Gay marriage: To endorse or not to endorse?

2013-03-27 08:41

Chicago - Tuesday and Wednesday were and are exceptionally significant days for supporters and opponents of gay marriage in the USA, as two significant cases on the issue are heard in the Supreme Court.
Tuesday's oral arguments were about the constitutionality of California's gay marriage referendum – a court decision that could have the potential to prohibit states from banning or recognising gay marriage. Wednesday is the case against the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is the only federal law (almost all marriage laws are done at the state level) regarding marriage, and forbids the federal government from officially recognising any same-sex couples. DOMA therefore prevents all of the federal rights given to different-sex marriages from same-sex parings, such as tax benefits and spousal visas, for example.
And politicians are running around the country like headless chickens trying to work out just how expedient their reactions can be to their careers.
It is easier for Democrats, one of whose major constituencies is gay men and women, to line up in support of gay marriage, as polls show 58% of the country favours gays being allowed to marry, and accept all that comes with it. Hillary Clinton, long favoured to be the USA's next president, joined the club last week – she refused to endorse it as recently as 2008 when she ran for president and lost the Democrat nomination to current President Barack Obama, who himself only endorsed it in 2012 after having his hand forced by Vice President Joe Biden.
It is a testament to how rapidly public opinion is changing that last year it was thought Obama would hurt at the polls for saying a civil right such as marrying who you want should be extended to homosexuals – now Democrats can't get behind it fast enough.

This week alone, four Democrat Senators from socially conservative states all publicly backed the institution: Claire McCaskill from Missouri, Mark Warner from Virginia, Jay Rockerfeller from West Virginia and Jon Tester from Montana. Rockerfeller is somewhat of an exception there as he is retiring and won't face voters again, but Warner is up for re-election next time the USA votes, next year. Tester, while running for election last year, was against gay marriage but has seemingly come around in the last week.

Election autopsy

It likely helps both Tester and McCaskill that they were both just re-elected and won't face the ballot box again until 2018 – this is reflected in a number of Democrats who are defending their Senate seats in conservative states next year who refuse to commit to a position – likely meaning they back the measure but their constituents don't. In the most difficult position of all could be Democrat Senator from North Carolina, Kay Hagan, whose state last year passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage (on top of the fact that the state legislature had already declared it illegal).
While some Democrats might be struggling over it, so are Republicans who have used the gay marriage issue to great effect before to fire up their own base. Republicans in recent times have been the victors when it has come to culture wars between the parties, until that balloon was popped in the 2012 election when Democrats held onto the presidency despite endorsing same-sex marriage, a woman's right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy, forcing healthcare providers to cover reproductive health including contraceptives and so on.
The Republican leadership and the Republican base seem at odds over what to do about gay marriage. Last week Republican National Committee chairperson Reince Priebus released an "autopsy" about what happened in the November elections, and why Republicans did so badly.

One of the key points of that report claimed the party haemorrhaged votes from young people (a group Obama won by 24 percentage points) due to its views about gay rights. Whether that is the reason for deserting the Republican Party or not, polling shows that young people are more concerned with the civil rights of gays to the point where parties need to take note; a plurality of young voters across all parties back gay marriage.

Trickily, however, the rest of the Republican Party doesn’t favour it in majorities, so the leadership is trying to find acceptable ground. It currently straddles both points of view, which isn’t really going to work as neither side is happy about the other. Priebus said earlier this week that while he believes marriage is solely between a man and a woman, other points of view should not be rejected within the party. In other words, you can favour gay marriage and be a Republican if you want, but we don't. Confusing? Yes.

Jury's out

Republicans' danger is that its influential right wing could be alienated should it decide to attract younger voters by endorsing (fully or partly) same-sex marriage. Yet it stands to continue haemorrhaging the votes of young people by continuing to stand against it. And it is worth noting that the tags attached to the Republican Party are not just about being against gay marriage: They include opposition to legislation preventing discrimination in the workplace, miseducation regarding homosexuality, supporting the Boy Scouts ban on gays and so on.

As things stand Republicans are okay with saying gay marriage should be left up to the states to decide (as are many Democrats), but gay marriage is likely to become somewhat of a wedge issue when it comes to future campaigns. The direction things are going means candidates will likely have to present their personal views about gay marriage for the public to decide upon before primaries and elections.
It is virtually inconceivable that a Democrat candidate for president from 2016 onwards will be able to win the nomination without backing marriage, and other civil rights for gays. The jury is still out on the Republicans.

