9.15.2011

Why A Heterosexual, Married, North Carolinian Father Of Three Cares About LGBT Equality

I am a heterosexual, married, father of three, who has lived in North Carolina for most of my life. There have been a few ugly North Carolina moments during the time I have lived here (mostly related to one particular senator who has been in our rear view mirror for quite some time). But the ugliness that took place in North Carolina General Assembly this week was a stark reminder that, while we have made great strides in this state, there are a lot of people who still wish to deny rights to other citizens based on religious beliefs and misconceptions about sexuality and gender.

Unless you were living under a rock the past few days, you know that the NC Senate voted 30-16 to approve a proposed constitutional amendment banning any legal relationship recognition for same-sex couples. The amendment will be on the ballot in May during the Republican presidential primary.

Same-sex marriage, it should be noted, is already illegal in North Carolina. The amendment is simply a push to put the nail in the coffin, making it extremely difficult for same-sex marriages to be legalized in the future.

The issue of same-sex marriage is complicated in North Carolina, as it is in any state. According to recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, while most North Carolinians strongly believe that same-sex marriage should be illegal, they also strongly believe that there should not be a constitutional amendment to write that into the constitution. As conflicted as that message may be, it is clear: people may disagree on an issue, but that doesn't mean we should play political football with our constitution.

I've had people ask why I am so vocal about the issue of LGBT equality. Why is a heterosexual, married father so concerned with what gay people can or can't do? I don't have a dog in this fight, do I?

I find those kinds of questions to be puzzling (and telling), as if we should value the rights of one group of humans over any other group, or only be concerned with the welfare of a group to which we belong. As Elie Wiesel said, "I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

So, anyway, this is why I care (and why you should too):

LGBT people are citizens. I have friends (some of whom were married in other states years ago) who love each other as dearly as I love my own wife (and who have been committed to each other for just as long). It pains me to know that there are people who reject the validity of these relationships, and who wish to deny these couples the same benefits that other married couples are afforded. These committed, same-sex couples are North Carolinians. They contribute to the economy, they pay taxes, and they certainly do not deserve to be treated as second-class citizens by anyone. Just as it is hard to believe that we once denied marriage rights to interracial couples, or voting rights to women and African-Americans, we will look back upon this time with the same disbelief and shame.

Homosexuality is not a choice. Although science has not zeroed in on any one single cause, the growing body of research suggests that sexual orientation is caused by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. The biological factors related to sexual orientation involve a constellation of genetic factors, as well as brain structure and early uterine environment. Homosexuality is so natural, in fact, that it occurs in nature. Still not sold? The following major medical and professional organizations have also concluded that sexual orientation (and gender identity) is not a choice: American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, Royal College of Psychiatrists, and American Academy of Pediatrics. If you think that all these scientists, doctors, and experts are all part of a conspiracy to advance the homosexual agenda, ask yourself this: at what point in your life did you make the choice to be heterosexual?

Kids do just fine in families with same-sex parents. "All of the major professional organizations with expertise in child welfare have issued reports and resolutions in support of gay and lesbian parental rights" (Professor Judith Stacey, New York University). These organizations include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, and Canadian Psychological Association. A recent study indicates that kids with lesbian parents may actually do better than their peers. If you are convinced that kids absolutely need one mom and one dad, you're a) forgetting about the many single-parent families in existence, b) equating 'gut feelings' with facts, c) depriving a lot of children a wonderful life with a family, a stable, loving home, and the best opportunities possible.

Religious arguments against same-sex marriage do not pass the Lemon Test, a three-pronged legal requirement which stipulates that a) the government's action must have a secular legislative purpose, b) the government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion, and c) the government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion. I am not sure I have heard anyone make a case against same-sex marriage that did not invoke religion. The second that your argument mentions God, or references a biblical passage, I cannot entertain your argument. As a Humanist, I reject supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition. Your religious arguments against same-sex marriage belong on that heap of nonsense. They have no basis in reality, are not supported by the science, and have no place in legislation. Unfortunately, anti-LGBT legislators cynically take great care to ensure that the language in their legislation is not based on a religious ground -- even though we all know it is rooted in religious dogma. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

Happiness is contagious. Really. It's true. And guess what else? Acceptance of LGBT folks helps protect against depression, substance abuse, and suicide. Why in the world would anyone want to cause suffering in others? If the answer lies in your religion, then you need to re-evaluate your religion. Its ancient morality is flawed at best. Societies which embrace human reason, ethics, justice, and the search for human fulfillment are statistically happier societies. According to Gallup data, the happiest nations were Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands. These countries are among the least religious in the world. Coincidence? I'm not asking you to discard your religion. Just keep it to yourself, your family, and your congregation. We'll all be happier if you do.

Definitions change. Society evolves. I keep hearing over and over that "we can't redefine marriage." Well, why not? We have been redefining marriage throughout history. In fact, marriage pre-dates recorded history. The Bible (which is often used to defend the 'one man'/'one woman' definition) is full of polygamous marriages. There is also a long history of recognized same-sex marriages all over the world (including, but not limited to: Egypt, Greece, Rome, Japan, India, England, Italy, and North America). Over the course of history, marriage has meant different things: Love, the granting of property rights, or the protection of bloodlines. In some cultures two men and two women have been allowed to marry. People have historically married for many different reasons: legal, social, economic, spiritual, libidinal, and religious. So stop it with your 'sacred institution' argument and open up some history books. When you say that the Bible is clear about homosexuality, you must also admit that it was also very clear about how to treat your slaves, and the uncleanliness of women during their menstrual period. Listen. Society evolves. Sometimes we leave behind the Bronze Age mentality of the men who wrote the Bible. You want your marriage to be a religious, strictly bible-based marriage? That's fine. Nobody is stopping you from having one.

Don't we want less government intrusion in our lives? It's interesting that most of the people who support the ban on same-sex marriage also seem to be interested in less government intrusion. They want the government out of their health care. They want the TSA to keep their hands off their junk. They want less regulations on corporations. They worry the government is going to take away their rights: to bear arms, to speak freely, to practice their religion, to say 'Merry Christmas,' and to choose what kind of light bulb they use in their houses. They are furious when the government tries to tell them what they shouldn't eat, where they can or cannot smoke, or how much gas their car can guzzle. And these same people want the government to restrict the rights of someone else. They want the government to tell them what they can or can't do with another consenting adult. How do you reconcile your belief in a small, less intrusive government with your approval of legislation intended to restrict the rights of taxpaying citizens and to control who they should and shouldn't love? It's absurd. You want deregulation? Let's deregulate marriage.

I am a father of three beautiful boys. They are all young enough that they have not shown any definitive signs of sexual orientation one way or the other. Chances are, they will be heterosexual. Of course, there are studies indicating that the more older brothers a boy has, the greater the probability is that he will have a homosexual orientation. This is related to the in-utero maternal immune response, which increases with subsequent sons. Of course this is only one of many studies dealing with the hormonal factors associated with sexual orientation, but my point is, if any of my sons were gay, that's perfectly okay. We would accept him for who he is, and love him just the same. I don't worry about that. What I do worry about is this: if I did have a gay son, how could I explain to him that people don't want him to have the same rights as everyone else? How can I explain to him that if he wants to grow up, buy a home, and start a family, he might need to move to a state that doesn't reject him? How can I explain that people believe he is an abomination whose perverted lifestyle will lead him to an eternity in hell? How would I feel if my son killed himself because he was bullied, maligned, ridiculed, and made to feel as if he had no place in society? The only way to avoid any of our children going through this is to send a clear message that people are different and that's okay. Some families just have one mom, or one dad. Some have a mom and a dad. And some have two moms or two dads. And maybe if our state's leaders stop sending the message to our children that they are unwanted, maybe we can save the life of a child. Isn't that worth it?

At the end of the day, it just makes sense. Ask yourself what you are worried about if same-sex marriage is legalized. Whatever your answer is, ask yourself if you really believe what you just came up with. Homosexuality is not going to spread. It is not communicable. Society is not going to turn into a Lady Gaga video. Most gay couples I know are just as boring as you and I. They sit on the couch and watch television. They work at the post office, the hospital, the grocery store, and at real estate agencies, just like heterosexuals do. They eat out at restaurants and shop at Target. Many have pot bellies and don't have much fashion sense, just like me. They own pets, and go to church. They volunteer, sing Christmas carols, and buy Girl Scout cookies. What are you afraid of? What is going to change by allowing these people to commit to one another and enjoy the benefits that you and I enjoy: tax breaks, insurance breaks, bereavement leave, medical leave to care for a sick partner, domestic violence protection, visitation of partner in the hospital, burial determination, medical decisions on behalf of partner. Really sexy stuff. You and I take these things for granted. Nobody wants to go through life not knowing how they will deal with some of these difficult moments in life. Imagine if you were denied any of the above rights when the time came for you and your spouse to exercise that right? I'll tell you what it would feel like. It would feel like you were a second-class citizen.

So, if you're a North Carolina citizen, and you care about equality, please make yourself heard. Whether you're straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, speak up. Educate yourself about the May amendment vote. Donate, volunteer, tweet, post Facebook statuses, blog, talk to your churches, your neighbors, your friends and relatives. Help them understand the science behind sexual orientation, and help them understand the importance of voting on May 8. 'Like' the organizations that are working to fight this amendment, and stay informed (EqualityNC, HRC). Repost articles and blog posts to keep friends aware.

There is a lot of work to be done. There are many things each of us can do. But we can't be indifferent.

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." - Elie Wiesel





379 comments:

  1. To the "Anonymous" who claims that the author would hate to see his sons turn out gay: the fight for gay rights is this decade's fight for civil rights. It's likely that your sons--should they ever read your opinions here--will feel embarrassed by you, feel that they have to apologize for you, turn away from you in shame at your bigotry--while the author's sons will feel content in their father's decency. Shame on you.

