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Gay In America: A Roundtable

Gay in America, now. We’re talking with gay Americans from across the country about changing attitudes and their lives.

C. Kelly Smith, of Providence, R.I., center, a member of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, hugs fellow member Wendy Becker, left, also of Providence, after a house committee vote on gay marriage at the Statehouse, in Providence, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. (AP)

C. Kelly Smith, of Providence, R.I., center, a member of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, hugs fellow member Wendy Becker, left, also of Providence, after a house committee vote on gay marriage at the Statehouse, in Providence, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. (AP)

Things have changed when it comes to being gay in America.  Not everywhere, not for everyone, not all the time.  But just look at the headlines.

Gay marriage, legal in nine states.  Gay men and women serving openly in the military.  Gay men and women sworn openly into Congress, with same-sex partners at their side.  The President of the United States citing Stonewall and gay rights in his inaugural address.  Even the Boy Scouts coming around.

This hour, On Point:  we talk with a roundtable of gay Americans about being gay in this country now.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Bryan Bryson, bio-engineering PhD student at MIT. 27 years old.

Denise Cawley, owner of the marketing firm Circore Creative in Milwaukee. She and her wife Ann were married in Massachusetts. Their marriage is not recognized in Wisconsin. They have a six-year-old son.

Caleb Crain, author, his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and The New York Times Magazine. His forthcoming book is “Necessary Errors.” He is married and lives with his husband in Brooklyn.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Washington Post “History’s being made this month. Last week, President Barack Obama became the first president to use the term “gay” in reference to sexual orientation in an inauguration speech.And on Monday the Boy Scouts of America — which successfully fought against allowing gays into its ranks all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 — said it may reverse its policy next week.”

Sam Francisco Chronicle “Latino and business groups applauded a sweeping immigration overhaul proposed Monday by eight Democratic and Republican senators, but its omission of binational same-sex couples alarmed activists who fear those couples could be used as a bargaining chip to woo GOP votes for legislation later this year.”

The New Yorker “I am forty-four years old, and I have lived through a startling transformation in the status of gay men and women in the United States. Around the time I was born, homosexual acts were illegal in every state but Illinois. Lesbians and gays were barred from serving in the federal government.”

Also, our guest Bryan Bryson says he watches this music video every other day for encouragement! It’s by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and shows what it’s like growing up as a gay man in modern America.

 

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  • Duras

    Are there going to be supreme court justices who will uphold the Defense of Marriage Act? 

    It seems no-brainer that two consenting adults should have the same rights as two other consenting adults.  In a democracy I don’t know how people can get around that.  

    • Gregg Smith

      It seems to me that a defense of marriage would be a defense of marriage not a redefining of it.

      • 1Brett1

        Are you saying that two people of the same sex who are married should not have the same rights as a heterosexual couple? Or are you saying that same-sex couples should not marry?

        • Gregg Smith

          I’m saying defending the institution of marriage and redefining it are two separate things. 

      • Ray in VT

        It’s seems to me that what many call “defending” marriage these days is merely an attempt to exclude a particular group of people.  If we’re going to defend traditional marriage, then we should probably defend all of the traditional definitions, such as polygamy, polygyny, and the ability of parents to marry off their young child to others in order to seal business or political deals.

        • Gregg Smith

          I disagree and fall back to my point. To consider opposition to same sex marriage as exclusionary one must first redefine marriage.

          I don’t consider polygamy, polygyny, and the ability of parents to marry off their young child to others in order to seal business or political deals to be traditional marriage. I suppose I should narrow my comment to traditional marriage in America.

          • J__o__h__n

            Who is seriously proposing changing the law to accommodate any of that?

          • Gregg Smith

            Ray wasn’t exactly proposing changing the law and his defuse of those things was most likely rhetorical.

          • Ray in VT

            Except for the fact that those practices have gone on traditionally in America, although largely not in the 20th century.  The history is more complex, and one should also consider that until 1967 “traditional” marriage in many states prohibited inter-racial marriage, and marriage laws generally did not specify that there had to be one man and one woman.  Some of that legal language  started to change once homosexual couples started to apply.

            I think that it is a sorry state when two people can get married in a drive through chapel in Vegas, but Jim Nabors and his partner of 38 years are perhaps now just being able to have their relationship recognized by the state.

          • Gregg Smith

            I know the analogy between interracial couples is often used but I don’t think its the same thing at all. However, I’ll concede your point that it was not traditional until the law changed. I don’t think the other issues have ever been traditional to America. I think the State should recognize Gomer. 

          • Ray in VT

            I know that the situation is not totally the same, but I think that it is useful.  You have two consenting adults who are seeking to enter into a legal contract, which is what marriage ultimately is as far as the state is concerned.

            As for your other point, it depends upon how you define traditional.  If you define it as broadly culturally or legally prohibited, then no, they aren’t.  If one wants to talk about traditional in the sense that such relationships and arrangements have existed, if at least on the sly, for decades and centuries, even if only on the fringes of society, then yes, they have existed traditionally.  There have often been laws against premarital sex or sodomy historically, but that does not mean that those practices have not been known to have widely existed.

      • Duras

        I don’t know if you know this, but language and the meaning of words change regardless.  Go read Samuel Johnson’s dictionary and today’s dictionary.  Second, language is made by people, and I define marriage as vow amongst individuals.  Other English speaking countries define it deferentially.

        This is about equality.  No one chooses sexuality.  And not giving two consenting adults the same rights and titles as two other consenting adults is discriminatory and it creates sub-classes of people who essentially share the same humanity. 

        • Gregg Smith

          Maybe I’m splitting hairs but I see a distinction between changing the institution of marriage and changing the definition of marriage. 

          • Duras

            Don’t you see how your definition is discriminory and raises the status of some individuals over others?

          • Gregg Smith

            It’s not my definition, it’s been around. 

          • Duras

            And it’s going to change because the love that homosexual couple feel is not less real than that of heterosexual couples.

          • Gregg Smith

            I don’t deny that the love is real.

          • Duras

            Than why are you delineating love? 

          • Gregg Smith

            I’m not.

          • Duras

            And do you know the definition of Marriage in the Old Testament?

          • Gregg Smith

            No, but my original reply to you was more of a comment on the name of the DoMA. The topic is “Gay in America”. 

          • Duras

            That’s like saying, “Hey, it’s not my bigotry, it’s just been around … and I don’t think we should change.”

          • Gregg Smith

            No it’s not. 

          • Duras

            But you won’t answer the question of delineating love? 

          • Duras

            And I like how you flat out avoided the question.  Do you not see how your definition gives different status based, not on love and conviction, but on attraction?

            Do you not see how you are protecting and defending a definition that creates sub-classes of people? 

          • Gregg Smith

            I run into this all the time, answering a question gives validity to it’s premise. I don’t agree with the premise. 

            If the question is, “does traditional marriage create a sub class of people” then my answer is no.

          • Duras

            You are saying that one couple’s love is more traditional and authentic than the other.

            That is discriminatory and I don’t understand why you are for this because I know you don’t care about the issue, but you insist upon toting the republican line even if it causes you to reinforce sub-classes.

          • Gregg Smith

            More traditional yes, more
            authentic  no.

      • J__o__h__n

        You frequently claim that the Republicans aren’t anti-gay and then you offer hair splitting like this to justify denying equal rights?  It is expanding a legal status to more people not changing the rights and responsibilities of that institution.

        • Gregg Smith

          I don’t think being opposed to gay marriage is anti-gay. It has nothing to do with equal rights. Those can be addressed without redefining marriage.

          • TELew

            Gregg,
            If you are so determined to “protect” traditional marriage, don’t you think your time would be better spent addressing the divorce problem, which dissolves 50% of marriages?  Instead, you want to prevent people from participating in marriage.

          • Gregg Smith

            I am not on a crusade to protect marriage. I have gay friends who have been together over a decade and straight friends who have been married 4 times. I voted against the amendment that would ban gay marriage here in NC because it also banned civil unions.

          • J__o__h__n

            Would the civil unions be exactly legally equal other than the name marriage?  If so, why the distinction?  If not, which rights are excluded?  Could heterosexuals get civil unions?  Wouldn’t that discourage them from getting married and weaken marriage?

          • Gregg Smith

            They would be the same under the law as far as I know but the distinction is marriage is also a matter of religion and the church.

          • J__o__h__n

            Usually they aren’t.  Candidates like Romney pick a few property rights and then claim it is the same thing. 

          • nj_v2

            As if it were needed, Greggg provides yet more reason to not care what he thinks. Today’s display of smarmy prevarication is fairly stunning.

          • Wahoo_wa

            I am not a fan of marriage in general.  It’s a failed institution.  Gay marriage is just odd to me.  (BTW I a happen to be gay myself).  Equal rights is the real issue.

            The conundrum is that marriage has a legal definition with rights and responsibilities.  As such one cannot address the issue solely an equal rights issue without addressing the legal term.  Separate but equal is not our current tradition and is clearly unconstitutional.

            BTW equal rights in regard to domestic partnership is not just a same-sex issue.  Heterosexual couples who choose not to marry should also have the same rights as those who are married in the traditional sense. 

