hearts and minds

August 6, 2006

Marriage Means Love Ye One Another

The proposed Wisconsin Constitutional Amendment on the November ballot declares that marriage is between one man and one woman. We’re all kinda used to that idea. And it’s been in Wisconsin law for a long time. So what’s wrong with that?

What’s most wrong is the proposed amendment does not only re-define marriage. It also prohibits granting rights to civil unions. It is reasonable to have some legislative restrictions on private contracts. But it is a foul perversion and an intolerable injustice, to promote a constitutional amendment that prohibits so many of our loving, functional families from exercising basic, necessary, rights and responsibilities such as visitation, inheritance, insurance protection, survivorship, child custody, and protection from domestic abuse.

Promoters’ arguments in defense of this proposal rest on a broad, false, and bigoted generalization about the best way to raise children. Why have promoters of this amendment not demanded that family rights and status be constitutionally prohibited to those who have beaten their spouse or child; or those who have committed adultery; or those who have committed heinous crimes; or are chronic drunks or drug addicts?

Will they next amend our Constitution to deny rights and responsibilities to those who have transgressed against any of the Ten Commandments, or have not pledged allegiance, or those who would marry another of a different ethnicity or religious creed?

Instead of trying to constitutionally exclude certain loving and functional families, why not make the broad general (and correct!) assumption that children should not be raised in poverty, intolerance, pollution and ignorance? And then let’s pass a constitutional amendment banning those unmitigated plagues that truly threaten us.

If self-righteous big brother and the government decide that children should only be raised by a legally married male/female couple (regardless of how abusive, alcoholic, or hate-ridden they might be) what should be done with all the children being raised, or might in the future be raised, in loving, caring, nurturing homes which do not meet that definition? Is our legislature next going to prohibit children from being raised in single-parent households? The reality of love, care, and nurture is more important to a child’s healthy development than narrow interpretations of fundamentalist religious strictures and cockeyed politicians’ ideas about child welfare. And government has no place restricting citizens’ rights by enforcing those strictures and theories.

Bigotry is the use of an excessively broad generalization to condemn or reject individuals without justification. It is one thing to tolerate bigots among us. It is another thing, and absolutely intolerable, to allow bigotry to be enshrined in our Constitution.

Come to think of it, how’s this going to be enforced? Will there be compulsory physical exams? Will a special interest group install a “grandfather (and grandmother) exemption clause”? Are married people, or those proposing marriage going to be required to submit to DNA sampling? Will government snoops be sifting through our medical records? Maybe the bureaucrats will settle on “Don’t ask, don’t tell”.

Let’s be frank and honest. To the extent marriage is in jeopardy, it is, and always has been, in greatest jeopardy from within. People who are living within their own fragile, brittle framework shouldn’t throw stones at people who they misunderstand, fear, and hate. We don’t need a constitutional amendment to assuage those fears. That’s a familiar psychological defect known as projection, and an unworthy political defect known as scape goating. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Unfortunately, every state politician who represents us in Ozaukee County has supported this flawed bill that endorses bigotry. We must reject this amendment, not because of its definition of marriage, but because of its denial of essential rights and responsibilities to good and worthy people and families who don’t fit that definition.

The question before us is, “Will we draw the line now against hatred, fear, and intolerance, or will we let the self-appointed moral arbiters among us employ the power of government?”

The definition of a leader differs from the definition of a politician. But please, we don’t need a constitutional amendment to establish that. We just need courage and wisdom.

This proposed Constitutional Amendment is one of the ploys being used to draw our attention away from:

i) the nationwide indignation that swirls around the two specifically cited reasons without substance that tricked us into the unjustified and administratively botched invasion and occupation of Iraq,

ii) the use of the National Security Agency to spy on American citizens in blatant violation of the law and our Bill of Rights,

iii) the neglected, growing crisis in health care,

iv) the record high and growing national debt and worsening trade deficits,

v) the widening gulf between the wealth of the super-rich and all the rest of us in America, and

vi) the appalling failure of Homeland Security to lift a finger in the face, as well as the aftermath, of a massive national hurricane disaster.

Why is there no ballot question about the refusal of our state legislature to pass meaningful campaign finance reform and the ethics and elections reform bill last session?

Why is there no referendum suggesting that whenever the legislature receives an increase in its own salary and benefits, the minimum wage should increase by the same percentage?

Why is there no referendum question about the worsening health care crisis?

