The New Christians

The New Christians


Doug Kmiec Is Right: Clergy Should Not Perform (Legal) Marriages

posted by Tony Jones

Last week, Doug Kmiec went on Colbert and became the next in a long line of people: Those who’ve gone on Colbert and said what I want to say on Colbert. Kmiec said what more and more of us are saying: Churches and clergy should get out of the marriage business. And by that I mean the legal marriage business.

So, let’s think about this. I’m an ordained clergyperson (that’s right, guilty as charged: I don’t

church and state.jpg

believe in ordination, but I’m ordained. I may spontaneously combust at any moment). When I was a pastor, I performed half a dozen weddings per year. And, at each, I was acting as an agent of the state — I signed the marriage license as a representative of Hennepin County and the State of Minnesota.

In no other fuction as a clergyperson did I function as an extension of the government — not when I was baptizing, burying, counseling, or communing. Only when performing a wedding did I, with the stroke of a pen, make official a legally binding contract that, in the eyes of the state, allowed that couple to enjoy certain privileges like the ability to file joint tax returns, visit one another in the hospital, and receive joint health care benefits from one of the partner’s employers.

Readers will know that I am most decidedly not a member of the Hauerwasian Mafia. I tend more toward an American postmodern pragmatism when it comes to church-state relations. However, I do find it odious that clergypersons are called upon, in this one instance, to act as agents of the state.

Many commenters have already noted the strangeness of “legal” marriage in our society. It is incentivized in order to benefit society by promoting monogamy. Monogamy, it is held in Western society, is better than the alternatives — we all benefit when human beings are monogamous.

At first blush, it would seem that this has to do with procreation. But the facts just don’t bear this out. In fact, at this point, any man and woman of legal age and not first cousins or closer in relation can get married and enjoy the benefits thereof. The state doesn’t care if Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall ever consumated their marriage. Intercourse or not, they were married, and the Supreme Court ruled that Smith (now Smith’s daughter) is entitled to a portion of Marshall’s estate.

So enough of the argument that same sex marriage should be forbidden on the grounds that it will destroy “traditional” marriage and all of society because same sex partners cannot procreate. On that basis, we should legislate against infertile men and post-menopausal women getting married.

Furthermore, the argument that this is a slippery slope to polygamy, polyamory, and bestiality is ludicrous. The reason to legalize same sex marriage is actually to enshrine human-to-human monogamy in law.

The real solution is to separate legal marriage from religious marriage. The state can and should incentivize monogamy — both same sex and “opposite marriage.”

Clergy and churches, on the other hand, should have no part in legally-binding contracts. Instead, religious professionals should bless and sanctify unions and partnerships that fit within their religious traditions as part of their sacerdotal functions.

[UPDATE: In the meantime, as states continues to pass bills legalizing same sex marriage (yes, the dominoes have started to fall, and no one's going to push that Sisyphan ball of wax up the hill again), it seems imperative that clergy, who are still acting as agents of the state, are specifically protected in said legislation from being prosecuted under state anti-discrimination statutes. There are cases already in which wedding photographers have been sued for refusing, on religious grounds, to shoot a gay wedding.  It seems quite likely that clergy would be subject to the same litigation if they are not a specifically protected class, under the freedom of religion clause of the First Amendmen. In other words, same sex marriage legislation should be carefully and thoughtfully crafted.

Or, better yet, clergy should stop performing legal marriages.]

Relevant Video:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Douglas Kmiec
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Gay Marriage Commercial



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Djayt

posted April 22, 2009 at 9:32 am


As a former Youth Minister, ordained but not on the job for the last quarter century, I couldn’t agree more. I do weddings for friends or friends of friends, and it’s laughable that I do so as a representative of a government of any kind.



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jhimm

posted April 22, 2009 at 9:32 am


i 100% agree.
if we separate legal civil contracts from religious marriage, we solve the gay legal civil contract debate instantly. since there is no actual gay marriage debate. gay people get religiously married all the time and no one can stop them.



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brotherrog

posted April 22, 2009 at 9:46 am


Just an observation, if clergy don’t do “legal” marriages, this would lead to a dramatic drop in marriages that clergy perform, and potentially, a dramatic drop in the number of young s who return to the church via the age old pattern of them leaving the church when they’re young and returning when they marry; i.e. it would mean missing out on chances to reconnect and evangelize.
But, as a matter of principal, I can see the author’s point. When I first read the title of the article, I was thinking it was going to say that clergy shouldn’t perform marriages for straight couples unless and until their respective state legalizes marriages for same-sex couples. I know a few clergypersons who refuse to perform marriages for straight couples for this reason.



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Dan Ra

posted April 22, 2009 at 9:49 am


Tony,
Amen and amen. I heard Bishop Gene Robinson speak at the Emory Law school and he described to us his non-legal, spiritually and ecclesially binding, marriage. A justice of the peace was present and he and his partner (or husband) went from the front of the church to the back to be legally binded, and then proceeded back to the front with the Christian officiant binding the marriage to God and church.
I thought that was beautiful and profound, truly separating church and state.



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Question Asker

posted April 22, 2009 at 9:55 am


How is your argument here different than the work of conservative Mainline theologian Stan Hauerwas? What does “postmodern pragmatism” mean to you?
Why do you say “the argument that [marriage equality] is a slippery slope to polygamy, polyamory, and bestiality is ludicrous”? Is it really all that ludicrous? Perhaps discussion of marriage rights for polyamory relationships isn’t that far behind. In fact, it’s already started.
In 1999, the UU Church established the “Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness.” They have a mission statement, organizational goals, theological reflection, and the whole deal. For more info, check out: http://www.uupa.org/
The “Polyamorous Percolations” website talks about marriage rights and biblical spirituality. In fact, they even as a monthly column called “Keeping the Faith.” http://www.polyamoryonline.org/
The TV show “Big Love” is has brought polygamy into the mainstream. They are breaking boundaries and challenging stereotypes. Perhaps you could say this show is the “L-Word” of polygamy.
Didn’t Abraham, the father of the great Monotheistic faiths, have several wives (Sarah, Hagar and Keturah)?
Anyway, I just thought these were questions worth asking.



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Jim

posted April 22, 2009 at 10:05 am


Tony, I’ve been thinking along similar lines lately, but come to the opposite conclusion! Instead of the clergy not performing (legal) marriages, I would say that the State should not perform any marriages at all.
After all, what business is it of theirs who I want to marry? It’s very much a concern of God, so naturally the church should be involved, but why the government? What gives a bunch of guys who live in Washington the right to decide who I spend my life with?
In legalizing or illegalizing marriage, it seems to me that governments have way overstepped their authority. I’m all for the separation of church and state, but in this case, its the state that needs to withdraw.



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Djayt

posted April 22, 2009 at 10:14 am


and another thing… Weddings have turned into big money for churches. Big. Money. “Can you pay?” is a bigger question than, “are you a recognized member of our congregation?”



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Husband

posted April 22, 2009 at 10:33 am


Tony,
“In no other function as a clergyperson did I function as an extension of the government”
Hmmm, I find that a bit odd. Where I live (Canada), clergy can also sign such things as passport applications. Maybe it’s different where you live. Please clarify.
Re: your “procreation” ‘argument’ – although your premise is correct (procreation is not required – by either the State nor the Church in order for the marriage to be valid) – you chose Anna Nicole Smith who did procreate. I understand the child may not have been fathered by Marshall, but that’s moot since, again, procreation is not a requireent of marriage – never has been. Stick with the truth – it is illogical to deny gay couples marriage “because same sex partners cannot procreate. On that basis, we should legislate against infertile men and post-menopausal women getting married.” One of my 3 (heterosexual) sisters is now in her second, legal marriage and has ot prduced a child, yet somehow her marriage is valid in both the eyes of the State and her church.
Let churches stick to holy matrimony. Even tho I was married in my Church because of my faith beliefs, I would have been happy to go to City Hall. They would have been happy to perform same-sex marriages, long before the government ‘allowed’ them.



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Hugh McBryde

posted April 22, 2009 at 10:52 am


Since you say the state should be out of marriage, or at least the church, how do you feel about persecuting polygynists in Texas? If you’re for “non legal” or ceremonial marriage blessings by the churches, why don’t their marriages count?



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Question Asker

posted April 22, 2009 at 10:55 am


Thomas Moore in his book “The Care of the Soul” wrote the following about word “poly”: “Some, without investigating the idea deeply enough, have assumed that this means that morally anything goes, that there is no code of ethics, and that whatever happens, happens; but poly means ‘several,’ not ‘any.’”



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Husband

posted April 22, 2009 at 11:02 am


Question Asker,
Why do you ask “Why do you say “the argument that [marriage equality] is a slippery slope to polygamy, polyamory, and bestiality is ludicrous”? Is it really all that ludicrous? Perhaps discussion of marriage rights for polyamory relationships isn’t that far behind. In fact, it’s already started.”
First, the beastiality argument is most assuredly “ludicrous”. Animals, like children, cannot give informed consent. (Nor can animals sign, and therefor enter into, a contract.) Please at least get real on that score.
Now, re polygamy, I have 3 points. First, no one currently has the right (privilege or freedom, actually) to marry more than one spouse at a time in N. America. I don’t see the connection between same-sex couples (as in TWO people) making a commiment to one another (as in, “I choose you not a group of people.”) and multiple spouses.
Secondly, although I have no person problem with poly marriages, I can certainly understand why the State would have many problems. Who gets the pension – the first wife (who is no longer s ‘loved’ as she once was), or the second (who bore him a child), or the 3rd (who bore him the first born male child), or the 4th (who still provides the hottest sex), etc.? Does the State grant all widows equal widows pensons or do they all have to share one divided amongst them? Which wife has the ‘right’ to visit him in the hospital?
Which one has the decision-making rights (death, pull-the-plug, health care, etc.)? What if several disagree? What if a man has one legal wife here, goes overseas and marries a second and wants to sponsor the 2nd’s immigration to here? Etc. Etc. Etc.
So many laws to consider regarding language that refers to “the spouse”, not the “spouses”.
Thirdly, please explain how my marriage (to one other person) somehow “leads to” polygamous marriages? This “slippery slope” is only greased by opponents to same-sex marriages. IMO, it is a phony ‘argument’ – in the extreme – sorta like the ‘argument’ that my marriage will “lead to” “marrying a plant”, “marrying a bicycle”, “marrying a rock”, “marrying a color”, “marying a corpse” [all courtesy of the Crunchy Con blog], or will “lead to” “marrying a child or an animal” [thanx to would-be 'President' Mike Hucklebee and his beastiality and child-molestation comparisons - SOOO 'Christian' that!]. It simply makes no sense. No more sense than saying milk is a ‘gateway’ drink, since every alcoholic in the world started with milk, then ‘went on’ to carbonated soft drinks, then on to coffee, then on to beer, then liquor. ‘Cuz gosh, next thing ya know, they’ll all be wanting to try heroin or crack. A little logic, please.
You may be correct that the “discussion” re polygamy has “already started”, but it’s a separate discussion and has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. If would-be polygamists want to make their case for multiple spouse marriages before the state, let them, but it has zilch to do with mine which, like all other recognized marriages, has only two spouses.