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  2. to really? (way back near the top of the page)
    "The overwhelming body of social science research agrees that children do best when raised in homes with married, opposite-sex parents. Every child has the right to both a mom and a dad. I am sure that you are well aware that there are crucial sex differences in parenting and that children thrive most fully when raised by a mother and a father."
    I'd like to say that his comment has made me honestly upset. The idea that every child has the “right to both a mom and dad” seems to imply that, in some way, I must be defective. My biological father has never been a part of my life. He’s aware of my existence, but so has not wanted to be involved in any way. And maybe it’s me coming from this view, but the idea that you have to have both a mom and a dad to be raised “properly” is absurd to me. My mother’s mother and father were married and about the worst parents I know of and treated my mother and her siblings awfully. They did not “thrive most fully”; all of them have had serious issues stemming from that. It doesn’t matter if there are two mothers, two fathers, one mother, one father, or one of each; anyone can be a good parent or a bad one. What matters is YOUR ATTITUDE. Most children don’t even understand that they’re growing up differently until it’s pointed out to them. I mean, I didn’t realize that there was anything “wrong” about my family until I was in kindergarten and people asked questions.
    Also, I'd say the reason the overwhelming amount of research agrees with that argument is because the overwhelming amount of research has been done for that side. The research for straight/traditional families goes back MUCH farther than research involving same-sex couples.

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  3. I would like to point out, from experience, it's very difficult to explain to children why some people can get married and others cannot. They don't understand the "proper morals of society and the world" because they haven't been exposed to them.
    If you tell a child that two people can't get married because they're both men or both women, they don't accept that. They question it. And honestly, I think they think far more critically than most adults do.

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  4. I can't thank you enough for these thoughtfully considered and powerful words.

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  5. To all the people saying "I support gay couples being able to enter into a civil union, where they can enjoy the same legal benefits as married couples." PLEASE know that your argument is based on a false premise.

    Marriage Benefits ≠ Civil Union Benefits.

    There are over 1,000 FEDERAL (meaning not DC only, not Raleigh) benefits alone that gay couples are STILL not allowed to enjoy, EVEN IF (like NY) the state decides to legalize gay marriage. Think about that for a second. If you assign hetero relationships marriage-only status, you now have 1,000 reasons why civil unions are a false equivalency. try to reconcile that, and i hope you'll conclude that it's not truly "the same thing, just different words."

    For instance: If a company (almost all fortune 500s are) is more progressive than the NC Legislature and recognizes gay partners for health benefits, the non-employee partner must pay income tax on her non-jointly-filed taxes. Do YOU pay income tax on the benefits you get from your wife's insurance plan? no, you don't, if you're in a hetero marriage. Also, if an American marries his different-nationality same-sex partner in a legal ceremony in new york, the fed govt not only declines to offer the foreign spouse residency, it will actively pursue a strategy of disruption and deportation if the partners try to stay together after the visas expire. Finally, if a brave man or woman dies tonight in Kabul (while still serving in silence, i might add), his/her partner gets neither the flag nor the pension. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

    in this case, separate (civil union) is not even close to being equal. The true equivalent to satisfy your sanctity of marriage argument is to bring straight couples to the realm of equal civil unions (for all!) and eliminate "marriage" the word from its legal status (religious only, and totally ok to define it as however your god/guru/shaman/pasta defines it). isn't it easier just to include 10% than change 90%?

    also, Mr. Sheppard, would that more dads (especially) had their gay kids' backs on this one. nicely done, sir.

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  6. @Seth Did you seriously just say that? Can you not comprehend just how illogical your statement is?

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  7. You remind me of my own father. He's my uncle who raised me since birth, and he had the same sort of awareness and strength to stand up for himself and others unwilling. My father and people like you are the reason I wake up every single, go to college, study for tests, eat right, and keep on. Thank you.

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  8. Awesome post! As a straight, girl chasing man, I never really put into words why I supported gay marriage. You did it brilliantly. It's just wrong to infringe on someones rights and happiness because of what they do in the bedroom. Wish there were more people out there like you and me with basic empathy for other people. Wouldn't be so much crappiness in the world.

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  9. There are lots of religions older than Christianity and Islam. There is more proof that Santa exists than God. Don't let religion be your crutch for hate.

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  10. I am gay and married; our son is a senior at MIT and a captain of the soccer team. I have been in a committed relationship for forty years-- yup 40 years. I am glad I live in Massachusetts where people aren't haters. My son's friend's dad who is in the Massachusetts Senate did remark, however, that he voted for gay marriage -and he probably wouldn't have if hadn't had the chance to know our wonderful son! With or without marriage, the children of gay couples will grow up fine, or not, but I prefer to live in a state where people are intelligent enough to realize that gay couples are not going away because someone wants to force is or her religious bigotry on the rest of the state. It is very sad that North Carolina is doing to gay people what they once did to Black people. And yes, people it is the same discrimination just a different minority group. Thanks to Eric Shepherd and Patricia Bartlett for your support. Hopefully someday our churches will preach love and tolerance.

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  11. Thank you for writing this. I will be sharing it with as many people as possible.

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  12. To Anonymous:

    But we are all sinners, please show me the scripture that says that this one thing is some how different from all of the other sins that we are all guilty of. Additionally, show me how voting no on amendment one is condoning sin. Then finally, show me where we one is instructed to base their actions on the sins of others.

    1 John talks about the relationship between sinners and God. It mentions a personal relationship of God, no where does it instruct or empower others to interfere on his behalf. In James chapter 1 we see that this is the job of the Holy Spirit. 1 John even says that sinners are still children of God and that sinning can not change that. Why are we trying to discriminate against children of God?

    The idea that we should not allow homosexuals to marry because it is condoning sin is laughable and is an obvious shield and crutch for people's hate. Society has no problem with all kinds of other sinful marriages, but suddenly draws a line here? That is silly. Marriage is not only a religious institution, and for a lot of people it is not one at all. Churches can decide for themselves how they want to handle this issue, but there is not a single argument against allowing same sex marriages by the state. Is the government now supposed to be in the business of deciding what activities are sinful and controlling them through constitutional amendments? That goes against what this country is about and falls well short of passing the Lemon Test.

    To Anonymous:
    If you think that allowing same-sex marriage is condoning sin that is fine, and your church can decide how they want to handle it. But in this country when you limit a freedom there has to be a secular reason for it (follow the Lemon Law link). Additionally, voting No to Amendment One does not allow or condone same-sex marriages, they would still be illegal in this state.

    So, Anonymous, can we count on a vote of NO on Amendment One from you? If not, can you give a secular argument against it?

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  13. Bravo!! Your article expresses my exact feelings on the topic of equality for the LGBT community. Thank you for sharing your thoughts/beliefs in this very powerful article.

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  14. Thanks for a very cogent and clear article!

    I wanted to add something about the whole "one parent of each sex is vital" fallacy:

    What is needed for the emotional and psychological well-being of a growing child is not specifically "a male parent and a female parent" (this is abundantly clear from the extraordinarily high percentage of messed-up, abusive M+F parent combos that exist).

    What *is* needed for their well-being is the presence in their lives of emotionally healthy adults of both genders, so they learn that there are good men and women in this world. These can be their primary caregivers, or friends and relations of theirs (of any sexual orientation), it really doesn't matter so long as they're there, and emotionally present, and loving. Having loving adults of both genders consistently in your life is what's most important.

    We're unfortunately stuck in a fairly recent "nuclear couple" model that's largely forgotten the value of extended families and extended networks of good friends, and is very isolating, and demands way too much of the parents.

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  15. I love you.

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  16. That's one hell of a fine blog post.

    It's a long time since a bunch of folks got together in your country and decided that everybody ought to get a slice of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    It's sad to see that there are still so many people out there who want to deny others their portion of happiness.

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  17. I read this article and cheered the entire way through it. I live in England and am very happy to live in a country that recognises same sex marriage. It hasn't caused any problems here, and has in fact increased the general tolerance people have towards gay people. Several of my friends are gay, some married, some still looking, the same as my straight friends, and the relationships are just as strong, just as happy, and in every way equal to the more "traditional" relationships I know. Hurrah for someone applying common sense to an issue that gets clouded by ridiculous prejudice way to often.

    And for the people who questioned Mr Shepherds statement that he wouldn't be upset if one of his sons were gay? Most parents only want their children to be healthy and happy, sexual orientation only affects these things when common sense isn't used. It would hurt anyone to be rejected by their parent for who they are, and no parent in their right mind would do that.

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  18. @Eshep
    Can you please write another article titled something like- Is it merely a matter of semantics?: "Marriage" vs "Civil Union"

    It seems that several folks have commented that gay people should only be allowed a civil union as opposed to a marriage. I guess they want gays to be "equal almost"...kinda feels something like the following: "If you are gay you can get on the bus but don't sit in the two front rows...please" or "You can eat in our restaurant but please use this separate bathroom".

    A Civil Union may be better than nothing but it is openly acknowledging that our relationships are still less equal, less sacred, less valid, and less important...at least that's how it feels to me (and apparently a few others agree http://www.now.org/issues/marriage/marriage_unions.html).

    Thanks for a great article..I have shared with well over a thousand of my closest FB friends :-)

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  19. As a red neck closeted homosexual from a red state, I disagree with this individuals point of view.

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  20. To my fellow Anon posting at 11:40pm.

    I'm heterosexual, engaged to the woman of my dreams, and content in the knowledge that when I marry her, it will be an expression of love.

    Nothing more.

    Marriage is not a tax-shelter. It is not a perk. It is not a religious rite, nor is it a statement of national entitlement.

    Marriage is that statement which joins your life to someone else and expresses the statement, "I am not alone in this world."

    For all those using religion as your crutch to revile something that you do not understand, read the part that says, "Love thy neighbor."

    Religion is not a factor, and I'll tell you why: this country was formed on the basis of religious freedom, with a clear separation of church and state. This nation was also based on the determination of Freedom of Expression, and marriage is recognized as an expression of union, which is a protected state institution guaranteeing benefits and certain rights under the law.

    Don't drag religion into a simple truth: you don't like gay marriage. You. Call it whatever you want. Identify any sources that define your reasons, and name them clearly. But let's be clear. You're the one that has a problem with it.

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  21. You,sir, are amazing. I am a bisexual woman married to a man. We also have 3 amazing sons. I concur with every last bit of what you said, especially that concerning my children. We do not care what their sexual orientation may be, but I would hate for them to have less rights because of them. Thanks so much for your story!

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  22. Hannah From Canada Writes...