Think a minute. And then vote NO, NO, and NO in NOvember.

(updated) October, 2006

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17 Comments »

  1. Thanks for your well thought out comments. I love the ballot questions you propose.

    Comment by Dorothy — August 31, 2006 @ 7:46 am | Reply

  2. […] “It’s the same with the Marriage Amendment Question, Sid. Most people agree with the very simple first phrase of that referendum, too. It’s the last half that has actual adverse impact on the rights of real Wisconsin children and families. Most people don’t understand that part and wouldn’t vote for it if they did.” […]

    Pingback by October Surprise « hearts and minds — November 1, 2006 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  3. Clyde, it was a true pleasure meeting you this evening. All I can say is, kind Sir, I wish I had met you months ago! I spent valuable time this morning spreading the word of what this proposed amendment could do to adversely affect loved ones throughout this nation, but I feel that I could have done so much more had I had access to your insightful column. I’m going right back to my MySpace account to pick up where I left off and am going to this time use your article to educate the minds and hearts of those who will listen.

    Kudos to you; as my partner said earlier, (in our opinions) you’ve done a better job of outlining the injustices this amendment proposes than anything we’ve been gifted, and we’re members of Fair Wisconsin!

    Best of luck to you tomorrow and thank you for the invititation to keep in touch — rest assured, we will do so.

    Comment by Sue — November 6, 2006 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

  4. I agree that this is primarily a distraction and to get the voters to the polls, but it is what it is and though I plan to vote in favor of allowing gay marriages, I expect the other side to win. With all I have going on in the area of ethics, campaign and health care reform, I just haven’t had the time to fight what I consider a losing battle.

    Comment by Jack — February 12, 2007 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

  5. I received a copy of your recent marriage piece from my sister, who’s on your e-mail list. A little over year ago, during the last presidential election cycle, I also wrote a piece on the same sex marriage issue. Interestingly, our arguments and observations parallel in many respects. I’ve attached a copy.

    I hope you’ll entertain a critique of your piece, which I outline below. I offer this because I respect your views and research and hope to expand our common ground and understanding. I recall a prison piece of yours which I thought was very provocative and well done.

    I’m guessing you’re a “progressive”, so called, or something close to that, forgive me for the presumptuousness of a label. I’m a libertarian and have observed that there are many parallels in contemporary “progressive” and “libertarian” thinking as well as significant differences

    It’s the differences I’m interested in exploring and the reason for my critique.

    Your paragraphs five and six are spot on. Why limit the scrutiny of who’s raising children, and how, to same sex couples? What about abusers, drunks, gamblers, adulterers, unpatriots, drug addicts, atheists, agnostics, etc.? Indeed, who shall cast the first stone?

    The hypocrisy and contradictions are glaringly obvious. And as you subsequently point out, the wrongheadedness of excluding loving and functional families via legislative fiat while essentially ignoring the real problems of poverty, intolerance, pollution and ignorance is breathtaking in it’s folly. (However, to expect more from our elected representatives is, unfortunately, wildly optimistic.)

    These well stated arguments alone should suffice to settle the question. Unfortunately, they will not.

    I would venture to agree with what I believe is also your underlying premise, that one reason is bigotry and prejudice. The answer to this problem is where I suspect our ideas will diverge.

    As well, I hope to point out other reasons your arguments will not settle the same sex issue.

    From your potential critics point of view, there are possibly several flaws in your piece and it’s overall argument.

    The first arrives in paragraph three. Frankly, I was shocked at your acquiescence and feel that it substantially weakens any further argument you have. There is no purpose for a constitutional amendment if not to modify law, i.e. Impose constraints or compulsion on the actions of individuals, or groups of individuals, such as business organizations.

    Therefore, an amendment to merely “define” marriage for the sake of a definition only is simply silly and meaningless. The true purpose of an amendment cannot be misunderstood or taken lightly.

    As I point out in my piece, the central question is: Why is any government entity involved in the first place in defining marriage? From a libertarian’s viewpoint, the answer is very simple. Only to the extent necessary to protect and clarify property rights. That would automatically exclude any legislation that would include a narrow definition such as a man and a woman.

    Any definition solely based on moral judgment has no place whatsoever in the political arena, regardless of how many people agree with or are used to it.

    The next problem occurs in paragraph four where you state that it’s reasonable to have some legislative restrictions on private contracts. Unfortunately, the only clarification or exception you put on that relates to avoiding a prohibition to functional families attaining rights and responsibilities. This leaves a gaping hole in your argument.

