Gay Marriage

Gay Marriage in the '80s

An interesting snippet of cultural history.

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Over at Bleeding-Heart Libertarians, Sarah Skwire mentions a law in Indiana—passed long ago but getting renewed attention today—that says

Security!

a person who "knowingly solemnizes a marriage of individuals who are prohibited from marrying" can be hit with a 180-day jail sentence or $1,000 fine….

[I]f my mom lived in Indiana she would be a felon.

Ordained by the Unitarian Universalist church in 1980, Mom performed same sex unions from the earliest years of her ministry, and so did nearly all of her colleagues. The same is true for many of Mom's clerical colleagues of other faiths. Rabbis from the Reform Jewish movement have solemnized or blessed same sex unions for decades, as have ministers from a wide range of Christian traditions. Depending on how strictly one interprets the law's use of the words "solemnized" and "marriage," every one of those ceremonies could have been a felony.

There is some discussion in the BHL comment thread about whether such ceremonies do in fact "solemnize" a marriage in the legal sense, and I think Skwire's critics make a strong case that her mother would not in fact be a felon in Indiana. But my reason for linking to this isn't the author's claim about the law; it's her comments about cultural history.

Skwire's memories of her mother underline a point that I've made frequently on this site: Contrary to the chatter you hear in some quarters, gay marriage was not invented by social engineers and imposed on an unwilling country. It was invented by gay people themselves, who started getting married without anyone's permission; their unions gradually gained acceptance in American communities and in the marketplace before state or federal governments were willing to recognize them. It is a classic example of grassroots social evolution, and it has a much longer history than even some supporters of same-sex marriage seem to realize.

Further reading: "The Long History of Gay Marriage," "All in the Gay Family," and "Disney Legalizes Same-Sex Unions."

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  1. Sounds like a 1st Amendment issue. Has anyone ever been jailed or fined for violating this stupid law?

    1. No, because performing a ceremony isn’t solemnizing the marriage.

      1. sol?em?nize
        /?s?l?m?n?z/
        Verb

        1.Duly perform (a ceremony, esp. that of marriage).
        2.Mark with a formal ceremony.

        1. That isn’t what the word means at law in the State of Indiana. Read the first comments in the piece.

          1. Comments?

            Yeah, that isnt going to happen.

            1. The comments are better than the post. The post is junk.

              1. I didnt read it either.

                I dont read comments on other sites.

                1. This browser (Konqueror) doesn’t even work with Disqus. Actually no browser I’ve tried seems to work well with Disqus.

        2. In statutes on family law, it’s the word used for an official’s making a marriage official. At least that’s how it’s used in NY, so I’d expect the same in other states.

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  2. It was invented by gay people themselves, who started getting married without anyone’s permission; their unions gradually gained acceptance in American communities and in the marketplace before state or federal governments were willing to recognize them.

    Then doesn’t that make the need for state recognition less pressing? If the thing developed on its own, why is it so vital to get the state involved?

    1. Taxes and health insurance benefits from employers.

      1. Of course the state could dis-involve itself from attaching special privileges to marriage in those areas and a few others and I would find it much less pressing.

        1. I would dearly love for the day to come that I no longer take it up the ass on my taxes thanks to my wife having an income or maybe being able to end the relationship without getting a judge’s permission. I wake up every day and thank God I get the special privilege of paying more taxes and some day getting totally fucked by a family court judge. It is like I am part of some master race or something Zeb.

      2. Marriage causes you to pay more taxes, not less. And employers have been recognizing same sex partners for years. The only thing state recognition is to force all employers to do so.

        And you know, nothing says Libertarian like using the gun to force employers to give same sex partners insurance benefits.

        1. The entire scheme of employers giving benefits is in itself caused by the government to start with. I hate how I rarely see that brought up.

          Slightly OT: I’m covered as a “partner” (since we aren’t married) by my fiancee’s employer. They don’t even care if you’re married.

          1. That is how most employers do it these days. Like most issues, this thing was being worked out by society.

            Funny how the same Libertarians who will quite articulately explain how the CRA wasn’t necessary because segregation would have ended on its own, are totally okay with SCOTUS enforcing gay marriage on every state in the Union.

