avoid actually addressing the issue. Another furor will come about that does nothing to establish validity of choice. It just puts both side further apart. There will be no winner without reason and that calls for compromise. Compromise isn’t a horror; it is just finding common ground.

    BadBlood explained it succinctly.

  20. Brad Willis says:

    Ken, I find it unfortunate that you look at gay people as having made a choice. That is a tremendous and ridiculous failure in thinking or education. It’s akin to suggesting someone made a choice to be black or to be a woman and then asking that person to not ask for equal rights as a result. I know you must have a hard time wrapping your head around that fact, but it’s simply and demonstrably true.

    I’m willing to concede you might have come up in a time where finding that kind of compassion or education might have been much harder. I know I certainly did. With that said, I’m literally lost when I read this comment:

    “You want equal treatment under the law, that is fine by me. Just don’t dictate how I’m to accommodate your wants and dreams. That invade my personal space and nobody should have that right. It only generates resentment whether it is this issue or a host of others.”

    I honestly can’t decide if you’re trolling or you’re confused. Are there gay people coming to your home and being gay on your couch? Are you forced to make gay tea for gay people? What accommodations (outside of compassion, of course) are you being forced to make? Because, it seems to me you’re having a very hard time differentiating between gay people wanting to get married and…well, anything that has to do with you at all.

    Even if you find gay people unlikable, that shouldn’t affect their equal rights under the law. I have atheist friends–serious, hardcore atheists–who are offended by the notion their children are subjected to Christmas/holiday parties in school. Does that mean that my child or anyone else’s should have to stop?

    Trust me–I think the government and America could benefit from a true separation of church and state, but so long as our government calls an institution marriage and bases benefits and rights on that institution’s label, your battle is with your elected leaders, not gay people. If you fail to understand that part, it’s you who have made a choice. And that choice, I’m afraid, is to be a bigot. Sorry.

  21. KenP says:

    There is a rational approach that won’t make anybody happy so it won’t happen.

    Government changes all reference of “marriage” to “Civil Union”
    Civil unions must be honored across state borders.

    Now, you go to city hall to get your license. It is no longer a marriage license; it is a civil union license. You can get civil unioned by whatever passes for a Justice of the Peace. What you call it from that point on is up to you.

    You want to be really and truly married? You find a minister that is willing. He goes to Borders and picks up a nice piece of parchment that says “Marriage Certificate” and signs the civil union thingy and fills in the parchment. (suitable for framing) You are married. Congratulations.

    That doesn’t make either side happy. The Baptist etc. are offended. The solution didn’t confer forced acceptance which is the others goal.

    On the good side, I am sure the Vegas chapels will have all that available within a day or two because the legislature will cave to business interest. The only thing left is for them to buy more costumes so the two grooms can both be Elvis and the two brides can be Princess Diana. While they are getting the costumes made, sadly they can only service drag. I’ll loan guy-girl girl-guy a pair of my pink panties with the blue bows for something old, blue, and borrowed…oops–scratch that line this isn’t about my peculiarities. Hope we all just got offended there. Lot of that going around,.

  22. KenP says:

    Brad, I have no hatred in all this. Grange is a blog on my reading list that I enjoy — wish he’d post more about the legal stuff going on. If we’re ever in Vegas together, I’d enjoy one of those Mule thingies with both of you. I don’t give a rat’s patute about how anyone run their home or bedroom. That goes for straight and gay. Just don’t give me the blow by blow or whatever whatever your persuasion. There is that sanctity thing I want left alone.

    I try to be a true libertarian. That is hard because it calls for a great deal of tolerance. That can be difficult and I’ll admit to brief lapse that embarrass me. I don’t think that makes me bad because you seem to be having that problem too for the moment. That is something of a relief.

    I am sorry you think I am trolling. What I have done is expose my view that doesn’t coincide with your. You seem to only be seeking agreement in this discussion. We know that isn’t the real world case and I expected to get lambasted by you and others. If you can’t accept my honesty, it is disappointing.

  23. KenP says:

    Brad, sorry to keep this going. It seems worn out but you seem to see me through a veil. Let me talk briefly about you, Grange and me. I am using Grange because he’s very up front with his life and I don’t think I’m imposing.

    You are both in a committed relationship. I find that laudatory, refreshing and somewhat unique.

    Grange talked about his coming out and his mother; that saddened me. I share his Lutheran upbringing and think I know what that is about. It is a dogmatic religion with all the answers. I felt sorry for that but knew what it was about. Really unfortunate what God’s representation on earth can sometimes come up with.

    Coming out is difficult. If I were gay, I don’t think I’d have the strength to do what he has done with the grace he exhibits. He knows who he is and doesn’t shy from saying it. Again, refreshing and laudatory.

    Why do I read both of you? Well, it isn’t for our commonality. I find you both interesting persons with a point of view that I can learn from or about.