          • Gregg Smith

            I agree completely. I often refer to my girlfriend as my wife because it’s just easier after 26 years in a loving monogamous relationship. I like the word “partner” because it’s accurate but it implies gay and we are not gay. Now that we are aging a bit we are thinking of getting married because of the issues you raise. I just think civil unions or some other new subset is required. It may be between people in my boat or gays or even elderly sisters. There is a need.

          • Wahoo_wa

            I think the solution is to make all “marriages” legally titled “unions”.  Let religious organizations have the word “marriage.”  It may sound too much like semantics but words matter.  As part of the “gay community” I believe our quest for equal rights has been significantly hindered by those with a slavish dedication to the word “marriage.”

          • Gregg Smith

            That makes sense. 

          • J__o__h__n

            Secular marriage has been around longer than the churches.  Let them change what they call it. 

          • Wahoo_wa

            That would be great but let’s not be slavish to history and lose sight of the true prize.  The word “marriage” has so much semantic noise in our culture that it’s not worth fighting for.  Gay “leaders” have lost sight of what should be the real goal.

      • 1Brett1

        It seems that either this is just devil’s advocacy for the sake of it (debate for the sake of debate without regard to the issue itself), or a defense of conservatism categorically on social issues using hair splitting and evasion to make arguments. 

        If it is the former, that is intellectual dishonesty, in my opinion. If it is the latter, especially when one looks at the sum of your social views, e.g., African-Americanism, homosexuality, the disabled, government social programs, etc., categorically you fall on the side of neoconservatism…I mean like EVERY time. You seem to disguise it as libertarianism or just “honest debate,” but no one can just coincidentally fall in lockstep with an ideology without having adopted the ideology.

        I know, you’ll say, “it’s not about me,” or “why do you make it personal,” etc. Both of these are evasive. You are here to offer your opinion, and I disagree with it, both in sentiment and in the process/epistemology of it. I don’t at all believe the “debate” angle, as that would just be contrarianism  for the sake of it, yet you reserve it mostly primarily to arguing against liberalism. (Oh, and it’s not enough to sporadically make a defense of “I criticize conservatives too sometimes” because you rarely do that, and it is in general after you are accused of partisan views; this, by making general statements (like I mention above) rather than specific criticisms of conservatism.

        • Gregg Smith

          Or maybe I just meant what I said. 

          • 1Brett1

            Okay, we’ll go with that: you are against gay marriage (and presumably all that this means).

          • Gregg Smith

            Thank you.

        • Gregg Smith

          BTW, not that it matters but I criticize Republicans all the time. I called them weenies just the other day. I said they were wrong about the word amnesty. I’ve criticized Rush, Bush and Fox. Lock-step?! You’re nuts. But you on the other hand…

          I honestly cannot figure out why you write my script so obsessively.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      “Defense of Marriage”, what a cleverly engineered phrase. In three little words the narrow-minded manage to convey that their definition of Marriage is under attack. What the backers of this tripe don’t openly acknowledge (either to themselves or to society) is that they are screaming that their “Rights” are under assault, to hell with the “Rights” of others.

      • Ray in VT

        There was some talk similar to that during and after the Civil Rights Movement, wherein those opposed to broadened civil rights argued that by giving rights to African Americans you took rights away from white people.  Some of the arguments sound pretty similar.

    • dawoada

      I am willing to accept gays but I object to gay marriage on two points.  First, marriage is intended to be a legal contract to allow a couple to have children.  A gay couple can not themselves have their OWN children.  Perhaps there needs to be special rules for gay couples who adopt.Second, why are gay couples getting marriage benefits when any other two people can not get them; say a mother and daughter or son, or even two friends?  Are we rewarding gay couples because of their sexual practices?In fact, why can’t any two people sign a contract agreeing to certain benefits that are only between the two people such as hospital visits, inheritances, medical decisions, etc.  However, benefits that have an effect on the general population such as joint tax returns, spousal Social Security, etc should not be available to gay couples but not to any other two people.  These types of benefits result in higher costs for the general population.

      • 1Brett1

        Copying and pasting other comments and  reinserting them in other places I see? 

  • mmasse

    Dear Tom,
    We have come so far in this country, and yet there is still work to be done. 
    Good news first:
    1. I would like to recognize that there are (finally) several main stream denominational churches that are fully inclusive to people who are GLBTG. And that is testimony to the unconditional love taught to us by Jesus. Amen to that!
    However,
    2. We need to continue to be diligent in our own biases and lack of sensitivities. To that end, I need to point out that last Sunday on a talk show aired on WBUR, the “joke” was about a British guy’s right to insult a horse employed by the government. The insult was calling the horse “gay”. I have taught my children from day one that “Gay” is not a derogatory remark. How sad I was to hear this on NPR. Had to turn off my radio. Really!

    • Bluejay2fly

      Turn Off your radio? You demand other people bend their points of view to accept yours and yet when some tolerance is needed by you it’s zero. Language is slow to change and yes sometimes expressions like calling something stupid “gay” or weak and inferior “girly” becomes mainstream. However, thinking you can eradicate it overnight and then demand non conformers to be burned at the stake is unbelievably hypocritical! I agree that all derogatory expressions should be expunged from our language but it takes time, patience, tolerance (sound familiar). Feminists, homosexuals, minorities, obese people some of these put upon people  have become mean spirited PC thugs that cannot wait to pounce on someone who dares to use insensitive language, many times when it is unintentional. Ironically, those thugs are just as intolerant, militant, childish, and petty as the ignorant people who they had to fight against for acceptance. Your hyperbolic response really makes me believe that the far left is no better than the far right. I assumed that many of the well educated liberal types would understand the dynamics of language better, wrong. Thank you for removing intolerance from the world but damn you for replacing it with your own.

      • mmasse

        Your reply is angry.

        I was praising our progress, and pointing out that “gay” as a derogatory term on NPR ws disappointing.

        Please do not confuse my comments to imply an affront to our freedom of speech. However, NPR is a National Public Radio. Had they used, “girly”, “white”, or “black” in the same context, I would be equally disappointed.

        • J__o__h__n

          The man in the news story called the horse gay.  NPR didn’t use the word as insult. 

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Was that WWDTM? On there, what I heard was humor at the expense of the bobbie’s overreaction to the citizen calling the horse gay.

            (And, spoiler alert: The guy was drunk when he called the police horse gay.)

          • DrewInGeorgia

            I love Wait Wait.
            A drunk making derogatory remarks? Say it ain’t so.

          • J__o__h__n

            Drunk is a derogatory term.  Person with inebriation.

          • DrewInGeorgia

             lol

            Please forgive my callous label O’ Persons of Inebriation, sobriety must have hardened my heart.

          • Gregg Smith

            I’m more of a Whad’ya know Guy.

          • J__o__h__n

            yes

          • Gregg Smith

            I love happy horses.

        • 1Brett1

          The story itself was about a law in England prohibiting people from insulting service animals (in this case a policeman’s horse). The quote you mention is what the man who was arrested said about the policeman’s horse (the policeman then arrested him). The man’s lawyer argued that the law had been overturned and now people can say what they want to about a policeman’s horse.

        • Bluejay2fly

          It was a bit harsh, sorry. Being a white male and being in the Navy during tail hook and in college in NY probably has given me PC PTSD. PS I explained to my children that people may say or think insensitive things and are by our free society entitled to do so. However, if you tolerate their behaviors, befriend them, learn why the feel that way, you may have a better chance of gradually evolving their attitudes. My favorite story in Catholicism is about an Italian saint who asked a rich man for money for his orphans. Time and time the rich man cursed him out and yet the priest was emphatic. One time while  eating the priest approached the rich man. The man spat in the priests face and everyone in the pub erupted in laughter at his humiliation. The priest wiped his face and said “That was for me. Now could you please give some money for my starving children” The rich man eventually became a huge benefactor of that orphanage.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Where does Freedom Of Speech come into play? I am not defending derogatory or derisive terms, they probably bother me even more than they do you. Yet, I guarantee you that you’ll never hear me screaming for others to stop using language and terms I find unacceptable.

      Ceasing to be offended would take us a lot further than legally banning terms we find disagreeable.

      • mmasse

        See my reply below, except the first line.

    • J__o__h__n

      Horse is a demeaning term.  They prefer to be called equine-britons. 

  • RolloMartins

    There is still so much work left to do. The fundamentalists/evangelical crowd is bringing the ship (the church) down with them in a sea of hate and prejudice.

  • Shag_Wevera

    I don’t believe homosexuality has a genetic element, I believe it is learned behavior.  I believe it is at least a little contrary to nature.  I’m occasionally a little uncomfortable about homosexuality.  The church I attend certainly does not approve.

    BUT!!!

    Nothing I said in the beginning of this post justifies limiting the rights of those who live this life.  My hang-ups or prejudices should not interfere in their ability to pursue liberty and happiness.  The appropriate response is for me to get over my issues quietly on my own. 

    • Gregg Smith

      Very interesting comment. I have to disagree about the genetic element but I also believe it can be a learned behavior. I don’t see them as mutually exclusive. 

    • DrewInGeorgia

      I completely agree with everything that follows “BUT!!!”.
      No Comment on your initial statements, that’s your business.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Regardless of personal views on homosexuality we should all be glad to see that we are at least trying to appear more tolerant as a Nation.

