Tue
Jul 24 2012 2:00pm

The Henson Company Reaffirms What We Already Knew About Muppets

The fast food chain Chik-Fil-A’s recent confirmation of a vehement stance against marriage equality prompted a fascinating response from The Henson Company earlier this week. In reply to the chain, the company’s CEO—Jim Henson’s daughter Lisa—declared the company’s support of equal marriage rights, making it known that every cent gained from the partnership between the food chain (Muppet toys were available in Chik-Fil-A meals) and the Henson Company would be donated to GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).

Many are insisting that this could only be expected from the company that brought you a pair of roommates with almost-matching wardrobes. But while ruminating on Bert and Ernie’s potential love life may have the general public snickering—although that joke has been going for so long that it might actually no longer be funny—what doesn’t seem to enter the conversation are the places where Henson worlds and creations make a point of opening the doors to understanding.

Sesame Street has always been a place where everyone was meant to feel at home, and that has always been reflected in its programming. Like The Muppet Show, Sesame Street is known for showcasing a wide variety of celebrity hosts, no matter their color, creed, or sexual orientation. In addition, it has been noted that Sesame Street segments discussing subjects such as love and marriage have never been too keen on organizing definitions according to heteronormative standards; when Grover asked children about what marriage was, the answer he received was “when two people get married.”

What people infer can amount to much more than what you intend, and all of these little bits and pieces add up to what many are viewing as the new “gay-friendly” Sesame Street. But calling it an agenda seems an overreaction when Jim Henson’s work has featured diversity of all kinds from the very beginning. Guest hosts, a pantheon of funny-looking puppets, and songs about rainbow connections have mixed and mingled to thrilling combinations of talent in every aspect of production. The only prerequisite that seems to exist for working on Sesame Street or any other Henson project is a desire to be creative, silly, profound, and accessible to everyone.

That hardly amounts to widespread support for gay rights, but while the producers of the show have been quick to deny any deliberate leanings, Henson endeavors have been a pillar of inclusive entertainment for years. Perhaps an even better example of this would be the show Fraggle Rock. Set in a fantastic world with links to our own, the Fraggles lived with Doozers, and right outside their homes was a garden kept by Gorgs. The show made a point of showing how Fraggle society worked, and how different types of people formed symbiotic relationships; it is discovered further into the show that while the Fraggles are constantly destroying the structures created by Doozers (by eating their Doozer Sticks), they are in fact contributing to the natural order — if they don’t eat the structures the Doozers have no room to build and have no purpose.

It sounds like a great lesson for environmental awareness, but it also teaches children that not being able to understand what someone does is no reason to withhold you appreciation or respect from them. The young Doozer Cotterpin, who is at first dissatisfied with her life of building and is given a special role among Doozers, eventually befriends some of the Fraggles and they learn through her in turn. At the show’s end, the Gorg’s son Junior is given the opportunity to see life from a Fraggle’s perspective. He ends up appreciating them so much that he reforms the structure of their society and gives everyone an equal say. His choice to stop viewing the Fraggles as pests changes the shape of their whole culture.

The Dark Crystal might be the most carefully constructed example of the Henson Company’s belief in equality amongst all people. After watching the Skeksis torment and sow destruction through the entire film, after making them appear undeniably evil, they eventually meld with the gentle, wise Mystics and become whole. The final thoughts imparted to the young hero Jem are a lesson for any age: we are all a part of each other. Even something that might terrify you at the start is still a piece of your world, and should be embraced. What makes us different is also what binds us all together, and that should never be ignored in favor of fear.

Then there are the Muppets, a gang of the most unlikely friends you could ever meet. If there was ever a bid for acceptance in Jim Henson’s colorful array of creations, the Muppets would be the first to shout it loud. Here is a troupe that counts a frog, a pig, a bear, and a whatever among their ranks — could you imagine them frowning on any modicum of uniqueness they ever came across? When they’ve got a cadre of singing chickens at their disposal?

It isn’t necessary to parade gay characters in front of children in order for them to get these messages, and the lessons inherent in Henson’s work are a testament to that inclusive outlook regardless. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t want our heroes to put their money where their mouth is; it’s one thing to promote diversity in your entertainment, but it’s quite another to publicly announce what your business stands for. Those are the moves that can cost a company money and make a lot of people angry.

So while we will all hold those muppet-y teachings close to our hearts, it is perhaps even more heartwarming to know that the Jim Henson Company really does count equality among their top priorities. It proves that while Bert and Ernie may never have a sexuality to speak of, all sorts of families will always be welcome on Sesame Street.


Emily Asher-Perrin is pretty sure that we should leave Bert and Ernie alone and all start pointing the finger at the real secret relationship between Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

85 comments
Nick Rogers
5. BookGoblin
Thank you from the bottom of my lowest-difficulty-setting heart. I had been completely oblivious of this whole set of controversies due to other things clogging up the news. I deeply hate that one of my (formerly) favorite restaurants is vocally anti-human-rights. Finding out that one of my favorite entertainment companies is willing to stand up on the other side of the coin makes me feel a bit better today.

This article was a great exploration of past Henson Co. behavior, and I really like the call-backs to my favorite breed of muppets, the fraggles.

A very good read.
David J Thompson
6. djthomp
Over the last couple of hours I've started seeing reports that Dan Cathy is being really badly misqouted by the press over this issue. I've been trying to track down the full text of the orignal interview but so far I am just finding the "Well, guilty as charged" comment without any of the surrounding context.
James Davis Nicoll
7. James Davis Nicoll
Why are the two comments above number 5 and 6 despite being as far as I can tell the first two comments?
Irene Gallo
8. Irene
James - The first comments were repeated trollish one-liners. We welcome a difference in opinion but they must present themselves as thoughtful opinions rather than incendiary flame-bait.
James Davis Nicoll
9. James Davis Nicoll
Fair enough; I was not aware the numbering was preserved in such cases.
j p
10. sps49
Cathy opposes gay marriage, but I didn't read him as anti-gay.

There are some people getting camera time around here (SF Bay Area) over gay marriage, Chick-Fil-A, and new restaurant locations. The company does right by its employees and customers, closing at 10PM and closing on Sundays. This is a reflection of the founder's faith, yes, but places employee's interests over profit, to an extent (who really wants to work until midnight? I don't, but often do. Having Sundays off is better than not, whether one goes to church or not.)

It wasn't too long ago that Gavin Newsome instructed his offices to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Before that, I don't recall hearing any fuss about a civil right being denied.
James Davis Nicoll
11. Rxtar
I honestly think Chick fil-A comes out of this one looking like the more inclusive company - why? Because they're willing to do business to people they disagree with. They were willing to work with Henson, and they're more than willing to serve anyone that walks into their stores - gay, straight, whatever.

That's what tolerance requires, disagreement. It means tolerating people who look, act, and think differently than you do.

What The Henson Company did isn't an act of inclusivity, but of exclusivity. They're not asking for tolerance, they're asking for conformity.

Sure, they have a right to do it. But what they don't have a right to do is claim moral superiority for it.

Everyone knows Chick fil-A is run by Christian people. By default, those people are going to be (like at least 40% of this country) opposed to gay marriage. What Henson did implies they would do the same for any company run by people who belong to that 40% - most of the time, Christians.

How inclusive can you really be if you refuse to work with 40% of the country?

Wouldn't the more inclusive thing have been to post or make a statement that they disagree, even vehemently, with what Chick fil-A did, but they'll work with them regardless? Because they're tolerant people?

And not only didn't they stop there, but instead of doing the other right thing to do - refund Chick fil-A's money to them - they instead turn around and donate it to a lobbyist firm dedicated to bullying people like the Cathy family out of business?

That's not tolerant, or loving, or inclusive, or anything else except vindictive.
James Davis Nicoll
12. jrh402s
The original interview can be found here:
http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=38271

Also, if you're unfamiliar with biblebelt speak, let me add that Cathy is signalling his disapproval of more than same-sex marriage. He is speaking to the most conservative evangelical publication in the world and its readers know that it's not just about same-sex marrages. For example, Cathy makes a point of bringing up how he's married to his first wife.
James Davis Nicoll
13. Gonzo the 'Meh'
"The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years” -Jim Henson Company

"The only prerequisite that seems to exist for working on Sesame Street or any other Henson project is a desire to be creative, silly, profound, and accessible to everyone."

Unless of course you believe something different from Henson and Friends; then you are 'intolerant' and not to be included. Bravo! Progressive Doctrine at its finest, the Pillar of Tolerance and Understanding! They are basically saying "I disagree with you; therefore I exclude you and treat you as second class."

The chicken joint took the higher road in my opinion. They believe what they believe, and they have a right to believe it (just as Henson and Co. have that right). They are not excluding anyone their services, they are not publishing stories to try and defame those that have different opinions, they are not on a reputation and business destroying rampage in the name of fairness and equality. True freedom allows for dissenting opinions, and respect for those opinions.

For exampe: If you like high-fructose corn syrup, and I think it causes obesity and brain damage, we can still make software or bridges together, but probably not food.

It is intolerant to refuse to work with an individual or company because of a difference of opinion on principles that do not directly affect your business agreement. Or more precisely, it is narrow-minded to think that a disagreement on GLBT issues could lead to either party lacking the general integrity needed to do buisness together and sell some chicken with muppet toys.

Henson and Co have a right their decision, but let’s not call it something that it is not. It is bigotry in the name of tolerance (or the brand of tolerance that they believe in).

BTW, #5, deeply hating someone for their religious beliefs and calling it an anti-human rights stance, not cool. Manipulate much? Hate much? Guilty of the same brand of hate that you accuse them of? Yep. Yep. Yessir.
William Carter
14. wcarter
@6 djthomp

As a former employee of Chick-fil-A I can say I disgusted with everyone involved in the whole ordeal. What Dan Cathy said was taken out of context, as was the circumstances behind it.

Chick-fil-A did not come out and say they hated gays. Dan Cathy was asked a point blank question on what he felt about gay marriage, and responded that as christians he and his family believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

Mr. Cathy's remark is certainly discriminatory, but it was solicited by a journalist. Making a story about it like it was some sort of politically calculated move is a bit disenginous.


Since Chick-fil-A is a privately owned (albeit massive) company. The Cathy's can run it however they want to so long as they violate no state or federal laws. Dan also stated that his believes wouldn't stop them from selling chicken to gays--assumbing any still want to buy it from them. Therefore they're technically not doing anything illegal.