            Black people living under Jim Crow; get over it and wait a few years and things will get better.

            Gay people who can get married, live together but just can’t get a state document saying they are; oh my God, the courts need to act and end this injustice!!!

          2. They don’t even care if you’re married.

            Oh, I bet they care. Yours gets taxed.

            1. I don’t think that is true Zeb. But even if it is, change the tax laws. Don’t see what that has to do with gay marriage. It fucks straight people who dont’ get married just as much.

              1. See: http://tinyurl.com/psp5a3g (it’s a Wikipedia link)

                It fucks straight people who dont’ get married just as much.

                I know this very well.

            2. Mine doesn’t.

              1. You might want to check on that. Maybe it has changed. But it was the case a few years ago when I was arguing with HR bitch about it.

        2. If you have a contract of employment that in which a spouse is entitled to be on the employer health plan, there’s nothing unlibertarian about making that demand. Contract law is usually pretty darn valid from a libertarian standpoint.

          1. Sure it is. And last I looked the employer ought to be able to define what “spouse” means. Instead, Libertarians are defining it for them.

            1. Yep. If it’s defined in the language of the contract, but simply saying “spouse” with no context leaves that interpretation up to the employee.

              1. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

                1. So you need others to validate your existence?

                  No wonder we’re fucked.

            2. And people of all political stripes have been defining it for them ever since employer health plans have been a thing. It’s not a good way for things to be, but it is not as if employers would be losing the right to define what a spouse is for the purpose of contracts. They already have to follow the legal definition. They can’t, for example, deny coverage for a spouse because the marriage is mixed religion.

        3. I’m not saying that anyone should force anyone to give anyone benefits. I’m talking about the tax exemption that applies to benefits for spouses and dependent children, but not for other types of relationships. Yes, some employers give benefits to same sex partners, but it gets different tax treatment. I’d rather have a tax system where this doesn’t matter, but here we are.

          And marriage increases taxes only if both parties work and have comparable incomes.

          1. Yes, some employers give benefits to same sex partners, but it gets different tax treatment.

            No it doesn’t. A dependent on your insurance is a dependent on your insurance.

            I’m not saying that anyone should force anyone to give anyone benefits.

            That is the effect of your position. SO you may not mean to say it. But you effectively are.

            1. I don’t think it is any worse to force an employer to give a gay couple benefits than it is to force it to give anyone benefits. The issue is with requiring employers to give benefits at all, not with gay marriage.

              And the tax treatment is different. Health insurance is tax exempt for employees and their legal dependents. If you can’t get gay married legally, then your gay husband is just a room mate as far as tax laws are concerned. This is why I am married. My employer wouldn’t give me insurance for my now wife because we weren’t married (though if we were a gay couple they would have, which really pissed me off).

            2. No it doesn’t. A dependent on your insurance is a dependent on your insurance.

              Negative. Until the recent Supreme Court case, any dollars spent on benefits by the employer for someone who is not a spouse or child of the employee has been considered taxable income to the employee. I’d assume that most states will continue to treat it as such.

              1. Thank you. I thought that this was a pretty well known aspect of tax laws, but I guess not.

            3. No it doesn’t. A dependent on your insurance is a dependent on your insurance.

              I’m pretty sure that’s not true everywhere (if it’s true anywhere). In CA, Google employees (and those of some other companies) who are taxed disproportionately for being in a same sex relationship compared to a straight one get a pay bump to offset the burden (or at least they did before the relevant portion of DOMA fell).

        4. Marriage causes you to pay more taxes, not less.

          No, it causes YOU to pay more.

          http://taxfoundation.org/sites…..y_huge.png

          Im guessing you are in the red.

          1. And that is case for everyone whose spouse has a decent income. It is not just me. It is millions of people. And those people are not getting some benefit.

            1. No. But in situations where only one spouse works, they do. I think that the different rates for married people are an anachronism, but that’s what we have now and I am for equal treatment under the law, even if it is a stupid law.

            2. And that is case for everyone whose spouse has a decent income.

              From the graph, it looks like if you combine for about 100k and arent an even 50/50 split, there is a sweet spot for marriage bonus.