    Private contracts, or the right to contract, is a subset of the broader group of property rights, used here in it’s broadest sense to include: legally obtained real, personal and intellectual property, rights to current and future income, one’s labor, and the right to enter into contracts. It also includes one’s own body and mind and the right to alter and dispose of them as one chooses.

    Property rights are a subset of the broader group of individual freedoms. From a libertarian viewpoint, individual freedom has no meaning without reference to property rights, as property rights are the fundamental expression and manifestation of individual freedom.

    Any “restrictions on private contracts” are in most cases, in fact and by definition, a violation of property rights and hence individual freedom.

    Therefore, certainly to a libertarian, and probably to your critics, your acceptance of “restrictions on private contracts”, with but the one exception, is tantamount to an admission that violation of property rights is acceptable to you provided the purported end result is also acceptable to you.

    As I point out in my marriage piece, defenders of same sex marriage on the grounds of protecting the right to contract are also frequently supporters of vast amounts of legislation and regulation that are clear violations of the right to contract. For example, minimum or living wage laws.

    This will be viewed as an inconsistently and contradiction in your argument and overall philosophy.

    The net result is this.

    For a libertarian, who fundamentally agrees with your position on same sex marriage, I would prefer a more coherent and consistent argument. That would strengthen both of our positions.

    For your critics, the door is wide open against you. While you may rightly point out their hypocrisy and contradictions, and establish their relevancy, they will have no trouble finding yours.

    What happens then?

    Whoever can put together the biggest “gang” with the most political influence, wins.

    Why?

    First of all, a vital principal has long ago been abandoned in favor of ideology or emotional attachments to ideas, causes or end results, which in some cases are nothing more than bigotry or prejudice.

    The principal is zealous protection of individual freedom, starting with property rights.

    To a libertarian, any justification for the violation of property rights is extremely hard to fathom. Only the rarest of exceptions would be considered.

    I would love you to prove me wrong, but I’ll stand on my assertion that you personally have no problem advocating violation of the right to contract and other property rights as long as you believe the purported ends are “fair”, “just”, “necessary”, etc. For example, a vast amount of labor law and other business regulation, much environmental law, antitrust statutes, licensing laws, tax law, even Social Security, in fact countless thousands of pages of laws, are clear infringements of property and contracts rights.

    In my other attached piece, A Liberal Critique of the Democratic Party, I attempt to show how this abandonment of principle and the resulting contradictioins, is ultimately destructive of the very ends the abandonment was meant to achieve.

    Second, partly as a result of abandonment of principle, matters that have no place in the political arena are now routinely “settled” there by what is in essence tribalism masquerading as democracy. Solely through the use of the government’s monopoly on the legal use of force, the biggest or most powerful “tribe” (re:gang) gets their way. This is simply a reversion to one of the most primitive forms of government, no matter that it is gussied up to an illusion of legitimacy.

    While I’m sure you abhor, as I do, this characterization and the thought that it might in fact mirror reality, from a libertarian’s viewpoint, many of your positions and arguments unfortunately play right into that characterization, for not the least of which reason is their inherent contradictions.

    In a tribal democracy, contradictions, while rampant, have little relevance because the ends always justify the means and the most politically powerful gang gets to decide the “ends” and the “means”. And who is sacrificed in the process.

    So while you correctly point out your opponent’s glaring contradictions, so what? You’re in a rival gang with plenty of your own.

    In regards to bigotry and prejudice, the primary bulwark against them is a philosophy and as much as possible a system of laws that have a virtual absolute for respect individual freedom and property rights. To the extent that either of the latter are eroded, bigotry and prejudice will be fostered.

    In other words, the only real and lasting antidote to bigotry and prejudice is the absolute recognition of the individual. This must occur in our legal system and cannot be confused with identifying or “protecting” groups of individuals arbitrarily labeled by a common set of characteristics, such as race, and commonly and mistakenly called “minority groups.” “Minority groups” is a contradiction in terms. There is one and only one minority: the individual.

    Therefore, I submit, that as much as I know you abhor, as I do, bigotry and prejudice, any position or yours that does not unequivocally defend property rights unfortunately fosters the former. Bigotry and prejudice are part and parcel of the tribal, and therefore collectivized, mentality. The same mentality that identifies “minority groups”.

