Thursday, May 21, 2015

Response #3 Inclusivity #17: For better or worse, the fate same-sex marriage

Some twelve years ago, on Nov. 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a ruling that allowed same-sex marriages. That was the start of what today has become a reality in 37 states, with an addition 12 on the fence; an astonishing sweep for an issue that in those early days was regarded as a “time bomb” and a “national tragedy.” 
The attitudes toward the right of gay couples to marry have changed at a remarkable rate. In 2003, polls showed that 37 percent of Americans were in favor of same-sex marriage; today, the rate has almost doubled, largely due the cascade of federal court decisions that found that state bans on such marriages were unconstitutional. 

The momentum though was slow to build. It took five years before another state, California followed Massachusetts’ lead. But, following an initial heady start the court ruling in March 2008 allowing same-sex marriages was trumped eight months later by Proposition 8, a statewide referendum in which voters chose to ban them.

Same sex couples can now marry legally in 37 states - AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, ID, IA, IL, IN, KS, ME, MD, MA, MN, MT, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WI, and WY -

This year the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in several marriage legal cases. A favorable outcome could bring the freedom to marry to same-sex couples nationwide. This spring, Freedom to Marry will continue its work to demonstrate that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry. Nearly 72% of the U.S. population lives in a state currently issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples state-wide.

What’s ahead for freedom to marry in the USA? And will religious institutions have a final voice?

For better or worse, the fate same-sex marriage bans across the nation now rests squarely with the U.S. Supreme Court. Arguments suggest that the court is profoundly divided about redefining an institution as traditional and central to human culture as one-man, one-woman marriage while recognizing that denying it to gay and lesbian couples may violate equal protection guarantees enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

What the court is being asked to do: recognize that cultural life in America has evolved to the point where a fundamental right to marriage should be extended to same-sex couples, despite an acknowledgement that that was never the original intent.

"This case isn't about how to define marriage. It's about who gets to decide that question," Bursch, who was making his ninth appearance before the Supreme Court, said as he opened his argument. "Is it the people acting through the democratic process or is it the federal courts?"

The church, including the Salvation Army, has every right to refuse to perform or acknowledge same sex marriages within its walls. Church leaders can decide who is good enough to be baptized, enrolled as members, ordained and elected to lead.  But in good conscience can they/we then turn around and say they're/we're not judging anyone? 

I believe we agree that we should not have the right to force our church/SA policies and religious beliefs onto the rest of the USA population through legislation. However, we would remind all that ours is a position long recognized by our nation; the sacrament of marriage was a religious institution well before it became a legally recognized bond by the state thus, the reason why so many people voted against Prop 8.

Perhaps we, the religious body, ought to consider completely removing the term "marriage" with the next proposition. Regardless of sexual orientation, everyone should be granted a "civil union". (and equal rights). Perhaps we should rid ourselves of society’s nominal marriage term and encase it solely as a religious term. It will take some doing but we might begin by instituting civil unions and equality. How can the religious right argue that?

The thing to note is that this Christian attitude can be linked to different attitudes in the public debate. Paul's texts were written 2000 years ago and they were expressions of contemporary values then and form the basis of varied contemporary Christian values today. 

Our country, no matter the spiritual and religious slogans, banners and quips we adorn it with, is a secular one. ‘Marriage’, for those that seek it can do so in their own spiritual way, separate of the state.

Sven Ljungholm 


Anonymous said...


I don't know if you're aware of it or not but your views on the marriage issue are very similar to Tony Campolo's-----civil unions with all the legal rights afforded to it and marriage as a religious institution and ceremony. I personally would have no problem with this, but then again, the same as you, I'm an old geezer over the age of 60.

Though some churches (including major ones) will now do a religious ceremony for gays, many others still won't. That leaves TSA in a bind if it counts itself among the churches that won't. It could unfortunately be regarded as a "bigoted" institution in many quarters, and public contributions, which TSA needs to carry on its work, might be effected and in some areas, possibly even dry up.

However, I don't believe there will ever be a distinction between civil unions and marriage as you and many others are proposing Sven---or at least not in MOST first world democracies including the US, where the larger culture isn't intertwined with Roman Catholicism. I think the term marriage will remain a legal term, because the state really isn't there for, nor does it care much about, making something "sound" more palatable for religious groups.

Within a generation or two, once all of we "old-timers" are gone, everyone left will say, "This is ridiculous. Gays have been marrying for years now!" and before you know it, everyone including TSA will give in and jump on the bandwagon.

Of course I could be wrong, but that's where I see it going---especially if the SCOTUS votes in favor of marriage equality 5-4 next month. If SCOTUS takes another 20 years to approve marriage equality, then it might take until 2050 or 2060 for the change to occur in TSA and other more conservative churches but either way the change will eventually happen.

It's all about Hegel's "upward spiral" and MLK's "long arc of history" schtick. Thesis vs. antithesis equals synthesis and the long arc of history eventually always leads to justice.

Daryl Lach
USA Central

"You Must Go Home By the Way of the Cross, To Stand With Jesus in the Morning!"


