Prop 8 and DOMA: There is Only One Correct Decision

equalityTo the Supreme Court of the United States: There is only one correct decision today, and that is a landmark ruling stating that the right to marry is a constitutional and inalienable right for all people, regardless of sexual orientation.

Today, the Supreme Court will look at California’s Prop 8 law that bans same-sex marriage in the state. On Wednesday, the justices will examine the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that bars the federal government from giving benefits to same-sex couples, regardless of whether or not their home state legally permits them to marry.

It is bad enough that gay men and women do not have the right to marry the person that they love in this country. It is even more reprehensible that we deny those same-sex couples who are legally married under their own state law the right to federal benefits that other heterosexual couples enjoy. And now, more than ever, is the time to push this legislation.  A poll from May 2012 found that 53% of Americans believe that it should be legal for same-sex couples to marry. Only 39% say that it should not be legal.

By virtue of the fact that we do live in something called a democracy, that should be enough. Yet somehow, the religious minority in this country has managed to keep the legalization of same-sex marriage from happening. Proposition 8′s supporters, for example, argued that the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage must be put in place because, “while gays have the right to their private lives, they do not have the right to redefine marriage for everyone else.” They argued that marriage was “essential institution of society” and that, without this proposition, the result would be that teachers in public schools may start “teaching our kids that gay marriage is okay.” After all, why would we want our teachers to teach our children tolerance and understanding. It is hard not to respond to these quotes (taken directly from the Prop 8 voter guide) with mockery, but I will try my hardest to remain marginally objective.

So just what is this  true “definition of marriage” that supporters of Prop 8 are trying to protect? The Bible, certainly, offers little guidance as to what a “true” marriage should be. Greg Carey, a professor of the New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary, writes in a Huffington Post piece, “Let’s be clear: There’s no such thing as “biblical family values” because the Bible does not speak to the topic clearly and consistently.” For example, there is nothing in the Bible that could support the idea of the “nuclear family” values that some hold to be so self-evident in this country. The idea that marriage is between a man and a woman with the explicit intention of biological procreation is an absurd one. Jesus himself never took a wife, and in fact, told his disciples to leave their homes and their families to follow him. Carey writes,

“Let’s not even go into some of the Bible’s most chilling teachings regarding marriage, such as a man’s obligation to keep a new wife who displeases him on the wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), his obligation to marry a woman he has raped (Deuteronomy 22:28-30) or the unquestioned right of heroes like Abraham to exploit their slaves sexually. I wonder: Have the “biblical family values advocates” actually read their Bibles?

It seems strange, then, that such focus is put on defining the “true” definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, yet the very source that this idea credits is the very same that advocates that a man should leave his family, sexually exploit his slaves, and in the event he finds himself raping someone, he should at least marry her. Don’t even suggest, however, that a man in love with another man, or a woman in love with another woman, cannot enjoy the right to commit to that person in marriage, if they so choose.

Arguments concerning the Christian-right’s skewed views of marriage aside, the equal right to marry is, very simply, a basic liberty that should be applied to all Americans. The claim that each state should be permitted to decide whether or not same-sex couples can marry is not a valid one. In 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education, the ruling was not that individual states could decide to desegregate or not. The ruling declared that separate but equal was inherently unequal, and that this was not a state’s right to choose issue, but an issue of right and wrong, moral and immoral, equal and unequal, across state borders. They did not rule that people in Kansas deserved equal access to a quality education but those in Mississippi did not. The Supreme Court ruled that education should be a fundamental human right for all, and thus desegregated the country’s school system.

The issue of same-sex marriage should not be a state-by-state issue, either. The Supreme Court decisions today and tomorrow should be easy ones. Denying gay men and women the right to commit to their partners with the same rights and abilities as straight couples is unjustifiable. The thinly veiled bigotry of the minority Christian-right cannot continue to hold hostage our inalienable civil rights any longer. There is only one correct ruling, Supreme Court Justices, and I hope you have the moral integrity and bravery to make it today. Repeal DOMA. Repeal Prop 8. Proclaim marriage and all its benefits to be a constitutionally guaranteed right to all Americans, gay or straight.


Alyssa Röhricht blogs at Crash Culture: Political Train Wrecks for Political Junkies

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12 Comments on Prop 8 and DOMA: There is Only One Correct Decision

  1. Citing the Bible requires exact phrasing, not your interpretation of what the words mean.

    There is not only one ruling, there are many possibilities with both arguments. I thought that incorrectly citing the Bible was hard to top but claiming marriage is an inalienable right is simply wrong. Legally, a marriage is a contract, hence court ordered remedies for breaching this contract (adultry, abuse). Life is an inalienable right, religious liberty is an inalienable right. Marriage is not a right. Marriage is a contract between one man and one woman, not two men or two women.

    • Exact phrasing:
      “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives” (Deuteronomy 22:28–29)

      “Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:28-30)

      ‘Sarah, Abraham’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.'(Genesis 16:1-6)

      • These words from Deuteronomy have been cited by years by atheists to point out how cruel it is that the Word of God commands a female rape victim to marry her attacker. But when you cherry pick passages, especially without knowing what the rest of the Bible says, it makes it that much easier to expose your cut and paste quotes from Atheists Monthly. Reading the Bible, or even the rest of Deuteronomy, will reveal to the reader that in these times, things are different than in 2013 (go figure) and that the marriage is actually a punishment for the man because a woman is unmarryable once raped so it becomes the rapist’s obligation to care for the woman.
        Now I’m gonna check the Genesis quote, that oughta be good.