    (After writing this I realize that I probably sound half-crazy, but I was pretty upset. This is more of a rant than a calm, rational, logical argument, and I acknowledge that, but please... it's still something to consider. I promise I'm not crazy.)

    I wanted to do this quickly, since I got halfway through the comments and was pretty upset by all the anti-gay folks mentioning pedophilia as the NEXT HORRIBLE STEP AFTER GAY MARRIAGE!!! OOOOH SCARY GAYS WILL RUIN OUR CHILDREN!!!

    You people need to open your eyes. Pedophilia happens most often to young girls by someone they know, often in their own house, often by someone they know, such as a FATHER who is married in a heterosexual relationship TO A WOMAN. Or most often an uncle, or brother, or cousin, or what-have-you, so PLEASE stop connecting gay marriage with pedophilia. And yes, even mothers have molested their children, there are lots of cases of that. Not as common but it does happen. No matter your sexual orientation or beliefs, you are able to have an interest in children. Thousands of little girls and boys get molested every day, even in states where gay marriage is illegal! Amazing, right?! How does that happen?! Nobody needs to be gay married for that to happen. You people are seriously idiots for thinking that. Pedophilia is so much more common than people think, and the public notion of it happening, as in "stranger danger" is the least common risk to your child, seriously. It is so much more likely that someone they know and has regular access to them will touch them. It's horrible to think about it, isn't it? It could be a teacher, coach, doctor, priest, neighbour, friend's parent, or anywhere else that they spend enough time with and are comfortable with that adult. People you ALREADY know and trust. Think about that for a second. And stop connecting pedophilia with gays.

    If we acknowledged gay relationships as valid and wonderful and just the same as heterosexual relationships, all these closeted gay Republican senators who keep getting suddenly pushed out of said closet would not have tried to build their lives around a lie. They have taken wives, who they have tried to love, and tried to create a life with them, because that is what society tells them is RIGHT and NORMAL? Isn't it a tragedy that these people are lying to themselves, their partners, and their families and friends about who they are, because they have been taught from so young that their thoughts are impure, wrong, and sinful? THAT is what we need to prevent from happening. So many lives have been ruined because of this fear-mongering. They would not be forced to do ridiculous things like secretly hiring underage prostitutes to get their sexual fix. This is the misconception: that sexual orientation brings about sin, and is connected with drugs and a "sinful" lifestyle. Because when something like this gets out, the anti-gay Christians are all like "SEE! He was tempted by the horrible sinful ways of the GAYS!"

    Oh and there are oodles of links to entire lists of Republican anti-gay activists who have themselves turned out to be gay. Funny, isn't it? What are the chances, that someone who is so vehemently anti-gay in the public eye would secretly have gay attractions? Again, it is because they have been taught to hate themselves and repress it. And they feel that by being an activist against themselves, they are somehow "making up for" their "sinful" thoughts. Let's stop this ridiculous nonsense! PLEASE!

    http://www.badmouth.net/top-five-republican-gay-sex-scandals/

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/jpmoore/anti-gay-republican-caught-cruising-craigslist-for

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  23. @Really?...

    Years of study of ANY book (yes, even the Bible) do not uniquely qualify you (or any person) to dictate others' chosen paths. At best, you have the inalienable right to voice your opinion; however, you overstep when you write into the ground rules that others will live like you do because to do otherwise would violate YOUR belief system. Some of us choose to set aside religion, others choose to embrace it, but in each case we generally agree (and this is really the basis on which the US was founded) that laws are intended to protect each person from the actions and beliefs of others (especially from "mob rule" as it were). Since my gay neighbors' marital status poses no threat to me, to my marriage, YOUR marriage, or any other person (as compared to a "traditional marriage", that is) there's no legitimate legal argument for limiting it.

    As for the "Pandora's Box" argument, it's a valid question; however, we can't legislate on "what ifs". We can't limit one action because it *might* lead to another action that would be harmful - we can only limit the harmful action itself, and society bears the burden of proving that the act is harmful before limiting it. Is there harm to others in Bob marrying his partner Larry? I see none. Is there harm in Fred marrying his mother Lucy? Well, there could be implications if they chose to procreate, but why should Bob and Larry be punished for whether Fred and Lucy might have babies with 8 heads? So you're right - we'll need to answer the question about where to draw the line, but I think we shouldn't draw it in such a way to prevent gay marriage because it poses no threat to society.

    Also, regarding your statement:
    "Anything contrary to this—any sexual relationship outside of a committed marriage relationship between one man and one woman—demeans the institution of marriage and is unbiblical."
    I'll not comment on whether or not a particular sexual relationship is biblical or not; however, I'll defend to the death every American's right to choose whether or not to live by the teachings of a particular piece of literature over another. Fact is, marriage was once primarily a religious institution, but the moment the government started writing marriage licenses it became a legal institution, and now it bears the burden of upholding secular equality.

    Finally, if you're looking to sanctify a word (re: the "marriage *means* this" argument), then I'm afraid you'll need to do that within the bounds of your religion - make up another word that stays in your church and NEVER let the government in on the super-secret handshake. The second you try to legislate a word or idea as "sacred", you've violated the agreed-upon secularism of government. And you'll want to chat with the ole' chaps at Merriam-Webster about the "definition of marriage" too - they'll be the first to tell you that vocabulary is as adaptable as the civilization using it.

    Gwen in Seattle

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  24. To anyone that totes around the importance of "Love thy neighbor" as a reason for Christians to stop using the Bible as a reason against homosexuality, to condone sexuality, or to support gay marriage, I'd like to point out that although you are recognizing the 2nd great commandment, you are missing almost all of what the commandment means and you are ignoring the 1st great commandment.

    If what you think as "Love thy neighbor" means ignore any of the sins he commits and let him sin or even encourage his sin, then that isn't love at all. If we love our neighbor, we must also encourage them not to sin, as Jesus did when He hung out with sinners and said "God and sin no more". Christians must love sinners, whatever their sin is, and encourage them not to be sinners. If they will not change their ways, Christians must love them as God's creation and even forgive sins they sin against us (and hope God will one day forgive the sins they commit against Him) but NEVER condone their sin (that is, never pretend that sinning isn't evil).

    The 1st great commandment is "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Whatever our love for our neighbors might entail, we first owe our allegiance to God and keeping His commandments. So, yes, Christians must love their neighbors, but they should never forsake or ignore the commandments of God for the sake of their neighbors.

    P.S. To everyone posting about what the Bible says about shrimp, eating pig, uncleanness of a woman in menstruation, animal sacrifices, etc etc, shut up already. Saying we have to do that stuff is like telling a Calculus teacher to stop teaching his class Calculus because, "you have to start with addition first!" The proper response is "That's already done. Let's move on." Rituals, ceremonial cleanliness, and sacrifices have been fulfilled by the death of Jesus on the cross, as stated in the Bible. Since it's already accomplished, we don't need to try to accomplish them any more. Saying we don't need to do that any more isn't cherry picking verses of the Bible, it's looking at the Bible as a whole, something you should try some time, especially if you want to criticize it. Jesus said not a single iota of the Law should pass away, but that He came to fulfill it, and so He did.

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  25. Another observation:

    Writing biblical law into common law (ie - ignoring secularism) makes us no better than Iran or Saudi Arabia where women can't show their hair, mingle with a man, drive, or own property. I think I'd prefer our "slippery slope" to be angled in the opposite direction. After all, if each person isn't given the latitude to choose his own path, then he isn't really earning his spot in your "heaven", is he? So just butt out already - let us make our choices, and leave the judging to your God.

    Gwen in Seattle

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  26. Beautifully written. Thank you for putting into logical, eloquent words what so many good, everyday people can't state as clearly as you did.

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  27. As a former North Carolinian, a queer and (most importantly) a human being I appreciate it when our straight allies stand up for us just because they think it's the right thing to do. I thank you for such a succinct, intelligent and heartfelt statement.

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  28. "As a Humanist, I reject supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition. Your religious arguments against same-sex marriage belong on that heap of nonsense. They have no basis in reality, are not supported by the science, and have no place in legislation."

    As a spiritual person, I reject narcissism, secularism, and relativism. Your humanist arguments for same-sex marriage belong in that heap of garbage. They have no basis in reality, are not supported by years of human history, and have no place in legislation.

    Guess it goes both ways, huh?

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  29. To those who are talking about a natural biological imperative for banning homosexual marriage - Are you out of your minds? These are folks who wouldn't be having children anyways by conventional means. On top of that the world is MASSIVELY over populated. We are so overpopulated that soon this world will not be able to sustain us as a species. Less is not necessarily a bad thing. Or do you advocate forcing those who are gay to have children in a so-called conventional way in a marriage that makes them miserable so they can also contribute to the overall population problem our world has?
    A lot of gay couples end up adopting the unwanted children who are being neglected or abused by so-called normal couples. This is an excellent thing. People who are loving, good parents deserve to adopt the children who otherwise would have no where else to go - I don't care what if they are straight or gay.

    For those of you arguing on a Christian basis - go back and learn about early Christianity, really and truly study it. If so you would see that Jesus (according to what was written about early Christian communities) was pretty much against reproduction in any manner (since he taught that the world would end in his immediate followers lifetime), was all for completely communal property and community. Each person relinquished all possessions to the community - in fact God struck some down dead for keeping a little bit to themselves. So all this anti-universal health care, and pro-libertarian bs is hilarious when you read the rhetoric with a good and solid knowledge of early Christian communities. Same with the issue of homosexual marriage. Marriage had nothing to do with the Christian church for years and years until a Medieval council decided that it was solely their prerogative, along with celibacy for the clergy. Learn your history folks. If you are going to follow a religion, do not follow blindly - if you had a good understanding of your own history this, and so many other issues would be non-existent!

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  30. Truly a well written argument against religious bigotry. I approve.

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  31. If you go to vote against this amendment in May you should also consider voting for Gary Johnson, the one candidate on the GOP ticket who is running to be the President of all Americans, not just those who "fit into a Norman Rockwell painting". Check him out!

    www.garyjohnson2012.com

    http://dailycaller.com/2011/07/12/gary-johnson-assails-conservative-iowa-groups-marriage-pact/

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  32. thank you so much for being a SUPER straight ally!