            3. It is not just me. It is millions of people.

              And millions of people are in single income marriages too.

      3. Well, there’s also the fact that a spouse, in most cases, is given the right to make medical decisions for a patient that cannot make those decisions, for one reason or another. If the state does not legally recognize that person as a spouse, then the parents or adult offspring of that patient would make the decision.

        So two guys live together as married, but not recognized as such by the state. One has a heart-attack and goes into a coma. Parents don’t like the fact their son is gay and decides to “pull the plug” against the spouse’s wish.

        1. Without state law, that could be handled by contract.

          In fact, with state law, it can still be handled by contract.

          1. It should be handled by contract, but as recently as a year ago there were cases where those contracts were ignored due to caprice on the part of hospital staff, or judges intervening on the “real family’s” behalf. This applies to John’s comment below.

            My mother (historically a staunch opponent of gay marriage) works in life insurance and has increasingly had to sort out issues for gay couples. She’s come around on gay marriage because she’s found the tangle of legal documents to contractually mimic the basic protections of straight marriage practically unnavigable.

        2. Well, there’s also the fact that a spouse, in most cases, is given the right to make medical decisions for a patient that cannot make those decisions, for one reason or another.

          It is called a living will or a medical power of attorney. How many times does this have to get trotted out before it dies? You telling me that marriage is so important but not important enough to make a medical power of attorney?

          And BTW, even if you are married, you still need a medical power of attorney because there is a decent change your spouse could be incapacitated with you.

          I am sorry but the idea that having to have a medical power of attorney is some kind of injustice is just fucking laughable. If it were the case that gays were prohibited from granting such, then there would be a real injustice. But that is not what is happening here.

          1. I mean, your medical power of attorney can be two sentences basically saying “I do/do not want extraordinary means to save my life. I do/do not want to remain on life support if a doctor diagnoses me as in a Persistent Vegetative State.” Instructions: Circle One.

          2. It is injustice because it is unequal treatment. Sure, it’s dumb not to have a medical POA set up, but dumb gay couples deserve the same protection as dumb straight couples.

            1. dumb gay couples deserve the same protection as dumb straight couples.

              Correct, but stupid laws to protect both stupid couples is not the proper solution.

              The proper solution is to get rid of the law for dumb straight couples.

              1. That would be ideal. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon. And if things change so it was more politically possible to do that, it shouldn’t be harder to repeal the laws that include gay couples as well.

        3. Well, there’s also the fact that a spouse, in most cases, is given the right to make medical decisions for a patient that cannot make those decisions, for one reason or another.

          You can designate any adult to make your medical decisions if you are incapacitated via a medical power of attorney.

          This is one of those “problems” that gay marriage is supposed to solve that doesn’t actually exist, really.

          1. No, not really

            In February 2007, Langbehn and Pond, along with three of their four children, were in Miami, FL to depart on a cruise. Pond collapsed before the cruise departed and was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s (JMH) Ryder Trauma Center. When Langbehn and their children arrived, a JMH social worker told Langbehn she was in an “anti-gay city and state” and required a health care proxy to see Pond. Langbehn had a power of attorney (POA) which was faxed to the hospital within an hour of Pond’s arrival. However, Langbehn and their 3 young children were kept from Pond’s side for eight hours. Pond slipped into a coma from a brain aneurysm and died without her partner of 18 years or her children by her side.

            That totally happens to spouses.

            1. And see… this is another thing. You wouldn’t need to have to fax your medical POA if there wasn’t an issue with gay marriage to begin with. So, should people have to carry all this documentation everywhere they go in case there are accidents or other medical emergencies like this?

  3. Ordained by the Unitarian Universalist church in 1980, Mom performed same sex unions from the earliest years of her ministry,

    That’s impossible. I’ve been told repeatedly that no religion sanctions gay marriage.

    1. Who says that? No one I have ever heard. Jesus, the Episcopalians would let you marry a dog and sacrifice a cat at the alter during the ceremony.