    Beside the online friendship I hope for, would we be buddies? Probably not. That is because of the generation gap more than anything. And, I might be a bit too boring. Poker seems the common interest and I have never been a gambler. I’ve been a winning player; but at the levels I most enjoy, the amount would be embarrassing to state. So, we don’t have mutual interests that would grow to a lasting friendship.

    The three of us have rather large egos that can get in the way. We’re all sure we’re right. Being couples I image wife/sig-o, deflate as necessary. I don’t have that advantage; you guys win that one.

    Grange and I share the religious background and I’m sure that conflicts both of us to this day. Neither of us is a dogmatic person accepting of rote answers. He and I would have that but it isn’t really one to make us phone each other regularly.

    I have no problem with gays other than the activism that demands I accept everything they propose. Not many places am I willing to do that when I don’t fully agree. That isn’t about being gay in and of itself — being gay is personal and none of my business.

    The problem as I see it is that my solution — which accomplishes similar goals — isn’t one you can accept. OK, that isn’t going to be resolved here. In truth, I expected this thread to go against me but felt that there might be respect at the end. Doesn’t seem to have happened. If I had wanted agreement, I could have found any number of blogs that’d cater to my views. That hardly seemed worthwhile. I am not looking for plaudits but an honest exchange. I think I did that and the outcome has been what mostly I expected. (A blogging friend remarked on how stupid I was for getting involved.) Fun or not so, while it lasted. I don’t see a reason to continue — which will benefit all of us. I’m unchecking the follow-up and will let thing expire in this long comment thread.

    My very best wishes to all. I appreciated the exchange but do wish we had more in common than you saw.

  24. TimJohnsonMN says:

    “Government changes all reference of “marriage” to “Civil Union”
    Civil unions must be honored across state borders.”

    Personally, I find this to be a perfectly acceptable option and one I’ve suggested myself before (though not in this comment thread). I wish my wife and I would’ve had the foresight to understand Iowa’s marriage vs civil union distinctions 10 years ago when we got married.

    The crux of the issue for me is equality and using two different terms is, to me, a form of “separate but equal” which doesn’t work. But if I was told tomorrow that the government will now call the relationship my wife and I have a civil union, then I’d be fine with that. There are any number of instances where what the government calls me and what I call myself don’t jive. So long as the government applies their label equally, I’m cool with it.

    I’d be curious to see the stats on who would be against this proposed solution. My gut tells me that most people fighting for equality would be cool with it, while those arguing to preserve the term would not. But that’s just my gut and I know it’s unreliable and biased. I guess I don’t know what “forced acceptance” means and if that’s really the goal. Because I know the First Amendment gives Westboro Baptist Church the same free speech as I have, does that mean I’m accepting it? It certainly doesn’t mean I agree with it, nor does it mean I personally have to tolerate it. It just means the government does. If this is just a civics issue, regardless of the outcome, you’d still be able to say, do, believe whatever you want. Ultimately, the goal of the “other side” should be the same.

  25. Missingflops says:

    Ken & Tim:

    If I understand your proposal correctly, your idea would be to completely separate the “institution of marriage” (whatever that means) from the governmental recognition of what I guess we could call a “life contract” between two people.

    So under your proposal, a couple (whether a same sex couple or an opposite sex couple) would be free to have their legal status recognized and enjoy whatever legal rights are enjoyed by what we now refer to as married couples.

    I would assume that neither of you would support the government dictating to a religious whether it could practice a rite whereby two people express their commitment to each other. If that is the case, I have to also assume that you would not support the idea that if a particular church thought it was appropriate to allow a same sex couple to participate in this rite that the government could outlaw the church’s practices along those lines.

    If I understand things correctly then, both of you would say that if two people want to have their legal status recognized they go to some government building, get a license, do whatever the government deems appropriate to verify their willingness to contract and then their legal status will be recognized. This would be a “civil union”.

    Likewise, any couple with an agreeable church could participate in a religious ceremony to recognize their commitment to each other. This would be a “marriage”.

    Other than changing the label that is put on the recognition of the legal status and requiring a couple who wanted both the legal status and the religious ceremony to go through two processes instead of one, this seems no different to me than what proponents of marriage equality want to see.

    On a philosophical level, I agree that the system you outline would serve to disentangle the religious ceremony from the legal recognition of status, however given the use of the term marriage in our culture I think that entanglement is toothpaste that you can’t put back in the tube. If you show me a cotton swab now, I think “Q-Tip”, and likewise, if we’re talking about two people having a certain legal status between them I think marriage.

    But regardless of all that, if you have no problem with a same sex couple having the legal status that we now associate with marriage, I’m having a hard time understanding what the objection is to it just being called marriage? How does that equate to a couple “throwing gayness in your face”?

  26. Grange95 says:

    Brad, with three years of hindsight … Thanks again for this post.

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  1. March 31, 2013

    […] in Lutheran grade schoo.  That was tested this past week by an unlikely source.  Otis over at rapideyereality posted about being gay and the political side of that.  I thought it’d be nice to share […]