Why Gay Marriage is a Non-Issue

The Fundies have been at it again lately. For those who have not heard, the Senate debated, voted on, and defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage by explicitly defining marriage as between a mand and a woman. This was a prime example of posturing by conservatives in the Senate to try to “energize” people misguided enough to think that this “issue” is important. Call it another example of the way the current administration chooses to waste the time and resources of people in this country.

Unfortunately, this tactic has worked in the past. G. W. Bush got about 9% of the Black vote in 2004, and this was thanks to the not-so-small roll that the gay marriage “issue” played in the hearts and minds of some Black voters. This was an appeal to voter’s whose “Christian” values would not allow them to support a candidate who did not have a problem with gay people getting married and enjoying the benefits thereof. This is sinister because it could (and in my opinion did) lead to people voting against their own best interests because they wanted a candidate that stood on the “right” side (pun intended) of the gay marriage debate.

The bigger question is, why does this work? What makes two people getting married, regardless of their sex, so important to me or you? In my view, it has worked because people have been successfully fooled into letting other people set their priorities. Who are these chosen priority setters? Maybe it’s your president. Maybe it’s your pastor. Either way, if it’s not you, then three is a problem. The bottom line is that we should do what we can to not let our agency be taken from us. We deal a lot with all of the reason why it’s asinine to let G. W. Bush & company to set our priorities. In a later post, I will deal with the danger in letting your pastor do it for you.

Back to the specific issue of this post, this is an issue of control. Some people want the government to control any and every aspect of life. What is ironic here is that conservatives are pushing this notion upon people’s personal lives when it is conservatives who believe in “smaller” government. This current crop certainly believes in small government when it comes to its workings with major corporations. Think about this: the constitution, with all of its flaws, was a document [in theory] written to grant rights. This proposed amendment would have been the first change to the document (had it been accepted) that would have specifically and explicitly excluded a group of people from something (before you jump on me the 3/5 provision does not do this). They want to exclude people from getting married in the legal sense of the word. However, does not having the legal means to do something mean that it won’t happen? Does it make relationships between individuals of the same sex any less meaningful? NO.

For these reasons, and others, this is a non-issue. There are other things that I’d rather see our citizenry and our government spend their resources addressing. Out site is subtitled “Black Thought at the HIGHEST Level” because we want everyone to elevate their thinking beyond the petty tactics and strategies of those who wish to harm us through tricking us into acting in ways harmful to ourselves. We can achieve this through talking about the issues amongst ourselves so that we have a concrete understanding of what’s really going on so that we can make informed decisions for ourselves.

One Love. One II.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

4 responses to “Why Gay Marriage is a Non-Issue”

  1. t.HYPE says :

    Not sure I follow you Garlin.

    From the mouth of the President:
    “My position on this issue is clear: marriage is the most fundamental institution of our society, and it should not be redefined by activist judges.”

    I totally agree.

    I know his position is a little difficult to follow in light of our current social climate. I mean, for the love of Jesus, people in America have very little understanding of the importance of families. Because the “traditional” family in America is so broken down it’s easy to argue that a same-sex couple’s family would look no different.

    Contrast that to other parts of the world simply telling someone your last name identifies your region and often religion. Family ties are strong. Extended families remain in contact. Children are identified by their fathers and their forefathers before them. In such a society, ascribing equal status to a same-sex relationship would be scoffed as ludicrous.

    A homosexual couple can’t procreate so for what reason do they need to be married? The idea of homosexual marriage should be a non-issue in that it doesn’t have a good reason to ever come up but since it has, it is an issue and will remain one.

  2. Garlin II says :

    I think family is very, VERY important. It is the most important thing in my life, hands down.

    Looking at G.W.’s comment, he doesn’t want marriage to be redefined by ‘activist judges.’ Ask married people you know this simple question: who defines your marriage? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that they don’t define their marriage based on any law written by our judges. Why do you expect same-sex marriages to be any different? If you have a legislation “illegalizing” gay marriage, does anyone actually believe that it will end committed homosexual relationships? Call me liberal, but by your logic, people who don’t plan on having children should not be allowed to call their union’s *marriages* because they won’t produce offspring?!?!? So that means that if your elderly aunt decides she wants to get married at age 80, she should not be allowed to unless she plans on having a miracle child. To me, that’s idiotic.

    Another question here is what do you define as “equal status?” Does “equal status” equal the label of ‘marriage?’ If it does, then you’ll have a hard time convincing me that labeling a gay couple ‘married’ is doing damage to anyone’s family. Does “equal status” mean tax benefits? If it does, then you’ll have a hard time convincing me that giving some class of citizens [other than the very wealthy] a tax break is doing damage to anyone’s family. If “equal status” means benefits on the job, you’ll have a hard time getting me to see how that will damage anyone’s family or household.