Cathy should have kept his mouth shut about his beliefs, and if Chick-Fil-A suffers a loss of revenue because of it, they deserve it. But they aren't the only villians in this story.

Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-Fil-A and Dan's father had nothing to do with the remark at all, but recieved a number of death threats in response. The sad thing is Truett doesn't even work at the corporate headquaters anymore--he just spends his time giving motivational speechs and working on the Winshape program.

Berry College in Georgia which hosts the Winshape program founded by Truett locked down the other day because of it. Why should children in summer camps be in fear of their personal safety because of the remark one man made in completely different city made no matter how biggoted?

The public needs to be far more responsible in how it's handling this situation. If you don't agree with Chick-Fil-A's stance, then don't patronize them. But threatening a harmless old man's life is inexcusable and counterproductive.
Emily Asher-Perrin
15. EmilyAP
@sps49 - Opposing the rights of LGBT individuals doesn't really come off as "pro-gay" or even "neutral-gay" in the minds of the population affected by those marriage acts and laws. Saying "well, I don't mind that these people exist, but I really don't want them getting married" is hardly a pretty anti-opinion in that regard. In addition, it's sure nice that they don't have employees working crazy long hours, etc, like you mentioned, but that doesn't mean that Chik-Fil-A couldn't do this and still support marriage equality. Caring for some on one account doesn't absolve you treating everyone else equally.

@Rxtar - Well, that's assuming that Chik-Fil-A knew that the Henson Company was for marriage equality before they struck their business deal, which seems unlikely, seeing as this is the first official word we've heard on the Henson Company's stance.

I'm not quite sure how announcing that your company supports equal rights then makes you a proponent of conformity. And the Henson Company is still working with them; they're simply donating all the proceeds that come from this business deal to the GLAAD organization - an organization that ensures that members of the LGBT community aren't forced to endure slander and unfair treatment simply due to being different from certain groups. And Chik-Fil-A isn't going out of business because GLAAD exists, not by any stretch of the imagination.
James Davis Nicoll
16. Rxtar
Emily,

In the same way that everyone really kind of knew that Chick fil-A was a Christian company long before this, I think it's safe to say that most people expected Henson to be pro-gay marriage. It's a Hollywood production company.

Still, even if they didn't, it's worth pointing out that their arrangement didn't have any strings attached to that effect. Also, again, if you go into a Chick fil-A and announce that you're gay, you know what will happen? Nothing. They'll ask you if you'd like to order.

To clarify what I said about conformity - if you require that people agree with you on a given topic in order to do business with them, you're requiring that they conform to you.

That's not tolerance.
Emily Asher-Perrin
17. EmilyAP
@Gonzo the Meh - This is not about tolerating opinions (though it does seem to be the only thing that is ever brought up in these arguments). Chik-Fil-A's stance as a business means that money that their business makes goes directly into preventing marriage equality. So while it's all well and good to say it's not fair to call people out for having different opinions, it's ultimate ignoring what's truly wrong about this scenario: if you don't want marriage equality, that's fine. But using your business to funnel money into programs that prevent other people from receiving the same rights that you receive is wrong. Period. It's more than just a different opinion when you're actively blocking others from being treated the same way that you are. Do what you want with you own money privately. But if you make a public stance as a corporation, then you have to accept responsibility for that stance and expect to be called out for it.
James Davis Nicoll
18. Rxtar
Emily,

Actually, that's exactly what this is about - tolerating opinions. If you refuse to do business with someone, you are not tolerating that opinion. Or that person.

The organizations that Chick fil-A supports are opposed to gay marriage, like Chick fil-A, by default. They're Christian organizations.
James Davis Nicoll
19. Gonzo the ... 'Meh'
@EmilyAP Approximately half of Americans do not agree that "marriage equality" is the right thing to be fighting for. They have a different opinion on the subject than you do. GLAAD funnels money into changing laws and influencing minds to support their stance, those that disagree with them have a right to do the opposite. Just so we are clear here, there is nothing wrong with either approach. But what is wrong is the blanket of hate that gets thrown back and forth. "Tolerant" and "Accepting" and "Loving" people are generating death threats against the Cathy family. Many blogs and opinion columns are tearing them apart with hate language. They justify their actions with the belief that a decent human being could never disagree with them on the subject, and the rules don't apply when the opposition is "not decent" or "violating human rights". It is the under-handed, emotionally driven, chasm-creating behavior that must be stopped. It comes from those on both sides of the issue, but in the case, it is blatently one sided.
Emily Asher-Perrin
20. EmilyAP
@Rxtar - If you refuse to do business with someone, you refuse to support what their business supports. That extends far beyond simple opinion.

You can be a Christian and have a business that choses not to take political stances that deny other people rights. Businesses are not individuals. Businesses are not faiths. You can have your own personal opinions and not let them enter your business. Their are plenty of businesses run by Christian individuals that don't take sides on these matters. If you chose not to do that, then you also chose to accept how other people react to it, according to their opinions.
James Davis Nicoll
21. ravenlunatick
Wait. Isn't the Henson company still working with them? They are just donating their profits to charity instead of pocketing them. So no exclusion there. They just said they disagree with the stance of Chik-fil-a.

And whats wrong with being intolerant of intolerance/bigotry? That's exactly what we should be intolerant of. I mean, if you don't think gay marriage is right, then don't marry a gay person. It's that simple.
James Davis Nicoll
22. Rxtar
Emily,

Actually, a Christian's faith enters every part of their lives. Their business, their relationships... everything.

And let me set something straight here -

No one's rights are being denied. And don't tell me "the right to marry who you love", because that's not what the law says. There are several stipulations.

The law says you can marry someone of the opposite gender, provided they're of legal age (unless their parent(s) agree), who is not of close blood relation.

Everyone has that right.

You're talking about inferring a NEW right - to marry someone of same gender. Where you think that right comes from, I have no idea.
James Davis Nicoll
23. Rxtar
The problem with what you're saying - being intolerant of the intolerant - is that you have to be able to define who's the intolerant one that we're supposed to be intolerant of? Perhaps we should be intolerant of Henson's intolerance?

And no, Henson is not doing business with Chick fil-A anymore.
Sean Arthur
24. wsean
Looks like Chick-Fil-A forgot "Thou shalt not lie."

http://i.imgur.com/fphW1.jpg

Pretty funny, though.

Not going to respond to the comments here, but it is always fun to see people citing ridiculous arguments about meta-intolerance accidentally out themselves as anti-gay.
Emily Asher-Perrin
25. EmilyAP
@Gonzo the Meh - And it is very sad that people are attacking the Cathy family. But it's ultimately a separate issue from what this article was discussing in the first place, which was the Henson Company's reaction to their stance on marriage equality and a celebration of Henson's inclusivity in entertainment.
Emily Asher-Perrin
26. EmilyAP
@Rxtar - And laws can be amended, thank goodness, and rightfully so! We built that ability into the constitution for a reason, and occasionally we use it. US laws are meant to serve a very large diverse group of people - not all of them Christians - and we would do well to reflect that as a country. You clearly disagree and that's fine - but I'll thank you not to tell me what basic rights should be allowed to all people. I can make up my mind on that all by myself.
James Davis Nicoll
27. Rxtar
Emily,

I guess, then, we risk breaching a much deeper topic - where do rights come from? After all, if the people or the government have the power to bestow rights, doesn't that also give them the power to take them away? That's tyranny.

It's worth pointing out that the Bill of Rights in the Constitution never actually grants a single right. It only states that it won't INFRINGE on the right to free speech, free press, etc. That implies the rights themselves already exist.
James Davis Nicoll
28. alexadam
Just to give a little support here: EmilyAP, you are my hero for saying what I want to say - way more eloquently and to the point. Thank you for that, you rule!
Dave Miller
29. Borogove
@Rxtar: I agree with you. Rights are not granted, rights are taken away. I think it's safe to say that marriage is a special case of freedom of association, one of our rights protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Emily and others, including myself, would conclude that restricting marriage to opposite gender couples is an implicit abrogation of that right, and by extension a violation of the First Amendment.

Please don't follow up with the old saw about marrying children or siblings, either. There is much Constitutional precedent for the limitation of rights for the protection of the innocent, for example minor children, or the potential children of genetically similar individuals. Just as you can't shout "Fire" in a crowded theater.
James Davis Nicoll
30. jacob1234
@Rxtar- When people get upset by organizations that don't support marriage equality it is not simply out of political disagreement. Dan Cathy believes committed heterosexual love should be rewarded with certain rights and privileges while committed homosexual love should be denied those same rights and privileges. One can infer that he believes homosexual love is real and heterosexual love is not. This "othering" of gays and lesbians doesn't just deny them marriage equality. It encourages ostracization, discrimination, bullying, hate crimes, etc.

I'm not saying this is Cathy's intent and, truthfully, I hope it isn't. But the exclusiveness of his remarks encourages the truly intollerant.

The article we are commenting on was about how Jim Hensen created a fantasy world where everyone was included and that inclusion enriched everyone's lives. Dan Cathy is willing to include gay people when they enrich his restaurant chain but not when they want equal rights.
James Davis Nicoll
31. Megpie71
Just to drop in a wee dram of evidence here, I have to admit to having read through all the gospels (you know, the books which are supposed to be about the words of Christ), checking for what he had to say on various topics. Christ has absolutely nothing to say about homosexuality. He has a fair amount to say about marriage and divorce - he's pretty much of the opinion that divorce is just a way of making the other person in the relationship live with adultery against their will (Mark 10: 2 - 12; Matthew 5: 31 - 32). But he has nothing to say about homosexuality, it's desirability or lack thereof.

The one who has a lot of things to say about homosexuality is Paul. Paul is not Christ. Paul (as Saul) did not know Christ prior to the crucifixion.

I suspect the thing which is probably most cogent to the various discussions here is this:

The commandments of God are, firstly, that when you choose to worship God, you do so with the whole of your being and your passion; secondly, that you love others as you love yourself. This is more important than any amount of religious doctrine and ritual - this is the soul and centre of religion itself. (Mark 12: 28 - 34)

There's a lot that's gone into about how "worshipping God with the whole of your being and your passion" should be done. Most of it points out that basically, if anything stands between yourself and your love of God, your repentance of your sins, then that thing needs to be set aside. Posessions, wealth, social role, family, all of these things can and should be discarded if it means you're being distracted by them from the path of repentance. Christ was also of the opinion that religious faith was a deeply personal thing (see Matthew 6: 1 - 18), not something to be proclaimed in the marketplace.