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  33. I'm not gay, and in the UK we've been able to have 'same-sex' marriages for ages (the world hasn't ended just yet!) ...so I'm not really sure why I read this post - BUT I think this is an excellent observation:

    "Why in the world would anyone want to cause suffering in others? If the answer lies in your religion, then you need to re-evaluate your religion."

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  34. Great article. Why does Christianity do the opposite of what it is intended...why does it seem to divide instead of unite? I believe it's the people who have the issues..not so much the faith. Marriage equality has nothing to do with your moral beliefs..it's not about you...contrary to popular belief..it's about two adults being able to marry and enjoy the rights there of? Why should straight married people get all the benefits? How does two gays being married affect your household? It doesn't. The Leviticus arguments are so out dated..No one is expected to follow that now. You don't go to heaven by following Leviticus folks...God doesn't need any help being God. He is God all by Himself. When people choose to deny other Americans rights because of what they think, feel,or believe...that is wrong. Why should you dictate how I live my life? All the supporters of marriage bans keep yelling less government..but that only applies to when it affects them personally..they don't give a damn about the government being in other folks households...Are we not supposed to treat others how we would we like to be treated?

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  35. To Anonymous 9/16 11:40pm,

    One of my favorite quotes of all times is, Nobody is all RIGHT about anything, Nobody is all WRONG. Everyone should have the right to believe what they like, and not be riduculed for it. However, passing legislation to support one's religious beliefs are WRONG. Passing legislation that treats one group of Americans differently from another is WRONG. Passing legislation in order to prevent others from having the same rights you have are WRONG. The reason the Bible isn't a valid argument at all is because I am not required to believe what you believe..we have freedom of religion or not if I so choose..Why should your beliefs be forced on me and affect my household, and what rights I have? Marriage Equality doesn't affect how you raise your family and what beliefs you instill if your children. Gay families have the same worries, hopes, dreams, as our straight counterparts. Because you refuse to recognize gay marriage or families..won't make them go away..and why you would think your family is better than their family...because that is what your actions say...is very sad

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  36. move to canada! though we are boring up here, we are one of the few countries in the world that has legalize marriage!

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  37. I live in Connecticut and gay people have been getting married here for years. It doesn't make a difference in my life, but it sure does in theirs. To my home state of NC: civil rights are not given by majority rule and most definitely should not be taken away by majority rule. Twenty years from now this whole conversation will seem as ridiculous as interracial marriage. Elizabeth

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  38. Why is it that people see this as a big deal? Fundamentals say it's a religious matter? As has been said elsewhere, marriage was NOT invented by the church. But for those fundamentalists, let's see what Jerry Falwell says "...in an appearance on MSNBC television, Falwell said he was not troubled by reports that the nominee for Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John G. Roberts (whose appointment was confirmed by the U.S. Senate) had done volunteer legal work for homosexual rights activists on the case of Romer v. Evans. Falwell told MSNBC's Tucker Carlson that if he were a lawyer, he too would argue for civil rights for LGBT people. "I may not agree with the lifestyle, but that has nothing to do with the civil rights of that part of our constituency," Falwell said. When Carlson countered that conservatives "are always arguing against 'special rights' for gays," Falwell said that equal access to housing, civil marriage, and employment are basic rights, not special rights. "Civil rights for all Americans, black, white, red, yellow, the rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, et cetera, is not a liberal or conservative value. It's an American value that I would think that we pretty much all agree on."
    (Eartha Jane Melzer, Falwell hints support for some homosexual rights, The Washington Blade, August 26, 2005.)

    Maybe it's in the Bible. But so are these:

    Divorce is strictly forbidden in both Testaments, as is remarriage of anyone who has been divorced. (Mark 10:1-12)

    This one's my favorite :)
    If a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir. (Mark 12:18-27)

    Married couples are forbidden from having sexual intercourse during a woman's period. If they disobey, both shall be executed. (Lev. 18:19)

    If a man gets into a fight with another man and his wife seeks to rescue her husband by grabbing the enemy's genitals, her hand shall be cut off and no pity shall be shown her. (Deut. 25:11-12)

    If it is discovered that a bride is not a virgin, she be executed by stoning immediately.
    (Deut. 22:13-21)

    If a married person has sex with someone else's husband or wife, both adulterers shall be stoned to death. (Deut. 22:22)

    So, let's get out those rocks and commence the throwing. It's in the Bible! Oops, there's also John 8:7 to consider.

    Just speaking for myself, those of you in NC who feel threatened by this are invited to hang out in New England. I don't question my heterosexuality, nor do i feel threatened in any way by your lifestyle. I'd welcome your economic and social contributions and promise not to throw any stones.

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  39. Excellent post Sir, you wrote an excellent article which made my whole day brighter. I wish you, your wife and three sons, excellent health and long, long lives, you are a true gentleman.

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  40. Victor from San Diego, why don't you quit using up precious oxygen and go play in heavy traffic. Oh gee, by the way if a man can marry a woman what's to say he can't marry a billy goat, or a horse or maybe even a jackass.

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  41. This is a great article, and you make excellent points, however I think that your application of the Lemon Test is somewhat flawed. My understanding of it is that the Lemon Test is the test for allowing government to support religious bodies, i.e. parochial schools, etc. I don't know of any application for this particular test in the hypothetical case you make. For your purposes the exclusion clause of the first amendment should work just fine.

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  42. Thank you for your incredibly thoughtful and beautifully written post.

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  43. some of the best words ive read on the subject ...
    i agree with some others.. wish you had been my dad

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  44. I concur that Christians should encourage people not to sin. However, I, as a Christian, recognize that it is not the government's job to legislate such behavior. There is no civil benefit to the amendment, and so I am against it.

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  45. I may be the wrong one to suggest this, but one of the reasons HIV is rampant in Africa and higher in gays is that they have unprotected sex with multiple unknown sex partners. If they were allowed to marry openly it might reduce the number of people using sex as a substitute for an intimate relationship. Unfortunately it is easier to hide recreational sex than a monogamous gay/lesbian committed relationship. I am a straight woman with three sons and a daughter and worry that they fear telling me of any of their secrets, although I understand their fear. Children, I love you no matter who you are and trust that I am wise as a mother to accept you no matter what. How could I do any thing else?

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  46. Thank you for such a thoughtful and truthful post.

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  47. I posted Anonymous on Sept 17, 6:40 PM and it should have read that "...one of the reasons HIV is rampant in Africa and higher in gays is that "SOME" have unprotected sex..."

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  48. PERFECT. I couldn't have said it better myself, and that's why I'll be passing this article along to many, many people. Thank you!!!

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  49. To the poster that said "The intimacy shared between two men or two women has no end to its' means. It is purely a selfish, sexually gratifying act...." What about the many couples, like myself who are child free by choice? I will never understand hows ones ability to reproduce with their partner has anything to do with marriage. There are heterosexual couples that don't want children or that cant have children. Children bearing ability has no place in an argument about whether marriage should be allowed. To those touting sin, it's also a sin to be a drunkard, and yet you don't see anyone having difficulty getting a liquor license, or opening an establishment that serves alcohol.

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  50. This is an incredibly well written article. I'll be sharing it far and wide. Thank you, so much.

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  51. So, I'm an atheist and my husband is a Catholic. Our marriage was performed by a non-denominational ordained minister, mostly as a nod to my husband's parents (and the fact that the minister was just a kick-ass dude). We liked the ritual involved with having him officiate our wedding, and it's wrong to assume that rituals lie only with the religious. According to most religious arguments positing that a marriage is a "sacred institution between a man and a woman", does that mean our marriage is meaningless, because I am an atheist? I've been with my husband for 17 years, married for 10, and have two wonderful children - neither of whom would disappoint me if they told me they were gay. It amazes me on a regular basis that ANYONE should care about my marriage, or anyone else's marriage. I am not suffering because my gay friend wants to marry his boyfriend. My marriage is not corrupted because an anonymous gay woman somewhere in the world wants to marry her girlfriend. With all that's going wrong in the world, all the pain and suffering, why waste this much hatred and energy on keeping people from being happy? Did the world fall apart when we did away with the ban on interracial marriage? No. And it wouldn't fall apart if gays marry, either.

    Thank you for this wonderful post summing up what so many people feel - discrimination is WRONG, no matter what the basis. I applaud you!

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  52. WOW
    I'm a 15-year-old, heterosexual austrian girl with a lot of gay friends and I need to say that I have rarely been so touched while reading a text.

    It might seem like marriage and especially gay marriage is not a topic, a 15-year-old girl should be interested in. But actually, it is!

    Everyone should be interested in how our fellow people are treated. (I know that the right word would be 'fellow men' but I think it is important to include women in our language)
    It is really important not only to fight for your own rights but also to fight for the rights of others.
    How can we enjoy our rights when we know that they are denied to many other people, just because they don't fit into the "normal", conservative role model?

    So, Mr. Sheperd
    I can only say that I really look up to you for writing such a great, touching text. I think you're an honorable man and your sons can consider themselves lucky to have you as a father.

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  53. I'm not planning on moving to NC but, if I ever do, I hope you're my neighbor.
    (Straight in Boston -- where gay marriage is legal and life is just ducky!)

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  54. Everyone above who expressed their agreement with defshepard's enlightened post needs to take action to counter what will no doubt be a massive, out-of-state-financed campaign to pass this harmful, unjust and bigoted proposed constitutional amendment. I'm sending money. I hope you will too. Better yet, if you live in the Tar Heel state, next Spring volunteer to help get out the vote against the forces of discrimination.

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  55. You know what, when a law is passed stopping the slaughter of the millions of innocent children by abortion, then I will have the stomach to listen to all this talk about "rights". Prioritize, people. Don't hijack the Bible or talk about faith; when we give the those without a voice, the smallest defenseless their rights,their right to take their first breath, then we can dialogue. Elie Wiesel was encouraging those to speak up against the holocaust. Please don't hijack her quote for this.