    My questions and concerns revolve around the economic motivations behind the current push for “acceptance”. Much of the back and forth over legitimization of gay marriage seems to come down to what most people phrase as “Rights” of hetero vs homosexual married couples relevant to income and taxation. I think the term Benefits or Incentives would be more appropriate than “Rights”.

    In the U.S. we have historically encouraged couples to marry and procreate through taxation breaks, subsidies, and various incentives. This was to encourage formation of a “traditional” family unit which, at face value, supposedly makes for a more stable society. The seldom spoken reality is that even more than societal stability, The Marriage and Offspring Bonuses are meant to encourage production of more fuel for the machine. Don’t we have a Global Over-Population problem these days?

    ALL individuals should have the same “Rights” (incentives, benefits, subsidies), none should receive preferential treatment. I believe that’s called Equality. Why should an individual who decides to remain single (or a homosexual couple for that matter) be penalized because they don’t conform to a particular cultural or religious interpretation of “unity”? They shouldn’t. It’s time to make ALL persons equal under law and that means the subsidization of over-population needs to cease. Now.

    And one last thought: When Bob and Mary Joe get breaks and bonuses for cranking out 2.2 kids and living beyond their means, the individual who doesn’t is ultimately penalized. Who has the highest effective Tax Rates? Highest Insurance Rates? Highest Living expenses proportionate to the Number of People in their Party? It’s certainly not the couple getting a five-thousand dollar bonus check come Tax Time.

    Apologies for the length of this comment, I tried to pare it down as best I could.

    • nj_v2

      Interesting thoughts. But how does adoption fit in?

      • DrewInGeorgia

        I wish that more people would view adoption as a viable alternative, I understand the desire for biological offspring though. The knee-jerk reaction is to say discourage financial incentives for biological reproduction and increase incentives for adoptive parents but that puts us back in the subsidization boat. I’m not sure what the answer is, however I am certain that increased adoption rates would benefit everyone.

        Thoughts?

        • nj_v2

          No doubt. I brought up adoption because, if we take you point, one might be able to find some aspect of motivation in those seeking to “preserve the sanctity of marriage” that stems from “feeding the machine” (creating future workers), and preserving the status quo. But then i thought, “Well, any family, included non-traditional, could adopt.” So i’m not sure about your theory, interesting as it is.

        • Gregg Smith

          I agree the increased adoption rates would be good. I also know some pretty crappy heterosexual parents. I don’t know any gays with kids but I know some who I believe would be great parents. But I think we should be very careful about making adoption to gays (or single people) mainstream.

  • nj_v2

    “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing after they’ve exhausted all other options.” (Churchill)

    Too bad it’s taking so long, but it’s great that we are collectively—finally—overcoming the dark forces of bigotry and regression on this issue of sexual preference. 

    As with women’s and civil rights, the passing of legislation does not immediately vaporize bigotry and prejudice either in individuals or institutions, but it’s a necessary step in the process of the evolution of collective thought.

    Hopefully, some of the energy that has been tied in in these fights of identity politics (as important as these are) can be made available for the next big battle; wrestling control of the political system away from corporations.

    • DeJay79

        I have always loved that quote by Churchill. It was true then and it is still true today.

  • http://www.facebook.com/irvwestyouthadvocate Irv West

    I have worked with troubled youth for forty years. The day that we are able to shed our intolerance of those who differ with us, and learn to listen — non-judgmentally — to our youth, will be the day teen suicide rates drop, school performance rises, and our youth grow up with the self esteem to build meaningful lives. I fear it will not happen in my lifetime.

  • Duras

    Shylock: “To bait fish withal.  If if will feed nothing else it will feed my revenge.  He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies, and what’s his reason? -I am a Jew.  Hath not a Jew eyes?  Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us do we not bleed?”

    Sorry for the drama, but some people think that other people should share different definitions of unions while love and conviction are the same.

    • Gregg Smith

      Love and conviction are indeed the same but the union between a those of the same sex are not the same as the union between a man and a woman. We are different and it’s beautiful. 

      • Duras

        Yeah, because “marriage” and “civil union” doesn’t delineate love and conviction on a hierarchy … because “traditional” doesn’t connote “authentic”….  

        • Ray in VT

          We can keep those two things separate but still equal, though, right?

      • 1Brett1

        So, if in one state a civil union is recognized as having all of the rights of marriage and in another it is not recognized? That’s okay? A gay couple is on vacation (in another state than their home state), one is gravely injured and is in the ICU of a hospital, his partner comes to visit and the staff say, “no, you are not immediate family!” (Because that state does not recognize their civil union.) That is okay? Decisions have to be made regarding the patient’s care…”no, you have no legal right to participate; we don’t recognize your relationship.” That’s okay? I could give you myriad other scenarios…and those types of situations is what this is all about. It’s not some hair splitting, freshman, debate team argument.

      • Duras

         Juliet: “Tis by thy name that is my enemy;–thou art thyself though, not a Montague.  What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man.  O, be some other name! What’s in a name that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d.”

        How we name things matter, not to love, but to external circumstances.  The word you chose is dividing a humanity that we share in order to give more validity to one form than the other.  If you want to be precise than say, “gay marriage.”  It is less syllables than “civil union” and thus a more economic usage of words, and it is more clarifying without creating insult.  

        • 1Brett1

          I’ve found your use of Shakespeare, this morning (and how language matters), to be quite effective.

          • Duras

            Thanks.  I appreciate that. 

        • Gregg Smith

          Are you gay? Because I think you are creating an insult where it doesn’t exist and  defending the alleged offended when they can defend themselves. I’m all for loving committed relationships but a marriage between a man and woman is not the same thing as a marriage between two of the same sex. Changing the language does not make it so. Isn’t that Juliet’s point? 

          I don’t share Brett’s (below) view.

          • Duras

            You are only defending the “civil union” language because it fits the narrative of right wing ideology and the vision it has of “nuclear family” and whatever else is included in the portrait of “real America.”   The words “civil union” is more arbitrary and politically wrought than “gay marriage.”   If anything, this is a battle over political language in discourse: whose narrative can overwhelm the other. 

            I am not gay.  And your question only shows that you don’t have the ability to empathize on the level that I do: that your humanity has been pushed down by a bigger and overarching political ideology that trumps equality.  At the heart of that ideology is egotism over equality, identity over humanity, or more commonly stated profit over people.

          • Gregg Smith

            No, I am defending civil unions because I am not married, have been in a committed relationship for 26 years and getting older. 

      • TELew

         When I am in the arms of another man, it feels like I am “home.”  Now that’s beautiful!

        • Gregg Smith

          That too.

      • jefe68

        Well that sums you up. Kind of prejudice of others now are we.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Kwame Harris, a one-time NFLer for SF and Oakland, was arrested on a domestic dispute with an ex-boyfriend. (See here, among other places.)

    (I’m not making any judgment about having a domestic, but it appears to be what it is.)

    As an East Coaster myself, I don’t remember him as a player. But when talking about the barriers to acceptance, one tangent always comes to “active American team professional” as the nth barrier. Is this the closest we’ve come to it, a fellow who’s four years out of the league?

    • Ray in VT

      There was also John Amichi, who played center for the Magic, who came out after he left the game, and there was a former lineman for the Vikings who came out after he retired.  There have been a few active players who have been very publicly supported of gay rights during this past year, and I was a bit surprised to see them do that.

  • Wahoo_wa

    When discussing Obama could you also reference Obama’s long record of opposition to gay marriage?  He was clearly pandering to the gay community to garner votes in the last election.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      It’s only pandering if it ends after election day.

      • Wahoo_wa

        It’s pandering if there is no action but empty campaign promises.  It doesn’t matter if those empty words are spoken before or after a campaign.  I call it being Obamaed.

        • TELew

           And so how long is Obama into his second term?

        • Duras

          Don’t you have it the other way around…?  He did push equal right legislation while saying he doesn’t believe in gay marriage, which he obviously did all along.  Lets not kid ourselves.  But he is a cautious politician, and if you are to fault him, it is because he has no spine and won’t come out with what he believes until public polling is above 60% or Joe Biden speaks on Meet the Press. 

          • Wahoo_wa

            I don’t think, in any way, shape or form that Obama believed “all along” in gay marriage.  I would rather have a leader that believes in something and stands up for his belief even if he espouses beliefs that are not the same as my own.  At least I would know where I stand.  I cannot trust ANYTHING Obama says.

          • nj_v2

            He “evolved,” doncha know.

          • Wahoo_wa

             LOL….maybe he’ll evolve into a leader with integrity in his second term.  I doubt it though.

          • pk boston

            And if standing up and shoving dramatic change onto a society creates political logjams, and the leader is not re-elected, nothing is accomplished and progress may even be lost.  Sign up for a small political office.  Try to implement a single significant change.  Without a long-term strategy, you’re out of a job before you begin.  Now try to make many significant changes.  It’s grueling, stressful and demoralizing.

          • Duras

            “I don’t think, in any way, shape or form that Obama believed “all along in gay marriage.”  …Really…?

            Do I have to bring up footage of Obama talking about gay marriage before he decided to run for president?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Sexual orientation, just like so many other things, should be irrelevant. Period.

    • nj_v2

      To increasing numbers of younger folks, it is. It’s one of the things the “younger generation” gets right.

