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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

How Do You Stop an Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment?

posted by on May 7 at 8:42 AM

By asking straight people to sacrifice something to protect the sacred sanctity of the institution of marriage.

Earlier this week the state legislature in Pennsylvania was preparing to place an anti-gay marriage amendment to the Pennsylvania state constitution before voters in that state. Then a state senator, Vincent Fumo (D-Philadelphia), introduced an amendment-to-the-amendment that wound up sinking PA’s proposed anti-gay marriage amendment.

His amendment would “outlaw the dissolution of most marriages in Pennsylvania,” he said in a news release. That would mean there would be few legal ways for the divorce of a married couple, a man and a woman.

Mr. Fumo, who leaves the Senate on Nov. 30, said the stated goal of Senate Bill 1250 is to “protect the sanctity of the marital institution” by defining a legal marriage as only between one man and one woman.

The next logical step, according to Mr. Fumo, is to also outlaw divorces

The state senate in Pennsylvania is controlled by Republicans, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette reports that Fumo’s amendment didn’t have a chance. But Fumo’s amendment would have to be debated, and PA’s family values crusaders didn’t want to engage in a debate about divorce—currently a purely heterosexual institution in PA—and how straight divorce undermines the totally sacred sanctity of the institution of marriage. It’s way easier for sanctimonious lawmakers to point their ring fingers at same-sex marriage, which is currently illegal in PA (if not unconstitutional), and blame people that have done no harm to the sacred sanctity of the institution of marriage for all the damage done by heterosexuals.

You know, folks behind anti-gay marriage amendments like to accuse gay people of seeking to “redefine marriage.” But, as I wrote in The Commitment, it’s actually straight people that have redefined marriage (mostly in good ways—women are no longer property, for instance). But here’s another straight redefinition of marriage to add to the list: An institution that most straight people weren’t interested in defending until one day they realized they might have to share it.

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Marriage is stupid.

Posted by Mr. Poe | May 7, 2008 8:46 AM

You can have my marriage certificate Dan, I am not using it. ;)

But I think this does need to be debated, openly and honestly. The crazy religious right can't claim that marriage is 'sacred'. It's not. It's a legal contract. You can make it religious if you want, but once the government began giving them out, it stopped being religious and became law.

One day, we are going to look at this time the way we look at the time when interracial couples could not marry. And we are going to shake our heads and have to explain to our children why the general population was so bigoted. I am not going to know what to say, sadly.

Posted by Original Monique | May 7, 2008 8:52 AM

That is beautiful. Too bad he isn't going to be around to continue stick it to the hypocrits. Is he running for another office?

Would he have made the amendment if he wasn't leaving or was it a Democratic machine thing for him to proprose it because he was leaving?

Posted by Clearlyhere | May 7, 2008 8:53 AM

we need to do this in FL now. it's on the november ballot.

Posted by konstantconsumer | May 7, 2008 8:56 AM


Posted by Strawberry Limonade | May 7, 2008 9:03 AM

This is brilliant. This is the kind of end run I love. Out- smarting the dim witted right should be this easy all the time. Now let's push for a holiday celebrating Charles Darwin's birthday.

Posted by Vince | May 7, 2008 9:15 AM

"An institution that most straight people weren’t interested in defending until one day they realized they might have to share it."

Hey, Danny, guess what - "most straight people" still aren't interested in "defending" it, regardless of sharing. Please stop lumping ALL straight people in with the jerkoffs.

Posted by Monty | May 7, 2008 9:21 AM

I didn't lump all straight people in with the jerk-offs. That's why "straight" was qualified by "most." And, sorry, so long as anti-gay marriage amendments keep passing by wide margins, it's "most," Monty, or "most straight voters," at any rate. Still, got a problem with that? Take it up with your fellow straight people.

But thank you for playing Slog.

Posted by Dan Savage | May 7, 2008 9:30 AM

I love this politician and his genius logic. Seriously, it's... it's a beautiful thing.

Posted by Marty | May 7, 2008 9:43 AM

Uh, Monty. You're wrong. Sadly, most straight people ARE in fact still interested in defending it. Every state it has come up to a vote in, "most" people have in fact voted to ban gay marriage. Not all, certainly, but "most" absolutely. And I'm pretty confident it was the straight people voting for the bans, not gays.

So it isn't just Dan's wacky opinion. It is an empirical fact that "most" straight people are perfectly happy to deny marriage rights to people like Dan and me. They have done so at the ballot box. Repeatedly.

I'm glad you feel like you're not one of them. But don't get mad at Dan for stating facts.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | May 7, 2008 9:44 AM

Yes, why can't the democratic machine play so well in other states?

