Friday, April 13, 2007

Connecticut takes a step forward in favor of equality

Connecticut's Judiciary Committee voted 27-15 to legalize gay marriage yesterday. I think this story demonstrates two basic facets of this whole debate: 1) those opposed are opposed because they think there is something fundamentally different between an opposite-sex couple and a same-sex couple:
[Bruce] Morris, a minister at Bethel AME Church in Norwalk, said critics of his opposition to gay marriage believe it is only on religious grounds.

"What I'm arguing is this really is not a right, based on the inherent differences between a same-sex (and a) heterosexual couple," said Morris, who supports civil unions. "I believe 'gender-neutral' has its value, but not within a marriage. (There are) psychological and emotional differences between a husband and wife, and they don't nurture in the same way."

Of course, from here you have to leap the logical chasm to conclude that therefore same-sex couples don't have the same rights as opposite-sex ones. And just what this "difference" is, is never explicitly stated. I recall a debate I got into in the comments of another blog on the eve of the New Jersey decision saying that same-sex couples have to be given all the rights of opposite-sex ones. One commenter declared:
Opposite-sex couples effect society differently than do same-sex couples, and this effect that is the birth of children compels the state to make these classifications as the means that are rationally related to the legitimate governmental purpose that is to control or ameliorate the consequences of their relationships.

Nearly everything he had to say was related to children: either child-rearing or childbirth. But this isn't a real difference--as I tried pointing out to him, there are hundreds of thousands of children being raised by same-sex couples right now (warning: PDF).

Of course, after having tried to deny gay couples rights because of spurious arguments about children, when I pointed out that these couples do have children, he suddenly had no clue why children mattered to the argument.

Anyways. The second important facet is that when people realize that gay people aren't any different, and that this is merely invidious and arbitrary discrimination, they tend to become more sympathetic:
The most emotional plea came from a Judiciary Committee member who several colleagues apparently did not know was homosexual.

State Rep. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, spoke candidly through tears about her Catholic family's gradual acceptance of her relationship with another woman and what the term marriage means to them.

Bye, who is in a civil union, said she is often listed as "other," "husband," or "a party" to their relationship on medical and other official forms.

"The broader world doesn't see me as married," Bye told the Judiciary Committee. "I'm the only one sitting here who's living it every day, and I tell you, it's not trivial . . . I don't want to be 'other' anymore. I want to be married."

Opponents such as Kissel admit it was difficult to cast a "no" vote in light of their colleagues' comments.

"I would like to think I'm a compassionate individual," Kissel told the Judiciary Committee.

As Jon Stewart noted to Bill Bennett (starting around 2:15),
Stewart: Dick Cheney would be a perfect candidate for someone who wants to ban gay marriage. Is that--would that be correct? The ultra-conservative, draconian... drinks the blood of puppies. He's a guy... he's the guy... wouldn't he be a guy that is... he's the, he's the perfect candidate for a guy who wants to ban gay marriage, no? But he's against it. If you look at his voting pattern, social conservative, he's a social conservative.

Bennett: He's a social conservative.

Stewart: But he's not against gay marriage. Why is that?

Bennett: Because of his experience with his daughter.

And again, from the above-mentioned testimony of Ms. Bye:
But the most powerful moment came when state Rep. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, spoke publicly for the first time at the legislature about her own gay lifestyle. As tears rolled down her cheeks, Bye told members of the committee how her deeply religious father has come to accept and support her gay lifestyle and her partner.

"My father, a devout Catholic, ... has moved on this issue because he loves his daughter.

When people come to realize that gays are real people, instead of "the homosexual" which homophobic people talk about--the one who has 1000+ partners in their lifetime, who has STDs unknown to hetero man, who preys on young children, who flaunts their sexuality by having sex in public, who die 20 years before everyone else, who walk naked down the street in their wild bacchanalia known better as "Gay Pride Parades"--when people realize all that is complete crap and gays are no different than they are... then they become more accepting of gay rights.

And finally... I am amused how people against gay marriage always bitch about gays suing for their rights, declaring that such change should come from the legislative branch and not the judicial branch. And yet in the cases where the legislative branch does try to effect such change, the executive branch decides that's not good enough, either, and has to veto it.

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