Now, I'm not going to get personal about how these things should be applied in this case. What I am going to say is basically that in my mind, the acts of the Henson company are more overtly "Christian" (i.e. in line with the teachings of Christ) than the acts of the Cathy family company. And Christ preached about that kind of thing, too (Mark 9: 38 - 41).
Jared Mills
32. seattlelibrarian
I also wanted to voice my support for what Emily has said so wonderfully. The idea that you can be intolerant to intolerance is so inane it must be ripped from the headlines of the Onion.
I could care less what that despicable man from Chik-Fil-A says. He has his right to an opinion. However, what he has done is use his platform and considerable wealth to fight human rights. He has chosen to denigrate and openly wage war (albeit with money) on equality right here in the good ole US of A. Using his religion as a shield for his bigotry does not somehow make it more palatable.
It's also really hard as a gay man waiting to get married in a state where it is on the ballot to have people flippantly discussing this issue as if it is some thought experiment. If you think marriage equality is just a symbol without real world implications for those of us on the frontlines, you really don't understand the issue. My partner and I are terrified of what would happen to our kids, our house, our life if one of us were to get seriously ill or die.
Making this discussion about the Muppets standing up for equality into a bullying issue (obviously you have never serious been bullied) is completely dishonest and quite silly if one applies even a little bit of logic to that argument.
Once again:
Emily and the Muppets = Awesome
Bigotry= lame
James Davis Nicoll
33. jere7my
Everyone knows Chick fil-A is run by Christian people. By default, those people are going to be (like at least 40% of this country) opposed to gay marriage.

Rxstar, being opposed to gay marriage is not the "default" for Christians. I'm a Quaker, and my wife's a Mennonite, and we were both delighted when a long-time member of her church announced his engagement to his boyfriend of decades. We both politically support LGBT causes. The country is full of Christians who support gay marriage — including our president.

History is on our side. In twenty years, the next generation is going to look back and find opposition to gay marriage as incomprehensible and backward as most of us find opposition to interracial marriage today.
James Davis Nicoll
34. SF
@31, 32, 33 Megpie71, seattlelibrarian, jere7my:

Well-said, all three of you.

Seattlelibrarian, good luck with the vote.
Alan Brown
35. AlanBrown
Jere7my raises a good point. Not all Christians are fundamentalists, nor are they all opposed to gay marriage. I myself wish that our society was less obsessed with sex and sexual politics in general--I grow tired of the constant discussions--but I come down on the side of more inclusiveness, and support the decision of the Henson Company.
Emily Cartier
36. Torrilin
Seattlelibrarian, I'm not a WA resident, but I am hoping like mad that your state votes to change the law. It will make me very happy if there is another state where marriage laws are more inclusive.

I'm straight and married, and my partner and I had a lot of long discussions about whether we could stand to get married when gay people can't. It's against the law here in WI, and it makes us both deeply angry. For a lot of reasons, it's not safe for me to have children, so (like a lot of straight couples) we did not get married in order to have them. It's purely because our relationship is important to us, and marriage is an important cultural symbol about the kind of relationship we have. It seems really weird to me that you should be denied marriage, and I get to have it.

*fingers and toes crossed for you*

(and yes, I'm a Christian)
Jay Dauro
37. J.Dauro
The Henson Company did not insult Chik-Fil-A or its stance on gay marriage. They did say they did not wish to be associated with that stance, and did not wish to support it, (since the Cathy family does donate earnings from Chik-Fil-A to oppose gay marriage.)
"The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors,"

"Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation),"
It is their right to choose who they work with, and what they support, just as it is Mr. Cathay's right to make his choices on these matters. And it is my choice and right as a consumer to choose who I buy from and support.


I believe that it is any two persons' right to choose their partners in marriage. I also believe that, just as we have seen with interracial marriage, in 20 years or so, it will be a non-issue for most of the country. I am constantly amused by the idea of "defense" of marriage, I see no way that someone else's gay marriage affects my marriage at all.

I am also constantly amused by the idea of Christians opposing the opening of a restaurant on Sunday. The largest restaurant rush on Sunday in my town is people getting out of church, and going out for lunch.
James Davis Nicoll
38. Croaker41
Wow some discussion. For me the bottom line is this. Everyone knows that the owners of the company do not morally agree with same sex marriage. If you as a customer feel that this is morally wrong you should not support them with your business. If you feel the opposite, enjoy your chicken. They have broken no laws as far as I know. As for myself, I have no problem with same sex marriage, and I enjoy a good chicken sandwich. So as a guy with no real dog in the fight I just get on with my life and try to make it through.
James Davis Nicoll
39. Darren M
I am sorry, but I do not understand how people can define this topic as people being "intolerant" of Chik-fil-a and Dan Cathy. I am sorry but it just doesn't work that way... by that stance anyone who criticized people who opposed inter-racial marriage (Remember just 23% supported it in the late sixties and less than 50% supported it in the late 70's) was being intolerant of the people who were in opposition...

Shoot, by that standard, every person who complains about Westboro Baptist Church is being intolerant of their views, and should just be more tolerant and let them protest funerals to their hearts' content.

Bigotry is bad and should be opposed, I understand the desire to mental jujutsu and accuse the Henson company of intolerance but it just doesn't work like that.

Also, if we are going to be straightforward, the Henson company took Chik-fil-a's money and then said this is what we are going to do with it, donate to these groups. Compare that to Chik-fil-a who has taken money from people for years without making their views perfectly clear, then donating millions to causes that are abhorent to many of their customers. If they were straightforward about their positions about gays, then at least they would be honest about it.

BTW, our household is another one of those Christian families who support marriage equity !
Shoshana Kessock
40. ShoshanaK
Well written article, Emily, and it seems to have sparked a hell of a conversation. I find it funny that people would say that it's unfair for the Henson company to turn away from Chick-Fil-A because they disagree with the anti gay marriage stance. Since when is there a need to be tolerant of the intolerant? If someone comes out with an opinion that you disagree with, especially one so odious as organized bigotry, it is within anyone's right to pull their support and go elsewhere with their revenue. It's the last cry of the shamefully ignorant to imagine that people would put up with discrimination and call it "tolerance." And hiding behind religious dogma as the 'proper' thing for a Christian organization shames all those out there who stand up in Judeo-Christian organizations to be counted as against the systematic discrimination of gay couples couched in religious context.

I don't think I could have said it better than #30:
The article we are commenting on was about how Jim Hensen created a fantasy world where everyone was included and that inclusion enriched everyone's lives. Dan Cathy is willing to include gay people when they enrich his restaurant chain but not when they want equal rights.
Yes and yes and all of this yes.

Again, well done Emily.
jazz tigan
41. tredeger
As usual, you can count on Tor readers who disagree to have a wonderfully civil and well intentioned discussion of even the most difficult issues. Bravo to you all.

I would like to draw attention as best I can to a couple logical fallacies:
First, to the argument that it is hypocritical to not do business with people you disagree with and makes you intolerant - tolerance is not a virtue unto itself. There are things you should never tolerate - sexism, slavery, etc. And some of us think homophobia and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is one of those things.

Tolerance of difference is the virtue that progressives are always talking about. Conflating that with tolerance of intolerance in others that brings harm is not a virtue. Opposing that kind of intolerance is not hypocrisy. As long as we respect the right of someone to hold an opposing opinion and disagree with them in a civil manner, it is perfectly correct and just to refuse association with them and doesn't make us immoral. Sometimes it is the only moral thing to do. That is in fact what all the boycotts in the 60's were about.

This hypocrisy claim is the first part of the flawed "shield" argument. The second part of the shield is that since the opinion being questioned is rooted in faith it is above criticism and cannot be impuned without making you anti-christian. This is also incorrect.

Partly this stems from the false notion that all opinions are equally valid. Opinions are held for all kinds of reasons and some are wrong while others are right. But they can all be evaluated critically and refusing to do so in the name of tolerance is just dumb and often dangerous. And saying that you hold an opinion because your religion tells you to doesn't absolve you of the responsibility of holding that opinion. Mostly it just means you don't end up thinking critically about the merits of the opinion you're choosing to hold. And that is one of the saddest things about any kind of indoctrination.

As to the final leg of this shield argument - who are we to judge? We are members of society and we live with each other and it is not only our right to judge each other, it is absolutely incumbent upon us to do so. We can do this in a civil manner that respects each other's rights but when we stop judgement and we become willing to accept any stupidity from any corner and ignore its consequences to us in the name of tolerance, then we suffer.
jazz tigan
42. tredeger
Tolerance as a concept is interesting. In my above post I discussed the fallacy of thinking all opinions are equally valid just because everyone has the right to hold any opinion. Here, I'd like to discuss the way the terms "tolerance" and "acceptance" with respect to civil rights and the protection of minorities (race, sex, orientation, religion, etc.). They create a funny framing issue - basically making the minority something that should be accepted or tolerated or endured by the majority. Something they put up with because they are good people. Should gays want you to tolerate their wish to be held on equal footing with you? That's a strange way to think about it.

The framing on this has long been flawed. Especially for the fact that it ends up pitting Christian faith against homosexuality in a mistaken way. I keep hearing people saying things like "Traditional marriage is a fundamental Christian value". Let's replace the terms gay marriage and traditional marriage and marriage equality in the discussion. Let's turn it around in a way that forces people to own their bigotry. Let's start talking about STRAIGHTS ONLY MARRIAGE.

Can you say "Straights only marriage is a fundamental Christian value" without owning your bigotry? Without squirming a little? Let's just start having the discussion on those terms from now on. To me, straights only marriage is as shameful as whites only drinking fountains.