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  56. Gwen:
    I have yet to see any sort of reasonable argument for any real morality outside of religion. The closest I’ve ever seen of morality without the inclusion of God involves the attempt to maximize happiness, but then that leaves us with the gigantic problem of relativism and selfishness. A mass murderer may find killing fun and pain to be great, so even if he causes pain he doesn’t feel bad about it, and why should he care about other people’s discomfort anyway? Different perspectives of morality leave the pursuit of morality in a huge mess. Most people hope that laws can be formed based on what the general public agrees is bad, but why should the individual care about laws except because of its consequences? The basis of morality is that you should do some things and not do others, whether or not you are ever caught and whether or not you fear the consequences. Personally, I would rather not have a slippery slope leading to a muddled heap of relative morality. Also, the Bible teaches that people do not earn their own spots in heaven. I will not butt out, because I still have a right to speak my voice as well, though I am quite willing to leaving the judging to my God, as I’ve already done.

    Anonymous that posted at 2:04 PM:
    If you’re going to comment on the Bible, try studying it rather than reading some lines and taking them out of context. Error 1: “If so you would see that Jesus… was pretty much against reproduction in any manner (since he taught that the world would end in his immediate followers lifetime)”. Jesus Himself said that only the Father knew when He (Jesus) would be coming back and that not even He (Jesus) knew. He did not teach that the world would end within his followers’ lifetime. Error 2: “[Jesus] was all for completely communal property and community. Each person relinquished all possessions to the community - in fact God struck some down dead for keeping a little bit to themselves”. No, Jesus didn’t say He was for communal property. Although all that is on earth is God’s as well, Jesus reiterated “Thou shalt not steal”, which has no meaning unless people actually have property. He requested that His disciples give up all they had to follow Him personally, but He never suggested that everyone should, despite all of His talk about charity. When Zacchaeus promised to give up so much of his wealth, Jesus never even implied he should give up more. With regards to God striking some people dead for keeping a little for themselves, the punishment of death was not for keeping money for themselves but for lying about it. Peter even told Ananias (of whom I think you are talking about) that the property was his to do what he wanted and after it was sold the proceeds were his to do what he wanted, but to bring part of the proceeds and lie that it was all (and probably deceptively pretend to be so humble and charitable in the process) was just wicked. Concerning the concept of gay marriage, I’m against it because I’m against homosexuality, so I don’t even care if you’re right or wrong about the institution of marriage and its history. To me, marriage is not a strictly religious thing, though the sanctity of a marriage done in the eyes of God has a special significance, at least to believers.
    Learn your theology, folks. If you’re going to criticize the Bible, you’d best do it with actual knowledge rather than verses take out of context.

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  57. Hey, voice - Elie Wiesel is a man. And did you ever think that if you give rights to, you know, other adults in our society, that it would make it easier to get rights for others, as well? Taking rights away from someone because we don't agree with their lifestyle is not a good way to argue rights for anyone else.

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  58. What a well-written argument. As a lesbian mother, I thank you for taking up my cuase. I homeschooled my 2 children. They are both honor students who scored 2000 or higher of SATs, the 99th percentile on standardized tests and belong to several honor societies. My son is an Eagle Scout and on a full scholarship in college to become a nuclear engineer. They are both well-adjusted children and I take a lot of the credit for their success.

    I also take credit for the 18 foster children that I gave food, shelter and loads of love to when they were in a time of crisis. I was also a hospice volunteer and I helped many families who were facing the iminent death of a loved one. I accepted no pay for either of these positions (foster mom, hospice volunteer) but considered it my duty as a citizen in the community to help the people who were in need. I just want to be treated equally.

    Marriage is good no matter how you look at it. It encourages healthy lifestyles, better emotional health, better physical health, better economic health and a more stable environment for children to grow up in. People think that gay folks spread disease by being promiscious but then go out of their way to discourage them from monogamy. Society will be much better off by allowing two consenting adults to bond themselves together and be recognized as a comitted couple.

    Thank you for this article.

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  59. Well said, sir. Well said.

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  60. To the original poster: I read the article and totally agree with everything you said. I have posted my own story of why this heterosexual mother of three fights for the rights, not only of the GLBT community, but ALL American citizens. You can find it on Facebook on the Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook page or on the Christian Left web page under "Guest Writers" or on the Give a Damn website. (Here's a link for the WHoF posting: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=229840347030868 )

    To those who use religious reasons to fight against gay marriage: I'd like to ask you all a simple question - how would you feel if the state or federal government made a law that impacted on YOUR life, if the only justification for that law was based on someone else's religious beliefs? I don't think you'd like it at all. But, if that were to happen, you just might begin to understand why GLBT persons get so upset when you try to do the same. Marriage in this country is a legal contract between the two people getting married, witnessed by their friends and recorded by the state. Yes, in many cases there is a religious aspect to it, but that is not required. If you don't want your church to perform same sex marriages, that is between you and your church - the government cannot compel it either way. At the same time, because of the guarantee of religious freedom in our Constitution, your religious beliefs should never be used as a reason or excuse to keep it from happening either civilly or in other churches.

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  61. I with you homie! I am also a straight, married, father and avid supporter of LGBT rights. We have to get the word out!

    http://recapitated.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/same-sex-marriage-the-final-frontier-of-civil-rights/

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  62. GREAT Essay. Right on. That is what happens when you think. The world is one step improved. Thank you for the essay. You are a lone voice in your neighborhood, but you are not alone.

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  63. If you don't like gay marriage, don't blame it on gay people. Blame it on straight couples because they keep having gay babies.

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  64. I'd add a few words about legitimized marriage leading to better outcomes for kids. Kids need for the parents that they know, love and live with to have the legal right to visit them in the hospital, provide them health insurance, take part in their medical care, advise doctors on allergies, put them in the right school, leave property to them, and so forth.

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  65. I appreciate this. I only differ in that, while you are a father of three, I am a mother of four... and while you are a humanist, I am a Christian. I strive to live as Jesus lived. I will vote NO in May.

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  66. Thank you! I am a lesbian who was looking forward to marrying the love of my life (who grew up in NC) one day in the mountains of NC. We were also considering moving back to NC after I graduate college. A friend of mine (who is like you, straight married man fighting against injustice) posted this on his facebook and I had to read it! People like you make a difference. Thank you so much for standing up for my rights when you have nothing to gain.
    Danyale~

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  67. This is truly amazing. Thank you. Words that help hearts move minds forward. Slowly, but this piece makes me think it will surely happen. Who could argue against this evidence-based, logically superb and emotionally powerful argument?

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  68. Stefan said... "He blatantly ignores real scientific studies as to the repercussions of such a change including the high rates of pathogens, depression, molestation, and suicide present in homosexual situations both affecting the partners and the children. I mean, I'm not a scientist but those sound like bad things to me ;)"

    Yeah, adding smilie faces to talk of suicide is so appropriate. Do you have any idea WHY GLBT people have such high rates of suicide and depression? Because their families disown them, often before they're the age of majority, for coming out. Because they have to live on the streets or risk being attacked in shelters. Because politicians and church leaders tell them they're an abomination to god (whether they share that god or not,) that they're second-class citizens, and worthless except as tax-paying wage slaves because of something they can't and frankly shouldn't have to change. And if you're assaulted, the police might hate gays as much as the attackers AND DO NOTHING. Not even file the report, much less make an arrest. It happens to transgenders frequently.

    You really think living with the constant fear of being beaten to death just because someone disagrees with you ISN'T going to cause depression and suicide? It's not because any of us are ashamed of what and who we are - it's because some of us have lost all hope of ever being considered human beings by our own country.

    And if you're going to use possible molestation as an argument against gay partners adopting, I guess ALL children should be taken away from their parents and raised by the government, because all of the molestation and abuse stories I hear on the local news- and there are at least two a week- are committed by the children's own biological and very hetero parents.

    In the end, you can't know what will happen until it happens, and you can't deny American citizens their rights on the grounds of "what if?!".

    You can't hold gay partnerships to a flawless standard that heteros cannot and will never meet. When hetero marriage has universally abolished child and spousal abuse, and the hetero divorce rate is zero, THEN maybe you can tell other people that your 'sacred' institution is too good for them.

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  69. One of the anonymous posters said some pretty inflammatory things about homosexuality, and while I disagree with those statements I completely agree that the term "marriage" should be taken out of all legal jargon. Marriage-in this context-is a religious term. If all unions were were recognized by the federal government as "civil unions" wouldn't that be truly equal?

    This was a fantastic article by the way. Re-posted.

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  70. Incredible. Definitely one of the most eloquent, clear, concise articles out there on the issue. Thank you for this!!!

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  71. 25 y/o Catholic Bisexual Female with a male partner. Thank you, Mr. Shepherd, for your beautiful post and all that you do. Keep on fighting the good fight alongside us!

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  72. I disagree. Sexuality IS a choice, unlike race or gender (sex). I know, because I made a choice myself regarding my sexuality. Neither the devil or God are to blame.

    I have no problem with any two people living together, whatever their gender, persuasion, or otherwise. However, I do have a problem pushing an agenda under the guise of tolerance. You don't have to be married to be accepted by society. And marriage isn't a notch to be obtained in your belt either.

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  73. after reading this is cant help it but react, specially i am a lesbian and is very much concerned about this since i am living in a different country and here..well..there seems to be no chance at all.. i am very pleased and touched by what you have said..thank you, we need that.

    I am utterly disgusted by that Anonymous person.. hope his God is very proud of him. *applause*

    being gay is NOT all about sex because SEX IS A HUMAN ACT. we ALL do it, and we are humans..
    since WE LOVE THE SAME SEX, WE MAKE LOVE WITH THE SAME SEX. SIMPLE LOGIC. so don't go blabbing about it too much.

    what we are fighting for here is the acceptance and recognition that LOVE IS UNIVERSAL. that we can truly fully deeply feel LOVE for the same sex.

    i want to share a video..its a social experiment it actually happened in Texas, you'll find it very moving :))

    LINK:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zhl9MLno424

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  74. eshep---thanks for sharing and I will forward your comments to my Queer Culture class!!!

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  75. To the Anonymous ranting on about religion being the only path to morality: If the only reason you're able to keep yourself from murdering your neighbor and raping his wife is because your magic book tells you it's bad, please seek professional help immediately.