Simon Williamson is a freelance writer. Follow @simonwillo on Twitter.

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  • SaintBruce Bruce - 2013-03-27 10:13

    As a believer in God's Word, I do not endorse Gay Marriage because God does not and His way is higher in authority than man's way. Before you all go mad.... If Gay sexual practitioners want to be afforded some sort of Union out of which rights provided by their governments may flow, then those governments may ask the people who voted them into power whether they , the people, want to extend such rights to Gay Unions. But please don't call it Marriage as that is Holy Matrimony under God and two men or two women engaging in sex is not at all "Holy"and never will be! If you follow the Bible, it is clear on this. If you follow man, you get all sorts of "grey", and funny interpretations. This is my stance - like it or don't. Choose yours and be prepared to answer for it. Don't criticize the Church that follows God's ways. Either they do and you do, or move on.

      tilovonbrandis - 2013-03-27 10:41

      Gay marriage is not about sex, its about love!!!!! And your god always promoted love! But then we all now about the hypocrisies of religious teachings.

      louise.patterton - 2013-03-27 13:40

      so nice of you to force your religion onto everyone.....

      Hengu Willemse - 2013-03-27 16:20

      people married since the days of ancient Egypt, Greece and the Roman times long before your religion annexed the institution. Marriage is not a religious prerogative and does not belong to christians or muslims or any other faith it's a universal human expression and people should be free to exercise that choice irrespective of their religion.

      Adrian Adshade - 2013-03-28 08:22

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only "physical documentation" of "God's word" within the Bible is that of the Ten Commandments, ten things God felt so passionately about that he chose to inscribe these rules on two stone tablets (rules that ultimately form the cornerstone of Christianity...its essence if you will). Seems pretty cut and dry to me. I'd imagine that if your god felt as passionately about same-sex marriage he'd have mentioned it in your holy doctrine. So cut the BS. Stop hiding your apparent hatred for people under the guise of religious doctrine. Your god sounds like a pretty decent guy, but you all make him sound like a complete tool. Can't imagine that he's very pleased with you all right now. I mean he spelled it out for you in ten simple bloody rules! If this was a quiz, you'd fail. In fact, based on your behaviour and stance against same-sex marriage you're actually committing a sin against commandment #9 "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour", which is further expands upon by the following verse: "There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers." —Proverbs 6:16–19 Again, seems pretty cut and dry. So change things up ASAP or getting into heaven might prove to be a difficult task ;)

      Robert Coughlan - 2013-04-02 08:18

      @ SaintBruce - There is nothing 'holy' about civil unions which would afford recognition and rights to same-sex couples who choose to enter such a union. So, your idea of holy matrimony is not being sullied, or it doesn't need to be. If churches want to be bigoted and hold bigoted views, that is another argument. Also, you are not in a strong position to argue that your 'interpretation' isn't as grey as anybody elses. Your claims to divine warrant for your views are meaningless because you do not follow the laws of the bible in anything but a 'grey' manner, otherwise you would be calling for stonings. No, Jesus didn't do away with old testament law, he came to fulfil it - Matthew 5:17 says, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" Awaiting your 'out of context' claims, or counterclaims with conflicting, contradictory spcripture quotes. This will simply prove that scripture can be used to justify anything. If that's not grey, then I don't know what is.

  • Lionel Joshua Millard - 2013-03-27 10:33

    What are governments and people trying to protect heterosexual marriages from? There isn't a limited amount of love in the world. It isn't a non-renewable resource. If Amy and Barbara or Mike and Steve love each other, it doesn't mean that John and Mary can't. Professor Boswell discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient church liturgical documents (and clearly separate from other types of non-marital blessings of adopted children or land) were ceremonies called, among other titles, the "Office of Same Sex Union" (10th and 11th century Greek) or the "Order for Uniting Two Men" (11th and 12th century). That certainly sounds like gay marriage. For the Church to ignore the evidence in its own archives would be a cowardly cop-out. The evidence shows convincingly that what the modern church claims has been its constant unchanging attitude towards homosexuality is in fact nothing of the sort. It proves that for much of the last two millennia, in parish churches and cathedrals throughout Christendom from Ireland to Istanbul and in the heart of Rome itself, homosexual relationships were accepted as valid expressions of a God-given ability to love and commit to another person, a love that could be celebrated, honoured and blessed both in the name of and through the Eucharist in the presence of Jesus Christ.