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Timmy C.

posted April 22, 2009 at 11:13 am


Tony:
100 Percent agree with you and I’m volunteering to help with an proposed California Initiative that does exactly what you describe for the State of California:
From the Monterey Herald:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California’s top election official gave two Southern California college students the go-ahead Tuesday to start collecting signatures for a proposed ballot initiative that would end marriage as a state-sanctioned institution….
Their constitutional amendment would repeal the ban, known as Proposition 8, and strike the word “marriage” from licenses, tax forms and other state documents while retaining the rights and responsibilities of marriage for domestic partners.
“The purpose of which is to provide equality amongst all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, without offending the religious sect,” the pair wrote in their application for an initiative title and summary. “Legally speaking, ‘Marriage’ itself would become a social ceremony, recognized by only non-governmental institutions.”
“Ours is more like a compromise that mediates the two sides,” he said. “This isn’t a gay rights campaign, it’s an equal rights campaign. You can see it as an attack on marriage, but you can also see it as protecting marriage because we are taking it out of the battlefield.”
They need 700,000 signatures from Californians by August. If they get it they will be a Proposition on the California ballot in 2010.
Any help you or others could be on getting the word out to those in California who can help them reach their 700K signatures would be great.
Facebook group:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=42833687407
Web site:
http://www.dompar.org/



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Husband

posted April 22, 2009 at 11:22 am


Jim,
“Instead of the clergy not performing (legal) marriages, I would say that the State should not perform any marriages at all.”
Apart from your own personal preference and beliefs, could you expain why? I mean, “The Church” (TM) got into the marriage business well after the State did.
“After all, what business is it of theirs [the State] who I want to marry? It’s very much a concern of God”
It isn’t a “concern of God” to the non-religious (which is why I want to know why you believe what you believe apart from your relgious beliefs – we don’t all go to your church, and some citizens don’t go to any).
“so naturally the church should be involved”
“The Church” (TM) can stick to administering the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Since they entered the marriage busness well after the State did, let the Church stop doing marriages, and stick to holy sacraments which is their business. As Tony points out, please explain why the clergy should be acting as an agent of the State in the first place.
“but why the government?”
Because it is the Government that regulates and doles out the financial ‘benefits’ of marriage, from survivor pensions, tax relief, etc. that’swhy.
“What gives a bunch of guys who live in Washington the right to decide who I spend my life with?”
You can spend your life with whomever you wish. Once you decide to formalize that ‘spending’ into a marriage contract, then it becomes the State’s business – because of the benefits, rights and privileges of the contract, 1,176 of which are denied to same-sex couples federally.
“In legalizing or illegalizing marriage, it seems to me that governments have way overstepped their authority.”
Then, imnsho, you are simply wrong. It is the opposite of that. Keep in mind again that clergy act as agents of the State in marriage. You might have a point if the State started acting as agents of “The Church” (TM) and decided who would get to receive communion or baptism. They don’t, and until such time as they do, you do not have a valid point. Religions do not decide on the ‘legality’ or ‘illegality’ of matters, btw.
“I’m all for the separation of church and state, but in this case, its the state that needs to withdraw.”
Clearly, I disagree and believe it is (or should be) the reverse. That is merely your opinion – to which you are entitled – but you’ll need much better arguments to convince others.



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Eric C.

posted April 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm


Hugh McBryde wrote:
“Since you say the state should be out of marriage, or at least the church, how do you feel about persecuting polygynists in Texas? If you’re for “non legal” or ceremonial marriage blessings by the churches, why don’t their marriages count?”
I can’t speak for Tony, but the State has good reasons, grounded in human dignity and equality, to incentivize monogamy over polygamy. Historically, polygamy has been associated with the oppression of women, and implies that the man is more than equal than his wives. After all, in very few polygamous societies has the man had to share his wife with other husbands.
That human dignity and equality argument in favor of monogamy does not, in my opinion, support an argument for the prohibition of SSM.
And finally, there is a difference between incentivizing monogamy and persecuting polygamists. I favor incentivizing monogamy but I oppose the criminalization, without regard to religious belief, of polygamy. (Child marriage, however, needs to stay a criminal matter).



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Jim

posted April 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm


Husband,
I appreciate your response, you’re quite right about a number of things here, and I’m afraid I made myself unclear.
First, I definitely agree that the Church ™ should not be acting as an agent of the state. I do not argue that the state should merely recognize and grant benefits to whomever the Church marries. Not by any means. The government, as you say, is involved because it “regulates and doles out the financial ‘benefits’ of marriage.” Which is quite true, and what I would wish to end. I don’t see why the government should be offering and regulating financial benefits for marriage. The categories of “marriage” and “spouse” should be eliminated from law. I realize this brings certain complications, but it would undoubtedly clear up a few as well.
The main benefit of this would be equally under law without endorsing or precluding any kind of marriage. The law would increase its justice as well as its liberty (a rare combination).
Our point of disagreement is on the distinction between “marriage” and “Holy Matrimony,” and whether “‘The Church’ (TM) got into the marriage business well after the State did.” I believe that Christian marriage is the only true and valid marriage, and that marriage itself is fundamentally religious.
However, I respect your position, and though I should like to persuade you otherwise, I by no means want to engage the state as a strong arm of my persuasion (or anyone’s!). I would be much happier if we left the state out of it, if you married in whatever manner you thought right, and I did likewise. We would be free to obey God and our conscience, and the state would have nothing to do with us.



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Question Asker

posted April 22, 2009 at 1:36 pm


Husband,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You’ve brought up some interesting points. I completely agree with you that the bestiality argument is ludicrous. That is apples and oranges. I hope I have made it clear that I am only talking about human beings.
My main point was that the conversation about “marriage equality” for same gender and the conversation about “marriage equality for polyamory relationships have both already started. Much of the wording on state forms and legal documents would have to be updated in either case. And there would be new ethical considerations, such as the rights and privileges for the persons in the relationship.
I agree with you that “marriage equality” for same gender couples is not a slippery slope to a ridiculously open definition of marriage. It’s not a slippery slope to anarchy. But I do think there is a slope towards justice. Interracial marriage became legal – and now same sex marriage is becoming legal. We continue to move in the direction of justice. Perhaps someday we’ll be compelled to consider polyamory marriage as a justice issue as well. Time will tell. In any case, I hope we continue to march toward a more just, equal, and compassionate world.



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Theresa Seeber

posted April 22, 2009 at 2:41 pm


So, what is the historicity of the Church marrying people? Is the practice, for instance, mentioned in the Didache? I don’t recall anyone officiating a service in the New Testament – the story of the wedding Jesus made the wine at didn’t clarify who was legalizing the decision. I am thinking there must somewhere be historical knowledge of how marriage agreements went down in that day and time, though. Not to say that we should run our government the same way Jesus’ government was run in that day and time (please don’t think I am, it would be a major distraction from the conversation at hand), I only ask for the sake of historical context. I am interested in how we got to where we are, and where we have been before this.



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Ted Seeber

posted April 22, 2009 at 2:44 pm


I’m going to jump my own shark here, and become a Devil’s Advocate.
WHY not polygamous relationships? You see, I agree separating “sacramental” marriage, from “secular” marriage, is a damn good idea. I want my Catholic Priest to be able to continue to perform sacramental marriage, and I think it’s a damn shame that in Canada he now can’t (because Catholic Sacramental marriage is discriminatory).
But if we must, as a secular society, accept gay marriage, why shouldn’t we allow for polygamous relationships, near relative relationships (Egyptian Coptic Pre-Christian religions), interspecies relationships (Hindu accepts this), Child marriage (Timor), or as a recent BBC America show put it, autogamous relationships (marrying one’s car), etc? Aren’t you being bigoted in not accepting such relationships?
The problem with moral relativism is that one loses the right to ALL judgment.



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Ted Seeber

posted April 22, 2009 at 2:56 pm


Ok, switching back to my bigoted Catholic high horse:
“So, what is the historicity of the Church marrying people?”
It’s one of the seven sacraments, but like the Eucharist and Baptism and Apostolic Authority Ordination, is derived from the Jewish tradition, and is only “approved” by Jesus instead of “instituted” by Jesus. It’s Old Testament based, not new.



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Ted Seeber

posted April 22, 2009 at 3:25 pm


On inconvenience for the state as a barrier: I’m sure Utah still has all the proper forms available for many:one and many:many marriages.



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Andrew Martin

posted April 22, 2009 at 3:57 pm


This is certainly what happens in some European countries. Holland springs to mind. You go to the Town Hall or the courthouse or some such place to get wed in the eyes of the state, and to church to get wed in the eyes of the church. If you want both, you do both.
But that seems unfortunate: marriage isn’t really the “property” of the state — it belongs to the community, something much more primitive. The state gets to regulate it, not least because it has decided to have marriage affect taxation, but it doesn’t own it. People have been getting married to each other since long before there was a state to approve of their union.
So though I like to see many postmodern flowers bloom, it seems like an unwanted retreat for the church to say “oh, we don’t want to take part in this”: if the church represents the gathered community, it’s as important part of life as the politically-structured state.



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Seth R.

posted April 22, 2009 at 4:06 pm


I argued this exact same point as early as July of last year on the Mormon group blog I contribute to (check the July 2008 archive if you’re interested).
The fairness arguments are too strong here and equal union rights for all will win the day.
But I do not want my government legitimizing these marriages. In fact, I don’t really want the government legitimizing mine either. As if I had to ask THEIR permission to marry my own wife! It’s frankly insulting.
When I married my wife, it was in the LDS temple. Sure, we went to the local county courthouse and got a marriage license. But if that judge had refused, it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference to me. I was married to my wife – whether he/she agreed or not.
Civil unions and their packaged set of tax and civil benefits are the only thing that government has a right to dish out – to anyone. Marriage should be removed from the government goodie-bag and made the matter of private belief it was meant to be.



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Seth R.

posted April 22, 2009 at 4:07 pm


Whether the judge agreed I should clarify. Obviously, my wife’s opinion mattered quite a bit.



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Your Name

posted April 22, 2009 at 4:57 pm


Let me start by saying that I agree in separating civil unions and Holy matrimony. The state is simply involved in sealing a contract that it will be responsible to uphold in any court cases that may come along, where the church provides what some believe is God’s stamp of approval on a relationship.
I think people fight when they see state sanctioned SSM as the government providing God’s approval, and we need to separate that to clear up the issue.
However, I don’t see a huge leap from SSM to poly marriages. Separate from biblical arguments that are irrelevant in a state matter, how can we incentivize one behavior (monogamy) and trample on the honest desires of others?!!
The same philosophical arguments that defend a SS couple to enter into a contract should apply for ANY consenting adult desiring to enter into a contract. We may disagree with the parties in the contract, and what they intend to do, but what business is it of ours how they chose to conduct themselves. (Full disclosure: I also apply this to legalized prostitution).
Please don’t get me wrong…from a biblical perspective I find SSM, polymarriage and prostitution wrong and would fight against them within the context of my church. However, I find no basis for interfering in the legal contracts and agreements of others at a state level.



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Ted Seeber

posted April 22, 2009 at 5:04 pm


Husband- finally read your full reason. If I’m bigoted against gay and infertile couples because I hold to John Paul II’s teachings about sex and marriage, then you are equally bigoted against animals (who have the right of consent according to the beliefs of the Hindu faith) and children (well, at least those above the age of 7, who are legally permitted in several countries around the world to sign contracts including marriage contracts).
On Polygamous marriages, you’re slightly less bigoted, but you’ve overlooked the fact that Utah has already solved these problems- and that they represent at least ONE government where polygamy is still quasi-legal (not explicitly, they had to give that up to be a state, but you can find plenty of judges in the smaller towns that are willing to overlook it).
Finally, the slippery slope argument is this: You are basing gay marriage on the scientific and cultural beliefs of a minority. Why is your minority any more qualified to push your beliefs on society than anybody else’s minority?