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  76. I am a 63-year-old heterosexual woman. I'm sickened that these human rights have been politicized in this way. I plan to march in the Gay Pride parade on October 15 in downtown Winston-Salem. MLKJr. said it best: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

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  77. Homosexuality is not "recognized as a sin" in the Bible. The Bible only speaks to debauchery, wantonness, and irresponsible behavior as being sinful. Not committed loving relationships.

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  78. In my country overseas, Spain, same sex marriage has been legal for a bunch of years now (6 to be precise). Dou we are a lay country, we have a strong catholic heritage (which I dont actually share, TBH). When law passed was exactly like it was when it got legalized in some USA states, a rough start with some opposition, but in the end it ran out smothly.

    You know what? to this day, not much has changed, sun still rises, whe haven't been crush under a meteorite, and yet we havent heard of god's rage... heh! even the pope came visiting this summer!!! The difference? none, none at all. More tolerance, and thats it.

    Before you ask, Im not gay, and I barely know any (just one couple I dont keep contact with). I dont want to scratch on old topics about USA, but maybe (just maybe) you could take a look at other countries which go far ahead of you on this matter, and check how it goes for them. In europe, sames sex marriage has gone a long run, of course, not in every country, and yeah there are homophobes as there are racist people yet, and there are bad gay couples, as there are bad hetero couples. Take your eyes out of your own belly, these guys are people too.

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  79. Love the post.
    Marraige is a word that really means nothing today. If it is so sacred then why do more than half end in Divorce.
    What really needs to be focused on is not MARRAIGE but CIVIL UNION....take the religious factor out of it. This is an equal right issue not a religious one. This entire issue gets bogged down with the word Marraige...I don't care about Marraige, I DO care about equal rights....So stop shoving your religion on me. I do have a relationship with God, but that is between me and him...Not you. Besides, If you do read the Bible, then you need to take note of all the laws that are stated through the entire book that are considered out dated or simply not a part of religion or society today.
    So these people need to get off thier "Better than Thou" high horse and stop judging people(oh, waite a minute, that is a sin. It's actually a Commandment).

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  80. Hear hear! Let's not forget that as a minority, we LGBT are almost defenceless without such supporters as this, with nothing to gain and everything to lose by speaking out on our behalf.

    Respect.

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  81. Beautiful, beautiful post!

    As for the absurd religious arguments, the Bible teaches that it is a sin to wear clothing of mixed fabrics, but I don't see anyone worrying about that. Jesus NEVER commented on sexual orientation one way or the other. He DID say the second greatest commandment is to love one's neighbor as oneself--and did not say to exclude homosexuals from that rule, something I suggest the anti-gay brigade give some thought.

    Thank you, again, Mr. Shepherd, for beautifully expressed thoughts.

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  82. @Anonymous who posted on September 17, 2011 12:57 PM and said:

    "To everyone posting about what the Bible says about shrimp, eating pig, uncleanness of a woman in menstruation, animal sacrifices, etc etc, shut up already. Saying we have to do that stuff is like telling a Calculus teacher to stop teaching his class Calculus because, "you have to start with addition first!" The proper response is "That's already done. Let's move on." Rituals, ceremonial cleanliness, and sacrifices have been fulfilled by the death of Jesus on the cross, as stated in the Bible. Since it's already accomplished, we don't need to try to accomplish them any more. Saying we don't need to do that any more isn't cherry picking verses of the Bible, it's looking at the Bible as a whole, something you should try some time, especially if you want to criticize it. Jesus said not a single iota of the Law should pass away, but that He came to fulfill it, and so He did."

    Indeed and the same is true about the laws regarding the execution of homosexuals. "It's done." Ah yes, I hear you dragging out the argument that St. Paul supported oppressing homosexuals. He also supported slavery. Perhaps you want to reinstitute that and, of course, the oppression of women who are not to be even allowed to speak.

    The US does not have Sharia Law nor should it. You have a right to believe that homosexuality is a sin. You do not have the right to try to force that belief on anyone else.

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  83. You wrote "while most North Carolinians strongly believe that same-sex marriage should be illegal, they also strongly believe that there should not be a constitutional amendment to write that into the constitution."
    So why don't you let people their basic human right to vote.
    You want to force your private agenda with manipulative and phony arguments

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  84. You wrote: Kids do just fine in families with same-sex parents. "All of the major professional organizations with expertise in child welfare.

    Your article is full of talking points from Gay Inc and is more than suspicious.
    Legalizing the right by adults to deny children the human right to a father and a mother is a crime against humanity.
    It should never be allowed. Children are innocent and defenseless. Millions are being killed every year in the womb by their own parents. You want to create more fatherless and motherless families and want us to believe that a father or a mother is irrelevant by some studies written by lesbians and used as propaganda by the LGBT Williams Institute. Without real studies over 3 generations, you are not even serious to begin with. What a joke of a father you are !!!

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  85. You are a magnificent human being and this post is currently going viral so the whole world will soon see just how amazing you are. Your children are lucky to have such an amazing parent such as yourself.

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  86. This was a wonderful post! It was well thought out and I appreciate all the time you obviously spent creating it. I would like to add one thing though. You mention that Scandanavia isn´t religious and that is false. I live here. The vast majority of people in Scandanavia are Christian. Perhaps many don´t go to church, but they identify themselves as Christians. Here in Iceland we actually have no separation of church and state and the same is true in Denmark. It´s only recently that Sweden separated church and state. What is important to note, however, is that in the Lutheran church (the state church in Iceland and Denmark and the most common church in Sweden) homosexuality is NOT considered a sin. And, here homosexuals are allowed to marry and have equal rights to anyone else. So, please don´t condemn all Christians. Some are filled with hate. But many of us remember Jesus words to ´Judge not, lest ye be judged!´ and to ´Love your neighbor as yourself.´

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  87. Thank you for the post - it's excellent, and I have to say that I love allies who speak up. It's one thing for me to argue in favor of my own damned civil rights, you know? Another for people like you.

    To some of the commenters: Civil marriage and religious marriage share the same word but are different things. Your religion doesn't define who is legally allowed to marry, did you know that? Your religion cannot give out a marriage license, although an ordained representative can probably sign it. Civil marriage is not religious marriage, period. You can argue to restrict your religion's marriage rituals to certain people all you want - have fun.

    I'm so, so tired of this argument - of people who see my life as a problem, who see people like me as a threat to society somehow. I'm tired of the messages from all sides that I deserve to be a second-class citizen. And I'm a grown woman, not a teenager. It was a lot worse when I was still uncertain.

    Seriously, before you blast that "being gay is a sin" thing around, consider that most of the queer kids who kill themselves do so because of exposure to exactly that doctrine. If your doctrine makes kids want to kill themselves, reconsider it - or at least reconsider shouting about it.

    I would never, ever, even speaking from a non-privileged minority position, spread the message that being, say, Christian is wrong, evil, and bad for society, and that Christians are molesting children and trying to convert people to their wicked ways. Two reasons for that. One: it's not true; for every Christian who molests a child there are many who don't, and only some Christians evangelize. (Compare to queers, who don't evangelize at all... heh.) Two: even if I genuinely believed all that in defiance of the evidence, that sentiment could hurt innocent people if it became widespread and accepted. Children not yet old enough to choose a religion other than Christianity might feel pretty awful, as would those with strong religious convictions. I don't want that.

    So have the same general sense of decency and desire to do no harm as this godless lesbian over here, will you? If you consider yourself a strongly moral being, stop making other people's lives harder than they need to be. We are not hurting you.

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  88. I'm glad I live in Canada. I'm pleased that my lesbian daughter will be able to marry her partner the same as my heterosexual son married the love of his life. Why do we think we have to legislate who can commit to a partner/love of one's life and who cannot? I pray (yes I'm Catholic and believe in Christianity) that all of the USA can have the same rights.

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  89. Why is this anonymous poster still muttering about GLBT people adopting children? Once again, these are the major reputable groups that support gays and lesbians as parents: American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, and Canadian Psychological Association.

    I'm sure the folks opposed to gay and lesbian adoption are happy to trot out rage-y, unsupported ramblings by "Focus on the Family" and "Westboro Baptist Church" to defend their position, but...you'll pardon me if I don't take them quite as seriously as, say, the American Psychological Association.

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  90. This is spectacular. As a married, liberal, Catholic, heterosexual mother of two (boy and girl) who has lived in NC most of my life, I am praying (literally) that the voters of my state will have more sense than our legislators. Keep preaching!

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  91. Thanks for the conversation. I would humbly suggest that it is not helpful to condemn Religion or Christianity for ALL of the opposition. The Christian opposition is mostly, "but by no means all" from the Evangelical, Conservative, Right, and Fundamental branches. Interestingly, there are many older established Denominations that are much more sympathetic to the idea of Gay Marriage. I would suggest that we don't throw Jesus Christ out of the discussion, but be thankful for His mission of spreading love and Social Justice to all of Mankind. Main stream Christianity has a tremendous influence if they are forced to engage in such issues. Oh Yea, I am a Theological Seminary student who has been married twice. Christians don't have a lot of things figured out the way we wish we did!
    Peace to All, Sam

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  92. From Chris McQ:
    “how would you feel if the state or federal government made a law that impacted on YOUR life, if the only justification for that law was based on someone else's religious beliefs?”
    If the impact was negative, I would feel bad. If it didn’t inhibit me from following the Law my God has put forth, I would bear the lesser law for as long as it was in effect and try to get it repealed or I would flee to somewhere it was not in effect. If the lesser law of the land did inhibit me from following God’s Law, I would break that lesser law.
    “At the same time, because of the guarantee of religious freedom in our Constitution, your religious beliefs should never be used as a reason or excuse to keep it from happening either civilly or in other churches.”
    On the contrary, because of the religious freedom in our Constitution, we are legally free to believe and practice our beliefs. I truly believe in my religion, and I therefore cannot separate it from everything else I believe. When I vote, I can and will vote for things to make things happen or prevent things from happening civilly and I pray that the Holy Spirit and my understanding of the Bible guide my reason in my vote. As for other churches, I can do little or nothing to stop them from conducting private weddings between two members of the same sex, or more than two individuals, or whatever, especially if those weddings have no legal significance.
    From Crabofdoom:
    “In the end, you can't know what will happen until it happens, and you can't deny American citizens their rights on the grounds of "what if?!".”
    We already do that. What if someone tries to rob this new bank? We put up security cameras, locks, safes, and guards to prevent that from happening and we’ve already made stealing illegal. What if someone smoking causes an asthma attack in someone at a hospital? We make smoking in the hospital and anywhere except designated smoking sectors illegal and put up signs. What if someone blows up a plane with liquid explosives? We will require boarding passengers to only carry containers of 3 ounces of liquid or less, store them in a specified-sized bag, and require them to show the liquids at security checkpoints in airports. Etc etc etc.

