Gay Marriage Debate Mangles English Language


be marry

Some say that the gay marriage debate is about redefining the word marriage. The lexicographically-inclined conservatives among us fret that legalizing gay marriage will require English-speakers to shoehorn new meanings into some very old words and phrases. (Hell, some folks still haven't gotten over the "new" definition of the word gay.)

In D.C., the discussion over gay marriage has put some city council members in a bind (ahem, Marion Barry)—including Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., who represents a district "that contains both quickly gentrifying (and gayifying) areas like Bloomingdale, Eckington, and Brookland, in addition to the generally conservative Bungalow Belt and many of the city's most politically active churches." He is walking a fine line and his spokeswoman, Victoria Leonard, made the mistake of (a) speaking for him and (b) trying to be clear about his position. Hilarity ensued.

"I'm not an attorney, and I'm not a councilmember," [Thomas' spokesman said.] "As a spokesperson, I'll have to learn to be more careful, especially on tumultuous issues."

[The City Paper] finally got Thomas himself on the horn yesterday: "That's why I always speak to you guys directly," Thomas says. "My spokesperson's statement was taken out of character a little bit."

The opponents of gay marriage were so right. Just look at the damage the gay marriage debate has done to the English language. 

Bonus: "Gayifying"?

More gaiety here.

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  1. What’s wrong with “tumultuous”?

  2. Nudge Nudge etc etc

    Privatize Marriage!!!!

  3. Tumultuous is maybe some strange diction, but there’s nothing wrong with it in that sentence. Unless your concern is that she paired “careful” with “on” rather than “with.” IGNORANT BITCH.

  4. “What’s wrong with “tumultuous”?”

    Maybe it has some special meaning in the gay culture?

  5. Out of curiosity, what rights (in the libertarian, negative sense) are gays being denied? My father and his partner have for 30 years been what would, absent the state’s involvement, be called “married.”

  6. Out of curiosity, what rights (in the libertarian, negative sense) are gays being denied?

    A married person cannot be compelled to testify against his or her spouse.

  7. “what rights (in the libertarian, negative sense) are gays being denied?”

    I don’t know that they’re being denied any rights, but they are being denied equal treatment under the law; that is, legislative bigotry. If there are going to be legal rules about marriage, they should be applied fairly.

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  9. To Christians, marriage is not a civil institution but a religious sacrament.

    In that light, it’s perfectly acceptable for them to defend something they see as a religious matter.

    Unfortunately, ‘promoting families’ has been a political goal for so long that the concept of marriage is entwined (perhaps unfairly regardless of the sex of the married couple) in our laws.

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    I’ve got one for Mate 1. Very attractive looking couple.

  11. I’m getting, Epi. Silly Internet, everybody knows that sodomites only mate in buttery man-orgies.

  12. KMW-

    Lexicographically inclined conservatives tend to be lexicographically challenged.

  13. There’s nothing wrong with the use of “tumultuous” in that sentence.

  14. Joining the chorus of “what’s wrong with tumultuous?”

  15. This is a morality issue, as long as we allow the majority to pass laws on these issues it will be a problem. The only way to guarantee individual rights is to enforce the separation of church and state. Leave moral issues to the church.

    From the Libertarian platform

    1.3 Personal Relationships

    Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the rights of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships.

    From an entry I did on another blog.

    Perhaps, the bottom line is that marriage and civil unions are a morality issue. Gay marriage or civil unions would be the government forcing that morality on the population at large. Since we have a clear separation of church and state it should stay that way. What the government givith the government can takith away. California first allowed same sex marriage and the voters took it away. The only way to guarantee this separation is to get the government out of the picture. The government should not be in the position of forcing morality issues whether they are popular or not. All of the sodomy laws, laws against self gratification and prostitution laws are proof that these laws do not work. They all are the majority forcing their morality on the minority and as you can see these attitudes change from generation to generation. As long as the majority can determine what is morally acceptable or tolerated same sex unions will never be a right. The only way it will become a right is when the separation of powers are clearly defined and the government can’t make moral decisions based on the whims of the majority.


  17. Like, this is far worse than “tumultuous”:

    What the government givith the government can takith away.