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Anon

posted April 22, 2009 at 5:31 pm


Clergy members would never be forced to conduct any marriage that they object to on religious grounds. Current non-discrimination laws about religion and race don’t force rabbis to marry a Jew to a non-Jew, nor do they force a Catholic priest to marry a Catholic to a non-Catholic. The wedding photographer is different from a clergy member because the photographer is offering his services for sale to the general public, and just like you can’t operate a public restaurant and say “no blacks at the lunch counter,” you can’t operate a photography business and say “no gays in my photos.”
The First Amendment gives broad protections, however, for religious communities to conduct their religious practices as they please. Racist churches are free to exclude certain races from their membership, despite laws banning race discrimination (e.g., the LDS church barred black people from the priesthood [which is really just male membership in LDS parlance] until 1978, well after various federal anti-discrimination laws based on race were passed). In short, please stop perpetuating the myth that any law extending marriage rights to gays would ever result in a clergy member being forced to wed a same-sex couple against her will. There is no legal basis for this argument.



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Theresa Seeber

posted April 22, 2009 at 9:43 pm


An interesting note along the lines of some of these comments…. I heard a short bio on the radio this morning of President John Adams’ mother. She grew up during a time in which girls were not allowed to get an education. No school for you, sisters. Strange the things we allow! We wouldn’t dream of it today!



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Kevin s.

posted April 22, 2009 at 11:32 pm


“Weddings have turned into big money for churches. Big. Money. “Can you pay?” is a bigger question than, “are you a recognized member of our congregation?”
Big money? That depends on the church. My church doesn’t own a building, so members have to look elsewhere to marry. Typically, church facilities are MUCH cheaper than other venues.
I agree that church leaders shouldn’t be performing legal marriages, but that is because I have come to the conclusion that there should not be legal marriages. That seems to address every objection on any side of the policy debate.
If we eliminate gov-marriages, we open up the opportunity for people to examine what marriage really means.



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Panthera

posted April 23, 2009 at 4:01 am


All of those here arguing that SSM leads to polygamous marriage and that is a bad thing because the Bible tells us so, really need to sit down and actually read the Bible.
Old or New Testament, you are not going to find any defense for your position. Rather the opposite, especially regarding one man having more than one wife as his brotherly duty to his widowed sister-in-law.
You would do far better with the Islamic argument, certainly the law permits a man four wives, if he can afford them, yet he can only do justice to one.
Considering that I both oppose polygamy (for the simple reason that it is unfair to women) and detest the Islamic religion (spent too much time in Africa and the Middle East, next to communism the very worst thing which can happen to a culture) the only reason for me to even mention this is because it is simple fact.
I like facts.
Thomas, you are conflating two separate aspects of the term “marriage” and making of them one. This is wrong.
The concept of marriage as a sacrament is neither historically nor universally a Christian concept. Seriously, it is not historical. Doesn’t make it wrong or invalid, just, we need to be very careful not to start waving the banner of “so was it ever, so shall it ever be” around.
You will recall that I asked our local mayor to preside at our civil wedding, calling upon a truly ancient tradition that those of a certain social rank and above had that right. A conceit, today, of course and legally no longer of interest in my very much more a democracy than your country is, but I also knew that he was itching to perform a SSM (local elections coming up and he needed some bonus points) and would just plain like it. The flip side of that wonderful tradition was not so wonderful. Remember the old saw “Ah, the good old days here in …(enter whatever European country you like) where your Count voted. Not like today, where your vote counts. Yup, yup, my gre’gre’ grandfer actually did do the voting for the local folks and they were quite grateful, too, seeing as how the alternative was to lose one’s head.
In short, only those for whom producing an heir of the blood, only those possessed of serious real estate were granted State recognition of their marriage. Everybody else had to make do and was thankful if the local village priest would oblige. Mostly, he wouldn’t.
Forgive my arrogance, but do you fundamentalist Christians in North America actually, really, truly ever read history? Do you realize what a horrible place Europe was for the 99.99% of the population who weren’t wealthy?
Thomas, there is a second set of problems with your desire to deny my marriage State recognition, and that is the problem all religious conservatives face when once they launch into their “minority” argument.
First, science and medicine have long since rejected the “perverted”, “degenerate”, etc. labels conservative Christians so often apply to homosexuals. It is the same as the argument we Christians so pompously waged pro heliocentrism. We lost that one and for good reason. Are you seriously asking the State to base laws upon premises which have been demonstrated to be false? There is no medical or scientific research or authority for you to appeal to here, the consensus is based on too much hard data with nothing to disproving it.
Second, you are a minority. So, as a Christian, am I. It mattereth not one whit that, locally, we are in the majority. At the rate at which the Islamic immigrants are increasing their population relative to the Christian (and remember, I helped my family fund five adoptions in the last 10 years, so don’t you dare start up with that one), we will soon be in the minority, period. Do you really want laws to be made against us by the majority?
(Major disclaimer, I am not a racist, in contrast to the white supremists Rod permits to post over at his blog, I am thankful for immigrants and for people who have children; including those who follow other religious beliefs or none. Doesn’t mean I care for Islam. But the whole racial superiority question was very thoroughly discussed here in my country for 12 years in the last century and we saw the results. Racism is an abomination in the eyes of God. Period.)
Back to majority versus minority. How on earth does it affect the Catholic aspects of your marriage, Thomas, that my husband is legally entitled to my property here without a court fight? That he may make decisions for me, should I be incapacitated. That he may visit me in the hospital, in prison (heaven forbid!), refuse to testify against me (given his Catholic conscience, fat chance that), be treated as my family in all legal and property considerations, et cetra. It doesn’t.
Our civil marriage makes it possible for us to honor our responsibilities and obligations to each other.
Not even a tangential connection to your church based marriage.
By the by, we were married in a Christian church, in a ceremony recognized by our Christian Community. Why does your branch of Christianity get to decide and mine doesn’t? That is a question of minorities which is very relevant and I don’t see the fundamentalist Christians addressing it, tho’ you folks are the ones who profit most from the State permitting your sects and denominations the same status as that of everyone else. Do you really want the State to decide what makes us a Christian community? That is the consequence of your argument.
Thomas, I bear you no ill will. I do think you should consider your positions, though. There is a big difference between being married in the eyes of the Church and being married in the eyes of the State.
Please, let’s keep the State out of our Christianity, both mine and yours.



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jon

posted April 23, 2009 at 5:13 am


I’d love for you to be on Colbert. But only if you use the phrase “pull out” at least once.
If a person doesn’t want to get married in a church and instead is married at the court house, or by a friend–they kind of already do a form of this. And yet, somehow they are all called “married”.
It’s about time that this is coming up. Back in Nov/Dec, USA today had a piece on this and people just laughed. Many, many in the GLBT community have been proposing civil registration for a very long time. But no one would listen. Call it a civil union or domestic partnership, civil registration–it doesn’t matter b/c, legally, it’s just a contract for distribution of property, etc. Which is exactly what the state should have interest in. Let the state register couples for their legal protections and benefits.
COME ON, PROTECT YOUR RELIGIOUS RIGHTS – get the state out of your faith.
Let the faith communities (or whom ever chooses) solomize (?) the covenant aspect and pronounce the couples “married” in accordance with the traditions of their own faith community. If a particular church wants to call “marriage” something that only can be between a man and a woman, now they would have the legal right to express that opinion through performing opposite sex marriages. Not a big deal. In a way, doesn’t the catholic church already do this? They choose to only recognize some marriages, like only first marriages, right? And the sky hasn’t fallen yet. Then, if anti-gay marriage proponents want to say “they aren’t really married”, that’s fine. No one will care b/c everyone will have equal rights.
PLUS – this would give both tax exempt organizations and their representatives clear protection. Let the separation of church and state work for you this time! It’s a freakin’ win-win. For the life of me, I don’t understand why the conservative church hasn’t proposed this a lone time ago — it’s protects religious freedoms!
Now, the business side of it (like wedding photographers) should not cloud whether or not current marriage laws are reformed. It’s pretty clear, the photographer has to have a “legitimate business reason to refuse service”. Currently, a persons moral objection is not a legitimate business reason for refusing service. It’s just not. People are either going to have to get over this…or amend the equal protection act and Unruh Civil Rights Act to give everyone the right to refuse service based on moral objections. We can always go back to the 60′s. That worked out real well.
For more info on the business side, this is a great article: https://www.legalzoom.com/legal-articles/business-right-to-refuse-service.html



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Question Asker

posted April 23, 2009 at 8:29 am


Can anyone name a marriage in the Bible that was just one man and just one woman, and monogamous? Other than Mary and Joseph, of course.



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Rick C

posted April 23, 2009 at 9:47 am


Adam and Eve.
Isaac and Rebekah.
Moses and Zipporah.
Ezekiel and his unnamed wife (Ezek. 24:15).
Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Priscilla and Aquilla.



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Question Asker

posted April 23, 2009 at 10:05 am


Rick C:
Thank you for your reply and list. Just a couple questions.
Where does it say that Adam and Eve got married?
Wasn’t Moses married to an un-named Ethiopian Woman also (Numbers 12:1)?
But, overall, you’re right. It does seem like there were a few monogamous marriages in the Bible.



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Panthera

posted April 23, 2009 at 10:08 am


I know Jesus doesn’t count for much amoung conservative American Christians – only Paul matters, Jesus having been only a Jew and the Son of God…
But, weren’t Mary and Joseph only married to each other?
Nobody is arguing against two-person marriage, I am just pointing out that the fundamentalist Christians with their slippery slope arguments are not going to find any support in the Bible for their absurd position that granting me human status will somehow lead to polygamy.
Were that to be the case, I daresay the LDS would mandate their missionaries get out of those polyester suits and into something a bit more attractive…they’re not otherwise shy about foisting their young off to achieve their goals. And there is something to be said for clean-cut, well-educated mamma’s boys…



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Question Asker

posted April 23, 2009 at 10:13 am


Can anyone name a polygamist relationship in the Bible? Other than Abijah, Abraham, Ahab, Ahasuerus, Ashur, Belshazzar, Benhadad, Caleb, David, Eliphaz, Elkanah, Esau, Ezra, Gideon, Jacob, Jehoiachin, Jehoram, Jerahmeel, Joash, Lamech, Machir, Manasseh, Mered, Moses, Nahor, Rehoboam, Saul, Shaharaim, Simeon, Solomon, and Zedekiah, of course.



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Panthera

posted April 23, 2009 at 10:14 am


Sigh,
one of the reasons I demand fundamentalist Christians stick to either Latin, Greek (which is very hard for me) or German is because the KJV is so full of errors it is nearly impossible to work with. Still, it is useful for driving their hypocritical, hateful, spite filled minds over the edge.
Nowhere is it claimed that Moses married an Ethiopian. He married a descendent of Cush, as in one of the sons of Ham.
Remember him?
Sheesh.



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Rick C

posted April 23, 2009 at 10:22 am


Zipporah was the cushite woman in Numbers.