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  93. From Mike Rentas:
    “If the only reason you're able to keep yourself from murdering your neighbor and raping his wife is because your magic book tells you it's bad, please seek professional help immediately.”
    I keep myself from that because I believe it is wrong. I think I have an excellent reason for believing it is wrong because I believe the Almighty God has indicated it to be so and He certainly knows better than I do. If the only reason you have for preventing yourself from doing those things is because you think they are wrong, you’re in the same boat. If you have a reason for believing it to be wrong besides religion, I suppose that’s your best basis for morality. If, however, the only reason you keep yourself from doing those things is due to laws instated saying you shouldn’t and you will be punished if you do, then you should probably seek professional help immediately.
    From Anonymous (posting at 11:19 AM):
    “Homosexuality is not "recognized as a sin" in the Bible. The Bible only speaks to debauchery, wantonness, and irresponsible behavior as being sinful. Not committed loving relationships.”
    Aside from the phrase “sexual immorality” being a phrase that includes homosexuality, 1 Cor. 6 speaks of a list of various immoral and unrighteous people that would not inherit the kingdom of God. The passage includes Greek terminology that refers to partners in consensual homosexual acts.

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  94. From J.R. Tomlin:
    “Indeed and the same is true about the laws regarding the execution of homosexuals. "It's done." Ah yes, I hear you dragging out the argument that St. Paul supported oppressing homosexuals. He also supported slavery. Perhaps you want to reinstitute that and, of course, the oppression of women who are not to be even allowed to speak.”
    Hilarious. Passages indicating the fact that homosexuality is immoral had nothing to do with any of the things I talked about, though Jesus’ time in Palestine and His death did change a lot about the approach to dealing with sinners. St. Paul did not support oppressing homosexuals any more than Jesus supported sinning. St. Paul recognized their evil and he encourage them and all other sinners to turn from evil. Jesus showed care to adulterers, tax collectors (known to be thieves and dogs of the Romans), etc even though He repeated commandments of the Law against their sins. St. Paul also didn’t support slavery; he just spoke to a nation that already included that unfortunate situation of slavery about how slaves should behave to their masters and how masters should behave to their slaves. In a similar wording to what Paul used concerning slaves and slave owners, I would say to a nation that unfortunately includes crime and criminals that prison guards should not beat or threaten their prisoners and should care for their lives and prisoners should respect and obey their prison guards. I have yet to hear any objections to that. I do not even remotely suggest killing homosexuals, but I don’t condone sin nor do I encourage enabling sinners in their sin (nor should anyone else). Regarding women, I sarcastically suppose it would be such a shame to have spouses behaving as described in the Bible, such as having husbands being required to love their wives and wives respecting their husbands. Out of curiosity, I’ve actually asked several women from my church (while they weren’t in church) if they ever felt limited or oppressed by the Christian teachings of how women or wives should behave. They all answer with a confused “No…” and at least one asked me what made me ask such a silly question.
    From Jennifer (posting at 6:18 PM):
    “Seriously, before you blast that "being gay is a sin" thing around, consider that most of the queer kids who kill themselves do so because of exposure to exactly that doctrine. If your doctrine makes kids want to kill themselves, reconsider it - or at least reconsider shouting about it. “
    My counter: murder, rape, theft, and lying are sins. No matter how many murderers, rapists, thieves, and liars want to commit suicide due to me believing that, I will not change my mind about them being sins, though I encourage them all not to commit suicide. I don’t have, nor do I intend on having, a double standard with regards to homosexuality or any other sin. The fear of how people may react when faced with their sins shouldn’t make us change our minds about morality, just as the fear of a negative reaction of a student to a failing grade should not make a teacher change the grade to a non-failing grade.
    “So have the same general sense of decency and desire to do no harm as this godless lesbian over here, will you? If you consider yourself a strongly moral being, stop making other people's lives harder than they need to be. We are not hurting you.”
    If we turn the tables and YOU wouldn’t feel guilty for encouraging ME to stop doing something you think is wrong and do things you think is right even when I didn’t want to, you’d probably empathize with me for not feeling guilty about being against something I believe is wrong even when you don’t agree. Also, just because you aren’t hurting me, doesn’t mean it isn’t wrong to me or isn’t worth stopping. After all, I think adultery is evil even though it isn’t committed against me.

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  95. Beautifully writtten. I absolutely agree with this. I especially loved the Elie Weisel quote.

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  96. Humm,
    so what happens to all those Gay/Lesbian NON Christians? People who don't believe in your god? Your Leviticals & Christian scriptural Laws don't apply to them.

    IF they are American citizens, aren't they being defrauded of their Civil rights given not by God, but by the Constitution? What ever happened to freedom FROM Religion that the founding Fathers worked so hard to enshrine?

    They are not being represented,(served,) so why should they pay taxes?

    Let's get our Government out of the Marriage Business, and the Church out of determining who has what civil rights. The U.S. Government has always had the right to set Legal Contracts; (of which Marriage is one,) the churches, never! And because the Church viewed Marriage as a contract,( like buying a horse or a pig, or Land,) It didn't make it a Sacrament till the third Century when it found it could kmake money off it and control the sex lives of its people.

    I'm 69, a white male and a married gay man. The only thing that could really piss off the Southern Homophobic Christians more, is if I marred a Black Man, and since I married a Japanese; well their only partials more pissed off.
    \
    It's all about Power and Control, not about the real Christianity or American Values.

    Somebody's got to be on the bottom,to make the others feel better about themselves, just like in segregation days. I may never see, the day when we have total civil rights for the LGBT Community, but Like Martin Luther King jr., I have seen the Promised Land, and I wait in joyfilled Hope, for the Coming of the One who will bring true Justice to our silly Humanity.
    peace & Joy,

    Most Rev. Dr. Neil V. Christensen, c.s.e.f., Th.D.

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  97. Anonymous who posted at 1:25:
    "so what happens to all those Gay/Lesbian NON Christians? People who don't believe in your god? Your Leviticals & Christian scriptural Laws don't apply to them."

    In terms of earthly laws, they can vote based on whatever they believe and try to cause change accordingly, duh. In terms of the eternal Law, the Law does apply to non-believers and believers, just like the physical laws, except that people can choose whether or not they will obey it and will be judged.

    "IF they are American citizens, aren't they being defrauded of their Civil rights given not by God, but by the Constitution? What ever happened to freedom FROM Religion that the founding Fathers worked so hard to enshrine? "

    No, they aren't being defrauded. They have more rights then when the Constitution was originally written and they have the same rights as everyone else. As for this "freedom from religion", they are not required by the states or the nation to believe in any given religion and the states and nation do not support any given church and are not ruled or influenced by any given church. Nonetheless, the members of churches within the nation can be voting members of the nation and have just as much say in what should be federal laws as do voting atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. If you imply, as you might be doing, that religious people need to strip their minds of religious things they believe before they vote, everyone else should be required to strip their minds of everything moral before they vote (since, at least in my mind, the moral things I believe and the religious things I believe are amalgamated to each other). In that case, we shouldn't have any laws at all. After all, who are those other people to say that murdering is wrong? What about those murderers to whom their anti-murdering morality doesn't apply? We have laws because people believe things are wrong. Religious and non-religious people alike have things they agree and disagree are wrong. That's how we got here in the first place.

    "They are not being represented,(served,) so why should they pay taxes?"

    They are being represented. The votes they cast almost definitely are being counted. The fact that any bill for homosexuality shows up means they are being served, at least somewhat. If you mean "why isn't the minority being served like the majority?", it's because the system is largely based on numbers, so the majority has preference. Feel free to criticize the structure of our government for any lack. Any imperfect system will have a give and take; for example, why aren't all of my moral perspectives being put into law (that is, all my moral perspectives being represented), even though I pay taxes? Oh yeah, not all my morals are representative of the majority of my county, my state, or my nation. In that sense, I'm a minority. I have to live with that unless I can push to make a lot of other people believe my perspective.

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  98. I've read all the comments here... Honestly, the bible-thumping anonymous posters come off sounding akin to kindergarteners. "Wah. It's a sin. I refuse to allow you to cite any sources because it all sounds made-up and too pro-gay and too different from my opinion. Therefore you're wrong."

    Normally I can understand differing points of view. However, these are all arguments once used to prohibit marriage between races. Why do we have to have the same debates, over and over and over again? Whoever I choose to put a ring on my finger should be no business but mine alone. My bedroom is my business. I don't go peeping into your marriage, and I'm sure no one would like it if the situation were reversed - say, LGBTQ citizens were the majority and denied legal marriage to straight citizens.

    I'd also like to point out that, no, civil unions are not the same as marriages under state law. The restrictions are enourmous.

    Regardless, if we leave religion out of it, what difference does it honestly make in our lives if a stranger gets married to a same sex partner or hetero partner? Why do you care that badly? Why do we need a law prohibiting it? Like we really need more of a nanny state than we already have. The true fact of the matter is that we are overly concerned with others. In your opinion, biblical laws apply to everyone, regardless if they share your belief. There's a reason pilgrims fled to the colonies originally, and it's religious oppression -that exact sentiment you shared - and a myriad of other reasons it happened. "They can choose whether or not to obey it," referring to the "eternal Law." Well people like you have written your eternal law into the laws of the land. They can't choose NOT to obey it, because even if they WANT to "disobey" and get married, they can't enjoy that benefit. It's "illegal." So, no. There is no freedom of choice in regards to that argument.

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  99. Here's 20 minutes I'll never get back.
    Ignorant Article that rationalizes sin. And the alcoholic, drug addict, murderer..etc etc were born that way?
    Your choice: "I have put before you life and death, choose life"

    To live like there is no God makes you a fool.