Oh, and Rxtar, your argument that gays have the same rights as straights to marry someone of the opposite gender so they aren't being infringed upon doesn't hold weight. If the laws were rewritten overnight and only same sex marriages were legal, making straight marriages invalid, would you feel that your rights were being infringed upon. Because in that case you would still have the same rights as everyone else to marry someone of the same gender as yourself. You just couldn't marry someone of the opposite gender. And that argument can be applied to the laws that forbade interracial marriage. No one was allowed to marry outside their race - so since it applied equally to everyone that was ok by your logic. There seems to be a flaw with this.
Lauren W
43. laurene135
Yes, I would also love to point out and support as others have that we can dicuss a normally very heated topic so civilly (=

Some points:
1. Supporting man/woman marriage does not mean one is "anti-gay marriage." I am a Christian and therefore believe that marriage, as ordained by God, is between a man and a woman; however, the goverment has also added legal parts to this 'spiritual' union. These legal parts are for the goverment to change as they see fit (taxes, visitation rights, etc). I don't have an issue with the government changing these things to include gay couples. To be honest, my main concern with gay marriage is that the government will then force pastors, preachers, fathers, etc to marry gay couples against their will. "Well, yes! It would be discrimination!!" you say. Well I say "What about freedom of religion?" Hense the conflict that many of us have, I believe.
No, we are not all against gay marriage when we support man/woman marriage. I wouldn't be surprised if many are like myself and fine with the government extending rights to gay couples, but fear our own rights will be pushed aside in the process. This does not mean we are choosing our rights over that of others... simply that we would like thought and care to go into the forming of these new laws to protect _both_ parties.
So please. Stop (general people who do) accusing me of being anti-gay simply because I support heterosexual marriage and and am concerned for my church. Just as doctors should be able to include or exclude themselves from preforming abortions based upon their views, I feel
pastors/preachers/fathers/etc should be able to do the same with gay
marriages. But maybe that is asking too much.

2. My second point. NOT ALL OF CHIC-FIL-A's MONEY GOES TO HETEROSEXUAL MARRIAGE GROUPS. Please, they are so much more than that! They support other organizations as well. It's not like all of their profit is being used to make sure those gosh-darned-gays can't get married. No, they support fantastic organizations such as Children's Hunger Fund, which is an amazing organization that just wants to make sure people are fed--regardless of everything. Chic-fil-a isn't some anti-gay monster who is solely focused on "bringing them down."

3. And to those who are upset that Chic-fil-a brought politics into their food. Do you feel the same way about Starbucks? Oreos? If you do, than thank you for being consistent. If not, I feel you should reconsider.

But I cannot stress enough, supporting heterosexual marriage DOES NOT mean you are actively against gay-marriage! Maybe some of you disagree, but as someone who supports heterosexual marriage, I can tell you really what I dislike about gay marriage is how heated and angry people (on both sides) get on the subject (but once again thank you Tor readers for being so awesomely civil!!). And the only thing that concerns me about gay marriage is if the government will acknowledge its conflict with freedom of religion, and act accordingly. (This itself is not an issue because many of the 10 admendments are in conflict with eachother at their base. The government has just concidered this and drawn lines between them).
Lauren W
44. laurene135
@37. J.Dauro
About Chic-fil-a being closed on Sundays. I don't think it is so much that we are against him opening the store on Sunday, as we support it being closed on Sunday because of the benefits and the stance. I think it is nice that the owner has chosen to honor the Sabbath and stay closed despite the substantial amount of money he must be loosing because of it. There are many a time I've eagerly rushed to those doors only to remember it was Sunday, but instead of being too bummed I'm always glad because I remember the year I spent working at a different food joint, and always working Sunday mornings. As a Christian it was difficult missing so much church and not seeing my friends there. So even though it does no good to me, it's nice knowing that a young Christian like myself could get a job there and not worry if they can make it to church. And if they are not a Christian? Who doesn't like having the weekends off? Working the weekends suck! You work when everyone is off, and everyone works when you are off. So all around it seems to be a good thing, so why stop it?
James Davis Nicoll
45. hng23
Interestingly, Chik-Fil-A ordered, as of July 19, a recall of the Muppet toys, citing 'safety' concerns.
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=509428692416526&set=a.503930599633002.129800.122256581133741&type=1&theater
Metafilter has an interesting, rather thorough post with lots of links:
http://www.metafilter.com/118222/Here-Chicky-Chicky-Chicky
James Davis Nicoll
46. Dennis_H
@laurene135 It's interesting that you say that "the goverment has also added legal parts to this 'spiritual' union. In fact, it's pretty clear from the historial record that the Church added spiritual parts to the legal union. Marriage wasn't even a sacrament until the thirteeth or fourteenth century. For what it's worth, I believe as you do that the state has no right to force relgious organizations to perform same-sex marriages. Right at the moment, though, the weight of effort is still on the other side--that many churches and other religious organizations are telling the state what it can and cannot do.

Also, the fact that Chick-fil-A supports a wide range of causes other than blocking marriage equality does not in itself move me to stop boycotting Chick-fil-A. For one thing, there are plenty of other corporations that support worthy charities that aren't anti-marriage equality. And more importantly, putting money in a corporation's pocket so they'll donate to a worthy cause isn't nearly as efficient as donating directly to the cause itself.

Bono's ONE organization had a day where certain companies (like Starbuck's) would throw some of the purchase price of certain items toward fighting world hunger. So I stopped into Starbuck's, which is something I never do, and drank an espresso, which is something I never order, all to donate a dollar to the ONE foundation. Afterwards, I felt stupid, because I could have accomplished twice as much by skipping the espresso and just giving $2 to the charity. So if I think some of the charities Chick-fil-A gives to are worthy, I'll donate on my own, and Chick-fil-A can keep its sandwiches.
James Davis Nicoll
47. Eric Saveau
@laurene135 -

"To be honest, my main concern with gay marriage is that the government will then force pastors, preachers, fathers, etc to marry gay couples against their will."

This is absolutely preposterous. People in the types of professions you list sometimes refuse to marry heterosexual couples for various reasons, almost invariably religiously justified, whereupon the couples in question either address whatever the religious leader's concerns are to his satisfaction, or else find someone else to marry them. This is far from uncommon, and the refusing party is not subject to governmental sanction for their refusal.

The only people who face possible sanction from the government over refusing to marry someone are those who fill the purely secular role of judge or justice of the peace. So unless your real concern is that secular judges will be free to conduct marriage ceremonies according to the law and their conscience rather than right-wing religious pressure, your stated fears are completely unfounded.
Emily Asher-Perrin
48. EmilyAP
@Everyone who has stepped out in these comments in support of marriage equality - thank you. Thank you so much. It's beyond heartwarming and... I just... thank you.

@seattlelibrarian - Good luck with the vote in your state. I agree completely, it becomes a very different argument when you have built a life and a family with someone, and have to worry about what might happen in your future. With any luck, this will be something we can conquer in the next decade or so.

@laurene135 - I'm going to agree with Eric Saveau on this one. Allowing someone gay to get married in your church is not in breach of "freedom of religion." No one is preventing anyone from practicing the religion they choose (which is what "freedom of religion" is in place for), and no one can be forced to perform a marriage. If the church's official was against it, someone else could perform the ceremony. So in the end, the only real protest becomes, "I don't want gay people getting married in my place of worship." Which is still utltimately prejudiced.

Also, as was mentioned above, it's great that Chik-Fil-A donates to good organizations as well, but there are plenty of businesses that donate to good causes without also giving money to organizations that are against marriage quality. One does not negate the other. It's all well and good that Chik-Fil-A cares about other things - they'll still never get any of my money while they support something I'm against. I can donate to those other causes by spending my money elsewhere or donating directly. And I don't think anyone was suggesting that other businesses are not political. That's fine if they want to be. It's just that you must be prepared for how other businesses (and customers) react when your business takes a political stance.
Charles Moore
49. Shadeofpoe
@EmilyAP

I agree with you almost 100% on everything. I appreciate Jim for having created the world that he did, it's especially heartening when you see someone from the deep south that grew up in a pretty unpopular time for the area, leave such a remarkable legacy.

I also applaud the company's move away from Chick Fil A. Now is Chick Fil A a bad guy here? No, they make quality food for a reasonable price and choose to support what they want their company image to project. They are entitled to that just as we are entitled to refuse our service to them for those beliefes.

I do take issue with your response to @Luarene135 though. I grew up in the south. Was raised Southern Baptist. Our church wouldn't allow you to host a ceremony there if you planned on having any alcohol or dancing at any point during the wedding. Even if the reception was held in a separate venue. This doesn't mean that they are being bigoted, it's just a belief of that particular church. If you didn't agree with it, then stop going, I did. Just because a church chooses not to cater to a certain demographic doesn't make them the bad kind of prejudiced, it just is their beliefs. As long as a church isn't making an ass of itself a la Westboro, I don't see what the problem is, or why someone would insist on pressing the issue other than to be contraversial for the sake of it.
Lauren W
50. laurene135
No, but forcing someone to is. There are many churches out there who will happily marry gay-couples, but there are some who would feel it would be agaisnt their religious beliefs.

And I'm very sorry, but I do not believe that they would not be forced to do so. Yes, there are many other places who would happily marry them, but it takes just one couple to sue and a judge to rule it as discrimination. If such a simple thing is being debated over as to whether or not it is a right the government should protect, why not an issue more sensative like can people refuse to marry gay people? Perhaps I am overly sensative because there are instances of people simply not being allowed to wear their cross to work because it is not considered integrall to the Christian faith. And yes, many churches place requirements upon couples before they will marry them, but saying "you have to stop being gay" would no be well recieved and is in conflict of the "gays-can-marry" law.

"I don't want gay people getting married in my place of worship."

Really? Please don't put words in my mouth. That is not what I said at all. I am sorry if I am not communicating my thoughts well, but that is not what I said and I do not appriciate be accused of such a thing. If the pastor/etc willingly ordains homosexual marriages that's fine. Why do you keep insisting that I don't feel this way when I have stated it in one way or another multiple times? My concern is that I would go a place of worship where they are foced to do so.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I feel the issue is similar to abortion in the sense of how people veiw it as a right or not as one:
I feel that doctors should be able to opt out of performing an abortion if they feel it is wrong. Now does that mean I'm going to flip out because I hear there are abortions going on at my hosptal? No. As long as doctors aren't forced to perform abortions, my concern isn't whether or not abortions are being performed--it's the woman's legal right to do so. But I also feel it is the doctor's legal right to opt out should he or she choose to do so. If that is the case, then both can coexist and there is no further issue. I feel the same way about gay marriage. Let them marry (wherever that may happen to be), just let people opt out. That way, just like with the abortion issue, both sides can coexist. Both sides can have their rights.
James Davis Nicoll
51. jere7my
I am a Christian and therefore believe that marriage, as ordained by God, is between a man and a woman;

Lauren, you're making the same mistake Rxtar did: there's no "therefore" involved. There are several Christians in this very thread who believe marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is just as valid as a marriage between a man and a woman. Christians hold a wide spectrum of beliefs on marriage — again, one of the most prominent Christians in the country, our president, supports gay marriage.