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Reverend Claudia

posted April 23, 2009 at 11:42 am


I totally agree with this. I don’t believe clergy should be involved at all in marriages in the legal, civil arena. I believe this separation of church and state is essential for our continuing life. And as a lesbian who has been in a committed realtionship for 20 years (and as a post-menopausal woman), I believe the state (government) needs to support marriage for all people. When I was in ICU, the hospital wouldn’t even tell my partner what my temperature was even though she knew much more about me that my brother (legal guy in this case) who lives an hour away. It’s time this country realized that religious marriage had nothing to do with the civil laws that govern legal marriage. Amen to you for your courage and may we someday learn this truth.
Rev. Claudia



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Seth R.

posted April 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm


Just a few clarifications on polygamy.
Utah has anti-bigamy laws, just like most places. Trouble is, we’ve found they’re almost impossible to enforce, since they require the wife’s testimony and she almost never cooperates in these cases.
We’ve nailed a few high-profile polygamists. But only on unrelated charges like tax evasion or welfare fraud or other domestic abuse charges. Other than that, what are you going to do? Make it illegal in the US for a man to sleep with more than one woman and help them all out financially? The idea that an anti-polygamy law could even be enforced is pure rubbish.
One other clarification. People misuse the word “polygamy.” Here are a few definitions for you:
“Polygyny” – one man, more than one wife
“Polyandry” – one woman, more than one husband
“Polygamy” – more than one spouse (encompasses BOTH polyandry AND polygyny
“Polyamory” – multiple intimate partners of either gender, but not necessarily any marital bonds (basically that 1960s “free love” stuff)
Keep them straight.
Thank you. Carry on.



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Panthera

posted April 23, 2009 at 2:43 pm


Reverend Claudia,
I am sorry you experienced that. Right now, I am legally married and my husband has all the rights and privileges which my spouse should have (especially for putting up with me for 24 years).
In three weeks, I shall return to the US. There, we have several ten thousand dollars worth of legal work which, might, protect him or me against my fundamentalist Christian relations. Or not. Twice now, we have experienced that it did not and had to go to court. We won both times, but it leaves me with a raging fury towards fundamentalist Christians which drives me to do battle with them whenever and wherever I can.
Their arrogance, their bigotry, their hatred and spite have nothing to do with Christianity, it is all power games and posturing.
Someday, we will achieve human status in the US. I fear, tho’, that it will take many years before the scorched earth policies of these people are behind us.



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Panthera

posted April 23, 2009 at 3:05 pm


Rick,
I think showing knowledge of the Bible pretty much disqualifies you for participation in 99% of American Christian churches.
To be fair, there were a few places called Cush, but the translation errors in the KJV are just awful.



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Husband

posted April 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm


” The categories of “marriage” and “spouse” should be eliminated from law.”
Yeah, r-i-ii-g-h-t. That’s gonna happen. Good luck with that, Jim. I wuldn’t hold my breath if I were you.



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Husband

posted April 23, 2009 at 4:23 pm


“I believe that Christian marriage is the only true and valid marriage, and that marriage itself is fundamentally religious.”
Like I said, you’re welcome to your beliefs, but others are also welcome to theirs in a land that ‘promises’ freedom of religion to all its citizens. If marriage is “fundamentally religious”, why are the a-religious allowed to marry in City Halls and by Justices of the Peace (and ship Captains) – none of whom are clergy? (BTW, I say this as someone who did get married in my Church.)
“Our point of disagreement is on the distinction between “marriage” and “Holy Matrimony,” and whether “‘The Church’ (TM) got into the marriage business well after the State did.”
Feel free to disagree all you want, but historicaly, you are incorrect. The Church came into the picture quite late.
I’m glad you respect my position. I wish I could respect yours more, but find it at odds with the concept of separation of Church and State. I think you and Timmy C. would have better luck with a petition to make the Churches stick to Holy Matrimony and leave marriage (and its myriad encumbent, ahem, laws) to the Gubmint. Unless you wish The Church (TM) to be in charge of dispensing pensions, etc. I sure wouldn’t, nor would I sign a petitition to get the Government out of the marriage business. I think most of the population would agree wth me, tho I’ll wait and see how that turns out.



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Flaming Conservative

posted April 23, 2009 at 4:33 pm


Panthera,
Do you have any desire to hold a civil conversation, or simply spew vitriol into thin air.
You may have valid points, and you may have much to teach me about the original text. However, if I have to wade through your bile to get to it, I’m better off as I am.



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Panthera

posted April 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm


I note the Republican governor of Connecticut just now signed the bill granting us human status in yet another US State.
Gnashing of teeth by the usual suspects sure to follow.Since this one was all three organs (court, legislature, governor) I can’t wait to hear what the christianists come up with this time.



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Husband

posted April 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm


Question Asker,
Although I share your passion for themove to a more just society, I simply disagree that polygamous marriages are in any way ‘just’. Please re-read my argument and all the question that arise. Polygamous marriages have been historically unfair and very unequal (and hence unjust) to the women. (And yes, it is almost always 1 man, multiple wives.)
Tell me how wife number 1 will feel it ‘just’ when she hears husband making love to wife number 6 in the next room?
Tell me how wife number 1 gets ‘justice’ when her husband dies and she must split the inheritance and the pension with wives number 2 – 14?
Tell me how it is ‘just’ that although the husband is married to all 29 wives, the 29 wives are not married to ach other? (Or are they?)This is important because if wife number 72 dies, shouldn’t her other wives (presuming everyone in the marriage is married to all other partners in the marriage, no?) get to share her pension and inheritance, or should it/will it all go to the husband?
What if wife number 17 hates wife number 42 and tells the hospital not to allow her at her husband’s bedside? Is this ‘just’?
What about the children of wives 4, 8, 9, 11, 15 and 23? Is it ‘just’ to require wives 1, 34 and 96 to care fo them?
Etc.
Methinks the polygamists have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do in order to make their case. Good luck to them, say I, but it ain’t what gay people are strugglng to achieve – namely, equality before the law.



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Husband

posted April 23, 2009 at 5:00 pm


Ted Seeber,
YOu ask some interesting questions,many of which I’ve already addressed above. However …
“I agree separating “sacramental” marriage, from “secular” marriage, is a damn good idea. I want my Catholic Priest to be able to continue to perform sacramental marriage, and I think it’s a damn shame that in Canada he now can’t (because Catholic Sacramental marriage is discriminatory).”
I’m not Catholic and am not aware of the term “sacramental marriage” (apart from the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony – is it different?), but I do live in Canada and have never heard of any Catholic church bbeing denied the ability to marry whom it chooses to (and does not choose to, specifically divorced Catholics, non-Catholics and gay couples). Please explain and then perhaps I could shed some light on the topic.
“But if we must, as a secular society, accept gay marriage, why shouldn’t we allow for polygamous relationships, near relative relationships”
I’ve already delineated the difficulties of poly marriages above (ad nauseam, I’m afraid), but as to near relatives,ever heard of consanguinity and he many potential dangers to possible children? Besides, one of the purposes of marriage is to establish kinship where none existed before, so it is, imo, quite unnecessary.
“interspecies relationships”
Plase re-read the part about consent and signing contracts. Or are you one of those who believe gay relationshipsare the equivalent of “marrying a pet”? If so, sorry, but U R DIS-MISSED!
“Child marriage” See the reference to consent again, and to ‘Reverend’ Hucklebee. Meanwhile, WE are discussing consenting, adult, human relationships. Feel free to jon us anytime.
“autogamous relationships (marrying one’s car)”



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Your Name

posted April 23, 2009 at 5:04 pm


Andrew Martin,
“if the church represents the gathered community”
It doesn’t. Not for many, many people in “the community”.
‘It’ (remember, there are many faiths) represents the gathered faithful of any particular faith community, nothing more.



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Your Name

posted April 23, 2009 at 5:12 pm


Seth,
“Civil unions and their packaged set of tax and civil benefits are the only thing that government has a right to dish out – to anyone.”
So-called “civil” unions are a most recent invention, and were only invented to prevent the kweers from actually getting married. Plus, they only exist in only a handful of States. Many, many other States have either passed laws or changed their Constitutions to prevent the goverment from “dishing out” anylgal benefits of marriage to “civilly” unionized partners – gay OR str8. Try again.
“Marriage should be removed from the government goodie-bag and made the matter of private belief it was meant to be.”
Clearly you mean private religious belief, in which case the anti-same-sex marriage side has already lost since several faith denominations do mary gay couples already. (I was married i my Church too.) Heck, the Quakers (yes, the Quakers!) have been doing it for decades.
If marriage is taken out of the “government goodie-bag”, pleaseexplain who will administer pensions and inheritances and cusdy battles? The (or your) Church? Oy!



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Husband

posted April 23, 2009 at 5:25 pm


Your Name
April 22, 2009 4:57 PM
“I think people fight when they see state sanctioned SSM as the government providing God’s approval, and we need to separate that to clear up the issue.”
Why? How does/can the government provide “God’s approval” – for anything (especially in a land with separation of Church and State)? The exact same people see state sanctioned opposite sex marriage as the government providing approval for their church-performed marriages.
“However, I don’t see a huge leap from SSM to poly marriages. Separate from biblical arguments that are irrelevant in a state matter, how can we incentivize one behavior (monogamy) and trample on the honest desires of others?!!”
See any/all of the many reasons listed above. That’s how.
“The same philosophical arguments that defend a SS couple to enter into a contract should apply for ANY consenting adult desiring to enter into a contract. We may disagree with the parties in the contract, and what they intend to do, but what business is it of ours how they chose to conduct themselves.”
Because in poly marriages, the contract is expanded beyond two persons. SSM does not requre that expansion.
“(Full disclosure: I also apply this to legalized prostitution).”
Full disclosure: what the heck does prostitution have to do with this discussion? We are speaking of relationships within marriage, not extra-marital sex for money.
“Please don’t get me wrong…from a biblical perspective I find SSM, polymarriage and prostitution wrong and would fight against them within the context of my church.”
Oh we don’t get you wrong at all. We can clearly see that you believe your faith’s tenets ought to be imposed into laws governing all citizens, even those not of your faith. And then we say the heck with that. You go to your church (though I’d be interested in hearing how polygamous marriage is “wrong” from a “Biblical perspective”), I’ll go to mine. Others will go to none at all. Do they get to fight for equality within the context of their non-religion?



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Husband

posted April 23, 2009 at 5:37 pm


Ted,
“Husband- finally read your full reason.”
I figured you hadn’t bothered to read it the first time.
“If I’m bigoted against gay and infertile couples because I hold to John Paul II’s teachings about sex and marriage
You are most welcome to adhere to your own religious tenets. You are not welcome to impose them on others. I’m not Catholic and really don’t give a hoot what your pope sez.
then you are equally bigoted against animals (who have the right of consent according to the beliefs of the Hindu faith)”
Nor am I Hindu. Nor does the government (at least not the government we are discussing) recognize beastiality as a legitimate form of marriage.
“and children (well, at least those above the age of 7, who are legally permitted in several countries around the world to sign contracts including marriage contracts).”
Ditto. Let any one married to such a child (or such an animal) in such a country come to our jurisdiction and see if it is recognized as such. Meanwhile, legal adult human 2-person marriages performed anywhere in the world are always recognized back in The Good Old U. S. of A. (TM) – with the notable exception of same-sex marriages.
Look, I don’t have a fight with you. (Nor am I bigoted toward animals, children, plants, bicycles, rocks, corpses, prostitutes, etc.) But if animal-marriage advocates, and child-marrriage advocates, and poly-marriage advocates, and rock-marriag advocates want to make their case, let them, say I. But it is not the topic under discussion.
“Finally, the slippery slope argument is this: You are basing gay marriage on the scientific and cultural beliefs of a minority.”
No I’m not. I’m basing it on the Equal Protections Clause of the Constitution. And the Full Faith & Credit Clause. And the inalienable right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“Why is your minority any more qualified to push your beliefs on society than anybody else’s minority?”
The difference is, I am not forcing anyone to have a same-sex marriage. The anti crowd is forcing me to abide by their (mostly religious) tenets.
Do feel free to try again, but please stick to the topic.