      1. I remember Bush (W) saying that. Can’t remember any other specific instances.

        1. Doubtful. And one gaffe doesn’t exactly make it “repeatedly”.

          1. It wasn’t a gaffe. It was an argument he made on multiple occasions against gay marriage.

            Anyway, I was making a joke. And my point was that gay marriage is not something that was just invented in the late 90s by people who wanted to fuck with the squares. It is something that has been happening for some time.

            1. Sure. But it was a cause picked up in the 1990s by people who wanted to fuck with the squares. If you really think many of the leftists who picked up this cause care about gays or marriage, I have a bridge to sell you.

              1. I think it’s entirely possible to be pro-gay-marriage and yet hate its most ardent advocates precisely because, yes, they are doing this to fuck with the squares.

                1. I agree. And I do hate a lot of the most ardent advocates for exactly those reasons. Similarly, I hate a lot of people who think that pot should be decriminalized or highly regulated and taxed if legalized, but that the war on the other “bad” drugs should go on, but I still think that decrim is a good thing.

              2. Yes, that happened. But why should I care? I have my own motivations and reasons for supporting what I do.

              3. If you really think many of the leftists who picked up this cause care about gays or marriage, I have a bridge to sell you.

                Who cares?

                I’ve always assumed that many of the leftists who picked up on the civil rights cause in the 1960s were only doing so because it was fashionable. That doesn’t mean it was any less right.

      2. the Episcopalians would let you marry a dog

        Good news for the CDC.

    2. Im not sure if Unitarianism is actually a religion. Dont you have to believe in SOMETHING?

    3. Given that the UCC has no creed and doesn’t require one to believe (or deny) anything at all, I’m not sure I even really call them a “religion” in any traditional sense.

      Likewise, all their ordination requires is that the congregation in question vote you in; I’m not sure there’s any reason you couldn’t call yourself UCC ordained by making yourself your congregation and voting yourself in.

      They might look at you funny, but as far as I understand their own rules they couldn’t say no – because it’s “your spiritual path” and they say they respect that.

      So “ordained by the UU” doesn’t really tell us anything about what any religion sanctions, at least the way normal folks use the term “religion”.

  4. And one other thing Jessee. If we can no longer say that gay marriage was invented by social engineers, shouldn’t we also stop saying it is “illegal” or “impossible” for gays to get married without permission from our robed overlords? They seem to have no problems doing so if this woman’s account is to be believed.

  5. “Contrary to the chatter you hear in some quarters, gay marriage was not invented by social engineers and imposed on an unwilling country. It was invented by gay people themselves, who started getting married without anyone’s permission; their unions gradually gained acceptance in American communities and in the marketplace before state or federal governments were willing to recognize them.”

    It certainly hasn’t remained that way though. Many individuals and communities still don’t recognize them and the hammer of government is called upon to force them to “be nice”.

  6. Completely off topic:

    I never hear about gays getting raped.

    1. You live in a closet then.

  7. When will people realize that marriage laws violate our right to free association? Most people can’t fathom that a marriage exist without government licensing. My wife and I had a ceremony which was presided over by someone not ordained or licensed by the state. The secular ‘minister’ declared at the end “By the power vested in me by these two people’s right of free association, I pronounce you man and wife.”

    I then had family members telling me that my wedding was a sham and invalid because it wasn’t condoned by the gubmint or blessed by a magical man in the sky.

    1. You do realize, that people are free not to recognize your marriage? You think you are married and good for you. But none of your family has to think the same way.

      1. I fail to see a problem with that.

      2. You do realize, no one is talking about forcing them to recognize it? I could care less if they do. I’m talking about people’s arbitrary views on what constitutes a legitimate marriage, based on statism or superstition.

        1. Arbitrary? Do you realize that States that did not want to recognize gay marriage had to explicitly change the legal definition of the word to mean “one man one woman”? Do you know why? Because everyone assumed when you said, “marriage”, you meant “opposite-sex marriage”. Think about that: the definition of marriage was so culturally ingrained for so long that a bunch of LAWYERS couldn’t even conceive of a different interpretation of the word.

          That’s the opposite of “arbitrary”.

          1. Yes arbitrary. Do you realize that States have no legitimacy in licensing marriage to begin with? Do you know why? Because everyone has a right to free association not contingent upon the opinions of 3rd parties.