Posted by Clearlyhere | May 7, 2008 10:29 AM

clearlyhere@3 -- I'm afraid that after his term in the PA senate ends, Mr. Fumo is already the front-runner in the current race to be "Inmate #589279" at one of Pennsylvania's multiple fine minimum-security institutions of social rehabilitation.

Points to him for doing a bit of good on his way out I guess, but as a former Philly resident, I can only say good riddance to bad rubbish.

Posted by Doctor Memory | May 7, 2008 10:51 AM

this is great. every sanctity of marriage bill should deal with divorce as well. it is both entirely logical and never passable. i love it! this shoots down the fake reason people are anti-gay marriage. the real reason is that they are homophobes.

Posted by infrequent | May 7, 2008 11:15 AM

Dan, you are acting like a child who is jelous of a neighbors toy, and neither of your realize that the toy is stupid and it's going out of fashion damn quickly.

I'm with Mr. Poe. Marriage is just stupid. And ANYONE who defends the sanctity of marriage or needs a legal piece of paper to squelch their insecurities about their relationship, is just weak, gay or straight.

Personally, do I personally feel Dan has the right to marry a guy, of course. Do I think his adamancy about participating in an archaic and redundant instituion as a sign that Dan is getting old ... oh yeah.

Posted by OR Matt | May 7, 2008 11:21 AM

Doctor Memory@ 12

OH well. We can't all be saints. At least he did some good along the way.

Posted by Clearlyhere | May 7, 2008 11:21 AM

@14 what about hospital visitation? what about joint property? what about wills? what about people who still want to spend "the rest of their lives" with someone (and there are still a bunch of people who want to do that)?

Posted by infrequent | May 7, 2008 11:29 AM

Not just ban Divorce, let's make it retroactive--effectively nullify all previous divorces.

Posted by Rob | May 7, 2008 11:34 AM

@16 Hospital visitations are little trickier, new legislation is required (and that is the only logistical injustice I see with the current system). But wills, shared property ... these are all easy remedies, and are probably just as easily put togethor as a prenup.

Hell, the term "marriage equivalent" for insurance benefits is often used for both types of couples and doesn't require a certificate of marriage. Yes, it depends on states. But so long as the insurance premium is paid, most insurors or employers don't care. It's the uptight religious weirdos that seem to care.

Marriage as we know it, is dying, if not already dead.

Posted by OR Matt | May 7, 2008 11:37 AM

Speaking as a married straight guy: this is brilliant. A beautiful "fuck you" to all the anti-homosexual religious dipshits on their third wife.

Posted by Tiktok | May 7, 2008 11:58 AM

@16 One more thing. There is a slight difference between people WANTING to spend the rest of the lives togethor and BEING ABLE to.

You can't argue that many if not most of the marriages were either started for the wrong reasons. Many of these relationships just end because young people don't recognize that people are going to grow apart.

What I think is going to happen, and what has really started to happen is that ... relationships, particularlly marriage is going to be damned by logistics. For reasons of survival and equal rights, we have become an individualistic society. Both partners have careers, both partners have ambitions ... and with a highly mobile society, both partners are starting to find themselves farther and farther apart.

As a scientist, I find more and more relationships and marriages that are sepparated by geography than by any lack of effort by either part of the spouce. As a male scientist, I can either choose a "life partner" who is a simply a gold digger who would never appreciate me for who I am (and most likely go down in flames), OR I have to learn be flexible in what I define as a MEANINGFUL relationship, fully aware that I have to appreciate it for the momment.

A little long winded, but THAT is why marriage is dying ... with or without gay marriage.

Posted by OR Matt | May 7, 2008 11:58 AM

In Idaho they would have taken the amendment and ran with it, howling with glee all the way. Those right wing nutcakes actually try to pass laws making it more difficult for divorce. They defend the institution well beyond the horrible "most straight people."

They'll probably try to write this same legislation with the anti-divorce amendment in it next year in Boise.

Posted by Bob | May 7, 2008 12:24 PM

I don't need a piece of paper to validate my relationship. I need it to be legally recognized as my partner's next-of-kin.

Posted by Dan Savage | May 7, 2008 12:25 PM

A marriage license should be a legal document issued by the county clerk to any 2 people that wish to do so. If a couple wants a religious cermony then go for it but that shoulkd not preclude anyoine from "joining" with their chosen partner. Religion has aAbsolutely nothing to do with it. Procreation happens withouit any legal intervention...

Posted by tiqueboy | May 7, 2008 12:25 PM

clearlyhere@15: we can't all be saints, but most of us find it pretty easy to avoid stealing millions of dollars from our own charities. Just sayin. :)

Posted by Doctor Memory | May 7, 2008 12:30 PM

Funny though, if they ban divorce, they will either get it done in another state, OR they won't get divorced at all. People will go on and live their lives, start other families. Hell, marriage it will truely be a worthless piece of paper. Marriage will become even less popular. The amendment would truely be a final nail in the coffin.