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Jim

posted April 23, 2009 at 5:47 pm


Husband, I’m afraid we’re misunderstanding one another. I brought up my beliefs regarding marriage not to convince you, I think that it impossible on boards like this. Rather, it was simply demonstrate that we have fundamentally different views of marriage. You’re very right to disbelieve me, I’ve presented no evidence in support of my view, nor have you in yours. We’re unlikely to come to an agreement.
What, then, is to be done is a society (like ours) with citizens holding differing views on marriage?
My answer is that people should be able to marry whomever they wish, with no governmental regulation.
How does that violate the separation of church and state? I do acknowledge difficulties regarding pensions, etc., but I hardly think these insurmountable. The government can still administer justice in these areas without the marriage category.
But no, I’m not holding my breath at all. When was the last time you saw government willingly relinquish control of anything?



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Your Name

posted April 23, 2009 at 5:47 pm


Rick C,
Apart from the fact that “Adam and Eve” were “helpmates” and never married, your suggestion that it was Adam’s only wife is incorrect. Why do so many people forget/ignore/never learned about Lillith?



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Panthera

posted April 23, 2009 at 6:02 pm


Flaming Conservative,
Have you taken note of the things which are said to gays and transgendered here at beliefnet.com on a daily basis?
Just this last week, I was told that I could not be a true Christian because gays are not capable of being Christian.
My marriage, legal in my country, recognized by my Christian church, is not a marriage.
My monogamous, faithful, true, committed relationship of 24 years, four married, is a sham.
My love for my husband is not true love.
I am on the same level as a pedophile, a person who commits incest and my marriage incites not only polygamy but is the same as bestiality.
I, all by committing to one person for better and worse, sickness and health, to love and support and to be faithful till death us do part, am merely flaunting my “gay lifestyle” in public.
Our relationship has nothing to do with affection and friendship, there is no tenderness or compassion, all we do is bugger each other. When we are not perverting children or close relations.
These things are said to me here by people whose knowledge of our Bible, our Savior, our God is, to put it mildly, poor.
Am I furious? Why yes, I am. Were we ever to meet, you would be impressed by one or two things. First, my beautifully perfect teeth. They’re called cowboy caps and they are the result of my fundamentalist Christian American relations knocking my teeth in.
Those eyes which seem to have that bedroom-eyes slightly-out-of-focus come-hither look? Try micro surgery and being wealthy enough to have a detached retina reattached on one side. My doctors promise me if I continue to progress, I might actually have depth perception going again before my double nickel birthday.
Yee-haw.
The chiseled lines of my ribs? Why yes, it is astonishing what they can do nowadays to regenerate bone tissue, and what can’t be regrown can be replaced. Better living through plastic you Americans say, no?
As my husband was lying in intensive with a punctured lung, his jaw broken because he was silly enough to actually try to defend me from the Christians attacking me (at 6’2”, I am the smallest in my family. My husband is six inches shorter and 80lbs lighter and he, this “worthless homosexual”, actually tried to stop two cousins bigger than me from kicking me when I was down on the ground). I wasn’t permitted to even know how he was, despite carrying his medical power of attorney. He was in a Catholic hospital which did not feel bound by silly little things like the law.
Went to court and won on that one, but I shall never forget the terror I felt.



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Theresa Seeber

posted April 23, 2009 at 8:36 pm


This is an interesting link shared with me just today which carries a message for both sides of this debate, from someone who does not stand on either side if you can believe that. It is well written and worth a look-see. It might spark some civility over this very hot-button topic.
http://thecommonloon.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-not-to-argue-about-gay-marriage.html
Panthera, are you going to be putting yourselves in harm’s way when you come to the states in three weeks? Are there any safeguards you can put up in advance, like making sure you are never alone with these people and maybe meeting in public places only? I am concerned for you both.



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Theresa Seeber

posted April 23, 2009 at 8:40 pm


Oh, and Panthera have you come along to my blog post yet? I wrote it just for you based on the link you shared with me.
http://eyesofhope.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/homosexuality-in-romans-118-32/
All are welcome to join the conversation there about the following link: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibc3.htm but please be advised I am not as gracious as Tony is when it comes to mean commenting. I delete them. :-)



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Dan S.

posted April 23, 2009 at 8:55 pm


.
“I do acknowledge difficulties regarding pensions, etc., but I hardly think these insurmountable. The government can still administer justice in these areas without the marriage category.”
Jim,
There are many well-meaning libertarians and others who would like see the elimination of civil marriage altogether as a means of resolving the gay marriage controversy, but I think this would create far more problems than it solves.
Rather than replacing civil marriage with private contracts where everyone has the “freedom” to define the significance of their relationships, some of the most articulate proponents of gay marriage like Andrew Sullivan and Jonathan Rauch argue that marriage is a vital social institution that needs to be strengthened (by expanding it to include same-sex couples) because it serves a variety of sociological purposes beyond the warm fuzzies and religious rituals. Here’s a taste:
http://www.jonathanrauch.com/jrauch_articles/gay-marriage-7-good-for-america/
Let’s say that the government stopped issuing marriage licenses. Instead, marriage/unions/etc. are done under private contracts, enforced through contract law. What kind of measuring stick would organizations, such as employers and healthcare providers, use determine the seriousness of a relationship and therefore who qualifies for benefits? How would anyone be able to legally distinguish between someone who wanted an old-school lifelong partnership type of thing (gay or straight) vs. a pragmatic contract between drinking buddies who want to save money on healthcare?
For example, if I signed a private civil contract with one of my drinking buddies who has a terrific healthcare plan or “spouse” education benefit, would his employer be willing to cover my medical expenses and pay for my grad school tuition? Would such a contract excuse me from testifying in court against my drinking buddy? If I were to terminate my contract with him, could I sign another one with one of my international friends to secure U.S. residency for them?
What about those employers who actually do want to provide certain benefits to an employee’s spouse (defined in the old-school, marriage license sort of way) instead of just a drinking buddy or casual acquaintance? If there were no civil marriage, would such an employer be guilty of discrimination for offering “special” benefits to certain types of contract signatories and not others?
It’s much more complex than administering pensions, inheritances and custody battles.



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Dan S.

posted April 23, 2009 at 9:03 pm


.
Thanks Theresa for the free advertising!
Unfortunately, I’ve still only received one comment on that post so far. I guess that’s just the way the cookie crumbles for us obscure freelance bloggers.



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Randy Eliason

posted April 23, 2009 at 10:10 pm


I have a problem with the reasoning of this article. First, I am troubled by the author’s assumption that there is some kind of social consensus that monogamy is beneficial. To assume this point without offering any evidence while failing to acknowledge and engage the wealth of evidence that heterosexual monogamous marriage is more beneficial than homosexual marriage show an unwillingness to fairly address this issue. To say that “the argument that this is a slippery slope to polygamy, polyamory, and bestiality is ludicrous” is manipulative emotive language used to evade a legitimate point. The call for same-sex marriage is not based upon the benefits to society but upon the view that people ought to have their particular lifestyle accorded the same value as others. As for the statement, “The reason to legalize same sex marriage is actually to enshrine human-to-human monogamy in law”, I would like to know what gives the author the confidence that any law passed today in our morally relativistic culture that has no basis or grounding for morals “enshrines” anything. It will only last until the next group can sufficiantly mobilize itself to have their cry of discrimination heard. Why deny a bisexual who desires to have a lover of each sex the opportunity to establish a permanent home accordingly.
If the author’s answer is that only monogamous relationships ought to be valid I would like to hear how he can establish that view. The bottom line is that if the author believes the gov’t has a compelling interest to incentivize monogamy, but doesn’t to incentivize heterosexual monogamy he ought to give at least some support for his opinion. Instead he just wants us assume it is so because he says it is so!



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Panthera

posted April 24, 2009 at 1:30 am


Theresa,
Both of those cousins are currently “guests” of the State of Georgia at an exclusive “residence”. Their invitations were extended for other reasons than more violence, thank goodness. I appreciate your concern and share it. My parents were so appalled at what happened back then, they made it clear that the consequences in the family would be severe and now it is “only” verbal and legal nastiness.
I will get to your blog, and am glad we can talk here, would you care to swap a few hundred freshmen who act as though they have never seen a word processor or heard of “independent” research before last Monday for your sweet and reasonable teenager? The grass is growing faster than we can cut it right now…and I am sure you could better manage them than I can. No, you can’t spank them. At their age it is a) too late and b) they would probably enjoy it.
Randy Eliason, I don’t quite follow your thinking here.
Are you saying gays in America want marriage and all the legal responsibilities therefrom arising so they need not be monogamous? I am a bit dense this morning, sorry.



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Jason

posted April 24, 2009 at 11:39 am


“So enough of the argument that same sex marriage should be forbidden on the grounds that it will destroy “traditional” marriage and all of society because same sex partners cannot procreate. On that basis, we should legislate against infertile men and post-menopausal women getting married.
Furthermore, the argument that this is a slippery slope to polygamy, polyamory, and bestiality is ludicrous. The reason to legalize same sex marriage is actually to enshrine human-to-human monogamy in law.”
And you say that PSA is intellectually disatisfying? Sheesh.



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Cand86

posted April 24, 2009 at 11:48 am


Thank you for this blog! I have to admit- in the entirety of my contemplation of the gay marriage issue (being on the pro side), never once have I actually thought of it from the side of the actual clergy, and the line really hit me:
“In no other fuction as a clergyperson did I function as an extension of the government — not when I was baptizing, burying, counseling, or communing. Only when performing a wedding did I, with the stroke of a pen, make official a legally binding contract that, in the eyes of the state, allowed that couple to enjoy certain privileges like the ability to file joint tax returns, visit one another in the hospital, and receive joint health care benefits from one of the partner’s employers.”
That’s just a wonderful sentiment, one that really hits to the core how politicized the issue is, and how little real respect for religion actually exists- not to mention how much we glorify and worship marriage, the act, instead of marriage, the lifelong commitment (just look at the focus on incredible ceremonies, vows, etc., and little positive focus on counseling and the mundane-yet-amazing act of staying together, etc.).
But yeah, I liked Doug Kmiec on Colbert, too. It just makes sense to get religion out of the actual legal marriage thing.



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Ann

posted April 24, 2009 at 12:05 pm


Panthera- thank you for sharing part of your story. I am so sorry about what you had to go through. What a HORRIBLE and disturbing event to life with. I don’t even understand why any human being would ever treat another like that. I’m just so saddened by this and even worse, it happened in the name of Christianity. It’s disgusting…. it’s worse than that. And I’m not just talking about the beating….. but also about the hospital not letting you see your spouse. Why? What possible good could come of that?
Your story explains a lot. You seem so reasonable in your posts and then all of a sudden you do a 180 and go on a tirade about Americans and Fundamentalists which seems to come out of no where. Obviously there are wounds there that have not healed. I hope that in time God will heal those wounds. And I hope that our country will grant all the benefits to our gay citizens that we do our straight ones. And that includes the right to marry. I’ve never understood why Christians have felt so threatened about this.