            3rd parties having a say on what constitutes your private relationship not involving them is the definition of arbitrary.

            1. If you don’t recognize the state’s ability to license, don’t ask the state for free shit. That is really the only thing that is effected. Everything else, you can handle by drafting your own contracts.

              So I fail to see why you give a shit about the state licensing marriage. What are you pissed about not getting free shit?

              And since you are obviously associating just fine without a license, your argument that the existence of state marriage is a violation of your right to associate is curious to the point of being completely irrational.

              1. If you don’t recognize the state’s ability to license, don’t ask the state for free shit.

                Strawman. I never made that argument at all.

                So I fail to see why you give a shit about the state licensing marriage. What are you pissed about not getting free shit?
                And since you are obviously associating just fine without a license, your argument that the existence of state marriage is a violation of your right to associate is curious to the point of being completely irrational.

                Strawman again. Never once did I say anything about free shit. But having a marriage declared valid or invalid by unaffected 3rd parties does impact insurance premiums, conjugal visits in state prisons, immigration and all kinds of stuff that involves my forced association with a government. Stop pretending I’m making arguments that I’m not making. Did you read the article by the way? You know, about a criminalizing law pertaining to marriages?

                1. So I guess you’d’ve been OK with it back when gov’ts started to allow banks to call certain notes or coins or obligations “dollars” (or “pounds”, etc.) even though custom had long established that word as meaning a certain weight of silver (or gold). I mean, it’s arbitrary, right? It could’ve been any amount of silver, gold, or even wood, so just because a particular quantity was the understood meaning, why shouldn’t the bank have been allowed to call any amount of anything that?

                2. Yes, you never made the benefits argument.

                  But pretty much everyone else involved in the debate outside of libertarian circles is making precisely that argument, so you have to deal with it as present in the context of the debate on “marriage”.

              2. If you don’t recognize the state’s ability to license, don’t ask the state for free shit. That is really the only thing that is effected. Everything else, you can handle by drafting your own contracts.

                Yes.

                And isnt that exactly what I have been arguing on here for years (and in meatspace for 23 years)?

            2. Yes arbitrary. Do you realize that States have no legitimacy in licensing marriage to begin with? Do you know why? Because everyone has a right to free association not contingent upon the opinions of 3rd parties.

              3rd parties having a say on what constitutes your private relationship not involving them is the definition of arbitrary.

              First of all, no, that is not the definition of the word “arbitrary”. It may be a good example of irrational Statism, or busybodyism, or whatever you want to say, but it isn’t arbitrary.

              1. First of all, no, that is not the definition of the word “arbitrary”. It may be a good example of irrational Statism, or busybodyism, or whatever you want to say, but it isn’t arbitrary.

                My marriage being legally invalid because unaffected 3rd parties have sensitive religious objections. That’s arbitrary. But use whatever word you want. I couldn’t care less about debating semantics with you.

            3. Who cares about licensing marriage? I’m against that, but don’t consider it crucial to the issue. A fishing license doesn’t get you a fish. A dog license on a cat doesn’t make it a dog.

            4. Marriage is not about free association. It is a package of specific rights and privileges. Homosexuals have been “marrying” for thousands of years. but only rarely has their culture’s legal system recognized those marriages to that those rights and privileges would apply.

              A few libertarians keep saying “get the state out of marriage”. That sounds nice, but when the legal system is a monopoly of the state that means you can’t legally get married.

              1. What’s wrong with that?

                Remember in this case that “can’t legally get married” means that “marriage doesn’t even exist as a legal category”, not “one group is prohibited from it while others aren’t”.

                If marriage doesn’t exist as a legal category, who cares? The entire point of getting the state out of it is that it shouldn’t be a monopoly.

                Destroy those specific (special) rights and privileges.

        2. And your views are not arbitrary? What makes you think your marriage is valid other than you say so? Granted, that is good enough for me. But it is hardly more than superstition or taste. It has no claim to superiority over any other view of marriage.