      • Ray in VT

         http://www.gallup.com/poll/147662/First-Time-Majority-Americans-Favor-Legal-Gay-Marriage.aspx

        The number for under 35 in 2011 was 70%.

    • http://www.facebook.com/drpmeade Paul S Meade

       Exactly. We seem to be making some strides forward, at least on an individual basis. The politicians, liberals and progressives such as Obama included, tend to bend with the wind of opinion. However nothing will change the minds of some.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

       Yes – I agree; it is just as Kevin said.

      Neil

    • TELew

       Yes, that would be the ideal.  But so long as dejure inequality is based on sexual orientation, it isn’t irrelevant, and it can’t be ignored.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Sicuranza/55801201 Christopher Sicuranza

    Last year, I started a LGBT small company/initiative called Go Out Loud – facebook.com/gooutloud – an events platform where we created fun opportunities for others to connect. Even though we are based in a very progressive state like Massachusetts, I’m struck by how many people are attracted to our idea of modern equality – the notion that people should not be denied any equality, but they should not be afforded any special privileges for their background. We want to reward people for what they are bringing to the table, not what they define themselves as.

    Going forward, we are trying to shed gay cliches and embrace our straight allies to be a social platform of progress. A Go Out Loud hallmark is that anything we attach ourselves to is neither overtly ‘gay’ or ‘straight,’ which is why I think we’ve found success. We think beyond traditional labels and have created a safe space. I very much doubt this could have even been considered a decade ago.
    Very thankful for On Point’s topic today! Thanks!

  • Kathy

    We are listening to something very rare in the media: an examination of gay issues to which nobody has been invited from a group who’s sole purpose is to deny any and all rights to gay people.

    In a few months when the Court hears the equal marriage challenges to DOMA I wonder if the same will be true or we will have the same set of liars and hatemongers trotted out despite their record and the fact that none of their predictions of doom have happened after the hate crimes law was passed, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed etc.

  • http://www.skeeterbitesreport.com SkeeterVT

    The biggest driver of changing public opinion on gay people in America today is generational change. Younger people — who grew up KNOWING people who are gay or lesbian, particularly LGBTs of their own generation — are far more accepting and supporting of LGBT Americans than older generations. 

    Add to the mix the fact that younger people are far less religious than their parents and grandparents — and even those younger people who are religious are less accepting of the old dogmas of the religious institutions they grew up with.

  • Wahoo_wa

    I think it’s also important to note that some aspects of gay culture are disappearing or losing meaning as we become more integrated into mainstream society.  Going to “tea” has a completely different meaning.  Gay pride parades have lost a good part of their focus on “queer” agenda.  Gay ghettos are disappearing.  Being the outsider has its benefits.  It helps bring a group of people together.  I find the “gay community” falling apart to some extent.

    • Gregg Smith

      The gay pride parades strike me as near pornography in public. I don’t think it helps the cause. However, I’ve played music at a few private gay events and had the time of my life. The wardrobe was outstanding!

      I did one last year with a gay friend who I perform with often and I was the only male in the place. They were a little older and my friend referred to them as “hazbiens”.  It was funny, they got a kick.

      • Wahoo_wa

        I’ve lived in Boston, San Francisco, DC and Montreal.  Boston’s pride parade is just sad in comparison to the other cities…LOL

      • 1Brett1

        Yes, gays love you; people with disabilities love you; African-Americans love you, etc., but your views on restricting their rights/not protecting their rights because “they don’t need special treatment” are separate from that and should be left simply to the kindness and good will of others and not laws. I suppose we should see your point about being against gay marriage because you have gay friends?

        • Gregg Smith

          Nobody loves me but my momma and she might be jivin’ too.

          My comment was about their joyous parties and awesome clothes.

          • 1Brett1

            Ah, so it is completely off topic to this discussion, then, is what you’re saying? 

          • Gregg Smith

            I don’t understand the question but if you want to know what I’m saying then read it. I’m clear.

          • 1Brett1

            Ah, so coincidental to this topic you decided to remark how you’ve enjoyed gay parties and clothing…okay. 

          • Gregg Smith

            I was replying to Wahoo’s most excellent observation. It’s not complicated.

          • jefe68

            One wonders why…

      • nj_v2

        “Some of my best friends area gay!”

        • Gregg Smith

          Well good for you.

      • 1Brett1

        “The gay pride parades strike me as near pornography in public.” 

        -Or at least the way Fox pulls out its stock footage of a parade from the Castro District a few years ago whenever they want to bash gay issues it does.

      • jefe68

        I guess you have the same overview of Carnival in Brazil. 

        It’s a parade, get over it.

  • DeJay79

    a story on Yahoo today.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/girl-comes-parents-help-cake-225145896.html

    I think that the day when this personal realization being shared with one’s family can always be a celebration, will be a great day.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1583431299 Jennifer L Baum

    sooner or later being LGBTQ in USA will be the same as being Jewish. you can’t tell by looking at someone (really! you can’t!) but it doesn’t mean that one will be completely out all the time every where. i still run into pretty deep seated antisemitism in many places. and my LGBTQ friends will always run into sexual-phobia. 

    that being said, just hearing Selma, Seneca and Stonewall in the same sentence and as equal makes me weep with joy. living in Iowa we all get every response possible almost daily. keeps one level and working on change.

  • Ray in VT

    I don’t remember knowing anyone who was out in high school, although, based upon the law of averages, there must have been a few gay students in my school.

    Even Civil Unions were a big deal here in Vermont back in 2000.  There was a lot of hate being thrown around in those days, and it got pretty ugly.  But the sky didn’t fall as was predicted, and the world went on.  I remember asking my dad, who was about 70 at the time, what he thought about gay marriage, and his response was who cares.  He said that it wasn’t any of his business.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Your father sounds like he had his head on straight. It’s rare to come across people over 60 who aren’t gay that hold to “Live and Let Live”, at least that’s been my experience.

      • Ray in VT

        He was a pretty sensible guy, but I think that his view is somewhat typical of the old Vermonter mindset.  What you do in your house is your business.  They might talk about it, and they might even disapprove of it, but they’re not likely to come out and get in your fact about it.  Here’s a bit of other wisdom that he gave me:

        “Don’t tell people everything that you know.  If you do, then they know everything that they know plus everything that you know.”

        “Keep your nose out of other people’s business.  You’ve probably got more than enough of your own problems at home without worrying about those of others.”

        “I may not be in the front row at church every Sunday, but I’m not a hypocrit the rest of the week.”

        • DrewInGeorgia

          My kind of guy.

  • MarcusXH

    I don’t understand the argument against gay people.

    Is it illegal to be gay or something? I know that marriage isn’t allowed in a lot of states, but what is the basis for keeping gay folks down?
     

    • jefe68

      Prejudice.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

       Homosexual people do not have equal rights – yet.

      Neil

    • DrewInGeorgia

       Fear.

      • Ray in VT

        I hear so many guys around my brother’s farm talk about how if there are gay men around them, then the gay men won’t be able to keep their hands off of them.  They seem convinced that every gay man is all over every dude he comes across.  It’s pretty ridiculous, but the view is pretty widespread in the area, and few of these guys atually know anyone who is homosexual.

        • Wahoo_wa

          Farmers can be pretty hot….just sayin’

          • Ray in VT

            Not a lot of the ones that I see, but maybe I’ve just got a fugly batch.

          • Wahoo_wa

            LOL

        • Gregg Smith

          We had a commenter (TerryTreeTree) a while back who said that he had made sure to tell gay people he met that he was straight to avoid unwanted advances. I agree with you, it’s stereotyping and silly as hell. 

          • J__o__h__n

            He couldn’t even risk posting without mentioning that. 

          • Gregg Smith

            He must have been quite a hunk.

          • Ray in VT

            I’ve never had a gay man makes a pass at me.  Maybe I’m just not the type for the guys that I’ve met.  My gay friends and co-workers have always told me that they have always been very cautious not to make advances on straight men, because it had been their experience that straight guys didn’t like to get hit on by gay men.  In college I was told that one of the dance majors fancied me, and it was a bit flattering.  He was very popular with the guys who were so inclined.

          • Gregg Smith

            It must have been 20 years ago but I was playing at Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville N.C. and I actually got a proposition from a soldier in the form of a note. I used to sing “Tossin’ and Turnin” and during the break I’d jump onto the dance floor and walk on my hands. The soldier could also walk on his hands and he joined me. The crowd loved it. We talked and during our last set he passed me the note. I think I still have it. I was flattered but amused even more. Those were the days. We played there many times but lost the  gig when they saw bellows of pot smoke coming out of our camper.

            No point really, it’s just a memory that popped into my head.

        • Ken40

          I am always very amused by straight men who assume I “want” them just cause I am gay.  I merely respond with: “Don’t you realize I can do MUCH better than you?”

          • Ray in VT

            Exactly.  What makes them think that they’re such catches?  And some of the guys that I’m talking about are missing teeth and always have a chew in their mouths.  It’s pretty gross.