Posted by OR Matt | May 7, 2008 12:37 PM

OR Matt: Your assertions that marriage is a pointless and dying institution feel a little ... patronizing. Kind of like a 19th-century man telling a woman that heck, those politicians are all crooked anyway, so there's no earthly reason why she needs to vote. I'm pretty sure this wasn't your intention, and you may very well be right that marriage as we know it is on its way out, but that's not the point here.

The point is that a marriage certificate comes with innumerable rights and benefits that are either unavailable or much more difficult to access if you're not hitched.
Even if you have gobs of money to spend on legal fees, it can be a real challenge to ensure that your partner receives custody of your children should you die, or that you have access to your adopted children should you separate, or that your partner is able to visit you in the ICU should you be struck by a bus, and so on.

If marriage isn't your game, fine ... whatever works for you. As a straight person, it's your choice not to avail yourself of the rights associated with that particular institution. But if you're gay, you don't have that choice. If you're gay and you've decided to partner up in a big way -- joint bank accounts, shared investments, kids, the works -- you don't have the luxury of saying "I choose to reject the institution would legally merge my partner's life with mine."

There's nothing stupid or pointless about wanting the same rights and treatment as everyone else.

P.S. What kind of scientist are you?

Posted by Kalakalot | May 7, 2008 3:33 PM

@26 ... I'm an Organic Chemist. I come from a broken home, back in the Northeast, and I seem to run into overly idealistic young people who want to make all sorts crack plans work.

I think marriage is fucked up, fine, but I do also think it's fucked up that Dan can't get married.

That said, I've seen infinitely more bad marriages than good marriages. Especially desperate old scientists who get extorted for mucho dinero by trying to live the "normal" family dream.

Is that fair?

I just get the feeling he is selling the marriage thing to EVEYONE not just gays, but I could be crazy.

Posted by OR Matt | May 7, 2008 4:04 PM

@27 ... is it fair to be patronizing to the institution of marriage REGARDLESS of gender?

Posted by OR Matt | May 7, 2008 4:07 PM

OR Matt, you are lucky that you're not gay and in love with a non-citizen. Cuz then you're fucked. It's not a theory or a fashion. It's this country fucking over its law-abiding citizens just because they're gay. The United States Supreme Court has upheld the right of prison inmates to marry because it is a fundamental right, but for some unfathomable reason it's no problem at all to deny fundamental rights to teh gays. Or to tax them at far higher rates than teh straights. So it's nice to hear your musings on how marriage is unfashionable, but that's cold comfort for a hell of a lot of people. It's kind of like arguing in the 1950s that there's no such thing as race because science can't tell any difference between humans of European or African descent. A hell of a lot of good that does when the country is ready, willing and able to discriminate.

Posted by gag | May 7, 2008 5:13 PM

@29 difference between impractical and unfashionable.

Hell, I get misty eyed when I think of the idea sharing my life with someone. But that's exactly it ... I used to have that dream, but I guess circumstances of life have either robbed that from me, or made it HIGHLY unlikely.

But what the hell do I know. I grew up in CT ... actually ELECTED to have a civil unions ... with a republican run legislature no less ... and without suing the government. I just have to live in hick ass Oregon until I can find a job out of here preferably back in civilization.

Posted by OR Matt | May 7, 2008 5:42 PM


Or maybe the reason why it irks me, saddens me, is that by the time marriage will be available for all, it will become completely meaningless.

And the arguments, the debates, the heartaches, the lost elections, the broken families, the broken homes, the lost parents, the lost children. It will be for absolutely NOTHING.

Posted by OR Matt | May 7, 2008 5:52 PM

so, marriages that go sour and end in divorce should never have happened at all? some of you seem to be implying that. now, that sounds like idealism, ironically.

look, they are sensible contracts with legal benefits and protections for the duration of the contract, then the contract is often broken later...10, 20, 30 whatever years later, 1, 2, 3, 4 kids later. people change, people even die--does that mean they should never have lived? life is imperfect, and so is marriage. and so will be gay marriages.

Posted by ellarosa | May 7, 2008 7:45 PM

Not saying that when a relationship ends its a failed relationship ... but damn it's expensive when it's marriage.

Posted by OR Matt | May 7, 2008 8:39 PM

I sincerely wish that everybody who wants a marriage gets one as great as mine.

I'm in the "Cut the Gordian knot" camp. Handle the legal boilerplate with a contract signed by any two consenting adults, and then go do whatever you want wrt the ceremony.

Posted by Lee Gibson | May 10, 2008 10:24 PM

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