    The only reason that non-issues remain issues is because somebody thinks it matters. People have to realize that some things really don’t matter. If I have gay people living next door to me, and they want to be ‘married,’ give me one reason why that should matter to me?

  3. t.HYPE says :

    Ask not Who defines your marriage? but ask, What is a marriage? and there we have the conflict. “Illegalizing” gay marriage is not about ending “committed homosexual relationships” (mind you, those are few and far between if we mean ‘monogamous’) but about saying the cultural definition of marriage in our society is one (not 2, 3, 4, or 5) woman married to one man. Now obviously, that does leave a little leeway for transsexuals but I think every state has a provision for annullment in that case, but I digress…

    The offspring comment was about assumed biological ability. [God bless a woman who finds the love of her life at 80 when 75% of the men are already dead.]

    By status I’m referring primarily to the preeminence of male-female marriage, not a label.

    “If I have gay people living next door to me, and they want to be ‘married’, give me one reason why that should matter to me?”

    Sorry Garlin, I can’t. On an interpersonal level, apart from showing concern for the life events that led those two people to come to the belief that being ‘married’ to another person of the same sex is their best hope for emotional fulfillment, I agree, there is no reason to be up in arms. (Until it’s your own family!) While I disagree with gay marriage, I wouldn’t freak out on my neighbors.

    However, thinking about two individuals and thinking about a nation are two different things. When Bush is talking about marriage he’s not talking about redefining individual marriages he’s talking about the institution of marriage (ie. cultural definition). [To borrow from philosophy, Marriage vs. marriage as we understand Truth (absolute) vs. truth (specific).]

    When you think about the two theoretically gay people who theoretically want to get married, remember those two theoretical individuals are part of a real society which is a lot more complex than a single relationship.

  4. Garlin II says :

    Thank you for the comments! I really appreciate this dialogue.

    Both questions are valid in my opinion: ‘Who defines marriage?’ as well as ‘What is a marriage?’ They both speak to personal definitions of what it is to be married. According to present-day american culture, marriage is understood as you stated it. So to me, that says that american culture has defined marriage as between one man and one woman. If you are cool with or care about that definition as put forth by american culture, then it’s all good, keep the party goin.’ My personal answer to ‘What is marriage?’ is that it is a committed (read: pledge to be with one another and not cheat)relationship between 2 people (I’m not polygamous, though I could care less if someone else was) who ‘love each other’ (in quotes because love is arguably the most loosely defined word in our language). Whether those 2 people are of the same sex is doing no damage to me or my family or my friends or my loved ones or the woman I intend to marry (unless she decides to marry a woman) or this country or my pocket. To the “until it’s your own family” point, I believe that is a challenge for many heterosexual people, so I see myself as no different. As for my family members that I know that are gay and that are in relationships, I have no issue with them wanting to be married, and have shared that with them.

    As for the notion of a committed relationship between people of the same sex, I am not at liberty to speak on the number of monogamous same-sex relationships. However, I have little reason to believe that they are any more or less prevalent think monogamous relationships between people of different sexes.

    I agree, God bless such a woman who finds love at 80. In fact, I met a group of 5 of them at church a couple weeks ago, and I thought it was a beautiful thing (this is why that notion was fresh in my mind). You still didn’t really answer my question though about whether you consider such ‘blessed’ women to be married by your definition.

    As for the status point, I do not think the choice to not legislate or write into the constitution and amendment on gay marriage will lead to the ultimate preeminence of same-sex marriages, but I can’t predict the future. Let’s go with that a bit further though: are you saying then that if we did not explicitly exclude same-sex partners from being able to be married that it would lessen someone else’s desire to get married? Would it make heterosexual marriage any less desirable or popular? I do not think so.

    As to the G. W. Bush leading the way on the cultural definition of the institution marriage, I guess I just don’t seem him as much of a vanguard for such an idea. I think it is a waste of people’s and legislator’s time to concern themselves with 2 people’s decision to marry by their own definition. I don’t think it is the president’s job to set this tone on gay marriage. I think the president’s time is better spent elsewhere (e.g. social & economic programs for the impoverished, re-enfranchisement of gulf coast hurricane survivors, etc.). I guess I just have different priorities. My priorities do not have the government defining Marriage or marriage.

    And on theory versus reality, I’m not talking about theoretically gay people getting married. I do not doubt that there are plenty of real same-sex couples that want to marry. So these real people exist in our real, complicated world. Regardless of how real or complicated our world is, that world has other things it needs to focus on than same-sex marriage. Whether one same-sex couple marries, or millions marry, it does not change my desire want to marry a woman. I guess I am less effected than some.

    Again, thank you for your comments, this dialogue, and your support of our site!

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