    • TELew

       Actually, in a sense it did use to be illegal to be gay, in as much as all of the states outlawed consensual sexual relations between same sex persons, sometimes with very severe penalties.  In the 1950s (and later) being homosexual was grounds for dismissal from government jobs, and before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, homosexuals were dishonorably discharged from the military.  We’ve come a long way, but discussions such as this board show that we still have a long way to go before the humanity of gay people is fully recognized.  Yes, the legal recognition of same sex marriages is a major part of that process.

  • CoSoCar58

    I live in Columbia, South Carolina.  Don’t laugh.  It’s a socially progressive, insular city in a sea of far right-wing nuts.  I knew when I moved here from Washington, DC in 1983 that this was a cool city for gay people.  I wouldn’t bother moving to a state that sanctions gay marriage as long as my country doesn’t do the same.  No matter the state of residence, gay people’s lives can be comfortable if they pick the right city to live in.  Columbia’s nondiscrimination policies include sexual orientation in employment and housing.  The city has the southeast’s first GLBT Community Center.  The city hangs Gay PRIDE banners from its light posts in the city center every year and uses its police force to facilitate the annual Gay PRIDE parade down Main Street.  Of course, there are detractors who hold up anti-gay banners during the festivities, but where is that not the case?  People who throw their religious beliefs against homosexuality into the conversation have no better religious beliefs than I do.  It’s lawmakers who cater to these people that are the problem.  I can say there has never been a time in Columbia when I felt afraid to either tell someone I’m gay or to say something that allowed them to figure it out for themselves.  Y’all come.       

    • Coastghost

      “Religious beliefs against homosexuality” have no merit, are you saying, or have NO MORE MERIT than your assertion of social and political recognition of homosexualism? or are you only remarking that your beliefs are at least as sincere, and that sincerity is the hallmark of dogmatic truth? (Id est: what model of theological anthropology do you claim to abide by?) Granted, we find few fervid advocates of chastity these days, secular or religious (or heterosexual), but neither do we hear loud (any?) homosexual advocacy of chastity. Chastity remains a religious virtue because of the very real struggles attending its difficult practice, and it retains its status apart from both heterosexuals and homosexuals, regardless of the popularity of its practice or its avoidance.

      • CoSoCar58

        Huh?  Gotta run.

      • J__o__h__n

        Virtue is its own punishment. 

    • Ken40

      I absoltely agree with the need for national/federal equality. I also agree that this is not just a state legal issue but also a social issue.  However I would be very wary of feeling comfort merely in an enclave of acceptance.  It may seem comfortable but it allows the idea that you have to live in a limited location and locals are doing you a favor for tolerating you.  This comfort also provides you with exactly ZERO legal recognition nor security.  It allows those around you to decide if they feel like respecting you or discriminating against you without repercussion.  I am not willing to merely hope for a “comfortable” life.  Legal equality matters.

      • CoSoCar58

        I couldn’t agree more.  And the “love the sinner hate the sin” movement won’t cut it.

  • Scott Jones

    I am an out gay man in Omaha, Nebraska and I have a very different experience from the caller from Omaha.  My husband and I moved here in 2010 when I became the pastor of the First Congregational Church.  We have found it to be a wonderfully welcoming place.  We live generally without fear, clearly as a couple in public — out to dinner, holding hands, kissing hello and goodbye, etc.  Many of the cities leading businesses and institutions are welcoming and have prominent LGBT employees and leaders.  The Mayor is welcoming and a good friend.  The City Council passed a non-discrimination ordinance.  There is a broad coalition working on LGBT issues, with many of the key leaders being straight.

    I wonder if my experience differs from Allan’s (the caller) because of different parts of the local society that we inhabit?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/H6Z76RQ4HBBZR6KOXCVWXMOVBQ Robert

    I am gay live in Virginia. I had to go out of state to get legally married. Yes things have changed – mostly attitudes. However, there is a real problem with politics and laws. The difficulty comes with legal rights. If we have a family we will not be treated equally, if we apply for federal benefits or even state benefits we will not be treated equally. Strangely the straight community seems to think we share the same rights they do. We don’t!

  • msclex

    my brother was gay, he was a dentist and could never come out because the community he lived in probably wouldn’t have gone to a gay dentist.  he died in 2006. he had colon cancer, but the real cause of his death, i believe was that he could never tell anyone he was gay.  he was obese and an alcoholic.  he did at the age of 48.  i hope every day that he death was not in vain and that gay and lesbians will be able to be open and accepted.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Recommended and relevant reading for all:
    Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country
    by Peter McWilliams

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ain%27t_Nobody%27s_Business_If_You_Do

  • Scott B

    More people need to stop calling it the “gay lifestyle”, like they choose to live a certain way that’s “gay”, or that it’s a choice. No one looks at straights and says they’re  living the “straight lifetstyle”.  It is slowly happening, as people are realizing that for the vast majority of gays it’s not a choice, not a disease to be caught, and not a moral failing.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    It will never get completely better – there are still many who can’t tolerate mixed race couples, mixed religion, etc. The difference is that the law no longer recognizes it that way.

    • http://www.facebook.com/drpmeade Paul S Meade

       Fear of the other is a learned human reaction, but one of the hardest to confront, let alone eliminate. And, yes, the other includes people who differ with your opinion.

      How many of us would like to segregate those who disagree with our opinion, no matter how liberal or progressive those opinions may be? Come on now be honest!

  • sea1851

    Some five years ago I was invited by a friend to attend a midnight service in a Catholic church up in Keene,New Hampshire. Near the end of the service, the priest suggesated to the audience that we should all turn to our neighbors, shake hands and wish each other the best for the coming year, and so we all did. Three or four rows in front of me two fellows were by themselves with no others nearby to shake hands with, and in plain view of all communicants, put their arms around each other and gave each other a heartfelt and resounding smack on the lips!  I afterwards told my firend, who had been with the choir up in the loft, and he said “Good for them!”  The incident went unremarked by anyone as far as I could tell, and the two went their way unmolested.
       The high officials of all the churches (or most) will continue their opposition no doubt , andwill pro forma  issue their bulls and pronunciamentos.  But the day will eventually dawn when no fuss is any longer made of the fact that there are people whose affectional instincts are different from those of the majority.

    • Gregg Smith

      Great story! I really don’t think most people care about it nearly as much as some people want others to believe certain people do.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    I agree with Bryan Bryson that Assimilation is a poor choice of terminology. Assimilation eludes to inclusion of something generally unacceptable. If the word is going to be applied to emergence of Equal Rights (for ANY segment of the population), it should be applied to those who have been intolerant in the past.
    That’s right Homophobes, you’re being Assimilated.
    Resistance is Futile.

  • dawoada

    I am willing to accept gays but I object to gay marriage on two points.  First, marriage is intended to be a legal contract to allow a couple to have children.  A gay couple can not themselves have their OWN children.  Perhaps there needs to be special rules for gay couples who adopt.

    Second, why are gay couples getting marriage benefits when any other two people can not get them; say a mother and daughter or son, or even two friends?  Are we rewarding gay couples because of their sexual practices?

    In fact, why can’t any two people sign a contract agreeing to certain benefits that are only between the two people such as hospital visits, inheritances, medical decisions, etc.  However, benefits that have an effect on the general population such as joint tax returns, spousal Social Security, etc should not be available to gay couples but not to any other two people.  These types of benefits result in higher costs for the general population.

    • 1Brett1

      Wow! …I kept expecting at some point in your comment to hear the questions, “if gay people can marry, why can’t a man marry his dog or a woman her cat?” Or, “why is it that gay people can file joint returns and someone else can’t just decide to file a tax return with an unrelated neighbor down the street if they want to?” 

      • dawoada

        I didn’t say that but what about what I did say.

        • 1Brett1

          Okay.

          “First, marriage is intended to be a legal contract to allow a couple to have children.” 

          There are many purposes for marriage. There are many people who get married for reasons other than to have children, including many economic benefits, as well as rights in decision making partnerships. There are also many who don’t wed and have children. Your statement is false; if it were true, having children out of wedlock would be illegal. 

          “Are we rewarding gay couples because of their sexual practices?”

          This sounds as though you view same-sex relationships as only serving some sexual bodily function.

          “…benefits [for gays] result in higher costs for the general population.”

          That is absurd and completely unsubstantiated.

          My original reply was done so because your entire comment is absurd.

          • dawoada

            If taxes are lowered for gay couples, they must be raised for everyone else to obtain the same total.  That is not absurd, but a fact.  The same goes for insurance or Social Security.

          • 1Brett1

            Based on your argument, if they were straight and got married their taxes would go down. as well, as would the rest of what you mention. So, it’s not the marriage part that seems to be bothering you, it’s the gay part.

          • jefe68

            People filing joint returns as a married couple get the same tax breaks. If gay marriage was legal on the federal level it would be the same thing.

            You do realize that interracial marriages use to be illegal as well?

          • Gregg Smith

            Interracial marriage between two men still is in my state

          • 1Brett1

            uh-oh, now the interracial gay jokes start with you again. Is there no end to your insensitivity?

          • Gregg Smith

            It wasn’t a joke. It’s true.

        • Gregg Smith

          Welcome to the club.

          • 1Brett1

            Yes, you two seem well suited to the same club.

          • Gregg Smith

            Thanks for your invite. You define who is in it.

          • 1Brett1

            You were doing the inviting (“welcome to the club”) not I…it seems a club of ignorance.