          1. And your views are not arbitrary? What makes you think your marriage is valid other than you say so?

            Well it’s my relationship with another person(s). My views, whatever they may be, about that relationship are relevant. And outside, uninterested party defining my relationship on my behalf would be arbitrary.

            But it is hardly more than superstition or taste. It has no claim to superiority over any other view of marriage.

            You’re really missing the point here. It’s not about me claiming to have marriage that is superior or more valid than anyone else’s. It’s about me having the right to have a marriage that is no less valid than someone’s else’s.

            1. Who says your marriage is any less valid?

              1. Who says your marriage is any less valid?

                governments, statists and superstitious people. you know, like it says in the OP.

            2. In your eyes it is very valid. But no one owes you thinking the same.

              1. In your eyes it is very valid. But no one owes you thinking the same.

                “In your eyes, your right to life is very valid. But no one owes you thinking the same.”

                1. Yeah, because “your life” is exactly the same as your view of an interpersonal relationship!

                  Or even vaguely comparable.

                  Sorry, you’re going to have to make a better metaphor than that.

                  (See, one can easily find support for a universal right to one’s own life in all sorts of priors – any of the Libertarian theorists will assume it, and frankly that one’s nearly universal.

                  But a right to have people value your relationships the way you’d like?

                  That’s … well, that’s pretty novel.

                  Please to support it, with a “why I should agree”.

                  Because I don’t value other people’s relationships the way they want me to, nor do I see any reason why I should start.

                  I also don’t support using any force to interfere with them, but that’s another matter from valuing them.)

                  1. Who says you have to value anything?

  8. Over at Bleeding-Heart Libertarians

    That’s no way to begin a post

  9. Fudd mawwied the Wabbit!
    Who knew how far ahead Warner Brothers was?

  10. I am, morally and due to my own self-interest, a big supporter of gay marriage and would vote for it if it came onto the ballot in my state.

    That said, the linked piece is airheaded junk. First of all, you kind of lose your “hook” when you don’t bother to get the law right. Yes, I understand the post wasn’t entirely about the law, but still, if you’re going to make it the headline and the lede, then you should probably be arsed to do some research. Second of all, her main point, as she states in the comments, is this:

    the larger point of the piece?that opponents of same sex marriage want to “wield the force of the state to
    enshrine a definition of marriage that comports with their own religious traditions, no matter how severely it violates the religious traditions of other, equally faithful, group”?remains solid.

    WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT SHE WANTS TO DO AS WELL. She wants to use the force of the State to violate my philosophical beliefs.

    1. Well said. And if people were doing it anyway, why the hell do we have to get the state and the courts involved at all?

      1. To hammer down intolerant bigots, obviously.

        (At least partially, their might be other reasons for government approval as well)

    2. I am, morally and due to my own self-interest, a big supporter of gay marriage and would vote for it if it came onto the ballot in my state.

      Same here. I just find most of the arguments that people make for it to be krep. Perhaps because they are pretexts in the minds of the people making the argument, as what they are really after isn’t so much equality before the law (which, outside of tax law, can be accomplished without marriage via various powers of attorney and other fundamentally contractual documents), but social and state validation of their personal relationships.

      1. Is there a stock contract I could fill out to extend 5th amendment spousal privilege to a partner?

        Considering my family endured a Federal investigation when I was young this is particularly important to me.

  11. Skwire’s memories of her mother underline a point that I’ve made frequently on this site:

    They also underline a point that I’ve made as well: getting married doesn’t require a state-issued license. Apparently gay marriages were getting done for 20-odd years without such licenses.

  12. “gay marriage was not invented by social engineers and imposed on an unwilling country. It was invented by gay people themselves, who started getting married without anyone’s permission”

    So why are people calling for “legalizing” gay marriage? They found this law in Indiana which *might* ban such, but I haven’t heard of other states with such laws, except for a prosecution in New York. This was based on the fact that there was no marriage license, but such weren’t being issued for SSM at that time. But to simultaneously rule out same-sex unions from the definition of marriage, and then to say that people solemnizing these unions are guilty of unlicensed ceremonies, strikes me as contradictory.

    Of course, I believe Indiana should pass a declaratory act emphasizing that private people have the right to solemnize same-sex ceremonies.

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