    Again, I would welcome being proved wrong and as I said earlier, I’m guessing our ideas have diverged by now.

    Which is unfortunate, because my impression is that this is one of or the fundamental difference between progressives and libertarians. While we frequently agree on the presence and description of a problem regarding politics or economics, we just as frequently disagree on the causes and solutions.

    Libertarians most often find causes and solutions begin and end with recognition of property rights, allowing for individuals or groups of individuals acting completely voluntarily to solve their own problems in their own way. For example, legislative attempts at redistribution of income and equilzation of outcomes, superceding what would occur in the normal course of people’s voluntary and generally unrestricted actions and exchanges with their fellows, are in virtually every case clear violatons of property rights. Note: “Voluntary” means absent the use of force, fraud or coercion, hence “restrictions” are only necessary to prevent those. Individuals are otherwise free to do what they and they alone determine is in their best interest according to their values.

    In rare instances, such as same sex marriage, where bigotry, prejudice, custom, or culture clearly interfere with some individual’s property rights, the resort to legislation for the sole purpose of protecting and clarifying those rights is absolutely appropriate, as is nullification of any statutory impediments infringing them.

    However, this argument can only be legitimately and seriously made in the context of a political philosophy that unequivocally, with the rarest of exceptions, advocates and defends the property rights of all individuals in all circumstances.

    Unfortunately, neither democrats, republicans nor progressives have such a philosophy. Hence, tribal democracy will continue to flourish.

    Comment by Dan — February 16, 2007 @ 4:30 pm | Reply

  6. THE AUTHOR RESPONDS TO DAN:

    You have crafted and provided me with an excellent, well-reasoned, and valuable critique. And you are right to perceive that your thinking and mine diverges at some important places.

    I don’t object to the appellation “progressive” being applied to me. But that label doesn’t really pin down anything specific, and it covers an expansive terrain. It’s like lumping together all people who like music. So I don’t mind being called “progressive.” And, as you said, progressive is not coincident with libertarian, even though there can be considerable overlap.

    You expressed interest in our differences. I also find the differences between people to be intellectually interesting, primarily because I believe that when apparent differences are examined, the remaining actual and significant differences between people are very uncommon and exceptional. A careful exploration of our few real differences helps focus one’s study, similar to the way that movement itself compels the attention of both predators and prey. There’s nothing very sexy about searching through all the things we share and have in common. So, in my view, if it’s an intellectual exercise you seek, look for the differences. If you hope to encourage, and even help build a world that stops throwing babies in the air and catching them on spears, look for, and build upon, that which we have in common.

    I’m not sure I agree that my underlying premise is that bigotry and prejudice is the reason for the marriage amendment. I’d say that the initiative exploits and encourages those loathsome thought processes. The reason may have more to do with it’s utility as a distraction from more substantive issues. How many people, for example, are really threatened by gay marriage, compared to the threat of having no health insurance, or the threat of having the Social Security insurance provisions replaced by a privatized investment portfolio? The reason for the initiation of the proposed Amendment is it’s value as a red herring wedge issue.

    I agree that a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage alone, is silly and meaningless. My comment was flip and light. But my purpose in that column was to help participate in galvanizing opposition to it, and rather than argue the definition, I chose to focus in my brief alloted space on the provision that denies important rights to people who do not meet that definition. I also chose to very briefly concede a point that is being made tellingly by active promoters of this denial-of-rights amendment. We may disagree on this, but I think that the state should not sanction or uphold the terms of each and every contract, regardless of the terms. A contract might establish a condition of slavery. Is that an OK contract? How about a contract that allows someone to crucify another in a snuff movie in order to get a life-saving operation for an indigent child? How about a contract that requires an employee to submit, as a condition of continued employment or participation in certain benefits programs, to sexual demands by owners, agents, or customers of the employer? Should a contract that requires an “associate” of some trans-national corporation, or an employee of some Mom and Pop hardware store to never vote in an election, or participate in any way in a political campaign, on pain of immediate termination of employment, be sanctioned by our government? Again, the limitations of a newspaper op-ed essay balance the values of brevity and conciseness against the exhaustive thoroughness of argument. But you are correct in concluding that I countenance and (grudgingly) admit some governmental restrictions on contracts as well as some limitations on property rights. We may indeed disagree on this, although I maintain some hope that a discussion of particulars might find some important common ground. While the arguments I made in my column may contradict your analysis or philosophy, I think that they do not exhibit hypocrisy nor are they self-contradictory on the face of it. Divergence of my apparent view from yours is not conclusive evidence of the incorrectness of either view. It is likely that neither of us is infallible or without glaring self-contradiction, when you come right down to it.

