Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage clashed before a Maryland Senate committee yesterday, with traditionalists invoking religious convictions and gay rights advocates describing their cause as a civil rights struggle.
So on the one hand we have people who want to be treated as human beings, with the same rights and dignity afforded any other person. And on the other hand we have people who think that the freedom to practice their religion means preventing other people from getting married.
And yet people think this is a tough issue. Sure, equal rights versus a desire to impose one's religious views on others--that sounds like the two sides are perfectly balanced.
Fortunately, the Maryland Attorney General thinks otherwise:
The lengthy hearing, which drew dozens of speakers on both sides of the most divisive social issue the General Assembly will take up this year, was headlined by Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D), who became Maryland's first elected statewide official to endorse legislation allowing same-sex marriage.
Gansler's office had successfully defended the state against a lawsuit by gay couples who sought to overturn a law prohibiting same-sex marriage. But yesterday, the former prosecutor from Montgomery County called same-sex marriage a "moral imperative" and a "basic matter of fairness."
"This bill is fundamentally about equality," Gansler told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. "It would be wrong for me to have this job knowing there's something so wrong in our society and just ignore it." He said qualms about same-sex unions seem to be limited to older people: "For the younger generation, this is a non-issue."
Woot! We have him and a bunch of legislators in favor of gay marriage (or at least civil unions), so maybe they'll even get something passed.
But let's see what the people against the idea of equality have to say for themselves.
Bill Wingard of Timonium, speaking against same-sex marriage, told lawmakers he went to a therapist who thought he was a "suppressed homosexual" before he married a woman and had five children.
I guess in context that might have been related to some kind of point he was trying to make? Maybe he was saying that people thought he was gay, but he wasn't (I mean, no repressed gay man would ever marry a woman, would he?), and therefore... what? Therefore gay people don't really exist? They would be better off marrying women?
Although, actually, I rather enjoy the moral of his story. He achieved happiness in marriage, therefore he won't let other people do the same.
Many supporters of traditional marriage said opening the institution to same-sex unions would diminish it. They said the Bible's teachings led them to a conviction that marriage must be between a man and a woman.
Yep. The Bible says that marriage must be between a man and a woman... and another woman... and lots more women (with some concubines on the side).
Of course, when people note that the Bible says that marriage must be between a man and a woman, I wonder why they don't note that the Bible is much more specific than that. It's not really between any one man and any one woman--it's between any one man and a virgin woman. If the woman's not a virgin at the time of her marriage, she has to die. So why don't we enshrine that in state constitutions?
"When the name 'marriage' can be stamped on any romantic entanglement, it loses all meaning," said Dean Nelson of Gaithersburg, director of the Network of Politically Active Christians.
Okay. How's that?
Ding! Time's up.
Besides, it's not "any romantic entanglement", you addle-pated twit. It is a union between two people who wish to make their romance official and permanent. How the hell does that make 'marriage' lose meaning? It's a lot more meaningful than 'any one man and one woman.'
Raskin and Madaleno were challenged by two Republicans on the committee, Alex X. Mooney (Frederick) and Bryan W. Simonaire (Anne Arundel), to defend polygamy if they believe in marriage equality for every group.
"Why are we taking this one group of people and saying we want equality just for them?" Simonaire asked. Madaleno called the question a "red herring."
Well, for one thing, this is about gay people being denied the right to get married. What class of people is being denied that right in the case of polygamy? It's absurd to say that you're being denied the right to marry when the obstacle is that you're already married.