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Panthera

posted April 24, 2009 at 1:20 pm


Hi Ann,
You are quite right – the concept of “closure” is a bit challenged when one is directly confronted with the circumstances and people who cause the problem to begin with.
When someone attacks my marriage as has been done here on beliefnet.com four times this last week, I lose my patience.
We gays are not asking for recognition or acceptance by the fundamentalist Christians. After battling everything from the flat earth through the geocentric viewpoints, the human status of Negroes and the right of women to franchise, I know it is hopeless. Their definition of God is not based on faith, but hatred of the other.
What we do want is to be left alone to determine over our own lives. Not one single conservative here has ever yet given a valid reason why, in country which practices separation of Church and State, their private Christian sect should have dominion over the other Christians, their churches and our lives. My marriage is no threat to heterosexual marriage.
Christians who torture and debase the American Constitution to advance their own goals, however, are.
Anyway, yes – when my marriage is attacked as it was here four times over the last week, you can safely assume that I won’t be velveting my paws in dealing with the fundamentalist Christian who “thinks” he knows God’s will is to oppress gays and transgendered.
I do ask myself, sometimes. Why, given that even in the US, gays have the right to sex in the privacy of their own homes (Lawrence vs. Texas was more about the fact that it was interracial sex than gay sex), fundamentalist Christians think we demand the human right to marriage for any other reason than to be able to fulfill the responsibilities we have towards our spouses and, frequently, children. Many Christian churches already grant us marriage – this is purely and solely about having the same rights as other couples who enter into marriage.
I just happen to have had the great good luck on more than one occasion of seeing just how worthless all these legal protections the fundamentalists demand I accept in lieu of marriage are. Sure, I have the money to take the jerks to court and win. But the time factor involved is out of all relation to the emergency need. Were my husband to have died, I should have died of grief.
When we stand before God, as Christians, and are told we are forgiven, that will be wonderful. I do not, however, think we are going to be spared a very long (in my case, they will probably have the recording angels lined up in battalion size groups) discussion on all the people we did harm. Do the fundamentalist Christians here who so loudly proclaim their salvation and their doctrine of “hate the sin, love the sinner” really think God is going to fall for that? Or is He going to show them the faces of every gay and transgendered man and woman whose soul was lost because there was no room in “their” Christianity for just his one, single disagreement?



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Your Name

posted April 24, 2009 at 2:21 pm


I’m sorry if my comment above was too vague. To clarify my problem w/ the post the author suggests:
1. The gov’t has a compelling interest to incentivize monogamy because monogamy is beneficial to society whereas other arrangments are not.
2. It doesn’t have a compelling interest to incentivize heterosexual monogamy because it is no more beneficial than homosexual monogamy.
He makes these assertions without any evidence to support them.
3. He mocks the idea that opening the door to sae-sex marriage will not be a slippery slope to polygamy, again, without addressing the evidence put forward to the contrary. To restate my example:
If tolerance demands that same-sex couples are granted the right to marry in order to accord their love relationships equal value to heterosexual couples why doesn’t tolerance require us to grant the same recognition to bi-sexuals who desire to form a permanent arrangment that includes three or more people. I am still waiting for someone to demonstrate how we can eradicate the line between heterosexual monogamy and homosexual monogamy but maintain a line between two-person arrangments and multi-person arrangments.
I don’t want to sound mean but to only a deceived or disingenous person could call the slippery slope ludicrous.



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Panthera

posted April 24, 2009 at 2:50 pm


Your Name, would you mind giving us a posting name to reference?
The question you raise, as to why my being granted human status needs must lead to polygamy is rather an interesting one.
You have rejected a large array of considered reasons why this is not so, I doubt my personal opinions would avail with you.
Permit, me, instead, to ask why we should reject the Bi8blical concept of polygamous marriage? Now, I personally don’t care to see polygamy become legal – it is always at the cost of women.
I would, however, like to have you explain why the Bible demands we limit marriage to just one man and one woman.
Feel free to use both OT and NT and, do, pray, keep the interpretations to a minimum. None of this “and look what happened to them” stuff, no – just very clear Book, Chapter and Verse in which is clearly delineated why the Bible, God’s whole and sole word to Christians according to you, forbids polygamy.
(Be nice if you stuck to a real Bible, while you’re at it. One of the Vulgates or Luther’s German, for instance.)
Awaiting your answer with baited breath…



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Zack

posted April 24, 2009 at 2:57 pm


Naturally this topic requires us to ask “What is Marriage?”
Many replies on this thread are assuming that marriage is a legal action that binds two individuals or as a ceremony that involves making vows between a man and women. Neither are alone correct. Marriage is BOTH and a little more.
As to the question as to wether or not Adam or Eve were married this passage from Genesis is very clear.
Genesis 2:23-24
23 And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
The word “wife” is not used outside the context of marriage. Typically the word “lover” or “mistress” is applied when a physical relation is taking place outside marriage. This verse can only really apply to Adam and Eve as the verses before and after are talking about Adam and Eve. In context this is the best interpretation. Even if this passage is not saying “Adam and Eve got married” the bible is clearly using them as an example of what marriage is.
The absolute authority for a Christian is scripture, not the pope not a creed.
More importantly if we are going to play the game of “Separation of Church and State” then you have to consider that putting the definition of marriage goes into the hands of Uncle Sam; robbing the Church of the right to define marriage for themselves. I define marriage as a legal and spiritual union between a man and women, a state in which the body belongs one to the other. Saying the church can’t marry me under those terms violates my ability to do do all those things at once, and to define my beliefs about what marriage is. How intolerant of the state to TELL me what marriage is.
This argument is bringing the assumption that there is difference in legal marriage and actual marriage. I see no such distinction.
I get the idea in my head of participating in a ceremony then going down to a DMV-like facility to become a licensed couple. Not a very appealing thought.
“Do the fundamentalist Christians here who so loudly proclaim their salvation and their doctrine of “hate the sin, love the sinner” really think God is going to fall for that?”
What I think God is going to do is utterly irrelevant. I know what he is going to do based on scripture. I mean no personnel disrespect, I am just saying feelings are no way to decide what is permissible and what is not. If this answer offends you I apologize, but you did write that statement with a “?” on the end of it, so I answered as best I can.
Sincerely,
Zack



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Husband

posted April 24, 2009 at 3:42 pm


Your Name @ April 24, 2009 2:21 PM,
1. Please pick a name.
2. “If tolerance demands that same-sex couples are granted the right to marry in order to accord their love relationships equal value to heterosexual couples why doesn’t tolerance require us to grant the same recognition to bi-sexuals who desire to form a permanent arrangment that includes three or more people.”
It is a separate issue. Currently all citizens except gay citizens have the right (or freedom or privilege) to marry the one (adult, human, non-consanguinous – ain’t it sad we still have to specify even those) person of their mutual choosing. Like I stated above, it means, “I choose you, not a bunch of people.” It is called making a commitment. Choosing the one person with whom you choose to establish your life together.
God bless the bisexuals (I happen to be one of them), but currently, they have to make a choice of a life mate. The luck buggers happen to have double the field to choose from, but still, as laws are currently set up, they must choose one.
Now, I’m doubly lucky to have found my life/soul mate and to live in a country that allowed me to make that commitment in the arrangement we call marriage. But I still had to choose.
As I said above, if poly folk (and bi people aren’t necessarily polyamorous, btw – that’s a misleading premise to begin with) want to put forward arguments in favour of poly marrige, let them.
BUT IT’S NOT WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT HERE!!!
It is a separate issue. I reject the slippey slope argument entirely (see my ‘milk as a gateway drink’ post) because it is specious. It is only used by folk who want to up the “ick factor” by bringing in irrelevant imaginings – same as the “marry a child” analogy/nonsense, same as the “marry an animal” crapola, same as the “marry a plant/rock/bicycle” inanities (thanx and a nod to the Crunchy Con blog and to wannabe ‘President’ Mike Chucklebee for the vividly apt examples – the gift that keeps on giving to folks who actually ‘think’ about the topic instead of being reactionary fear- and hate-mongers).
Sorry, but my marriage has not and will not “lead to” anything but my own personal fulfillment and happiness – because it means that I am treated as an equal citizen before the law. My marriage does not and has not and will not affect the marriages of others.
Here endeth the lesson.



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Andrew Martin

posted April 24, 2009 at 3:47 pm


@”Your Name”
I did say “IF the church represents the gathered community”. No, I wouldn’t presuppose that it does – and the extent to which it does so is variable from place to place. Other expressions of community have a legitimate ownership of the notion of marriage, too.
Even with a hypothetical universal democratic franchise, the state doesn’t represent the whole community, either.



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Husband

posted April 24, 2009 at 4:07 pm


Zack,
“As to the question as to wether or not Adam or Eve were married this passage from Genesis is very clear.”
It is entiely irrelevant what The Bible (TM) says. Likewse what the Q’uran says. Or the Book of Kells. Or the Book of Tao. Or any other religious text. The entire content of Genesis – Revelations is irrelevant to civil marriage. I doubt there’s much God talk (or Adam and Eve talk) at City Hall, for those who choose to marry there.
Please keep your religion off our laws.
And if you insist on yammering on about “Adam” and “Eve”, you’d better be prepared to discuss “Adam’s” first “wife” Lillith. Not that we care to hear any religious ‘arguments’ since we are not all of your religion. Nor need we be. Nor need we be of any religion. We are discussing civil marriage. Feel free to join that discussion.
Or, failing that, please explain why clergy should act as an agent of the State at all (the actual topic of this thread).
“if we are going to play the game of “Separation of Church and State”
It isn’t a game.
“then you have to consider that putting the definition of marriage goes into the hands of Uncle Sam”
Um, here’ another clue – it already is. Or do you not claim “married” status on your income tax forms? Or the census? Or your pension applications? Etc.
“robbing the Church of the right to define marriage for themselves.”
It doesn’t do that either. Example: The Holy Roman Catholic Church still gets to decide that it will not marry divorced persons. (And, I believe, it still can refuse to marry non-Catholics.) It has not been “robbed” of anything.
The ‘Church’ of the Aryan Nations (and othr similar racist organizations, oops, I mean ‘faiths’) can still refuse to marry non-whites, nevermind inter-racial couples. They likewise have NOT been “robbed” of anything.
What you typed is called a fallacy, aka, the bearing of false witness, aka a lie, aka a sin. (And ohhh how we hate the sin but still luv the sinner, eh? We gay folk hear that a lot on these threads.)
“I define marriage as a legal and spiritual union between a man and women, a state in which the body belongs one to the other.”
Bully for you. I, otoh, define marriage as a legal and spiritual union between two (consenting, adult, human, non-consanguinous) persons, a state in which the body belongs one to the other. See how this works? Your definition is based on your faith beliefs, and so is mine. Why, pray tell, do/should your religious beliefs trump mine?
“Saying the church can’t marry me under those terms violates my ability to do do all those things at once”
But, of course, no one is saying that. Your churh still can marry you under those terms. So, have at it. How my church and my faith and my beliefs and my marriage prevent that escapes me. Please feel free to elaborate.
“and to define my beliefs about what marriage is.”
I believe in freedom of (and from) religion Sorry you don’t seem to.
“How intolerant of the state to TELL me what marriage is.”
Too bad you began with the premise that it was your church that tells you what marriage is, and not the state.
Feel free to try again, but DO BETTER!