    I am not comfortable with your characterization of “tribalism masquerading as democracy”, “… one of the most PRIMITVE forms of government”, “In a tribal democracy, etc…”. Respectfully, I think you are too hastily giving the back of your hand to a straw man. It almost smacks of the very evil you purport to hate most severely, the evil of bigotry and prejudice.

    Very few Americans are aware that in indigenous tribes, before the European invasion, in what is now called North America, children grew up and developed without being yelled at. No one raised their voice at a child. Children were not physically struck in order to educate them or correct their behavior or discipline them. There was no law against it. It was just unheard of, and never done. Inconceivable for those “savages” (who Europeans came to save and subjugate and rob) to hit a child. They had a social governance that took, as a given, complete respect, even veneration, for their children and their elders. The children and adults loved and respected their elders. The adults and elders loved and respected their children, and never hit them. Never. The hairy white man, with cannons and guns and diseases, came from the east, and took the children away from their “savage” tribes and families, and put them in boarding schools to “civilize” them, and whenever the children would speak to one another in THEIR OWN LANGUAGE, or be discovered with any little keepsake given them by their parents or elders, the civilized white people would BEAT them. It’s unbelievable, I know. It makes one cringe with shame, or tense with anger, depending on with whom you identify, and depending on your point of view. They beat those children. I have met, on their own ground, in their own homes, and heard people my own age who told me of this very thing happening to them, and to their own mothers, and grandparents. Those savage children’s trampled primitive rights, and the deference and respect for elders was not couched by the tribe in the language of property rights. But many of those systems of tribal governance helped those people and their way of life to survive in harmony for thousands of years, even tens of thousands of years. And they could not, for generations, understand how anyone could strike a child.

    I think it behooves me, Dan, to care more for love and the simple Truth that stares me in the face, than (as did some of the worst, most inhuman, murdering tyrants of human history) for the foolish consistency of an abstract philosophy.

    I must now move on. Thank you for taking the time to make your thoughtful and thought provoking comments. And thank you for sending me your two essays, which I will keep and promise to read soon. I decided to first respond in writing to your comments.

    Comment by clyde — February 16, 2007 @ 4:40 pm | Reply

  7. Thanks so much for your thoughtful and elightening response. I hoped you might think about differences the way I do – careful examination frequently leads to discovering that we’re actually more similar that is apparent.

    In my use of “tribal” I meant no disrepect for indigenious or other tribal people or their cultures. As you point out, many certainly were and are more enlightened in many ways than is much of the current more “civilized” world.

    I intended to use it in a very narrow sense, specifically in the politcal arena, and only it’s most pejorative form. I think its historically accurate that various tribes vied for dominance using brute force. In that sense, it’s primitive. And I might add, neither more nor less than much of the history, including very recent, of Europeans and many others.

    I am not a student of this history – so I’ll rely on your descriptions – but I have no doubt that, due to their culture and custom, in many cases for tribal peoples little if any actual formal “government” was needed. People’s respect for their own and other’s lives was paramount and they had an agreed upon mechanism for settling disputes and making other decisions affecting groups of indidviduals. Perhaps much like the Amish today. I would heartily endorse such a model anywhere it’s workable. Governance is not necessarily government, certainly not in the latter’s contemporary meaning.

    I always use property rights in its very broadest definition. This includes peoples minds, ideas and values. Physical property is simply a worldly manifestation of those. They can’t really be separated.

    The idea of valid contracts generally exclude coercion and in most cases activities that would otherwise be a crime.

    Certainly reasonable people can disagree on what constitutes coercion in various circumstances. And of course, what activities are criminalized is of great importance. Libertarians prefer to limit crimilization to activities that actually produce recognizable and identifiable victims.

    Hence for example, victimless “crimes” would not be crimes and therefore activities acceptable for contracting.

    I believe a consistent non-contradicitroy philosophy is possbile and desirable and it need not be relegated to an abstraction. On the contrary, I believe it’s essential to effectively dealing with the types of problems you obviously and very rightly have a great concern and passion for.

    I believe examining apparent and somethimes real contradictions is an important exercise and way for us to more clearly uderstand our apparent differences with others. Leading back again to your I think very correct observation that real differences are less common than it would seem.

