A Solution to the Marriage Issue

A-11Stephanie’s Last Stand

Stephanie Donald—Publisher, LGBT-Today

For 18 years I’ve warned about the danger of using judicial process to “force” anti-gay bigots to accept marriage equality and the backlash chain reaction it would trigger. The rash of Religious Restoration Freedom Acts would tend to vindicate me on this issue and it’s only going to get worse from here on with Alabama and Texas threatening secession and violence if the United States Supreme Court forces them to accept marriage equality.

Yes, we do have 64% support of Americans over the marriage equality issue but how long can we hang onto that support if it means President Obama has to send actual troops into an American state to quell a civil war? People are basically cowards and will throw us under the bus in a New York (or in this case—a San Francisco!) minute if one of their children stands to die over the issue of marriage equality.

Although to the younger of my readers the 1960s and 1970s seem like ancient Greece, questions of conventionality were things the Gay Pioneers dealt with just56900 like any other minority group of misanthropes. I don’t use that word lightly because if you think some of the statements being lobbed at us by the religious fundamentalists are pretty ugly now you should have been around during the period in history when just going to a gay bar could wind up being an overnight stay in the gray-bar hotel, your picture in the newspaper as a perpetrator of “crimes against nature,” you would be expelled from colleges and universities, evicted from your home, divorced if you were in a “cover” marriage and fired from your job and branded from finding another.

Since this publication is dedicated to my late friend, Jack Nichols, and this is the month that marks the 10th anniversary of his passing, it seems only appropriate that we examine his and his late soulmate’s (Lige Clarke) views on the subject.

I can remark on the subject until my face turns blue but let me quote a few paragraphs of Jack’s from an article in GayToday.com, his last editorial position before his death:

Whimsical JackThe wise, the ever loving, ever smiling, Jack Nichols. Photo by Steve Yates.In January, 1966, a month before the meeting of the first national confab of gay and lesbian organizations in Kansas City, Lige insisted we write an article together, one which became the first of many we'd write through the ensuing years. It appeared in one of the few gay movement magazines extant, The Homosexual Citizen, a joint publication of the Mattachine Society of Washington (D.C.) and The Mattachine Society of Florida, Inc.

This article, more Lige's idea then than mine, said that whether a relationship is same-sex or opposite sex-oriented, those who take part have certain responsibilities to one another. Any relationship in which one partner insists that the other must conform to a set of pre-arranged rules eliminates a spontaneity that lies curled at the base of all exciting relations, turning daily life into dull routine, into ritual. Many gay men and lesbians, Lige wrote, don't realize that when they honor heterosexual religious formulas as their own, they often--as a result-- suffer the same suffocating, dehabilitating difficulties many straights do. Notions of "duty" (to marry) and "obligation" (to reproduce) put heavy weights into otherwise light-hearted, free-spirited relationships, making it too easy to sink them.

Marriage? It was clear to Lige that many form legal bonds, as Mary Chilton, a free-love advocate from the last century had put it, "out of selfish, mercenary, bread and clothes considerations," and as "a protection against poverty, combined with a purely selfish fear of the condemnation of the world, should the lovers follow their intuitions and obey the dictates of their hearts by simply remaining lovers."

The freedom Lige sought for us was not to have multiple sex partners. It was to make changes in the laws and assumptions governing the institution of marriage. To free love, in fact, from the bondage of legalized marriage.

I know I’ve said that I was preaching the sky was falling for years, but I thought you might want to see it from the perspective of someone far greater than I.

In that frame of thought, recently, Mark Davis, a columnist for The Dallas Morning News, wrote a marvelous article entitled I can solve the gay marriage debate.

Why is it that the issue of marriage, both heterosexual and homosexual, must be tied to any governmental or religious entity? Who died and made them god? Oh so many years ago, prior to the 20th century, marriage ceremonies were performed and the officiant of that ceremony would simply file a copy in the church or enter it in a ship’s log (if it was performed at sea by the captain). There was no government or other interference with marriage. It was simply between you and your higher power or the Martime authorities.

Then the Mormons came along and the fight between the churches drew government into the decision of just what constituted marriage(s) and what didn’t. With the Mormons being a minority religion, just like the LGBT community being a minority and sub-culture within the U.S., I’ll give you two guesses as to what happened and the first one doesn’t count!

During the Democratic presidency of James Buchanan, he replaced the Mormon leader, Brigham Young, with a non-Mormon governor of the territory (Utah wasBrigham-YoungMormon Church Leader, Brigham Young, who was replaced by President James Buchanan under the threat of 2,500 Union troops in 1857, igniting the Utah Civil War. not yet a state) over the issue of polygamy. Buchanan expected trouble over the issue so he sent the new governor in with 2,500 Union troops to insure a peaceful transition. The issue produced the exact opposite. The Mormons rebelled and for one year, 1857-1858, there was what can only be called a civil war between the Mormon Church and the Union Army. Buchanan was forced to finally back down. He was considered a weak president and was defeated by a Republican (the Republicans of 1860 were the exact opposite of today’s GOP—centered on liberal ideals, freedom at any cost, no corruption—which would be a nice change from today, wouldn’t it?) self-educated, self-styled lawyer from Illinois in 1860 by the name of Abraham Lincoln.

Before I get too “wrapped” on the polygamy issue, let’s suffice to say that Lincoln and the Union Congress had two major bills they wanted to pass. The first one had nothing to do with the South and was called the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, passed and signed by Lincoln on July 2, 1862. Less than 6 months later the other shoe dropped and Lincoln signed the Presidential Executive order that would forever be known as The Emancipation Proclamation. Isn’t it sort of strange that the GOP wales and screams when President Obama issues an Executive Order?

Once the government involved themselves in the business of marriage it was a short matter of time before more and more and more laws piled on state, county, city, and township laws regulating who may get married, when they get married, and how they may get married.

And so we find ourselves in 21st century America up to ass in alligators all because some religious fanatics in the mid-1800s decided the Mormons pissed them off because their men were tapping more trim than they were. The alligators were leftovers because the engineers of this mess forgot what happens when you drain the swamp!

Mark Davis of the Dallas Morning News says that Alabama (of all the unlikely places) has a new bill that just might take care of all of everyone’s issues and take the judiciary out of the equation.

Chief-Justice-Roy-Moorex400Suppose getting married wasn’t an issue of law as much as an issue of authority of conscience?

Mark Davis points out that neither side is going to back down from this fight but even the fundamentalist Christians have resigned themselves to the fact that they can’t stop marriage equality. The Alabama bill says that there will no longer be marriage licenses for either heterosexual or homosexual marriages. Ministers, notary publics, Judges (assuming you can find one who isn’t a disciple of Roy Moore), ship’s Captains, or any other authority and the state will simply record it as a matter of public record—as they once did before Lincoln got involved in the Mormon issue with the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Law in 1862.

With the biggest group of whining, bitching, complaining, proseliyzing, oligarcal, and corrupt Republicans in history, this seems a way out for everyone to eat their [wedding] cake and have it, too!

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