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Theresa Seeber

posted April 24, 2009 at 5:30 pm


Dan S., I am working on getting you more comments for that post. I respect what you have done there and would love for more peeps to see it – and better yet, apply it!
Panthera, Thanks for the offer…. Wait though, my teen is not “sweet and reasonable” thank you. LOL As for the spankings, yeah, we better not go there. ROFL LOL HA! Oh, and my “sweet and reasonable” teen is looking over my shoulder as I type and is like, “what? Do you know how wrong that sounds?” (he didn’t see your earlier comment LOL). He wants to know if Panthera is a username you invented based on likes of yours. He was thinking first of the band Pantera, but then thought it might have to do with panthers. Just curious, but if you are trying to keep fairly private, don’t bother answering, ok? Peace!



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Jim

posted April 24, 2009 at 6:53 pm


Husband, I’m trying to figure out exactly where you stand and what you mean by a few things. I feel as if I’m following you and with you for a while, but then, suddenly, I’m lost. Could you clear a few things up for me?
You seem to have a sharp distinction between civil marriage and religious marriage (sometimes you call this Holy Matrimony). Could you elaborate here a bit for me? Are they both marriage? If you are civilly married and religiously married are you married twice? Are they two entirely distinct institutions, or two expressions of the same institution? You say “I, otoh, define marriage as a legal and spiritual union between two (consenting, adult, human, non-consanguinous) persons, a state in which the body belongs one to the other.” Which type of marriage is this?
These questions may sound silly, but I’m really trying to understand, because a lot of what you say seems to me to make a great deal of sense, and I’d like to understand everything.



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Panthera

posted April 24, 2009 at 7:52 pm


But, Theresa – my side of the offer still stands, just let me know where to send them and you’ll have a few hundred kids on your doorstep post haste!
Please?
Panthera has been a common name in my family for hundreds of years.
Panthera is also the great cat family.
Nothing to do with the imputation made here occasionally, I would either be unaware of history or too much so.
It is not especially useful to assume an “a” ending is necessarily feminine in Latin or the romance languages, tho’ this is often the case in the Germanic languages.
Now, about the students…



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Panthera

posted April 24, 2009 at 7:58 pm


Jim,
We don’t always agree, but welcome to my world – I am nearly always lost. Wonder if virtual GPS devices exist yet…
I do think I know where Husband is going here, and not only because I am married to a man. But I won’t throw in my two-cents, instead hold my peace.
I can, you, know. Really.



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Ann

posted April 24, 2009 at 10:23 pm


Panthera- Maybe you can help me understand something. I’m still trying to work this out for myself….. by that I’m not referring to gay marriage. I do not understood why anyone, Christian or otherwise, would be opposed to allowing gays to marry. What I mean is that the argument that homosexuality is not a sin seems to be that because the OT has a bunch of crazy laws that we don’t feel the need to adhire to today, we can’t use the OT passages about homosexuality being sinful as a proof text. And because the NT comes down just as hard on divorce and seems to allow for slavery, we can’t use those passages either. There has to be a better argument than that. Why do you think those passages in the OT and NT are there? I know there must be a very good argument out there and I would love to hear it. I feel that God is calling me right now to examine my long held beliefs on this issue. I’ve tried to talk to people at church about this issue, but it seems that everyone wants to avoid the issue. If Episcopalians can’t even talk about it, who can?



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Husband

posted April 24, 2009 at 11:13 pm


Jim,
“You seem to have a sharp distinction between civil marriage and religious marriage (sometimes you call this Holy Matrimony). Could you elaborate here a bit for me? Are they both marriage?”
My understanding of civil marriage is one performed in a secular environment, eg. City Hall, or before a Justice of the Peace, or other civil servant licenced to perform marriages. Some jurisdictons have marriage commissioners that perform this function, and their job requirement is to join all who come before them who are legally qualified to be married. Usually this qulification comes in the form of a marriage license – literally, a licence to marry. Some states put a tiome limit on the license – the couple must be married by a person acting as an agent of the state within a certain period after the license is issued. The couple is then issued a marrage certificate, a state issued document that says the state has duly noted the marriage and recognizes it as legal and binding (in the sense of a marriage contract, in that it has legal ramifications).
These marriages (well, at least the heterosexual kind) are recognized by the appropriate government body. In the US, the ‘governing body’ is both the State, which registers the marriage for State purposes (those legal ramifications), and also the Federal government, which notes the married status and doles out 1,176 federal benefits (which do not accrue to gay, legally married couples at present).
Holy Matriomony is a Sacrament performed by most Christian Churches. Mostly, they take place in the Church itself, usually with members of the congregation serving as publi witnesses to the ceremony, and usually officiated by a clergy person affiliated with that particular faith, and usually of that particular congregation. Their job is to ascertain whether or not the couple meet the criterion for Holy Matrimony as set forth by each individual faith. The requirements can and do vary from faith to faith. Many will not marry anyone who is not a member of the congregation, (or of that particular faith), others so long as the couple are of the same faith (i.e. no inter-faith marriages). Yet other faiths put such restrictions as not marrying divorced people. Some still won’t perform inter-racial marriages. It’s up to each faith to set their own requirements.
However, because the ceremony involves uniting two non-related people (which the State calls entering into the marriage contract), the State allows clergy to act as agents of the State for the purposes of creating what is, in effect, a civil marriage that happens to have been performed in a religious setting.
The State does not require ‘Church’ marriages – of anyone – but recognizes them (well, again, the heterosexual ones) and treats them under the law exactly as they do civil marriages.
Now, remember, I live in Canada, where the State does recognize our marriage. We happened to have been married in my Church (I’ve been a member for more than 30 years) and because the clergy are empowered to act as agents of the State, we got both the Sacrament of HolyMatrimony as well as a legal (i.e. civil) marriage certificate. Once we enter 46 American States, my husband (of 5 years and partner for almost 25) and I are considered legal strangers.
So the short answer to your question is, yes, they are both marriage.
“If you are civilly married and religiously married are you married twice?”
Only one ceremony was required because clergy act as agents of the State. This is why I believe the proposed California petition to get the government out of the marriage business is wrong-headed. It is the clergy who should stick to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and cease being agents of the State, which ipso faco means it is the Church who should be getting out of marriage. (Though I suspect neither idea will fly at the voting booth – society is way too entrenched in both systems.) The Church entered the marriage business much later than secular governments got involved in ‘incentivizing’ private committed relationships.
“Are they two entirely distinct institutions, or two expressions of the same institution?”
Again, it’s both. Many people will go to City Hall for a civil marriage and never set foot in a church or synagogue or mosque or temple. Some want nothing to do with religion. Both they and the people who are granted the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony can consider themselves married, because validly, legally they are. The State does not care. Nor should it as regards which religion did the marrying. Again, many faiths do perform same-sex marriage. For them, it is under the ‘auspices’ of HM, but the clergy has performed a civil duty as well.
“You say “I, otoh, define marriage as a legal and spiritual union between two (consenting, adult, human, non-consanguinous) persons, a state in which the body belongs one to the other.” Which type of marriage is this?
Again, it is both, or at least it was in my case. Hope this clears things up. It is the essence of this thread.



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Rick C

posted April 25, 2009 at 12:45 pm


Your Name,
The question was regarding single-partner marital relationships within the Bible. So, the idea of a wife for Adam named “Lilith” was ignored or obvious reasons.



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Randy Eliason

posted April 25, 2009 at 2:40 pm


Panthera,
In response to your request that I provide a biblical basis for heterosexual monogamy as opposed to polygamy I am directing you to Prof. Robert Gagnon’s homepage (robgagnon.net). In my estimation he has done the best job of thoroughly articulating the scriptural teaching concerning sexual morality. If his responses are not satisfactory to you, then there is nothing I could say to convince you. Anyway, the fact that you did not respond to my problems with the unsubstantiated assumptions of the post leads me to believe you that you didn’t disagree with my main point; the slippery slope from same-sex marriage to polygamy is far from ludicrous.



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Panthera

posted April 25, 2009 at 6:37 pm


Ann,
I am over my head in term papers, bu won’t forget you. Surely there are wiser heads here who can also answer your very wise question.
Randy Eliason,
I doubt we have any means of convincing each other of anything at all.
Your assumption that I concur is false, your premise is so absurd I discounted it entirely.
Living, as I do in Europe, where we have had human status as homosexuals for quite some time, yet I see no instance of any State granting polygamous, incestuous or human-rock marriage.
There is no slippery slope in this context, only a profound desire on your part to perpetuate injustice.



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Randy Eliason

posted April 25, 2009 at 8:07 pm


Panthera, I’m sorry you think my premise is absurd. It didn’t take me more than 2 minutes to find an example for you to demonstrate the veracity, not absurdity, of my premise. Here is a quote from an article in the Brussels Journal in 2005. The subject of the article is an actual, not theoretical, Dutch “trio-marriage”. If you would like to read the whole article go to http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/585 “The worldwide campaign for gay marriage seems to have stirred up an active bisexual movement in its wake. Bisexuals have traditionally been one of the least visible components of the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) alliance. After a flurry of publicity in the 1970s, at the height of the sexual revolution, bisexuality faded from public view. Yet the 1990s brought new attention, with articles in Time and Newsweek touting the emergence of bisexuality as a distinctive and politically tinged identity (and linking bisexuality to nonmonogamous marriage). In recent years, websites, books, and academic studies devoted to bisexuality have proliferated. [...] Precisely because the personal challenges confronting bisexuals are profound, the emerging bisexual call for polyamorous marriage is going to take on formidable legal force. In a world fully accepting of gay marriage, it will be difficult to withhold equal standing from another organized sexual minority.”



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Andrew Tatum

posted April 25, 2009 at 9:55 pm


“Readers will know that I am most decidedly not a member of the Hauerwasian Mafia. I tend more toward an American postmodern pragmatism when it comes to church-state relations. However, I do find it odious that clergypersons are called upon, in this one instance, to act as agents of the state.”
There’s a little-known (to most non-baptist protestants, at least) Baptist preacher by the name of Will Campbell who is an ordained minister who has – for many, many years – refused to perform marriage ceremonies for persons who have applied for a marriage license beforehand. Although Hauerwas has written about Will Campbell, it wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t know who Hauerwas was at all. As you know, one need not be a member of the “Hauerwasian Mafia” to hold such a stance.
And Tony, I think you do too much to distance yourself from the Hauerwasians – you say quite a bit in The New Christians that has a particularly MacIntyrian / Haerwasian spin on good ole Aristotelianism. I’ve heard folks like Leonard sweet say intellectually irresponsible things like, “Stanley Hauerwas has done more harm to the church than anyone in the past five hundred years” and, although it does help to differentiate from those with whom you have ideological / philosophical disagreements, it becomes distasteful and a bit silly to do so every time you happen to end up at the same point of view on a particular issue.



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Ann

posted April 25, 2009 at 9:56 pm


Panthera- Whenever you are not busy, I would love to hear your side of this issue. Good luck grading term papers. Yuck.
Randy- Don’t you see how distasteful the slippery slope argument is? Just because you fear that allowing gay marriage will lead to polygamy, that is no reason to advocate against allowing gay marriage. By that logic, allowing straight marriage leads to gay marriage. And you believe that gay marriage is wrong, so we shouldn’t allow for straight marriage? It’s a slippery slope, right? It’s absurd. Just let each issue stand on its own merit.