    If we are to ever once and for all eliminate the use of force, or at least strictly limit it, in the lives of human beings, we first need to know what those real differences are. Only then can we hope to find non-violent solutions.

    Comment by Dan — February 16, 2007 @ 4:41 pm | Reply

  8. THE AUTHOR REPLIES TO DAN:

    Yeah, Dan, it seems to me that the crux of our “argument”, may be encapsulated in your line asserting that ” … a consistent non-contradictory philosophy is possible …”. And actually, I will not assert, categorically, that such a philosophy is impossible. I just think that such a philosophy has not yet been wrought on earth that has stood a reasonable test of time and universality. And I think that I would rather apply my efforts elsewhere than in a search for such a philosophy. It MAY be (just a wild guess here) that a satisfactory proof could be discovered that such a philosophy, applied to the real universe and the nature of life, is impossible.

    Just as you tend to believe in the existence of that “correct” philosophy, I tend to believe that the search for such a final solution, and efforts to impose its tenets upon our planet are unwise. So your view appears to focus on ideology, mine on evolutionary pragmatism. But even that characterization is unfair and incomplete. I’ll bet you have been more practical and pragmatic than I. And I have yearned for consistency. You and I just seem to be peering at the great unfathomable Gorgon’s knot from slightly different vantage points.

    Comment by Clyde — February 16, 2007 @ 4:43 pm | Reply

  9. Thanks for contacting me on the proposed constitutional amendment to
    define marriage as only between one man and one woman. Amending the
    state constitution requires passage of a resolution in two consecutive
    sessions of the Legislature, followed by a statewide referendum. This
    amendment passed the Legislature on first consideration in the last
    session. If it passes in this session, it will go to the voters for
    final adoption.
    I voted in favor of the amendment in the last session, and I will do so
    again in this session, for the following reasons:

    The first reason has to do with the respective role of the legislature
    and the courts. Marriage is a civil contract that confers certain legal
    rights and obligations. It is up to the Legislature, not the court, to
    regulate contracts, including the determination of what types of
    contracts should be valid. There are many restrictions in state law on
    the right to contract, all of which were enacted in the interest of
    public policy. I think it is a valid concern, based on events in other
    states, that our current statute on marriage could be invalidated by
    court action. I consider that an abuse of judicial authority which
    should be prevented.

    Some people argue that the prohibition against same sex marriage is a
    discriminatory denial of civil rights. That is incorrect, in my opinion.
    The amendment is not a prohibition on personal conduct by consenting
    adults, which I would agree is protected. But no one has an unrestricted
    civil right to enter into any private contract of their choosing. This
    amendment is an expression by the Legislature (and ultimately the people
    of the state) that a marriage contract between two people of the same
    gender is bad public policy. Civil marriage exists not just to further
    the interests of the people entering into it, but also to further the
    interests of the state for stability of the family. I think most people
    believe, and the evidence suggests, that monogamous, heterosexual
    relationships are the best way for children to be raised. Also, if we
    decide that marriage is a civil right to be defined only by the
    person(s) entering into it, what then is the argument against polygamous
    marriage?

    Ultimately, this is a determination that the people have a right to
    make. If the amendment passes the Legislature, they will be given that
    opportunity, probably at next November’s election.

    Although we do not agree on this issue, I appreciate you taking the time
    to share your opinion. Feel free to contact me on any other matters of
    concern.

    Comment by Mark — February 16, 2007 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

  10. Senator Lieberman and a Republican Senator from Oregon recently introduced federal legislation in the Senate to provide domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples. Of course, I wrote to both of our Senators, asking for their support for the legislation — and explaining why. Of course, I got non-committal responses from both of them, indicating that the legislation was not going to be acted on in this legislative session and indicating that they’d “keep my opinion in mind.” One Senator even mischaracterized my request as one that sought health benefits for domestic partners. Yes, that’s part of it, but I guess her staff didn’t do any more than skim my letter because I was asking for more than pension benefits as well as health benefits — just like the hetero’s get!

    So goes democracy and equal rights for all. Thanks for your public support!

    Comment by Lois — February 16, 2007 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

  11. I liked your essay. I think that your tactic about the restriction of benefits to those in civil unions is the most important piece of the amendment, and the one most likely to elicit a desired “no” vote from those who can’t quite get used to the idea of a marriage being between anyone but a man and a woman. Hopefully that will work.