          • Gregg Smith

            You invited him/her, I welcomed him/her but whatever. I just think your penchant is interesting.

        • 1Brett1

          I didn’t say you said those things, but I’ll address some of what you said below.

          • Gregg Smith

            He didn’t say you said he said that. You’re up.

      • Ray in VT

        We heard plenty of that sentiment when Civil Unions were being debated.

    • TELew

       You do know that gay people pay taxes too?

      • dawoada

        They do pay taxes but so do single people and they don’t get all the benefits that legally married gay people do. 

        • Ray in VT

          Then maybe they should get married if they want those tax benefits.  Nothing is stopping them, and there’s plenty of precedent for sham marriages.

    • MrNutso

      There is actually a simple solution that addresses your arguments.  Eliminate legal marriage completely.  Every couple straight or gay must get a civil union.  They must go to the court house get a license and go be for a judge to be civil unioned.  Afterwards they can go to the church of their choice to be married.  Weddings performed by clergy without the benefit of a civil union would have no legal standing.

      • dawoada

        Except that society has determined that couples that can have children should have some additional advantages (benefits).  Perhaps they should be after they have the children.

        • Ray in VT

          But one does not get special advantages because one is able to have children.  One gets extra breaks when one has children, either by bearing them or adopting them.

    • Ray in VT

      I’ll leave your second point alone, as others have already addressed how ridiculous some of those arguments can be.  I’ll address your first point instead.

      Marriage certainly has been used as a mechanism to attempt to guarantee the legitimacy of offspring, but the reason for marriage is not a contract to allow people to have children.  People can and have had children out of wedlock, and there are plenty of married couples who retain the legal and tax benefits of marriage regardless of their ability to produce offspring.

      • dawoada

        Please inform me of how ridiculous my second point is.  It seems perfectly reasonable to me.  Why should a couple benefit just because of their sexual practices?
        Yes, people have children out of wedlock but that is not good either.

        • Ray in VT

          Because any two single, straight people can get them, just so long as they enter into the legal contract of marriage that is open to them.  Two friends can get married.  My wife was my friend.  We would still be a couple and we would still have children if we hadn’t gone through all of the rigamarole, but we would lack the legal benefits.  It would, however, not change our love.

        • Ken40

          dawoada, have you defined YOUR marriage by your personal sexual practices? That seems a rather odd and perverse focus of a couple’s relationship.  A same-sex marriage is not solely based on sexual practices just an no heterosexual marriage is based upon the sexuality of the couple involved.

    • J__o__h__n

      Why don’t people complaining about laws favoring married couples work to end that first before they seek to exclude gays from having the same rights?  It isn’t their real issue. 

    • jimino

      Who could possibly disagree that people beyond child bearing age and those who have the verified inability to conceive or are impotent should not be allowed to marry, and those who don’t have children within a reasonable time of marriage should have it annulled. 

      That’s what you’re proposing, right?

    • TELew

       I believe that gay couples get state “benefits” only when they have been legally married or “unionized.”  As for private companies, I would think that proof of a long term relationship is required before benefits are allotted.    

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1468385388 Matthew Kerwin

      If marriage is intended to be a legal contract to allow a couple to have children, as suggested, then my marriage should be illegal as my wife and I, after 28 years of marriage have no children and never intended to have any.  And what about a woman past childbearing?  Should she be barred from marrying?  Why should heterosexual couples who can’t or won’t have children be “rewarded” for their “sexual practices”?  But in a sense, dowoada is right: governments should get out of approving marriage – that’s up to churches to determine what is sacred for their adherents.  Governments should only be responsible for seeing to the fair and just enforcement of contracts.

      • dawoada

        A marriage license ALLOWS you to have children, not requires you to have children.  But as I said in a later post, maybe the tax benefits should come only after having children.  On the other hand, governments have many laws to encourage many things and having children may be one thing that they want to encourage.

        • Ken40

          There are legal tax benefits to both marriage and having children already.  But tax advantages are hardly the basis for getting married or having children.  However it is discriminatory to have some marriages given advantages and others not.

    • Ken40

      dawaoda, In fact marriage historically was to transfer legal ownership of the possessions of the father of the wife (including the woman/girl as part of his property) to the new husband as a business transaction.  Procreation was not the sole basis for marriage as you incorrectly stated.  Marriage was the legal way to create heirs- but again if it was a daughter she was merely property who would then be transferred with her dowry to the possession of another male- often as a barely pubescent child.  Let’s not compare marriage today with historical practices so foolishly.

  • Jared – A Bad Case of the Date

    Dating in the gay community has also changed. A site like abadcaseofthedates.com posts bad date stories from the straight and gay communities. Bad dates, it seems, hit everyone.

  • CreativeRider

    Hello, 

     

    My name
    is Todd, I hail from Wilder, Vermont, I am 29-years-old, and I’m a senior at
    Johnson State College in the BFA Creative Writing program.

     

    I have
    friends who are gay, but I believe they would be my friends regardless of their
    sexual preference.  I wouldn’t stop being someone’s friend for this
    reason, and I haven’t.  For those whose ideals differ from mine, I do my
    best to be tolerant of their differences, even if I am vehemently against them.  

    I earned
    the rank of Eagle Scout in 2001, a mark of great personal achievement, yet I
    feel conflicted about being affiliated with an organization whose acceptance of
    homosexuals doesn’t compliment my own.  I believe Scouting’s position
    contradicts its own mission statement, which is available on the BSA’s
    website, http://www.scouting.org/about:

     

         The Boy Scouts of America is one of the
    nation’s largest and most prominent values-based
    youth development organizations.
    The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in
    the responsibilities of participating citizenship,
    and develops personal fitness.

         For
    over a century, the BSA has helped build the future leaders of this country by
    combining educational activities and lifelong
    values with fun. The Boy Scouts of America believes — and, through over a century of
    experience, knows — that helping youth
    is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible,
    and productive society.

     

     I’ve
    heard and read examples of Scouts of all ranks—newly conferred Eagle Scouts and
    Eagles whose achievement has been cemented for decades—across the country who
    have renounced themselves as members of Scouting because of its banning of
    open-homosexuals.  I haven’t renounced myself as Boy Scout, and I haven’t
    surrendered my Eagle badge, but I have elected to be inactive in my troop, its
    council, and other affiliates because of the position of Scouting’s National
    Council.



     

    There was an associated press article in my
    newspaper, “Valley News,” yesterday addressing the reconsideration of
    Scouting’s anti-gay policy, which reminded its readers that this has been a
    foundation of protest for several years.  This past fall, a court-ordered
    list of suspected or proven child abusers or molesters within the Boy Scouts
    was made public.  When I graduate from college in a few months, I’ll need
    to decide if mentioning that I am an Eagle Scout on my resumés will bring
    praise, or, if in states like Vermont, it will question my acceptance of others’ differences. 

    • Ray in VT

      Hello Todd.  I know many people at JSC, and I hope that you are finding it to be an open, inclusive and educationally valuable place to be working towards a degree.

      • CreativeRider

        I was a Resident Assistant at JSC for four years, which introduced me to many unique students whose individual histories forged respectful dorm communities.  This experience helped me become more tolerant, mindful, and reverent of others’ differences.  I think students’ acceptance of other students at JSC is strong, and I think that comes from its intimate community.

        I think my success as an RA at JSC must be credited with my growth in Scouting.  The Anti-Gay aspect of the BSA wasn’t as prominent during my earlier experience (Tiger Cubs-Tenderfoot Rank), but as I matured in my troop the Organization’s position became more apparent.  It was heartbreaking.  

        • Ray in VT

          Dorm life was great when I was an undergraduate.  I met my wife, most of my best friends, and, like you, I was introduced to a lot of unique people.  I shared a suite with a Mormon and a vegan with neon pink hair.  One suite on my floor had an Israeli and Pakistani Muslim in it.  It was a pretty eye opening experience, and probably the most fun time in my life.

          I’ve always had good experiences with the people at JSC, and that includes students, staff and faculty.  Have you heard Russ Weiss on VPR?

          It is looking as though some Scout troops may become open to gay members.  One of my great, great uncles was an early scout leader (at least so my grandmother told me) back in the 1920s.  I never did anything like scouting.  My dad always had me working on the farm, so I was lucky just to be able to play a couple of seasons of baseball and football.

          • CreativeRider

            Ray,

            I considered mentioning that I am a vegan as part of my response to this program, but I wanted to steer clear of labels.  I actually think the labels we give ourselves and to others are part of what convolute and create issues of acceptance.  Labels are like research abstracts in that they explain succinctly, but lack a backstory.  If we continue to react only to one another’s abstracts, and avoid further reading, then we will continue to be uninformed.

            I have never heard Russ speak on VPR, and I have never taken a course with him, but I have worked with him on student life issues on campus.  His passion for teaching and student rights assures me that there is at least one strong faculty voice for students at JSC.

            Ray, I’m curious:  does your last name begin with a “K”?  Did you live in Arthur Hall?  I have a feeling I know you…

          • Ray in VT

            Labels are interesting things, and we can certainly hem ourselves in with them.  A while back my wife and I were discussing labels such as nerd, geek and dork.  Nerd was derogatory when we were younger, but the nerds have taken that word for themselves, and I would call myself that (in part based upon my love of Star Trek among other nerdy things).  In a certain context, though, I might take that as an insult, but in others I might take it as a compliment.  My brother is a redneck, but people better not call him that in front of me.  Them’d be fightin’ words.