My wife and I got married here in Massachusetts four years ago tomorrow. When we were scouting for locations, there were plenty of churches that turned us down — not because there was anything wrong with us, but because we weren't of the right faith, or because we wanted an outside officiant, and so on. This is in Massachusetts, where gay marriage has been legal for eight years. If those churches can't be forced to marry us, a straight couple, why do you think they're suddenly going to be forced to marry gay couples, after eight years? It's an empty fear.

That said, of course we'd prefer to be involved with churches that match our beliefs, and when her church performed a pastoral search this year they sought a pastor who would be happy to perform gay marriages. But that's part of freedom of religion as well.

So, now that we've shown your fears to be groundless, and proven that the issue can be discussed calmly and respectfully, are you ready to join us in joyfully supporting gay marriage? :D
Lauren W
52. laurene135
@49. Shadesofpoe
"As long as a church isn't making an ass of itself a la Westboro, I don't
see what the problem is, or why someone would insist on pressing the
issue other than to be contraversial for the sake of it."

And that's my concern. Perhaps I am being a worry-wort, but we see people on both sides who refuse to be happy until everyone is forced to do as they wish.
(I'm really not trying to beat a dead horse, I just believe the division of "yae" or "nay" is similar) You can see it with abortion. Some on one side wont be happy until all abortion clinics are burned to the ground and everyone who ever preformed an abortion are tried. On the other side there are some who feel that all doctors must be willing to preform an abortion, and if they are not, leave the practice. Both of these views on both of these sides are wrong, and my point is because gay marriage seems to be so politically heated, there will be members on either side who will be unhappy and not rest until their views are enforced.
I simply believe the government should acknowledge this reality, and when writing the gay marriage law, take it into consideration and act accordingly. My fear is that the government will simply be "gay marriage = okay" and not acknowledge or deal with the potential consequences until they come up. I feel it is better for them to address it from the start because then when members of either side start getting all antsy the government can go "shush and look at the law."
Lauren W
53. laurene135
Ack! One of my sentences got cut =/
In reference to my "if such a simple thing is being debated over" I am refering to issues on whether or not people should be allowed to wear their crosses to work.
Lauren W
54. laurene135
@51. jere7my
Hm, you are right. I suppose my "therefore" was in reference to the general belief that most Christians believe marriage is between a man and a woman. But you are correct, it was not the best phrasing.

I so wish my fears had no ground! But as I said in #52, I don't feel that they are. Perhaps I am worrying t0o much (it has been known to happen ;) ), but in all honesty I would feel much more confortable if they simply wrote in a simple line like "and churches will have the right to decline marrying such couples, just as they decline to marry heterosexual couples for various reasons as well."
That way, I feel both sides can coexist. And for those of us who carry this fear (I know there are others beyond myself), won't have to worry and can be on board too (=

EDIT: two, to, too... what's the difference? Apparently I forgot, ha!
James Davis Nicoll
55. Eric Saveau
@laurene135-

"And I'm very sorry, but I do not believe that they would not be forced to do so."

And the basis for this belief is... what, exactly? Are you able to cite court cases where, say, a Lutheran church has been forced by court order to marry a Catholic couple? Where a synagogue has been forced by court order to marry a Muslim and his fourth wife? Where Westoboro Baptist Church has been forced to host a respectful wedding ceremony for a Buddhist couple? Anything? Anything at all?

If you are able to show that there is a history of legal precedent that forces churches and church leaders to officiate at wedding ceremonies against their will, then you will have shown grounds for your stated fear (though showing that it is sufficient to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry would be an entirely different matter). In the absence of such precedent, you are flinging baseless and unsubstantiated accusations of religious persecution.
James Davis Nicoll
56. jere7my
Lauren, churches don't even have to perform interracial marriages if they don't want to. There was a church in Kentucky that chose to take that stand just last year. They eventually overturned it, in part because of opposition from their own congregation, and of course they were deeply unpopular for a while, but the government never stepped in to tell them they couldn't.

Given that, and given nearly a decade of gay marriage in my home state without a single discrimination case, it sounds to me like your fears are groundless, and the line you'd like to see added (to a law that hasn't been framed yet) extraneous. But if adding such a line is what it would take to get you on board with supporting marriage equality, I don't see a reason not to include it.
James Davis Nicoll
57. Eric Saveau
@larene135-

"Perhaps I am being a worry-wort, but we see people on both sides who refuse to be happy until everyone is forced to do as they wish."

One side wishes to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry the person they love. The other side has no such desire. What equivalence are you attempting to imply here?

"My fear is that the government will simply be "gay marriage = okay" and not acknowledge or deal with the potential consequences until they come up."

Be specific, laurene135. If the governement should not hold the position "gay marriage = okay" as you phrased it, then what should that postion be? What should come after that "equals" sign? And what "potential consequences" are to be feared from a minority gaining marriage equality?
Lauren W
58. laurene135
@56. jere7my
"Lauren, churches don't even have to perform interracial marriages if
they don't want to. There was a church in Kentucky that chose to take
that stand just last year. They eventually overturned it, in part
because of opposition from their own congregation, and of course they
were deeply unpopular for a while, but the government never stepped into tell them they couldn't."

I did not know that!! Thank you so much for informing me. Perhaps I am being too much of a worry wort. I truly did not know that.

@57. Eric
"One side wishes to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry the person they love. The other side has no such desire. What equivalence are you attempting to imply here?"

That members (not all of course) of the second side would insist that pastors be forced to marry gay couples against their will. But after what Jere7my pointed out, perhaps this is unfounded. I just see it in others issues (such as abortion) and feared that the attidute of "my way or the highway" that members of both sides have would pop up around the marriage issue as well.

"If the governement should not hold the position "gay marriage = okay" as you phrased it, then what should that postion be? What should come after that "equals" sign? And what "potential consequences" are to be feared from a minority gaining marriage equality?"

I was thinking simply some wordage allowing churches to decline participating in gay marriages as they do with heterosexual marriages--which, again, after Jere7my's example may not be necessary. The "potential consequenes" would be legal consequences for anyone who did decline to marry a gay couple from anywhere from law suits, to jail time, or to the governement shutting the church down. I know some of those examples are extreme, and am not saying I actually expect those to happen (the only one I would really expect to see is a law suit perhaps), but I just feel the government should consider all sides. There will be people who are angry that gay marriage is legal, and there will be at least some who will be angry that some churches decline to marry such couples.
But, if the government didn't step in on the no interracial marriage in some churches, then they probably wont step in on no same sex marriage in some churches.
Noneo Yourbusiness
59. Longtimefan
It is a very well written article. It reminds me why the Henson company is so vital for society. The ambition and the imagination and the joy of life within the work they create makes the world a better place.

The article made my eyes well up.

The comments made me weep.
Dave Miller
60. Borogove
@laurene135: To be honest, I don't entirely blame you for believing that religious groups and individuals would be forced into performing acts they are against. The fact is, that in almost all such divisive arguments, where one side is slowly losing ground to more tolerant social trends, that side often brings out the "People will be forced to do things they abhor!" argument. So my frustration with you is not so much that you believed it. My frustration is that you didn't bother to do even the tiniest bit of research to determine if it was true.

Historically, our country has bent over backwards to avoid making someone do things to which they are morally or religiously opposed. As mentioned above, religious organizations and leaders routinely refuse to perform marriages on any grounds they choose, with no legal consequence. Doctors cannot be forced to perform abortions. Pharmacists cannot be legally prohibited from refusing to dispense the day-after pill (a particularly controversial act, which I find repugnant, but approve that they have that right of refusal as a free individual). Heck, conscientious objectors have won the Medal of Honor!

It just saddens me, every day, when people are told by those with a political agenda that their beloved country is going down the tubes, and this one last thing will truly make it the hell on earth they fear, and then don't take the time to go out and look at just how free we still are, and what a wonderful world it really is.
jazz tigan
61. tredeger
@laurene135

Thank you for thinking through all of the responses people have posted regarding your particular concern. I really respect the nature of this conversation and the open mind you've shown there. Of course people have pointed out that no pastor would be forced to perform a ceremony against his will, I should also like to point out that no one in their right mind would ever choose such a pastor as an officiant. Why would you ever want someone who disapproved of your union conducting the ceremony?

Also, we've all worked very hard to alleviate your concern and fear as being a false one given the facts but I would also like to point out that if your fear were in fact well founded, your solution to the problem is to support straights only marriage. So you would be choosing to support straights only marraige and deny equal rights to others to protect pastors from having to perform ceremonies they oppose. Which is saying to gay people - I don't hate you but I will sacrifice your rights on the alter of religious freedom even if I think you should basically enjoy those rights. Would you say the same thing to an interracial couple?

Again, thanks for thinking about these things with an open mind. :)
Jared Mills
62. seattlelibrarian
Emily et al., thanks so much for your kind words of support! I really don't have much else to add because so many other commenters are giving smart, reasonable answers as to why their is no reason not to support marriage equality other than you don't like the idea of two women or two men getting married.
James Davis Nicoll
64. Eric Saveau
@laurene135 -

"I was thinking simply some wordage allowing churches to decline participating in gay marriages as they do with heterosexual marriages"

Stop right there.

Earlier upthread, you had a comment that included this line - "many of the 10 admendments are in conflict with eachother at their base. The government has just concidered this and drawn lines between them)." And I have to ask...

... what do you mean by "The" ten amendments? According to my copy of the United States Constitution there are 26 amendments. What do you mean by saying that amendements "conflict with each other at their base?" Is this "conflict" somehow problematic? What are the "lines' that have been "drawn" between them?

Are you truly unaware of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution? Are you truly unaware of the fact the christians make up 80 percent of the population of the US and face no threat whatsoever to the exercise of their religion? Are you truly unaware that the only times christians have faced persecution in the US it has always been from other christians?