    Personally, I believe that any two individuals of legal age should be able to marry in the legal sense. Marriage, in the religious sense, can be determined by individual faith traditions to stay as is, or to break tradition and become more inclusive.

    Comment by Lucy — February 16, 2007 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

  12. I agree wholeheartedly with your essay. Many kids in cookie cutter marriages are abused and neglected while too many people classified as unconventional (which I fall into by the way, who would let me adopt a child, self-employed, single mom that has had cancer twice?) cannot raise and nuture kids. In the meantime too many kids are loveless, homeless and lost.

    Comment by Elaine — February 16, 2007 @ 7:27 pm | Reply

  13. holy shit, clyde!
    just remember…………..we simply cannot take personally, those attacks which are made by the uninformed. let’s remember, too, that the verse/quotes are brought to you by the people who thought/think the world is flat. they are the same people who killed the goddess and morphed her into a judgemental old man upon a throne.

    Comment by Francine — February 16, 2007 @ 7:40 pm | Reply

  14. As for the marriage amendment . . . I believe it is important to maintain good traditions in society, as this offers stability to future generations. At the same time, it is important to remain honest and responsive to changes in society, and to strive always for fairness and justice. Science has revealed conclusively that homosexuality is a physiological anomoly, caused by hormones produced by stress during pregnancy. For example, a much higher incidence of homosexuality exists among British adults whose mothers lived through the 1940 Blitzkrieg of London during pregnancy. Observations in the lab and in nature show that when populations of social animals swell beyond the capacity of the environment to support the population, stress soars, and homosexuality results in the offspring, as does violence and aberrant behavior. It is nature’s way of curbing overpopulation.

    The Hopi Indians of the American southwest had a word for what our world has become: koyaanisqatsi (pronounced koy-yan-ih-SCOT-see), which means “life out of balance.” (more at http://www.koyaanisqatsi.org/films/koyaanisqatsi.php)

    So long as koyaanisqatsi reigns and we have a stressful world, there will be the abnormality of homosexuality. For the individual affected, it is like a handicap: it is not a choice, it is not changeable, and it is not a cause for fear or hatred. Like handicapped people, homosexually-oriented individuals should be treated with dignity and respect, and allowed to enjoy the same rights. However, do I think they are unwise to call their unions “marriage” and the ceremonial joining “weddings.” Call them “civil unions” or create some other term, and grant them the same rights as married couples, but don’t call them married. These concepts have way too much tribal emotional energy connected to them. Choose different terms. (A good read about tribal emotional energy is Caroline Myss’ book Anatomy of the Spirit.)

    Comment by Laurel — February 16, 2007 @ 8:13 pm | Reply

  15. THE AUTHOR RESPONDS TO LAUREL:

    Regarding the amendment to restrict the civil rights of persons united in relationships of which the government does not approve, there is an interesting theological argument that may influence some people. In my December op-ed column, I based my attack on the proposed amendment on the implications of the second sentence, and basically conceded the first sentence. But a friend recently pointed out to me that according to religious strictures, marriage is a union before God, and “let no person put it asunder”. Marriage, according to this argument, is strictly God’s business, and therefore the government trespasses where it has no business by presuming to define marriage. Can the government pass a Constitutional amendment to ban marriage between people of different faiths, or ethnicity, or people with suspect genes, criminal records, or different socioeconomic status or intellect? How can a person of religious faith countenance the state legislature choosing the words that define marriage and so defy God’s authority to recognize and sanctify it? Is the church God’s instrument to define and recognize and sanctify marriage? Or is the legislature the interpreter of God’s will?

    The only problem with this argument is there are so few people who would seriously consider it. Unfortunately, most strictly religious people have no problem with government interference with religion as long as the interference enforces their particular dogma in general (and their homophobia in particular).

    And of course this argument has no significance with secular homophobes.

    Comment by Clyde — February 16, 2007 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

  16. NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:

    Unfortunately, the marriage amendment to the state Constitution was approved by Wisconsin voters in the November general election.

    Comment by clyde — February 20, 2007 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  17. […] (For example, abortion rights, voter fraud, the death penalty, definition of marriage, criminal justice, or womens rights are types of issues that the two parties have free rein to manipulate and exploit as they wish […]

    Pingback by Governing People for Profits « hearts and minds — November 11, 2009 @ 7:14 pm | Reply


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