            Russ is a nice guy.  He has had 3 or 4 commentaries on VPR.  No, my last name doesn’t begin with K, but I am on campus sometimes, and I’m out and about in Johnson and around Lamoille county, so we may have met.

            Do you know Ashley who was a creative writing major recently at JSC?

    • J__o__h__n

      I took it off my resume. 

      • CreativeRider

        I’m prepared to speak about it if asked, and to diffuse any implications of intolerance.  So much of what I learned in Scouting has benefitted me in jobs and in college.  That is where my conflict lies: is it a disservice to omit that part of my life, my education?  

        • J__o__h__n

          I listed it on college applications but with a parenthetical note that I opposed their policy.  Later I removed it entirely as I didn’t think that was sufficient. 

    • CreativeRider

      I apologize for the arrangement of the content in this post: I wrote it out in Word, first, and then pasted it in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=12445143 Shanzabar M. West

    I find that being young is still the most frightening time to be gay.  Many years ago I came out to my parents as bisexual and was immediately told that my behavior was inappropriate and that they didn’t want that kind of thing around the other children.  I wound up not being welcome in my parents’ house.  If not for the kindness of my friends, I would have had nowhere to go.  Coming out to family when you are still dependent upon them is scary… especially if you are only left with the choice of being homeless or lying to them.

    • Gregg Smith

      Wow, that’s terrible. How old were you? 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=12445143 Shanzabar M. West

        I was 19 at the time and had just started going to college.  My parents stopped supporting me financially and the only way I was able to continue my schooling was to take out private loans.  I had to petition to become an “independent” student because normally financial aid wants you to report your parents income.

        It was rough, but I know that others have had it much worse than I did.  My comment was directed more towards younger kids…. Kids in their early or mid teens for whom getting even a part time job may not be an option.  

        • Gregg Smith

          Hopefully in the end it made you stronger. Maybe they will come around eventually, good luck to you. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=12445143 Shanzabar M. West

            Thank you!  Dialogue has opened up between myself and my family again.  I did learn a lot from my experiences and I do believe it made me a stronger person.  It does feel nice to be frank and honest with my family, even if most of the time we just agree to disagree.

  • gandolfo2

    I am curious about bisexuality.  Can a bisexual be monogamous and be happy?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=12445143 Shanzabar M. West

      They sure can.  :)  Bisexual people or people of any sexuality can be happy in a monogamous relationship.  It really depends on the type of relationship you personally want and what you personally define as happy.

      • gandolfo2

        Same question? Same gender?

    • http://twitter.com/Dragonsong73 Eric R. Duncan

      Indeed they can. I share a wonderful marriage with one.

      • gandolfo2

        Same gender?

        • http://twitter.com/Dragonsong73 Eric R. Duncan

          Nope. And there are times where she gets “Cred Checked” for it, or accused of “passing” which is just offensive on many levels. 

  • miamibeachtransplant

    I am a straight woman and I fell in love with a man during an extended trip to another country.  For us to be together we had to go through several agonizing and expensive years of paperwork and documentation for us to be together, which in the end required legal marriage.  On especially painful days, I would remind myself that, as terrible as our experience with immigration was, at least we had the right under federal law to pursue our union so we could reside in the same country, have the right to work, live together, and be married. My heart goes out to all the people who have fallen in love under similar circumstances, but have had no legal recourse whatsoever to pursue their relationship.  Until gay marriage is federally recognized it will not be enough.

    • Ken40

      My sister & I both married foreign men (both living in the USA legally already through work permits).  My sister’s husband got a green card rather quickly.  My husband had to wait & worry over 10 years and spend thousands of $$$ to remain here legally regardless of our marriage.  If he lost his job he would lose his legal status as well. My husband and I have a number of stories of couples where one was deported due to a complete lack of any recognition of their relationship status for immigration. I appreciate your point and understanding of this issue we face.

  • Ken40

    I am 42 and I have been legally married in Massachusetts to my husband for 10 years now.  A very common question one is asked at this age is the simple “are you married”?  The sad reality when I am asked that is I have to pause, consider who asked the question and what I expect their political and religious views are.  Then I also consider where I am geographically as the mere existence of my marriage varies so greatly between states.  This breaches far more than just social or professional circles (where avoiding discussions of religion and politics are often a good idea but immediately come up with my marriage).  This comes up just renting a car, checking into a hotel or any place where mere simple spousal references occur.  I feel strongly I have a HUSBAND-  legally, financially, socially.  He is not a roommate, “buddy”, domestic partner and certainly more than a “friend” with a <>.  We have to file our taxes twice, once as a married couple for our state and then as two single men for federal (which costs us many thousands of dollars more).  My husband is not an American citizen.  We lived without a green card for him for over 10 years with the risk of deportation at any time if he lost his job (despite our marriage, owning a home together etc).  When on a road trip in most states if we have an accident I may have to wait in the waiting room of the hospital while my husband’s mother is called in another country to make medical decisions on his behalf. We want to adopt but our parental rights vary greatly depending where we live in the US.  My husband works in the corporate world and although his company is very supportive a simple executive transfer to another state immediately threatens to dissolve our marriage and thereby basic rights. Notice I have not one mention of anyone’s religious beliefs or any interest in violating any religious groups beliefs or rights.  These are LEGAL and SOCIAL recognitions we need.

  • Gregg Smith

    Off Topic:

    I’m sure tomorrows show will be on the economy and the news that GDP shrank in the forth quarter of 2012. Maybe we can figure out what happened in that quarter that could have sucked the confidence out of the economy. I feel sure the answer will be Bush.

    Carry on.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/KXUH3MSJSLI5GO5ES7JCJ7LJLM headforbusiness

    Where are the People of Color on the radio or callers?! The issued facing people of color, like myself a African American lesbian, have an added complexity of culture, gender, race and sexual orientation. We seem to disappear in the “Gay community”.

    • Ken40

      I wonder how you decided what race/color all of the phone in guests of a radio show were so succinctly? (For instance- do you assume to know what color/race I am?) On a clearer note, I would say that more than your race being ignored in the gay community I would argue that gender is a bigger issue for you to point out.  The commonplace sexism evident even in homosexual issues is clear.  There is little to no mention of lesbianism in the Bible.  But yet they get dragged down by religous conservatives with “a man shall not lie with another man” rhetoric. Much of the attention is about gay men and although I would argue there is often more openly visceral hostility directed at gay men, lesbians often get dismissively marginalized.  Although I appreciate your points as to your personal challenges faced in your specific situation, you presume that by default other races or cultures somehow automatically have had it easier.  None of us can speak for the experiences others have had to endure in their own personal circumstances.

  • stlmilitarymom

    I am the mother of a transgender child and I am also a spouse of an officer of the military.  Without the hard work of our leaders and pursuers of equal rights, I would have never felt I could support my child in our community.  With the repeal of DADT I now advocate for my child rights without a dark shadow looming over my head.  However I do believe “transgender” or “gender independent” is still misunderstood and we have a lot of work ahead of us on gender independent rights.
     

  • Patti Maslinoff

    I am listening to this program right now.  I hear discussion about the obstacles that remain – and I hear hesitancy.  What I don’t hear is joy and amazement at the the President’s inauguration speech. I think that there are times when we can put aside the pain of the past, present and future, when we can put aside considerations of what is left to be done.  Now, is one of those times.  It is a time to reflect on the progress that the last few years have brought.  It is a time to consider that with all of the topics that the President can choose to mention in an inaugural address, he chose to recognize the importance of gay rights.

    • Ken40

      You didn’t listen to enough of the program apparently.  The partner of one of the lesbian callers was in tears over the speech.  The impressive changes and progress were points made very clearly.

      • Patti Maslinoff

         I did listen to the entire program and I did hear the points that you mentioned.  My only point was that with each mention of progress, there was a “but.”  It seemed to me that most of the people were too hesitant to claim their victory and to allow themselves for just a short time to experience joy for the progress made.  Sometimes, I wondered if the people speaking were a bit afraid that this was a mirage and if they were really happy about it, they might be let down.  I was just trying to say that I believe that the progress is real – and somewhat astounding.  Achieving civil rights is always a struggle and always takes time.  But, the changes that have occurred during the last two or three years have been dramatic.  I can not recall any other movement for civil rights proceeding so quickly over a short period of time.  And I think that the progress of the last few years is made obvious by the President’s recognition in the inaugural address.  I most certainly would not have predicted it.  In comparison, I think that as an atheist, I will not live to see the day when I do not have to listen to prayers and mentions of God at a government-sponsored event.  Atheists as a group are probably the least respected group in this country.  So, I know what it is like to feel that progress is too slow.  When great progress is made in the struggle for respect for all peoples, we need to take the time to be happy.