  18. Gay Marriage Debate Mangles English Language

    Not to mention the phrase “gay marriage” itself. Nobody asks now or has ever (to my knowledge) asked if a person is gay before issuing a marriage license.

  19. A married person cannot be compelled to testify against his or her spouse.

    Is that true? There isn’t an amendment that says that.

  20. The ‘problem’, if that is the right word, is mainly linguistic. There are many ways to organise recogniton of legal relationships between same sex couples on a par with protections available for couples of mixed sex (not all of which require use of the word ‘marriage’ either) without having to use the word ‘marriage’ and irritate the religiously-minded.

    The phrase ‘civil partnership’ for a non-religious, act of recognition or creation of comparable legal relations takes some of the heat out of a lot of the problem.

    Couples who enact a ‘civil partnership’ can then be free to have that partnership blessed, either similtaneously or subsequently, in accordance with their religious beliefs, or not, as they so choose. in a registry office and then go on Not much different from people who have a legal ceremony to a church, mosque or synagogue of their choice.

    The confusion is caused by having priests or similar people licensed to perform the legal part of the ceremony as well as utter their words of blessing.

  21. Joe_D
    I don’t know that they’re being denied any rights, but they are being denied equal treatment under the law

    Actually, straight guys can’t marry other dudes either. Equal, see?

  22. “THEY” can’t tell me who I can sleep with, enter into contracts with or who I can drink a beer with. Right? I want to enter into a contract with my sister, girlfriend, boss, 3rd cousin, guy down the street, and my pastor. The contract will allow me to file taxes under a different status and none of them can be compelled to testify against me. Now what? Do we now say only contracts between 2 individuals? Do I need to terminate one contract before I sign another? Can I enter into this contract with my dad? Sign me up.

  23. This is a simple issue.

    Civil unions for everyone. But there are a large number of gays that don’t want that. They want government in every orifice filling their holes to make them feel like real people. They want the approval of mommy and daddy government so they feel better.


  24. A married person cannot be compelled to testify against his or her spouse.

    Is that true? There isn’t an amendment that says that.

    Actually, it’s a matter of state law, and therefore the level of protection varies from state to state.

  25. JB, what the fuck are you talking about? If the government only issued civil unions, that’s what most gay people would be fighting for. Gay people are not somehow more genetically in favor of the the government; they’re more generally in favor of the political party that at least plays lip service to their rights (dating back, even, to the good old days when sodomites were arrested).

    Get a clue or stfu.

  26. Civil unions for everyone. But there are a large number of gays that don’t want that.

    There are, on any issue, people at both extremes who will never be happy with any settlement that does not go 100% their way.

    But I get the impression after the VT “civil union” experiment that calling the legal family agreement a “civil union” while letting churches make what they will of the religious sacrament of marriage is the most workable solution. And one that will get broad support, even from people who say they oppose gay marriage.

  27. I agree with Isaac. Especially since it would likely be only government writings that say ‘civil union’, while everybody else (non-PC) would just call it all marriage.

    What about religious marriage counselors(sp) and the like, though? Would they be forced to accept civil unions, or could individuals (and organisations) decide what counted as a marriage to them without legal suit of discrimination?

  28. Granite

    My vision is that the legal aspects of Civil Unions be totally separate from the religious and spiritual aspects of Marriages. Whether to the point of requiring separate ceremonies* as in France and Germany I haven’t decided. I lean towards ministers being licensed to perform civil unions and being able to combine the ceremony into one.

    God, in His infinite wisdom, only knows what kind of bollocks politicians will be able to come up with.

    *In France and Germany both are referred to as marriage but only the civil ceremony performed by a government functionary has any legal standing. Nevertheless for all there vaunted nonbelief, couples in both countries are still sufficiently sentimental to keep ministers pretty busy with weddings.

    Quaker weddings are also not recognized in many jurisdiction there being no fomal clergy. Quaker couples, nevertheless still like to have a “meeting for marriage” where their friends hear them pledge themselves to each other. And you thought that the hippies invented that shit in the 70s.

  29. Gayifying thats a word y’all ar using not us… Just sit down some where ll you people always have something to say, but be the main one’s who’s marriage is going down the drain or can’t find a life partner. Love is love no matter what color, or sexual preference…

    1. Another thing, the definition of marriage was changed a long time ago when you could get married and divorced in the same month.

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