Saturday, March 21, 2009

Vermont steps towards gay marriage

The AP reports:
A state Senate committee unanimously approved a gay marriage bill on Friday, moving Vermont one step closer to allowing same-sex couples to legally wed.

"It provides ... gay and lesbian couples the same rights that I have as a married heterosexual," said Sen. John Campbell, vice chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and chief sponsor of the bill.

The measure would replace Vermont's first-in-the-nation civil unions law with one that allows marriage of same-sex partners beginning Sept. 1.
There's a good chance it will pass both houses, which are Democratic, but there's a question whether the governor will sign the bill. Also, there may be a subsequent referendum which will be another lightning rod for outside forces, as we saw in California.

The Episcopal Bishop of Vermont testified for the bill as follows (H/T Susan Russell!):
Marriage equality means different things to different people, but among the things it means to me is that the values I hold dear in my own marriage and in the marriages of other men and women of faith can be celebrated by all. Those values include the mutual love and support of another person in a committed life-long relationship, in which fidelity, joy, help and comfort in all circumstances can be respected and practiced, and through which the stability of family can be provided for those who choose to care and nurture children. I do not believe that this legislation will diminish, or compromise, the integrity of marriage (certainly not my marriage). Rather, I believe it has the possibility to strengthen our understanding and appreciation of marriage as we witness the love and fidelity of gay and lesbian couples alongside that of straight couples.

Finally, as the title of this bill reflects, there is a need in this legislation to affirm the principle of religious freedom that is so much a part of our society. This bill will not settle the theological debate within religious communities—but that is not your work, is it! Your work is to serve the citizens of Vermont and to assure, to the best of your ability, the civil and human rights of all of us.
Go to Susan's site to read the whole thing, which is measured and intelligent.

Civil marriage is not religious. I remind you again of the fact that the Roman Catholics have tolerated civil re-marriage after divorce for many years, although their faith forbids it. As Andrew Sullivan wrote in his essay Modernity, Faith and Marriage (worth reading),
The reason the marriage debate is so intense is because neither side seems able to accept that the word "marriage" requires a certain looseness of meaning if it is to remain as a universal, civil institution. This is not that new. Catholics, for example, accept the word marriage to describe civil marriages that are second marriages, even though their own faith teaches them that those marriages don't actually exist as such. But most Catholics are able to set theological beliefs to one side and accept a theological untruth as a civil fact. ..... Catholics can tolerate fellow citizens who are not Catholic calling their non-marriages marriages - because Catholics have already accepted a civil-religious distinction. They can wear both hats in the public square.
I'd say, let's hope, but I've mostly run out of that on this subject


Erp said...

I should point out the Roman Catholic church tolerates civil divorce only in countries where they know they can't win. The fought against it in Ireland and Chile (and still do in the Philippines unless you are Muslim).

JCF said...

Heh. Another place we've won: Webster's Dictionary [You can Google it: Webster's has included a secondary definition of "marriage", to include two partner's of the same sex. You can imagine, the Usual Suspects are having a CONNIPTION about this!]

And eHarmony dot com is finally---FINALLY---going to let gay people look for love through their site, too.

See, it ain't all bad news, IT! ;-)

IT said...

Who cares about eHarmony? I actually have issues with someone suing them to force them to let gay people "in". They aren't a govt agency and so should be allowed to shape their business as they see fit. If they want to shape their business for straight people,why do I care? there are dating sites strucutred specifically for gay folks; should they all shut down, or open to straights? What about the sites focused on people who identify as Jews, for whom religious ID matters? I don't see how this is any different than forcing THE ADVOCATE to run stories about straights, or EBONY to make its content feature white folks. I don't agree with either the suit, or the decision.

Cany said...

OT: Anyone seen Fred out and about? I am concerned... have not seen him posting lately.

Fred, if you are out there... let us know you are okay, k?

IT said...

He posted on Real Anglicans on the 17th.

Anonymous said...

I am loathe to let businesses off the hook concerning public accommodation laws.

I think that absolute refusal to serve is wrong, if done as an act against an entire disparaged group.

On the other hand, advising the member of the group in question that the "matchmaker" algorithm may not work as well for that group as for the group for which it was designed, and indicating that there are few subscribers from the group member's group, is fine, and in fact constitutes fair warning. If the group member still wants to join, he/she/zie should be free to throw away their money.


David |Dah • veed| said...

I am loathe to let businesses off the hook concerning public accommodation laws.

Thank you NancyP!

IT, you will open yourself a great big ol' can of worms if you start picking & choosing who you think should have to follow CA's (or any other state's or nation's) public accommodation laws. Based on your argument, you and your beloved may find yourselves at the back of the line being discriminated against all over town as all sorts of folks "shape their business as they see fit" and choose not to accommodate lesbians.

BTW, I do not believe that periodicals per se, provide public accommodation. Their classified advertising however, may be a different story.

JCF said...

Was it the result of a lawsuit? (I really don't know. I just read a blurb at AfterEllen, and heard how excited the LGBT employees at eHarmony are about it)

Who cares about eHarmony?

Oh, IT, you are Soooooooo Married!!!!!

[i.e., Single Freakin' JCF, that's who! For whom there are NEVER enough "fish in the sea" for my rigor-mortis love life. :-(.. ]

IT said...

I am not giving a free pass, let me be clear on that.

But in this PARTICULAR case, there is a clear question that is not simply public accommodation.eHarmony's business simply did not offer an option for gays. They didn't design it to do so. How is that any different than a Jewish dating service or gay dating service restricting THEIR algorithms to a distinct class of people? Why is it okay for them, but not eHarmony, to discriminate?

If you allow one group to be selective in that way, then you have to allow all groups to be seelctive. THAT is my point. One rule for everyone. So, if eHarmony has to re-write their software to allow same sex partners, then J-Date should be required to allow Christians and Muslims to look for love on their site. THe gay dating sites should be required to re-write their software to include straights.

And if you do not think those sites should also accommodate everyone equally, then the question is why not?

I fail to see what was served in this exercise except money for lawyers. i very much doubt there is going to be a flood of GLBT going to eHarmony.