        • Ken40

          Thank you for your respone Patti.  I do agree with what you wrote wholeheartedly.  I myself have a mix of overwhelming appreciation for the progress made but also feel so many of the areas where rights are still falling short.  I do have a hard time feeling like I must “make do” with “well enough” rather than work and fight for the full degree of rights that I feel so strongly are being withheld.  But please do not miss the excitement and pride and pure joy that is felt with the leaps of progress being made.  As to your final point about freedom FROM religion, I am in the same boat and feel much as you do.  Something I feel is unfair discrimination is when non-Christians get sworn in on a Bible. Frankly that discriminates against them.  It might as well be a copy of Mary Poppins as far as I am concerned.

          • Patti Maslinoff

             I would never in a million years suggest that anyone “make do” or consider the progress made to be “enough.”  I would never suggest becoming complacent.  If not for those who refuse to lose sight of their ideals, change would never come.

            But there were years during the Bush administration when I despaired that we were going backwards and it is wonderful to feel that we are moving forward.

            Perhaps it is because I live in Loudoun County, Virginia and I never know whether I am living in the nineteenth century or the twenty first century.  Loudoun County was one of the essential swing counties in 2008 and 2012 and we won!  But one of the people on the Loudoun Board of Supervisors heads up an organization that spreads vicious and stupid lies about homosexuality.  (TSA patdowns are a homosexual plot.   Almost everything objectionable is actually a homosexual plot.)  This organization has been declared to be a “hate group” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.   So, I just savor the victories when they come.

            With respect to to “freedom from religion,” I will say that I personally don’t use that phrase.  I consider myself to be a Secular Humanist Jew and I belong to a congregation of like-minded people in Washington, D.C.  (For more info, see http://www.shj.org which is the website for the Society of Humanistic Judaism.)  So, I do identify with a religion but I don’t believe in the God concept.  Anyway, this is all too much for Virginia where the Christian Right is alive and well.  I figure that I am making progress if I can just
            convince people that not everybody is Christian and not everybody celebrates Christmas.  With respect to Mary Poppins, while I do love Mary Poppins, I might choose the Spaghetti Monster. Actually, I would have fun trying to pick out one book.  I am not sure why someone
            who is ready to lie is more believable if they have their hand on a Bible.  I once had to testify in federal court and I was a bit anxious.  But, all I had to do was affirm that I would tell the truth.

            Anyway, I think that we both agree.  Our victories are sweet,  But, we still dream of a better world.

  • fidelitas

    It appears as though in the modern sense of meaning, the measure of a society is how much it is willing to say that others  are right even when they are wrong. I am not speaking exclusively of the gay community when I say this, but speaking generally. because logically speaking, this is an unsustainable position, one must eventually come to terms with the notion that right answers and wrong answers are necessary. that being said, is that which is right or wrong determined by individual fiat? no because this is arbitrary. Social contract? No this is merely the same strategy writ large, eventually, one must come to the conclusion that that which is right and wrong is extrinsic to the self, independent of the whims of emotion or to the fickleness of society.

    To that end, the religious outlook (or even an outlook guided by secular natural law) is not one which concerns itself with the desires of individuals or societies as it’s primary end, but rather to truth unto itself. The truth of the matter is all persons are by virtue of said truth given dignity and worth as a matter of identity. Action, on the other hand, or desire towards action, is separate from identity. A drunkard is not any less of a man if he desires to drink, or is drinking, or is genetically predisposed towards drinking as scientists presume. A drunkard surrenders his respect for his own humanity when he subsumes it to the level of his actions. Likewise, for example a businessman may have all the inborn talent to be successful, and be respected or feared, but his dignity neither shrinks or decreases because of it. he surrenders his respect for his own humanity when he subsumes it to the level of his actions.  all persons seek dignity, but some come to the mistaken conclusion that dignity is earned, or rather taken, rather than merely extant and so to gain dignity some will insist others to take a position which is morally and logically inconsistant.

    Will the US permit two men and two women to join into what has been called a marriage? Knowing history, perhaps, after all The State has had as an institution a poor record of defending legitimate marriage for centuries. If indeed the proponents of this movement wish to make such an error they do so of their own accord, but, and I do stress but, do not make the assumption that others are under obligation to legitimize that which they understand to be in error. to give the dignity due any human yes, but to say any act is as legitimate as any other, this position is untenable. one cannot do any more so than to call “blue” “orange” or say 1+1 is 5.

    if we are truly concerned with any sort of mutual standing, perhaps it would be well to also defend the right of those who disagree to not be made to forcefully agree. the president’s opinion most recently regarding military chaplains seems rather heavy handed, or the right of religious institutions to behave according to the dictates of their consciences, which has seen much narrow exemption in the face of legislation. 

    take this for what it is worth, an olive branch, but if one truly desires a pluralistic society it will be not be perfectly found, it will either be forced or coerced. an imperfect society composed of admitted imperfect people which founds it’s rights upon the inherent human dignity as opposed to “identity by action” or a society of double-talk, this is far more attainable, and sane.

  • Pingback: Bigotry Optional: The Boy Scouts May Lift Their Gay Ban — But Not Really | Cognoscenti

  • Samantha21660

    Regarding the gay church-going caller:  Thank God for a church that still believes what the Bible teaches about leadership in a church.  It’s too bad the caller has replaced the Bible with his feelings.

    • Ken40

      Which is fine.  Do as you like with YOUR church and YOUR bible.  Do not mix YOUR personal church and beliefs with OUR laws.  You would certainly object to having other’s very strong religious beliefs imposed upon you.  Sharia Law?  Kosher restrictions?

      • Samantha21660

         Awfully closed-minded of you to stereotype me when I said nothing regarding secular laws.  I care nothing for politics.

        • Ken40

          Legalities are different than politics.  I am responding to what you stated, not stereotyping you in any way. Again, do as you like in your church and believe what you choose to.  Just as you have no interest in politics, I have no interest in your personal beliefs.  But I amnot looking to act against you nor condemn you.  Live and let live Samantha.

  • Samantha21660

    It’s always a chick marrying gay people….violate the word of God in one area, violate it in every area.

    • Ken40

      Remove civil rights in one area- remove it in all.  A “chick”? Really?

      • Ken40

        My husband and I were legally married by an official straight “dude” with a wife and kids.

  • John S

    I would like to thank Tom Ashbrook and his guests for this honest, inspiring, and at times heartbreaking program. The stories told by some of the callers made me sad and angry; at the same time, I felt an uplifting sense of solidarity with other gay men, as well as lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people of my generation and others who have had to endure the pain caused by the bigotry of people like Samantha21660. I’m a middle-aged guy who came out to friends in my late 20s (late 80s) and to family in my early 30s (late 90s). Some of those moments were liberating and affirming; others were miserably demeaning and alienating. When I reflect on the pervasive culture of prejudice and fear – much of it fueled by the horror of HIV infection, to say nothing of misguided “Christianity” – that made coming out such a high-stakes decision at that time, I am stunned and gratified that attitudes have changed so dramatically in such a short span of time. Our culture still has a long way to go, but I am so thankful that LGBT kids, teens, and young adults in the 2010s are much more likely to recognize and accept their sexual identities in an accepting, hospitable world. My life out in the open as a gay man has been made possible largely because of where I’ve lived (mainly large West Coast cities), where supportive and affirming communities tend to be accessible and welcoming. My partner and I bought a house in a multicultural, multi-ethnic, multigenerational neighborhood where no one even blinked at a couple of gay guys settling down with our brood of pets. Our life would likely be very different in less progressive locations. I am also painfully conscious of how bigotry in the name of religion (mainly, Christianity) has been so hard for me to shake. Once a pretty fervent mainline Christian, I am now a pragmatic atheist who has slowly recognized the damage wrought on my mental health by the overt and covert prejudice of believers. I sincerely hope that the unfathomable and damaging influence of unquestioning (Christian) believers will continue to diminish as the climate of our culture evolves toward acceptance and inclusion (values that transcend mere tolerance, to say nothing of the blind bigotry of Samantha21660 and her co-religionists).

    • Ken40

      Very well put John S.  Much of what you stated is very similar for my experience (sustituting large East Coast cities). I live in a suburban subdivision which I am quite sure was overtly “restricted” when the homes were built in the 1960′s but now my husband and I live here quite easily and comfortably.  It is very much like the suburban neighborhood I grew up in frankly so it is very familiar and natural to me. My husband is a “recovering Catholic” but I would extend the point about misguided religious intolerance to beyond Christianity.  The Muslim culture has been very condemning and unnaccepting as well as conservative Jewish groups. I have had experience with both and it has ended with complete intolerance of my existence on their part. I too am very impressed and hopeful given the amazingly speedy turnaround I have witnessed in the broader culture as a whole though. I feel very fortunate to be riding the crest of this wave with those generally my age and younger being overwhelmingly accepting. The LGBT people I know older than I had to live with such misery and prejudice and blatant discrimination.  It is exciting to see how things can move in a positive accepting direction so quickly.  Still a long way to go but I am hopeful.

  • Duras

    I think that once you realize that two consenting adults should have the same rights as two other consenting adults, and you actually look at those words and not travel outside the meaning of them, you will find that a lot of your questions are promoting an economic and political priority over equal rights.  

    You said, “In fact, why can’t any two people sign a contract agreeing to certain
    benefits that are only between the two people such as hospital visits,
    inheritances, medical decisions, etc.”

    Is that not what marriage is?  Cannot a woman and a man not be legally married and have the legal benefits that come with it, but live the lives of everyday friends or acquaintances? 

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