Many people, including myself, pointed out to you that were no instances of anything like the government-sponsored interference in church activity that you said you feared, and this seemd to alleviate your fear, but... how is it possible that you did not already know the things that you were told? How is it that you, as an American citizen, did not already know enough of the history of our country (just the basics, for crying out loud!) that you could see that such claims were unfounded?

How is it that you came to believe, in the complete absence of any evidence or historical precedent that could give rise to such a belief, that gay couples winning the ability to have their unions legally recognized could possibly constitute any sort of threat to the practice of your religion or to heterosexual marriage?

HOW?

Has someone been telling you so?

If so, how much honesty and integrity do you suppose those people actually have?
Charles Gaston
66. parrothead
I've noticed a certain trend. (Some) conservatives don't have an issue with boycotts or one corporation refusing to do business with another or other forms of economic protest, as long as the target is someone they don't like. When Bill O'Reilly says not to go to France, when the Southern Baptist Convention says not to go to Disneyworld, when Michael Medved says avoid movie X and support movie Y, no problem. The Henson Company decides it can't do business with a restaurant that has funneled over $2 million to political action committees dedicated to denying Americans control over the most basic elements of their lives; how is that at all different? These conservatives are the same pundits who claim that the free market can justify anything. So, the Henson Company is voting with their pocketbook, and taking a stand for less government intrusion in people's lives; if you didn't know the issue, you'd swear they were the conservatives.

seattlelibrarian: I am eager to cast my vote for equality and make my adopted state a better and freer place.
j p
67. sps49
Did the Henson company not know the Cathy's views before entering into that business relationship?

I work for the City and County of SF. I would be seen as "pro-gay" instead of "intolerant" by some here before 2004, because same-sex marriage wasn't even discussed before then. Everything else, fine. Maybe not servicemembers in uniform for the cause when it is forbidden to speak to the media in uniform, but it isn't like nobody wore uniforms in parades, real or fake, anyway.

Be with who you want? Don't care. But why marriage?

I believe that marriage is generally undertaken as part of starting a family, sooner or later. And since having children is in society's interest, society helps out with raising children, directly or indirectly, financially. Same-sex relationships (I do not include SF's eyeroll-inducing self-identification policy) generally are not entered into with the object of having children together. It isn't possible to have both be the biological parents, and although there are a few couples who do raise children, it is not common at all. It won't be until same-sex couples can have babies as easily as having drunk sex. And even here, of the same-sex couples I know, NONE of them are raising children. The few that have children share custody with their former opposite-sex partner.

I am not worked up over an issue that wasn't one until 8 years ago. If it happens, fine; I won't get worked up over that. In the meantime, I am likely to vote the same every time it is placed on the ballot.

But around here, as online, there are some positions that are not allowed. Too often are opposing positions shouted down, drowned out, or the holder vilified. And this week, the issue is preventing the opening of a restaurant in the South Bay. Preventing people from making a choice they oppose is acceptable to them.
James Davis Nicoll
68. jere7my
I believe that marriage is generally undertaken as part of starting a
family, sooner or later. And since having children is in society's
interest, society helps out with raising children, directly or
indirectly, financially.

SPS49, if that were the case society would not permit post-menopausal women to marry, or couples in which one member is demonstrably infertile. And it would permit gay and lesbian couples who intend to adopt (or have children by another route, like surrogacy) to marry. I know quite a few gay couples who are raising kids, and one transsexual who's a solo dad; once more states lower the barriers preventing gay couples from adopting, it'll become more common. The state has an interest in stable family groupings, regardless of the genders of the people involved.

But around here, as online, there are some positions that are not allowed.

Do you think people were right to vilify Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church for not permitting interracial couples to attend? Would it similarly bother you if HA chose to dissociate themselves from a corporation that came out against miscegenation? If not, what's the difference?
James Davis Nicoll
69. Eric Saveau
@sps49 #67 -

"Did the Henson company not know the Cathy's views before entering into that business relationship?"

It's likely that they did, but figured that they could handle purely business relationship and keep it purely on that level, but then fuond that after Cathy made a public declaration in opposition to something that that mattered to them that they felt compelled to publically declare their own values. Such things do happen, in relationships both business and merely interpersonal.

"But why marriage?"

Hm. This is actually a question that has been answered at length and in detail all over the place. But I'll give a short answer here: Marriage affords couples in a relationship protections, rights and privileges that unmarried couples do not have, such as hospital visitation rights, next-of-kin authority, tax breaks, simplification of inheritance, the right of a widowed spouse to receive the pension or other retirement benefits of of their deceased, and so on. All things that are very important to hetero couples especially as they age or fall ill, and domestic partnerships don't always provide for these under the law.

Beyond that, the simple fact of marriage, of formalizing by law and custom a commitment to each other, is something that often means a great deal to hetero couples in and of itself; is it really so incredible that it would matter as much to same sex couples? That's why marriage.

"I believe that marriage is generally undertaken as part of starting a family, sooner or later."

So? It's certainly not a prerequisite, as the number of childless couples I know can attest. Would you argue that it should be otherwise?

"And since having children is in society's interest, society helps out with raising children, directly or indirectly, financially."

True enough. And?

"Same-sex relationships (I do not include SF's eyeroll-inducing
self-identification policy) generally are not entered into with the
object of having children together."

And since we have already established that this is not a prerequisite for marriage, this has nothing to do with whether they should or should not get married.

"It isn't possible to have both be the biological parents, and although
there are a few couples who do raise children, it is not common at all."

So?

"It won't be until same-sex couples can have babies as easily as having drunk sex."

In the meantime, they'll no doubt get to have a lot of drunk sex. Huzzah!

"And even here, of the same-sex couples I know, NONE of them are raising children. The few that have children share custody with their former opposite-sex partner."

Of the same-sex couples YOU know? Well. I happen to know a few who are. I also met a homosexual single father who worked hard to adopt a child and raised him with love, honor, and strength. He wrote a book about it; some people on this forum probably know the one I mean.

And as long as we're batting anecdotes around, I've known vast armies of heterosexual couples who were really shitty parents. Should something be done about heterosexual marriage? You know, just in case?

"I am not worked up over an issue that wasn't one until 8 years ago."

Not an isssue to whom, exactly? Apparently not to you, but it certainly was to all the same-sex couples who have longed for marriage equality for generations and worked tirelessly over the years to try to make it a reality. You can't seriously be suggesting that there was simply no widespread desire among gays and lesbians for marriage equality until someone flipped some sort of switch in 2004?

"But around here, as online, there are some positions that are not
allowed. Too often are opposing positions shouted down, drowned out, or the holder vilified."

Citation needed. Along with some reason to think that there's something somehow problematic about encountering a person who's wrong about something and saying, "You're wrong, and here's why."
Emily Asher-Perrin
70. EmilyAP
@sps49 - In addition to supporting what jere7my said above, I would like to point out that according to the latest census reports, there are one million same sex couples raising 2 million of America's children. Many people in the LGBT community have or want children. The fact that you don't know any of them does not make them magically disappear. It also does nothing to help the children who are made to feel different for having two moms or dads, or to stop their parents from worrying about what happens when they are not both legal guardians of their children. For more information on that, read anything by Dan Savage, who makes the case quite eloquently.

There are other matters where marriage is concerned: civil unions still do not allow same sex couples the rights that married couples are afforded. Rights to benefits after the other partner is gone, rights to property, etc. In addition, there are many members of the LGBT community who are religious and marriage is important to them on a spiritual level.

And that's not bothering to touch on the topic that plenty of straight couples get married without the intention of having or raising children. They do it because it matters to them. Everyone should be allowed that same ability.
Lauren W
71. laurene135
@61. tredeger
"but I would also like to point out that if your fear were in fact well founded, your solution to the problem is to support straights only marriage."
Why? Why does it have to be all or nothing? If my fear was founded why could we not come up with a solution that accounts for both parties?

@63. thn
"That's a disingenuous and sophistical argument, seeing as how no one ever comes out in favor of m/f marriage for any other reason."

That is an unfair argument ascribing traits to me that are not there. That is like saying "You prefer chocolate icecream so you hate vanilla." Why can I not like chocolate icecream without hating vanilla? Please don't simplify me to "you only like x because you hate y." I like my icecream chocolate flavored. If you want it vanilla, that's cool. And, hey, lets get together sometimes and swirl them together and get the best of both worlds.
Lauren W
72. laurene135
(sorry clicked quick reply on accident)
cont @ thn
"Nope. Secular union. Always has been. Religion is the later addition"

Not if you believe God created the universe. I believe God created the universe, and as thus all He has created has come before what we have created.

"Nobody's in need of protection, except for gay couples who want to get married."

So I can't sacrifice other's rights (not like that is my meaning) to protect my own, but they can? Let's do what ever we can for them at any consequences? That doesn't seem fair. Why do these things have to be so black and white? What is wrong with compromise?

"We'll stop as soon as you stop posting professionally written anti-gay agitprop."

I'm sorry, but this is essencially name calling and unnecessary. Did you ignore half my comments? I am fine with gay couples getting married. That is not my issue.

@64. Eric
"... what do you mean by "The" ten amendments? According to my copy of the United States Constitution there are 26 amendments. What do you mean by saying that amendements "conflict with each other at their base?" Is this "conflict" somehow problematic? What are the "lines' that have been "drawn" between them?"
I mean the first 10. The Bill of Rights. People have freedom or religion and people have freedom not to be involved in that. People have the right to assembly, but I have the right for it not to happen in my front yard. Freedom of expression, but not public nudity typically even under the argument of expression. Typically minor things, but they do occur. Generally the stance is "you have your right as long as it doesnt infrindge on another's."
James Davis Nicoll
73. Eric Saveau
@laurene135-

Ah, The Bill Of Rights. Okay, now I know which ten you mean. But the rest of your response after that does nothing to clarify the things I asked about in the section you quoted. Also, the general understanding of how rights work is more precisely "You have your rights up to the point that they infringe on another's liberty and/or autonomy." This is nearly what you said, and may be what you meant, but it is important to be specific and accurate. Especially since this formulation does not imply, or follow from, the unevidenced assertion that that various articles of the Bill Of Rights "conflict with each other at their base."

As to the rest of what you said immediatey above -

"Not if you believe God created the universe. I believe God created the universe, and as thus all He has created has come before what we have created."