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Tony Jones

posted April 26, 2009 at 9:27 am


Touche, Andrew.
I actually have deep respect for Hauerwas and the entire line of thinking: Aristotle-Aquinas-Yoder-MacIntyre-Hauerwas. And surely I share some themes with them.
The reason I kid about the HM is because I meet so many acolytes of that system of thinking that, sometimes, I think they deserve a little pushback. I tend to think it too idealistic and a bit naive — and I also think it affords more weight to human agency that I’m willing to grant.
So, I would not concur with Len Sweet’s opinion on this matter.
I kid because I love. :-)



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Panthera

posted April 26, 2009 at 2:57 pm


Randy Eliason,
I think Ann put it better than I could.
Ann, I am awfully busy, so if this is not quite coherent, I do apologize.
Basically, there are two ways to look at restrictions or prohibitions or commandments in the Bible. First, one can try to take them literally. This causes all sorts of problems as 1)the English translations are pretty bad in many places and 2) there are contradictions which can only be resolved through interpretation.
The other way is to see all these rules of what to do and what not to do as man’s attempts to set down their understanding of God’s will for us.
Certainly, I do not reject all the prohibitions in the OT out of hand.
If you think about it, most aspects of the kosher diet make sense today – and the more we learn about the meat processing industry and sustainability, the more I appreciate some of those rules. The same with hygiene. We all know the consequences of putting the outhouse upstream from the well and anyone who looks at the damage the weakened FDA oversight has done to the US food supply over the last eight years can see that it would well have behooved the Christians Bush put in charge of the government had they paid more attention to the OT!
What do I think we have to do to answer questions such as:
Should women speak in church?
Should divorced people be permitted to remain in the church body, even after they have remarried – this clearly being at the very least fornication if not outright adultery.
Should we condemn people to death, even tho’ we have evidence that about 10% of the executions are carried out against people who were either innocent of the capital crime or were not granted fair process?
And should we continue to treat homosexuals and transgendered as sinners?
We are all sinners, but I am sure you know what I mean here.
Personally, I think in each of these cases, we have to consider just what exactly Jesus or Paul or John or Mathew meant.
I don’t see Jesus meaning that a woman must submit to being beaten and raped in her marriage as the Islamic religion says is fine and good – I think He would have forgiven her for divorcing such a husband.
That doesn’t change the fact that He takes marriage very, very seriously.
Personally, I live in a country which has no concept of no-fault divorce, neither for SSM nor for man-woman marriage. Divorce here is seen as a very last resort, the children must be protected and taken care of and the party who causes the marriage to fail is not going to be able to just kick their old wife out and go live the high-life with their 20 year old “secretary”. A good compromise, I think, if not perfect.
I don’t think Paul meant that no woman might ever speak up in church. I rather suspect he was referring to some pretty nasty harridans who were hell-bent on making life miserable for others in the congregation. We all know this type. Wonder why? Certainly around here on beliefnet, the really hateful people are nearly all men. Maybe Paul meant it the other way ’round and we should be holding our traps and asking you folks to teach us.
The same with gay relationships. I firmly believe he was furious and very upset and concerned by the high number of people who were participating in the sects prevalent at that time and his warning was more along the line of: “Instead of taking your paycheck to the temple and wasting it on that hunk-a-hunk of manly-man, go home and see to it that your wife and kids are well fed.” Unlimited sex with strangers and purchased professional services is not comparable to my monogamous marriage and I am deeply insulted by people who say they are the same.
Homosexuality is not a choice. No scientist, no competent medical professional believes that today. Even the fundamentalist Christians who practice electro-shocks and castration against us are beginning to admit that the most they can achieve is to deaden the ability to love, not to change us. There is a parallel there between the torture of gays and the torture Bush#43 used and we see the same mindset in the Christians who here are supporting him. Scary!
We have passages in the Bible which, today, we know to be scientifically correct. Others, are not. Slavery is inexcusable, yet the same people here who attack my marriage would most certainly have used them to argue against freeing the slaves a few centuries back – and did use them a few decades ago against inter-racial marriage. The same with the geo-centric world view, no matter how hard a few Catholics here try to wiggle out of it. Sorry, but I can read Latin and know you are lying through your teeth. Tell that to the hicks who are dependent upon “your” version of things.
Science and medicine have long since come to the conclusion that homosexuals are neither mentally nor physically ill. The FBI has long since proved that we are far less criminally inclined than heterosexual men, the same applies to the infamous claims we would seduce children and “turn” them – not true. In fact, the incidence of child-abuse by gays (and women) is almost 0%. Nobody assumes that means all straight men are child abusers – just that that particular group produces the vast majority of pedophiles.
I am sorry this is not better written, I still have about 10 papers to go tonight – all came back positive on the internet search for plagiarism. Why do young people think us old-foggies are too D-U-M, dumb to know how to set up search parameters? Anyway, unlike so many conservative Christians, I try not to permit myself the luxury of false-witness, so have to check each and every one out by hand. Sometimes they just got a bit carried away in their citations and that is not cheating.
Now, if the death penalty were granted for freshmen who begin their term papers with: “In this paper, I will prove…and end them with “I am sure you will agree that I have shown…”
Aaargh.
Would you like some links? I have several very good ones, but they have been posted here so often, I hesitate to post them again.
What do you think? You’re far smarter than I am, I’d like to hear your views.



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Ann

posted April 26, 2009 at 6:24 pm


One of my good friends told me a good place to start is to ask the following questions:
1. What was the nature of homosexuality during the time of the OT?
2. What was the nature of homosexuality during the time of the NT?
3. What did Jesus say about homosexuality?
4. How do same sex relationships differ today from OT and NT times?
Just a year ago, I couldn’t have answered question #1 or #2 and I thought the answer to Q#4 was that there was that there is no difference. It’s amazing how much a little bit of context can throw your argument upside down.
So I’m sure you probably know the answers to the aforementioned questions. That in itself goes a long way down the path to acceptance of same-sex monogamous relationships…. especially the fact that Jesus said absolutely nothing about this topic. Come on, if it’s all that important…. why nothing! Maybe it’s just not all that important. Maybe he would rather have his church spend its energy on feeding the poor and bringing justice to the exploited than running around telling gays that they can’t be Christians. Why is the religious right so up in arms about gay marriage and not about starving children around the world and genocide in Africa? Something is wrong with this picture.
So when I hear stories like yours, I think we as Christians have gone wrong somewhere. The gospel isn’t about isolating people and hating them. Some say “hate the sin, love the sinner”, but my good friend said that this seems to be the “separate but equal” of our day. It doesn’t work in real life. We just end up with pain and suffering and 2nd class citizens. Something tells me that this is not what God wants of us or for us.
My last thought is that we have to remember why God gave us rules to begin with. The law was not given to us as this yard stick that God wanted to see us all jump over to prove our allegiance to him. The rules were given to us because God made us and knows us better than we know ourselves, and knows what causes pain and brokenness. The rules are there to help us avoid pain. They are there to protect us. With most of these rules it is obvious why we should avoid certain behavior. But I have to admit, it doesn’t make sense why today, monogamous same-sex relationships would cause pain and brokenness. We no longer have to worry about the extinction of our species…. We probably have more to worry about too many people and too few resources.
So it all comes down to this fear of changing the status quo, and changing a long tradition in the church. Changing what is traditionally held as orthodox does not happen quickly and is uncomfortable for the generation doing the changing.
I hope this was coherent…. I’m just trying to get it all out and try to make sense of it. Good thing this isn’t a term paper to be graded!



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Panthera

posted April 26, 2009 at 8:05 pm


Ann,
I wish it were a paper, I should give you an A+. You make more sense and write far more cogently than I do.
One of the greatest controversies in the American Christian community is whether it is enough to be saved or does God require of us that we do our best to help others. This is hardly a new discussion and, tho’ it was long agoe settled for all but the extremes here in Western Europe, it has never found a final consensus in the US.
As badly as I observe it, my sense of being a Christian is that my salvation is a gift, bought for me at great sacrifice and granted me through God’s grace.
It is not a “get out of jail free card.” It is not a “I’m going to heaven and you aren’t na-na-na-NA-na” taunt, it is only the beginning. Forgiven of my sins, it is up to me now to return whatever portion of good I have to offer to the world. I don’t see how anyone can maintain they are free of sin and I certainly don’t understand this ranking of sins, Jesus made quite clear that other than to deny God, all sins are equally vile.
My position, as poorly as I live up to it, is a very European one and I have found it in Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Italy the Netherlands and the UK. Experienced it in Finland, saw it in practice in what is now the Czech republic.
And I have seen it in the work of many Christians with the poor, with the ill in America.
The genuine questioning and seeking answers is a good thing. Faith is not where free-will is bound.
I’m glad there are Christians here like you. Much as I enjoy the rhetorical battles, it does me good to encounter people who are well past me in learning.
Oh, given that the Bible clearly does grant permission for two men to love each other …with a love greater than that for any woman… I think it is truly a shame that so many focus on the sexual aspect of relationships. A guy who is mucking out the horse stall, as my husband did for my parents today, is showing a love and devotion which can not be bad. I wonder if that is not why so many here focus their hatred on us – it frees them from having to do something positive and affirming as Christians.
I, personally, can get up on a soapbox and preach for hours about the sins of those who don’t practice common sense and then go out and have abortions. Easy for me to do, I am not likely to become pregnant nor beget a woman with child.
So it is a safe place for my righteous indignation. Socially approved, too.
Much easier than visiting a sick neighbor in the hospital when most of us in the village are probably going to stick a pin in them at their funeral just to be sure they’re really dead. Or drive a stake…, as my 87 year old neighbor down the road just this morning suggested. Being charitable to this neighbor is hard work. Being self-righteous is easy.



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Panthera

posted April 26, 2009 at 8:09 pm


Oh boy, before anyone feels offended, I was referring to David and Jonathan, not implying heterosexual men don’t love women….



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Jim

posted April 28, 2009 at 9:34 am


Btw, Husband, thank you for answering my questions so thoroughly. I really appreciate it, and will certainly think on what you’ve said.



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Ann

posted April 28, 2009 at 11:03 pm


“cogently”…. I had to look that one up. That is a compliment I will take!



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Husband

posted April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm


Jim,
You are most welcome. It’s been a couple of days since I visited here. I spoke from the heart and hope my answers were helpful to you. It was refreshing to not have to couch my terminology all in ‘God-talk’ (which, because of my background, I’m pefectly capable of).
Please let me know your thoughts when you’ve reflected.



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Mitzia

posted February 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm


Marriages in Mexico requires a civil marriage before your church marriage. At a church wedding ceremony, just before the vows, the couple moves to another room where the fill out and sign the marriage certificate and are “legally” married.

The couple then returns and is sacramentally married in the church of their choice by their pastor. What’s not to like?

Here, the couple takes out a marriage license, is married in church, goes to another room and the clergyman fills out the rest, signs it and sends it into the state.



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Huey Delaware

posted June 3, 2014 at 11:15 pm


Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Very helpful info specially the last part :) I care for such info much. I was looking for this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.



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top credit repair

posted July 21, 2014 at 9:32 pm


You’re so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve read anything like this before. So good to find somebody with original thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with some originality!



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