      Michael Wilson - 2013-03-27 16:32

      Says Disillusioned, promptly perverting the definition of marriage in order to suit his/her own stance...

      louise.patterton - 2013-03-28 09:04

      would luuuurve to hear Disillusioned telling the infertile or childless married couples that their marriage is not there are no kids. And, I've said it before, the article as about US gay in SA gays can get married already....and how the heck is that influencing YOUR marriage?? People so up into others' love lives must be living a very sad life indeed......

  • Wake UP - 2013-03-27 10:54

    People's first reaction is to quote the Bible. Tell me this, what does the Bible say about judging? Christians are the worst when it comes to judging, when the fact of the matter is that in the end it will not be about how often was one person judged and persecuted for what they lived, we will be judged on a relationship we have with OUR GOD. God is love and God didn't make any mistakes. The problem in this world is that there are too many people who are not educated on the facts but jump in to give their two cents. What would be the reaction if a chiropractor was to give expert comment on NASA's latest space program? or the engineering of an industrial park? Wouldn't make much sense to jump in without properly educating yourself would it? Get the facts, all the facts, not just the side you hear and want to hear, go and read about the topic before you utter stupid remarks that only proves that you yourself are a sinner by judging. God said to love your neighbor not hate and judge your neighbor.

      Wake UP - 2013-03-27 13:03

      Disillusioned Sa, I feel really sorry for you, but mostly for your kid. I admire you for being protective over your child, God knows our children need protection these days but I am sorry to inform you they need it more from straight people than they do gay people. I want to ask you a few questions, firstly: why do straight people feel so threatened by gay people? Does a straight guy or girl jump in the bed with any and every straight opposite? Why do straight people think a gay person wants to sleep with either them or a relative? And why do you care who they want to sleep with? As in straight relationships, there's a lot more to it than sex. Did you marry your wife purely to have sex with her or is your life with her a partnerships of your lives? to share your life with someone meaningful whom you are attracted to? I can totally understand that you as a parent want to protect your child but not everyone out there are as evil as you make them out to be. The aim is not to force anything on anyone, just to live as equals. You probably deal with gay people without even knowing it, they are real people too, real emotions, real heart, real blood, real tax money, real employment opportunities, real South Africans. Don't make the mistake to think anything is forced on you, relax and let live

      louise.patterton - 2013-03-27 13:38

      no-one is FORCING the gay lifestyle (whatever that do know there are celibate gay people as well???) on anyone....gays just want to get married the same way straight people do. Why compare it to rape? How does it harm you? How is a married gay couple causing more harm to you than a gay couple sharing a house, unmarried? marriage is legal in South Africa, for many years already. And the gay community is not dying is estimated at 10% of all people and will probably increase as people drop their medieval beliefs. My guess is that people such as Disillusioned is so busy focussing on the few promiscuous gay guys he knows that he has no knowledge of loving gay couples, happy gay singles, or even....shudder.....lesbians.

      Tharina Van Der Westhuizen - 2013-03-27 15:32

      Yes Louise it's been legal in SA since 2006 and as far as I know it hasn't changed the straight people's lives in any way whatsoever.

  • Ralph Thornley - 2013-03-27 18:18

    Air Force Sergeant Leonard P Matlovich USAF received a Bronze Star in Vietnam for killing two Viet Cong soldiers in an attack on his post. He was discharged in 1975 for admitting to homosexuality but not any unbecoming conduct. In 1980 he was reinstated and died in 1988 of an AIDS related illness. These words are inscribed on his tombstone. THEY GAVE ME A MEDAL FOR KILLING TWO MEN - A DISCHARGE FOR LOVING ONE. (US News and World report Nov 20 1989.)It is okay to kill but just don't love someone of the same sex.

  • Lesvokli Pitsiladi - 2013-03-27 20:57


  • Linda Selai - 2013-03-28 07:02

    I dont understand christians, there are so many laws that are given of which if you break them its a sin and they break those laws everyday but when it comes same sex relations they wanna magnify it, why not treat all the sins the same as i believe the bible says no sin is bigger than the other, how hypocritical of christians.