Whether someone believes this or not, it does not alter the fact that the legal and historical reality of marriage is exactly as tnh stated. You are certainly entitled to approach marriage or any other institution in which you participate with whatever spiritual or religious sense suits you, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

"So I can't sacrifice other's rights (not like that is my meaning) to
protect my own, but they can? Let's do what ever we can for them at any consequences?"

Who's rights are being sacrificed? What consequences? Don't vaguely hand-wave at some ill-defined conspiracy theory; show us exactly whose actual rights are actually being sacrificed and in what actual way! Everyone who has engaged you here has been specific and fact-based in their criticisms; find it in yourself to do the same!

"I'm sorry, but this is essencially name calling and unnecessary."

No, in fact tnh has it right on the nose, I fear. Whether this is your deliberate aim or not, you are indeed reciting long-recycled and oft-debunked talking points that have been injected into our discourse by career bigots. This would be a good time for me to point you back to all the questions I posed to you after the segment you quoted from my comment 64. Care to engage on those points? Being specific and fact-based?
Charles Gaston
74. parrothead
The "marriage is for children" argument...if that is the case, then we should pass a law that dissolves all marriages upon the youngest child reaching the age of 18. Having achieved its purpose, why retain it?
Lauren W
75. laurene135
@73. Eric
About the Bill of Rights, yeah I just was phrasing really poorly there.

About the God/history/government first issue. Honestly I feel that arguement will simply go in circles so I'd like to cut it off. Right now it feels like "chicken or the egg."

"Who's rights are being sacrificed? What consequences? Don't vaguely
hand-wave at some ill-defined conspiracy theory; show us exactly whose actual rights are actually being sacrificed and in what actual way! Everyone who has engaged you here has been specific and fact-based in their criticisms; find it in yourself to do the same!"

I was refering to the percieved attitude. I was accused (or it felt that way, but #63 is gone so I can't double check to see if I am remembering wrong) of wanting to sacrifice gay couples the right to marry because I was concerned about possible unintended side effects (stated before, don't feel like restating, and I have considered all you guys have said and acknowledge those fears may have been unfounded). The "nobody needs protection except gay couples" seems extreme to me. It is a wide brush to paint with. The attidude came across to me as "do this and who cares about what it costs." I feel this is wrong because it is my personal position that all sides need to be considered in any situtation. Whether that changes the choice being made isn't important as much as at least everyone if fully informed. I am not trying to say gays cant marry. I just was trying to make sure we weren't charging into eyes closed I guess, because that is my concern with anything.

"No, in fact tnh has it right on the nose, I fear. Whether this is your
deliberate aim or not, you are indeed reciting long-recycled and
oft-debunked talking points that have been injected into our discourse
by career bigots."

No it is not okay. Why can't you guys understand my comments? I'm I that horrible at communication? I've said time and time and time again that I am fine with gay marriage, but because I would like it to be gone about in an informed and thought out manner I'm anti-gay? How does this make sense? Please explain it to me. We are both willing to go to point A, but because I prefer a slightly different route suddenly I'm all against going to point A? I don't understand.

"This would be a good time for me to point you back to all the questions I posed to you after the segment you quoted from my comment 64. Care to engage on those points? Being specific and fact-based?"

I mean to, I have just been out and about today so I haven't really gotten the chance. I believe your request is legitimate, I just haven't gotten around to it yet. And hey, maybe I'll find out there really isn't anything out there and will happily admit that. When talking with Jere7my I've already conceded that this is quite likely the case.
N. Swain
76. Jabberwocky
@laurene135-- The reason your comments are being perceived other than the way you want them to be is because the "religious people will be forced to marry gay people against their will" argument is demonstrably false, and often used by people who are homophobic and anti-gay marriage in an attempt to make their argument seem justifiable. On the internet it is easy to see something that looks like a duck and assume that it is a duck. Tone is easy to misunderstand.

But moreover, just to repeat, that argument is false.

Marriage, as a state institution in the US, is a legal contract, and you don't need to go to a church to get it done. You just need to get a license and certificate signed by witnesses: this can be done by a judge, or, if you prefer, the clergy of your choice. So, if their church was not willing to marry them, a gay couple could go to a church that would, or go before a judge.

Religious institutions have the right to exclude whoever they want from their marriage ceremonies. The Catholic Church, for example, can refuse to grant marriages to divorcees who want to marry again. When I went to a ceremony for some Mormon friends several years ago, I could only attend the reception, not the actual ceremony, because only Mormons were allowed in by the tradition of the particular place of worship they attended (I do not know if this is how all Mormon ceremonies are conducted). I could not expect to win a lawsuit about that, assuming I wanted to. Numerous religious sects, Christian and otherwise, will only marry people who are members in good standing of their congregations. People who want to get married in one of those sects, but were not members, would have to undergo a probably lengthy and possibly difficult conversion process. Someone could ace all the bible/torah/whatever lessons, but if they disagreed with some part of the sect's theology, the church would still be able to refuse to marry them.

So, a church could easily say, "Well, you need to be ____, ____, and marrying a person of the opposite sex." And that's how they would conduct marriages. They would not be "forced" to marry atheists, or gay people, or divorcees, or anyone else who didn't conform to their doctrine.

With time they would likely lose congregants who find their views archaic and homophobic, but that would be through their own actions and not through any kind of state intervention.
Lauren W
77. laurene135
Some examples to show that my concern is not completely crazy:

Pro-life nurse forced to participate in abortion:
http://www.wnd.com/2009/07/104707/
http://www.revelife.com/709674631/catholic-nurse-ordered-to-help-with-abortion-against-her-will/
(you can google search it too).

Man arrested for holding Bible Studies in his home, because his home was not A3 occupancy zoning:
http://www.examiner.com/article/pastor-arrested-for-holding-home-bible-study

Men threatened with arrest for talking about their beliefs just on a sidewalk (I think on the base of disturbing the peace?)
http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/3696

Now if you don't like the sites the articles are on, you can google search the subjects. These are just a few of course, but I believe it does show that my fears are not completely unfounded. Perhaps not to the degree of spilling into the issue of marriage, but it is not as if religious rights have been left untouched.

In truth, the one that saddens me the most is the abortion one. I also feel it is most relevant as you guys did agree doctors should not have to perform abortions if they do not wish too. This woman was denied this right. Why? Why not grab another nurse? There are many others who would have aided in the abortion with no complaint.
j p
89. sps49
jere7my @68- did you skip over "generally"?
And for your unrelated situational questions, I don't think vilification made GFBC change their position (shame, maybe), and dissociation isn't drowning out.

Eric Saveau @70- hm, yada yada, uh-huh, uh huh, see my "before Gavin Newsome" @10, -Citation needed? What, you want footnotes? Live around here, watch the local news, attend Cal. Explaining why one thinks another is wrong is different from trying to silence them.

EmilyAP @70- your p1, don't disagree and didn't write otherwise, but we won't legislate children's feelings ever; p2- I am aware; p3- I wrote "generally". I hope you aren't offended that I read and enjoy your posts on Tor.

So I don't think marriage equality can make equal marriages, but I could be wrong. And I do appreciate the reasonableness and lack of personal attacks. tnh and everyone are keeping Tor a nice place online.
Irene Gallo
92. Irene
Lauren, and anyone else: One issue at a time. Let’s stick to the topic of marriage. I don’t want to spin this off into a discussion about abortion.
James Davis Nicoll
93. RickS
"And I do appreciate the reasonableness and lack of personal attacks."

Well...that depends on how you feel about the word "bigot."
Lauren W
94. laurene135
@92. Irene

My points were not to bring up those topics to we can start talking about them specifically. They asked for examples to back up my fear that there is a possibility that if the government is not considerate when forming the gay marriage law pastors/preachers/fathers/etc may be forced to marry these couples when they wish not to. My bringing up the abortion example was not so we can start debating whether aboriton is right or wrong, but simply to say "She was forced to participate in something she did not believe in when there were others who would have willingly stepped up to the plate. I do not feel it is unreasonable to be concerned that this will happen with new marriage laws as well"
They said my fears were unfounded and that the government essecially leaves religion alone, and I am providing examples that this is not the case.
James Davis Nicoll
95. jere7my
@sps49, you're dodging. If marriage is only "generally" for producing kids, and we make millions of exceptions for non-reproducing straight couples, what stops us from making exceptions for gay and lesbian couples? Either it's a requirement or it isn't; if it isn't, it can't be used as an argument against gay marriage.

dissociation isn't drowning out

Henson Associates is dissociating themselves from Chik-Fil-A; they are not drowning them out in any way, shape, or form. I don't understand that part of your response. Again: you have objected to HA dissociating themselves from Chik-Fil-A. Would you object to a company dissociating themselves from a company that has taken a vocal stance opposing interracial marriage?

The question is not "unrelated." The situations are perfectly parallel — the difference is, you accept opposition to interracial marriage as bigotry and not opposition to same-sex marriage. If there is a difference, I invite you to explain it.
James Davis Nicoll
96. MrJM
Tor's weighing in on this matter was completely unnecessary! This controversy has little or nothing to do with sci-fi and this comentary was utterly gratuitous!

And I love you for it!

Thanks for being awesome even when you don't need to!

All the best, etc.
-- MrJM
James Davis Nicoll
98. Eric Saveau
@laurene135 -

"No it is not okay. Why can't you guys understand my comments? I'm I that horrible at communication? I've said time and time and time again that I am fine with gay marriage, but because I would like it to be gone about in an informed and thought out manner I'm anti-gay? How does this make sense? Please explain it to me."

Well, laurene135, I've gone back through the thread and read what you wrote again, and I can explain it to you. But you probably aren't going to like it.

At this point it looks like either you are "that horrible at communication", or you are rather clumsy at bullshitting. Honestly it looks like the latter, but I could be wrong so I will treat it as the former and break it down for you.

From your first appearance in this thread you presented yourself as being not opposed to gay marriage, but merely "supporting heterosexual marriage" and worried about unspecified "consequences and "unintended side effects". These bits alone send up flags almost immediately; the phrase "support heterosexual marriage" used in response to gays and lesbians seeking marriage equality implies that that heterosexual marriage is under some sort of threat, as if the right of gays to marry will somehow prevent or undermine the marriages of heterosexual partners. There is no movement, or even a whisper of of one, to deny heterosexuals the right to marry and it is not merely
patently false to suggest otherwise, it is utterly ludicrous.