        • I’m a Christian. Actively practicing Christian. And I’ve studied the Bible extensively. This is precisely why I don’t approve when people use the book and the religion to espouse their hateful and bigoted ideals.
          And you’re right – the passages are cherry-picked, because for every hateful message in the Bible, there are ten wonderful ones about love and compassion and forgiveness.
          How is what the religious right is doing to ban gay marriage not also cherry-picking?

          • I agree. The Bible shouldn’t be cited to advocate for political purposes. I don’t like when the right cites Koran passages or when the Bible is used in this, the gay marriage debate. I can’t answer your question because my point in responding to this post was that the Bible verses cited were not hurtful at all. The words themselves (aside from the words the author conveniently replaced with harsher sounding words) may not conform to 21st or even 20th Century Western behavior. This is what the author implies and I simply pointed it out.
            Give me an example of Bible verse used by the right to advance a political cause and I will respond. I can’t work with the “your side does it too” argument.

      • With Genesis, I looked at four versions and none of them refer to Hagar as a woman “slave-girl.” King James, International, American Standard, and the Common English versions of the Bible back this up. This author lost some credibility by cherry-picking quotes and omitting key points. In the Genesis passage it appears the author has inserted hyperbole in addition to omitting the direct point of the story was that the wife couldn’t have kids so she decided, without God’s counsel, to offer her servant maid to him for the purpose of child bearing. However, the indirect point is that you should always seek God’s counsel. And, maybe this was an honest mistake but with this author’s track record on this post I doubt it. You said “exact phrasing” and cited Genesis 16:1-6 without including 1-2. If you included 1-2, the child bearing aspect is described and your point about marriage wouldn’t fit as neatly.
        Either this author has a list of Bible verses on demand,that she never took the time to understand or even confirm so she can bash the Bible or she is vehemently dishonest.

    • And in many southern states marriage used to be a contract between 1 white man and 1 white woman or 1 black man and 1 black woman, so what’s your point?

      • Exactly. Man and woman, and Democrat states by the way when the real racists, Democrats were infighting over race.

        As for the Bible, which post is more ambiguous? Exactly my point, now read me some of the Koran.

          • I’m not a Bible thumper, just a Catholic who goes to church on Sundays, but I was confident that I could strike down those quotes without even looking at them.
            When Deuteronomy 22:13-21 is cited, your author neglected to tell your echo chamber of readers that what is being cited is a list of “marriage violations,” not advocacy.
            The most famous case of this type of liberal dishonesty is the campaign ad made by Alan Grayson against Dan Webster. He took a Bible verse that Webster said out loud, edited the parts that reveal the true meaning and aired it. When you lie about the Bible, as much as you despise the book, people notice. Now it’s your turn to steer the comments away from the fact that your author quoted the Bible erroneously.

  2. [Yo Alyssa. Interesting stuff. BTW, here is something I caught on the web.]

    (The following paper was inspired by Bill O’Reilly whose TV show favors God Dumpers and not “Bible Thumpers.” Quotes are from “Vital Quotations” by Emerson West.)


    ROBERT E. LEE: “In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.” (p. 21)
    DANIEL WEBSTER: “If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper.” (p. 21)
    JOHN QUINCY ADAMS: “I have made it a practice for several years to read the Bible through in the course of every year.” (p. 22)
    ABRAHAM LINCOLN: “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated to us through this book.” (p. 22)
    GEORGE WASHINGTON: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” (p. 22)
    HORACE GREELEY: “It is impossible to mentally or socially enslave a Bible-reading people.” (p. 23)
    THOMAS JEFFERSON: “I hold the precepts of Jesus as delivered by himself to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man. I adhere to the principles of the first age; and consider all subsequent innovations as corruptions of this religion, having no foundation in what came from him.” (p. 45)
    THOMAS JEFFERSON: “Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they came from his lips, the whole civilized world would by now have become Christian.” (p. 47)
    BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: “As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see.” (p.49)
    WOODROW WILSON: “The sum of the whole matter is this—-that our civilization cannot survive materially unless it be redeemed spiritually. It can only be saved by becoming permeated with the spirit of Christ and being made free and happy by practices which spring out of that spirit.” (p. 143)
    PATRICK HENRY: “There is a just God who presides over the destiny of nations.” (p. 145)
    THOMAS JEFFERSON: “Material abundance without character is the surest way to destruction.” (p. 225)
    THOMAS JEFFERSON: “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus.” (p. 237)
    GEORGE WASHINGTON: “The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low, that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.” (p. 283)
    BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: “Here is my creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshiped.” (p. 301)
    CALVIN COOLIDGE: “The strength of a country is the strength of its religious convictions.” (p. 305)
    GEORGE WASHINGTON: “The perpetuity of this nation depends upon the religious education of the young.” (p. 306)

    Prior to our increasingly “Hell-Bound and Happy” era, America’s greatest leaders were part of the (gulp) Religious Right! Today we’ve forgotten God’s threat (to abort America) in Psa. 50:22—-“Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.” Memo to God Dumpers: In light of Rev. 16:19, can you be sure you won’t be in a city that God has already reserved for destruction?

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