Daryl, as always your comments are always welcome and spot on!

As you know too well, I try and hide my hand, but perhaps not very well this time. My intent was simply to try and get a response from all this referenced in response # 2; the uninformed and apathetic - perhaps they've all shifted to the latter?!

But it was also a lead up to response # 4 -the church split, that isn't happening! With 49 states virtually affirming the right to marry for all, the splits are mostly denominational, not individuals jumping ship. Even in the SA in cities like London the LGBT Sallies know well where there's a welcome, just as brass aficionados know which corps have the finest sections, and which program for seniors of THQ types.

More tomorrow, but I think we're marching in lock step on this one1 Blessings, Sven

ps I need blog articles - SA history stuff-

Anonymous said...

Daryl--we agree somewhat. I have no issue with state approving civil unions with all the legal rights afforded to it. I would suggest civil union should be mandatory for all and then those who are faith oriented have a religious rite in their place of worship. In other words churches stop doing the states function.

John Stephenson
Canada and Bermuda

Kjell Edlund said...

This writings from you Sven - Erik is of course related to American US circumstances. I'm aware of this.
However, I find it quite interesting to compare it to the conditions in Sweden.
As you know, the Church is quite divided between the old (quite liberal) Church of Sweden towards the Free Churches including the SA that are quite conservative, at least compared to Church of Sweden. .. And there are few questions that shows this diversity clearer than this of Marriage. ..

This current weekend, Day of Pentecost, has been an opportunity for gatherings around Sweden for an arrangement called the Jesus Manifestation.
The Churches, all together are welcomed to join in a big March of witness to Proclaim Jesus.
Even in my current hometown of Pitea, Sweden, there will be such a gathering to day.

How did this start, in the very beginning some 10 years ago or so?
Well.. It was in the context of contemporary parliamentary discussions about... How to define the concept of Marriage.
The leadership in the beginning assured all and one that this Proclamation was not about anything Against anything - It should only be For Jesus...

What was said from the pulpits and shown of all sorts of plaques. ... Family = Man+Woman +Child ...

Now, a decade or so later the Manifestation is cancelled in the capital of Stockholm (due to lack of supposed attandors)
This is just one thing that shows how views slowly are shifting even among the conservatives of the Churches of Sweden.
I don't know if this can be applied to the US conditions, but may be in some time.

Kjell - Erik Edlund
Former officer of the Salvation army

Anonymous said...

There IS no equal footing for gay marriage, no matter if the whole world sanctions it.

Man + Woman + Marriage - babies - born with characteristics of both the man and woman.
Man + Man + Marriage - no natural offspring.
Woman + Woman + Marriage - no natural offspring.

Man + Man, & Woman + Woman 'marriages' cannot conceive naturally to produce offspring. Any children born of these unions have to involve someone OUTSIDE the 'family' circle, and can only bear characteristics of ONE of the partners.

How can you call this equality?

Anonymous said...

Husband beats wife. Gives her swollen black eyes. Married for 32 years = the sanctity of marriage. No thanks.

Anonymous said...

Dear commenter # 5,

Man + Post menopausal woman= no babies

Fertile woman + sterile man= no babies

Fertile man + fertile woman (they use birth control and decide that they'd rather raise dogs or chickens instead of children)= no babies

And yet those combinations of people (and other childless couples for various reasons), are allowed to get married and become a recognized family unit. If they want a kid they will either find a surrogate or adopt and create a family that includes children that way, the same as gays would.

In fact, surrogacy is no longer that unusual as I personally know of two cases now where a married woman who couldn't conceive had her sister surrogate for her by having her husband's sperm implanted into her sister. So what's the big deal? And if you're worried about a dearth of babies, the world population has increased from a little over 1 billion in 1950 to over 7 billion today. There's plenty of people around,and will always BE plenty of people around, who got here the old-fashioned way. In a nutshell, your argument is all smoke and mirrors. Get a life and when it comes to what sorts of family configurations other people either have to, or want to be in, MYOB.

Daryl Lach
USA Central

Anonymous said...

...a married woman who couldn't conceive had her sister surrogate for her by having her husband's sperm implanted into her sister...... So what's the big deal? The big deal is that the child conceived was not anything to do with the 'mother' who is bringing it up. It is, and always will be, her husband's and her sister's biological offspring. And this is true for GLBT couples, too. I'm really not concerned about the figures for world population - it's the moral argument that, in my opinion, is being lost in this 'gimme' society. I've no idea what MYOB means - perhaps it's just as well.
And my 'argument' is that voting for 'equality' for gays is a misnomer - heterosexual partnerships are capable of natural procreation - GLBT partnerships are not. This will always be the case, no matter how many people vote for 'equality'.

Mary Ann Parks said...

To the Anonymous who posted re: reproduction: Do you have any idea how offensive your argument is? To be quite frank, it ultimately doesn't matter who the biological parents of a child's who raises that child who are Mom and Dad (or Mom and Mom, or Dad and Dad). NOT ALL hetero pairings are capable of natural procreation. And yet, they can (and should be allowed to) marry. So, that is an invalid argument with no standing.