Likewise, when pressed on the nature of "consequences" and "side effects" you made unsupportable insinusations about churches being forced to marry gay couples that revealed a truly frightening gulf of ignorance how law and religion intersect in our country and what historical precedents are relevant. And then you complained about abortion is though that were somehow relevant.

The questions I asked you above on all these points are frankly ones that shouldn't require any significant research to answer. None of them were terribly complicated or subtle, or would have taken aback anyone who paid attention in their eighth grade civics class. That you had to be asked at all is troubling and has a lot to do with why certain people, such as tnh, view you as not discussing in good faith but merely here to troll right-wing propaganda.

As another example of someone who appears to be not discussing in good faith, take a look at sps49. His position amounts to "The inability of gay people to legally marry hasn't inconvenienced me, so why should I care?" And when I listed off answers to his question "Why marriage?", his response was to say "hm, yada yada, uh-huh, uh huh" and repeat his name-drop of Gavin Newsome as though it was something that occured in a vacuum.

Oh, and sps49; if you're reading this, your line "Explaining why one thinks another is wrong is different from trying to silence them" was exactly my point.

"Some examples to show that my concern is not completely crazy:"

laurene135, do you recall what I asked above about honesty and integrity? Do you? Scroll back up and check.

Your first example of "nurses forced to participate in abortions" is actually of nurses who were expected to provide the same pre- and post-op care that is expected of them for any patient. They weren't performing abortions, they were deciding that a ptient who was there for a particular procedure didn't deserve the same consideration they would provide to anyone else.

Your second example is one I had already heard of. Michael Salman was not "hosting a bible study", he was running a church (his own words) out of a private home in a residential neighborhood without regard for the zoning and safety laws that anyone else in America who puts up a church has to comply with, not to mention all his neighbors who were fed up with the inconvenience and potential hazard of cars for 80+ people clogging their streets twice a week. The city did nothing more or less than hold hiom accountable for his callous disregard for the law and the concerns and well-being of his neighbors.

Example number three was, as you allude, about disturbing the peace. If I were to go to a street corner and start shouting into a megaphone about Odin or Kali or Kahless I, too, would be confronted by the authorities about it, and rightly so.

These are accounts of people who happen to be christian not always getting their way about everything. And that's all. Examples like these are why I have a very difficult time taking claims of christian persecution in the US at face value. Facts matter to me, laurene135.

"Perhaps not to the degree of spilling into the issue of marriage, but it is not as if religious rights have been left untouched."

You yourself brought up the fact of limitations on rights above in what is now comment 72 (and as you tacitly acknowledge here, these things don't have anything to do with marriage anyway). Religious rights and religious freedom do NOT mean that the religious always get to have their way in all things; your rights (religious or otherwise) tend to end where my personal liberty and autonomy begin. And that legal fact has nothing to do with vague fears of churches being forced to marry gay couples (as if such a couple would so bizarrely choose a hostile environment for something so important to them). It does, however, have everything to with religious groups seeking to to deny marriage equality, as such groups have plainly asserted the very "my way or the highway" stance that you mentioned early on.

I'ave asked you a lot of pointed and specific questions throughtout this thread, laurene135. And you have not answered them. You have offered some responses, but your responses have been non sequitirs, evasions, and deflections. Do you have any answers, laurene135? Or a willingness to find them? Or was tnh's assessment accurate?
Emily Asher-Perrin
99. EmilyAP
@sps49 - Not offended in the slightest! Just providing a counter to the argument you presented. :)
N. Swain
100. Jabberwocky
@lauren135-- that's because your fears are unfounded. The things you've listed have nothing to do with gay marriage, and not much to do with government oppression, either:

The nurse was required to attend abortions by her employer. Not the government. So unless there are churches out there being employed by the government (note: there are not), I don't understand why this is being offered as an example.

The other two issues actually pertain in some way to the government-- but you made it sound like he was shut down immediately and arrested because he held a bible group. That's not true. The rest of the internet is telling me that he lied about a room he received a permit to build (claiming it had a different purpose than it did) and refused to outfit the building to conform to emergency codes (with fire extinguishers and emergency exits). He would pack 80 people a week into his house, and used it as a church, not a bible study group, so he also didn't pay taxes on it because it functioned as a church. Apparently he took offense because getting the appropriate permits would imply that his church was open to the public. The raid happened years after all of this first happened, after a long history of neighbor complaints. If he had built a dance club or bar in its place I would have expected the exact same thing to happen.

As for the case involving the street preachers, honestly I couldn't find enough information to form an opinion. A lawsuit was filed and some civil rights attorneys were engaged, but the media lost interest after that so I couldn't find how the lawsuit was decided. The articles never quoted any legal authorities who had an opinion on the case, or any passersby who overheard the preachers, so I couldn't figure out from context how valid the suit was likely to be. But the thing is, there is a gulf between a court deciding something should be enforced at a federal level, and police officers taking liberties with their authority. Is the latter a problem? Sure, on a whole host of issues. Is it the same as a government edict? Nowhere near.

And I guess that is why I bothered to go through those instances even though they have precious little bearing on the issue at hand. There is a gigantic gulf -the subjects do not even compare!- between the government theoretically "forcing" people to conduct gay marriages and a person disapproving of you because of your opinion, or an employer requiring something as a condition of your employment, or requiring that your religious practices are not physically dangerous to people (please note that child marriages and human sacrifice are illegal-- but refusing to marry divorcees is not).

What I'm trying to say, which I suspect you will rebuff, is that these examples are specious: they don't have anything to do with the issue at hand and they really don't have much to do with claims that persecution of Christians would suddenly become a norm with the legalization of gay marriage.

So. This is the internet: I don't know if you really support gay marriage and have a tough time analyzing source material, or if you are actually anti-gay marriage but want to seem "nice" about it by claiming a fallacy is a legitimate hurdle which you absolutely must see overcome before progress can be made.

But either way, your argument doesn't make sense.

Anyway. I have work to get done and probably won't get back here until late tonight. But gay marriage is coming to the ballot in my state this election cycle, and I am going to be proud to vote to uphold it.
N. Swain
101. Jabberwocky
@Eric Saveau-- it looks like you got there ahead of me, and in a better-organized fashion too. I guess that's what I get for posting while getting ready for work.
James Davis Nicoll
102. Eric Saveau
Not at all, Jabberwocky. You came at it from a somewhat different direction and made your case quite eloquently.

And my state is also putting gay marriage on the ballot this fall. I, too, will cast my vote with pride.
James Davis Nicoll
103. Robert K
the whole issue troubles me becaues it brings into question why is marriage desirable? Is there a reason to care whether the state recognises that you are in a relationship with someone? Of course there is. That is the problem.

Culturally, religiously, and legally, the support for and celebration of marriage is entirely based on family being the basic building block of society. I guess it made sense at one time when basically everyone who was able bred, and that it was a given that marriage meant a man and woman. not to mention that it was a lifetime partnership. All of marriage's legal entanglements are built around a society that no longer exists. men aren't economically responsible for women. children are a lifestyle choice and marriage is about personal fulfillment, not service to society.

Marriage comes with a variety of legal and financial benefits. My question is why should it? There is nothing profound or sacred about marriage--marriage means no more than two people saying we are a union until we say we are no longer a union. People marry many times. some couples choose not to have children, some can't. some adopt (both hetero and homosexual couples do this).

I feel discriminated against as a single person. I may or may not be making the investments that raising children involve, but either way, society will not acknowledge my efforts in any cultural or financial way. Culturally, jobs still favour those who are married because those people are seen as "settled down" and having responsibilities. But marriage has nothing to do with kids, it only states that two people(same sex or opposite sex) are "in arelationship". I don't really like a system that diverts funds and privileges people who declare they are having sex with someone over people who do not. And i mean any benefits--why should someone's pension be worth more than mine because they have the right to leave it to someone else--i can't do the same as a single person. Again, when marriage meant you had contirbuted to society by the union, and/or that union meant one party had economic responsibilities over another, this entirely made sense. All I see now, is an entitlement without cause.

I think everyone should be able to marry. I think the entitlement and privileges that come with marriage should be severely curtailed. I also think that the kinds of cultural and economic muscle that normally support marriage should be affixed solely to people having children (including people who adopt, whether hetero or homo). Because society, all of us, do need new children all the time, and it is harder than ever to raise a family. But getting tax benefits and some sort of cultural status(and it is there, that is why people push for more inclusive marriage rights--it comes with financial and culutral status) for people simply because at the moment they are shacked up with someone is ludicrous and antiquated--predicated on an outmoded sense of what marriage means.

I read these sorts of debates, and they seem ridiculous to me, not because I don't feel for any kind of couple who has to live in the shadow of other kinds of couples who are more acceptable to some, but because the whole fight is over and empty meaningless concept. Marriage isn't anything.

Incidentally, I love Henson works with all my heart, but using them for this argument may have been a poor choice, or simply a poor argument. The muppets have a single token female among the main cast, whose reason for being is to chase kermit and behave tempermentally. Not a shining example of modern values. And bringing up the relationship between the fraggles and doozers as environmental and balanced? there is a small special privileged class, who are devoted to leisure, their entire wealth that allows this stance is that there are an army of faceless workers who support them. The whole idea is that there is a production class, vast and invisible, who support a consumer class. I don't need to watch the fraggles that way, but if you are going to bring them up as a political metaphor, let's just be clear about the message.

Last, it is admirable how civil this discussion has been. unusual for the internet.
Alan Brown
104. AlanBrown
While I don't agree with her points, I myself am glad that lauren135 stuck with the debate for so long, despite spirited disagreement. The more we talk civilly with folks we disagree with, the more we all learn, and the more we all grow.
Myself, sometimes I wish the government could just find a way to get out of the marriage business, since marriage means so many things in so many different religions. You would go to the government office to engage in a domestic partnership with someone you wanted to share your assets with, and enter into a legal agreement with, and then you are free to marry or not in whatever fashion you choose, in whatever church or venue you choose. Ministers would not be involved in people entering into those domestic partnerships, so no one would feel something is being forced upon them. And those domestic partnerships don't have to be about sexual partnership. I can think of a number of non-marriage reasons why people might want to enter into a partnership with someone else--two elderly women pooling their resources and watching over each other, for example. I realize that dividing the sacred and secular aspects of a partnership might be as difficult as dividing a baby, but perhaps there is some modern day Solomon out there that could figure it out.

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