  • louise.patterton - 2013-03-28 09:04

    If you do not like gay marriage, DO NOT MARRY A GAY PERSON!!!

  • Nurse Helenk - 2013-03-28 21:36

    The US is so far behind on this issue it is not even funny anymore. They seem to want to let each State vote on the rights of a minority group. But then still impose a blanket clause (DOMA) over the entire country making legal gay marriages like some sort of watered down marriage. These supreme court justices must decide how they want to remembered in history when they vote because change will come eventually, just like it did for slavery, women's rights and civil rights.

  • Viktêr Då Mystroh - 2013-03-31 10:13

    u crying for marriage cert?? in uganda u get hung for being gay...

  • Tony Wellman - 2013-04-01 10:05

    Chief justice Roberts is quite correct when he said: “When the institution of marriage developed historically, people didn’t get around and say, ‘Let’s have this institution, but let’s keep out homosexuals,’?” he said. “The institution developed to serve purposes that, by their nature, didn’t include homosexual couples.” ps - interracial marriage DOES serve the purpose of marriage as it originally developed. Laws prohibiting inter-racial marriage was later added due to racism. Why are there (in %) so many more homosexuals in the USA as compared to for example in Saudi Arabia? Because being gay is not a choice - it is an orientation that (mostly) developed in early childhood due to abusive or disfunctional child - primary caregiver relationships - something very abundant in the modern "me" environment. Allowing homosexuals couples to get "married" and calling it "marriage" is certainly changing the the definition of what the word "marraige" means. My suggestion is that Christians stop complaining (it won't help anyway) and find themselves a new word to define a life-long union between a man and a woman. Let the homosexuals use the keep "marriage". But I can guarentee you - before long the homosexuals will be fighting in the courts to have their unions be defined by this new word.

      Tony Wellman - 2013-04-01 11:04

      In the mean time I suggest Christians (or any other that share their definition of a union between a man and woman to live as husband and wife, and the purpose of this union) may borrow from the Islam the word "Nikah" (by agreement - until such time as a proper word has been decided on). ps - Islam will surely protect the definition of their word "Nikah" so Christains will never have to worry again.

      Robert Coughlan - 2013-04-02 10:17

      Well said Tony, another revealing statement from a Christian, hinting that some of you are so despearate to take offence that you secretly wish you could go all 'ranting and chanting' into the streets, smashing stuff and burning flags and effigies etc, like a great deal of muslims do when someone commits the utterly heinous act of scribbling a sketch of Mohammed, or some other absolutely benign act of freedom of expression. Amazing how, when it's convenient, some christians will seek shelter behind such archaic, infantile mindsets, simply because it's been oberved by some that it pays to throw a tantrum to get your own way.

  • Richard Botha - 2013-04-01 12:17

    I have a responsibility before God the Creator to warn you when what you are proposing is wrong according to his word. 2Ch 19:10 And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the LORD, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass.” The Word of God says the following. Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Lev 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Rom 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: Rom 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; You decide

      Robert Coughlan - 2013-04-02 09:13

      No Richard, The Bible says contains certain things, which by today's standards are pretty inhumane. Some of the text is benign, some even promoting love and cooperation. Now, about it all being the revealed word of the creator of the universe, that's simply a whole other story. The pettiness of a great deal of the scriptures, the misogyny, the sheer bigotry speak only to a human origin with no divine input at all.

      louise.patterton - 2013-04-04 16:45

      Richard, you do not have to marry a gay person...relax. And the Bible is NOT the constitution, nor is your idea of religious behaviour the only one out there. Jeepers, it is as if people think the government is FORCING them to marry the same gender!!! You can still marry a woman, no fear!!! By the way, gays can get married in SA, several years already....has this been harming your own marriage much?

  • Richard Botha - 2013-04-01 12:18

    What does the word say the potential consequence’s are: Gen 13:13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly. Gen 19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: Gen 19:5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 2Pe 2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly; You be the Judge

      louise.patterton - 2013-04-04 16:48

      the Bible this...the Bible also go around to countries like India or Iraq and force your beliefs on others?? The Bible is NOT the constitution, it is just a book some people use to live their lives by.....but freedom of religion is allowed, you know? Plus, I can also quote from the Bible promoting slavery, stoning, and more....but for some reason you chosse to ignore those bits.....

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