BLOG: Question 6 and the Word 'Marriage'

The word "marriage" does not belong to any one group.

SEX, let me start off with the word: sex. It makes us nervous. We never talk about it in realistic conversations. We think it’s dirty. We denigrate it, yet most of us do it. “Marriage” is not about sex. It’s about making a commitment. It’s about wanting to spend your life with the person that makes you whole. It’s about love. This is where we all start. We all become better citizens when we feel accepted and loved. Marriage is not ABOUT sex.  Sex, we teach our children, should only happen within the bounds of marriage and then we tell gay and lesbian children they cannot get married.

Do we want to encourage the children in our society to engage in a committed relationship or do we want to drive them away from such an idea. Gays and lesbians have always existed and always will. As a society it is beneficial to encourage inclusion. We, as a society, have always benefited from expanding inclusion. We benefited when slavery was abolished. We benefited when women were included in the right to vote. We benefited when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed and we benefited when the Americans with Disability act added more people to the list of inclusion. Including gay and lesbian couples in the definition of “Marriage” will further expand the meaning of inclusion.

I often hear that the traditional meaning of marriage is “one man and one woman”. In fact the Maryland Constitution was written in 1776 and it does not include that definition.  That definition was, however, added to Maryland law by statute, and that wasn’t until 1974. It wasn’t written into the law of other states until much more recently.  Religious people often state that marriage is defined in the book of Genesis in the Bible. If you go read Genesis 2:24 it literally says: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” I do not see the word marriage in this sentence.

We could get into a long winded discussion about what “becoming one flesh” means and I’m sure we would hear from many different people who would have many different definitions.

And we could say that “wife” implies marriage. Others would and often do argue otherwise.

Also, it does mention a man and a woman, but we should keep in mind that this is also the first example of a relationship in the bible not the ONLY example. Life goes on and so does variation.

To say that the one man/one woman definition has always been “the tradition” is misleading.  Slavery was a tradition too until Abraham Lincoln emancipated the slaves. And just because it was a tradition didn’t make it right. The subjectivity of women to men was also a tradition for a very long time and that is not just in our modern-day social justice eyes. The word tradition is a heartwarming word to many people. But it is not a joyous word to people who have been kept outside the circle of societal inclusion.

Marriage is the backbone of our society, say many opposed to Question 6. I will not speak for others, but I believe that many people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, (etc.) community also believe this to be true.

Some and I might add many of us, have seen the negative effects of the rejection of gays and lesbians in our society. We have felt that rejection personally. This rejection and the bullying that results does indeed have a destructive effect on the psyche on many people in the LGBTQ community. We have learned that when we live our authentic lives and we are honest in whom we were created to be we are indeed healthier.

What many of us also believe is that it is healthy to encourage all people to engage in a monogamous committed relationship whether that couple is heterosexual or not. And for me personally, I have lived next door to many people in the span of my almost 60 years, and never has my neighbor’s marriage affected my life nor my relationship has mine ever really affected theirs. This argument that somehow marriage equality will break down the institution of heterosexual marriage is just wrong. One has nothing to do with the other.  This idea can only be based on one thing. People who believe this are basing their assumptions on the concept that people choose their sexual orientations. I didn’t and neither did you. There are plenty of educated points of view on this topic. It would be a waste of time to reiterate them here.  I would only ask you to tell me when YOU chose to be heterosexual.

The effort to suppress the rights of my LGBTQ community is based on fear. It’s the modus operandi of modern day politics. When you cannot win them over with logic you must scare them. We have seen it over and over again. And as soon as the out-of-state anti-gay lobby kicks its cash into gear we will see more of it on television, on the radio, in the newspaper and right here on Patch.

It’s time to move on folks. Culture has already changed to accept gay and lesbian people because we are not the scary creatures we have been traditionally made out to be.

Gay couples and Lesbian couples are here to stay. Many raise children and that will continue. Some voices against Question 6 speak as if gay or lesbian couples raising children is a brand new manifestation. It is not. We are now more willing to talk about raising children than we have traditionally been.  (This is another example of changing tradition.)

This law is about a simple idea. It’s about fairness, inclusion and equality. When heterosexual opponents say “it’s not that we’re against gay people,” I would say this is a statement made with the intention to misdirect the conversation. It reminds me of a retort in an earlier era: “I’m not racist, I have a black friend.” If you hold a privilege that other people do not hold and you do not want to share access to that privilege you are being selfish and non-inclusive. You are practicing discrimination. This was true of men who wanted to hold on to the economic power over slaves. This was true of men who wanted to prevent women from voting and it is true of heterosexuals who do not want to include same-sex couples in the definition of marriage.

The word marriage does not belong to the church. It does not belong to heterosexuals. I frequently hear the argument that lesbians and gays should just use the term civil union. I reject this idea as one that suggests that we somehow “less than” heterosexuals so we are not worthy of using this word. If the church wants a word exclusively of their own then they should use the word matrimony and get off of the argument that I somehow do not hold any ownership in the word marriage. The word marriage existed long before churches did. It was a cultural custom before any church made it a religious ritual. The word marriage belongs to our human culture and I am part of this culture.  I will use the word marriage.

You have the right and retain the right to marry whomever you choose in your church. Your religious rights are protected and will remain protected. It is time to recognize this for what it is. I say it’s time to include churches that WANT to marry same-sex couples in that thing you call religious freedom. Who are you to deny others their religious rights?

Pushing gay and lesbian couples into a box which defines us as “less than” is a concept that has expired.

I will be voting FOR question 6 and I ask you join me.

Mark Patro is President of PFLAG Baltimore County

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FIFA September 26, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I cannot discuss anything with someone who believes in Poof and there was Adam and Eve. I'm sure it is vice versa as well. When one completely ignores scientific proof to the contrary, good luck DK.
Mike Lurz September 26, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Science is the work of the devil
FIFA September 26, 2012 at 09:23 PM
linda morgan September 27, 2012 at 11:44 AM
I am concerned that people who have extreme points of view will take this to a screaming match and not boill it down to what matters. Two consenting adults committing to a partnership. There is a vocal ..negative group that would like the masses believe homosexuals are bar trolling perverts. We will never convince them overwise and it's sad.
Tim September 27, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Good summary, Mike. Classic example: Stem cell research. Never mind that, just last month at Johns Hopkins they've begun successfully creating stem cells out of NORMAL ADULT CELLS. It'd never have happened without the embryonic research before it. Religion, left unchecked in government, will only intellectually degrade our society. Don't believe me? Look at the Middle East. Is that what you want this country to become? Personally, I want no part of the middle ages again. Question 6. Vote for human rights. Vote for humanity.


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