    I understand the fight to treat people fairly and decently no matter what state they are in, but don't try to justify their sin.

    I agree with the person above who said this "but as soon as you rejected God from the equation I could not take another word seriously"

    When did I choose to be heterosexual? Seriously? That's comical.

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  100. My daughter, from Charlotte, sent me your post (I'm a New Orleanian). Bless you for you insight, wisdom and courage. We cannot let homophobic idiots prevail in out states or our country in their push to deny rights to class of citizens. Keep up the fight!

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  101. Mr. Shepard:

    As another heterosexual married male living in North Carolina I just want to say I whole heartedly agree with you.

    One of a few controllable-by-man (leaving out the 90 degree summer days) I absolutely despise about this state is the bible-belt, holier-than-thou attitude that so many of our fellow citizens live by.

    Nice post. (Posting as anonymous ONLY because I do not have the appropriate IDs for posting otherwise).

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  102. People Are Really, Really StrangeSeptember 20, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Re: Really?...

    I'm kind of at a loss here. Which is better:

    "I can't help but notice that none of you bleeding heart gay-lovers has taken on Really?'s most convincing and damning argument, that which states that allowing gays to marry is comparable to letting people rip each other's throats out or eat their children. Obviously you are all far too cowardly to take on his logic when you know you're just going to lose."

    or

    "OMG, check it out - there's some guy over here acting as if there's a logical and ethical comparison to be made between *allowing gays to marry* and *allowing people's throats to be ripped out and children to be eaten*! You Have Got To See This, it's completely hilarious."

    You just... I dunno it's... holy smokes, you're not supposed to make it this EASY. Wow. I'm totally going to show this to all my friends because it's just awesome, you know?

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  103. At the end of the day, what is going to change here. There are already Gay people living, working and co-existing in partnerships with people they love. What do the people supporting this policy think will happen... do you think that by supporting this amendment suddenly those people in your neighbourhood that are gay will realise that ohhh they are completely wrong and OF COURSE the right way is heterosexuality! NO! Get real!! You aren't going to change that Gay people exist in your state, you aren't going to stop them loving their partners all you are going to do is stop them enjoying benefits that you take for granted. And so say you get your way and some gay couples move to friendlier states... are you ignorant enough to think it won't effect you. The economy does not look at gender or sexuality their money is as green as yours. What do you think happens to the schools in your neighbourhood or the roads or the hospitals when people in your state move away and start paying their taxes to another state.

    Not everyone that gets married has children so put away that argument right now... The bible also tells us not to eat shellfish and Pork, so how many of you bible toting bigots enjoy those things come Sunday with your "normal" heterosexual family or maybe screwed your wife before she was your wife? That is prohibited by the bible you know? So stop picking and choosing which parts of the bible you adhere too.

    This article is wonderfully written and Mr Shepherd should be commended for unfortunately a "forward-thinking" attitude. His attitude however should not have to be forward thinking it should be the norm. To those of you who support this change. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Live your life and let others live theirs. It should not be you and them it should be US. We are all human.

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  104. Hurrah! This is a wonderful and well written article, I agree with almost all of it.

    I am enjoying reading people's arguments against this. After reading the negative comments above this is what I think they are trying to tell me:

    1. Sexual intercourse between two people of the same gender is wrong, I mean deep down we are all just secretly grossed out by it. It might just be when it's two men. We aren't quite sure why, it could apparently be because they aren't creating any children....but sexual acts between a man and a woman that don't result in children are fine. I think? Apparently it's also selfish. I don't know why. And if we allow them to marry they might start having more sex, I guess?

    2. The bible may or may not directly or indirectly say homosexuality is a sin. It might also say some pretty negative things about braiding your hair, wearing gold jewelry and eating shrimp, but these things don't count anymore because we have moved past them and everybody sins a little bit. And specific Bible passages are very important because they should mean the same thing to everybody.

    3. Gay marriage being legalized is the same thing as polygamy and incest being legalized and we don't like them polygamists much. I'm not actually sure if or why we don't like them but I guess we don't. Even though they are okay in the Bible? And if we allow same sex marriage then in 50 years or so we will all be married to 5 dogs who are possibly related to each other. And someone, somewhere may be having anal sex. Which as we covered in point one, would be really really selfish.

    4. We could probably tack on a new law saying that everyone could get civilly unioned to someone of the same sex but we can't call it marriage. Because it's a really neat specific word that only covers a man and a woman. And it's religious. Of course you can have a non religious marriage, but it has to be between a man and a woman. If there are two women who love God and each other and want to celebrate that by being married...well..sorry. No soup for you.

    I think I covered it?

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  105. Another North Carolinian WHO VOTES loves this post!

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  106. America is a sinking ship of fear, self-loathing, religious delusion, and astonishing ignorance... get out of there!

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  109. Samantha, from 5:47 PM:
    “Regardless, if we leave religion out of it, what difference does it honestly make in our lives if a stranger gets married to a same sex partner or hetero partner?”
    None, but why does that matter? I don’t compartmentalize, saying “I include my faith and obedience in God in these things, but never those” any more than most people (I would imagine, anyway) say “I include morality in these things but I leave them out of those things”. Conversely, if we leave your understanding of right and wrong out of it, what difference does it make if someone opposes same-sex marriages or not?

    “In your opinion, biblical laws apply to everyone, regardless if they share your belief. There's a reason pilgrims fled to the colonies originally, and it's religious oppression -that exact sentiment you shared - and a myriad of other reasons it happened.”
    You’re right; I do share the pilgrims’ sentiment. The pilgrims wanted to practice their religion, the basis for their morality, and weren’t being allowed to, so they fled to the colonies. Well, I live in the US and I want to practice my religion, but you and many others don’t want me to completely practice it (you want me to be silent or leave out parts that conflict with what you like), apparently. So, I’m being religiously oppressed, or, at least, suppressed by people like you. With regard to the Biblical laws, yes, I believe they apply to everyone. In a parallel manner, whether or not you agree that driving on the right side of the road in the US is wrong, and whether or not you break that law, the law of driving on the right side of the road and the consequences of breaking it apply to you all the same. That’s not at all a foreign concept.
    “ "They can choose whether or not to obey it," referring to the "eternal Law." Well people like you have written your eternal law into the laws of the land. They can't choose NOT to obey it, because even if they WANT to "disobey" and get married, they can't enjoy that benefit. It's "illegal." So, no. There is no freedom of choice in regards to that argument.”
    By choosing to pursue homosexual relations they are choosing not to obey the eternal Law, so yes they can choose not to obey it. Since you mention the pilgrims, technically they do have the choice to move to a place where homosexual marriage is legal. So, there’s that option, if they so choose to pursue it.

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  110. I love that all the bible thumpers are posting anonymously. Obviously these are individuals of deep moral conviction :)

    Autumn: Two thumbs up, love your post.

    Regarding neighbor murdering: Again, religion is not the same thing as morality, nor is it a prerequisite of such. Undoubtedly, my moral system is based largely on the bible, as is our legal system - that doesn't mean morality has a thing to do with believing in a god, or going to church (I do neither). I don't want to kill my neighbors because: a) I like them; b) I have nothing to gain by doing so; c) I have much to lose by doing so; d) They've never given me a reason to wish them harm; e) I believe that people generally aren't intentionally evil - so even with people I do "hate", I understand that it's a matter of perspective, not right and wrong - case in point, I have no desire to kill people who think gay marriage is wrong, even those who think they have a right to cram their views down the country's collective throat, because I know their opinion is formed by peer pressure and ignorance; f) Blood is icky.

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  111. @Really?:
    "Anything contrary to this—any sexual relationship outside of a committed marriage relationship between one man and one woman—demeans the institution of marriage and is unbiblical. Jesus was quite clear about his contempt for sexual immorality."
    So you are telling me the sex between the teens at the Prom (which so many christians turn a blind eye to) weakens my marriage? Did Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky weaken my marriage? If so, HOW?
    As for "unbiblical" SO AM I. I do not follow, believe in or respect the outdated, contradictory writings in that bronze age drivel. Jesus may have been clear about his contempt for immorality, but Christians seem to revel in it to me. Also, just because the Christian Bible calls something a sin does not make it one. Remember, the Bible was written by people, FLAWED people, and then voted on in committee. Want to use the "influenced by the hand of God" argument? Fine, but still filtered through the imperfect, biased, bigoted hand of men.
    And for the 75% of the world who is NOT Christian, (like me) that book means less than nothing. What DOES mean something is that in the name of Christianity, the followers of Jesus are attempting to force legislation through, based on THEIR religion alone, that relegates millions of Americans to second class citizen status. That is a rapid road on the path to stripping them of all their rights. It is what Hitler did with the Jews in the 1930's (In fact, they started out as second class citizens, with less rights before he came along, which is why he had such an easy time relegating them to death camps) Think long and hard before you start selecting any group for discriminatory treatment, remember Christians worldwide are a minority. That road could lead back to you.

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  112. My name is Dee from Washington - I too, am posting as Anonymous due to the complexities of being able to post using my name:
    Anonymous said (September 16, 2011 4:50 AM - "To accept a sinful life goes completely against what this country was founded for - religious freedom. That religion was Christianity." RELIGIOUS FREEDOM is for all Religions not just Christianity!!!! The constitution was written to prevent one religion from ruling the masses. Actions that harm are covered by law, and should be. Actions between two consenting adults in the privacy of their home does not cause harm of life or property. If it is deemed a sin by your god, then let him or her decide the fate of the sinner.

    Ben from NC Said..@ Daniel (via Daniel said @ Freeze Frame) . ""Also, all married couples with no kids should be forced to get a divorce if they have no offspring after 3 years. The human race is dying out, everyone must reproduce, or be punished."

    WHAT?!?!?! Excuse me but this has to be the single most ignorant reason for opposing gay marriage. The human race is FAR from dying out and we could probably stand to have our numbers thinned out before overpopulation and subsequent poor living conditions from impromptu shanty towns give us the REAL health problems that will be near impossible to isolate and treat." Ben, don't you recognize sarcasm when you see it??? Daniel was making a point that procreation is not needed in such an overpopulated world.

    Seth Said... "But... homosexuals already HAVE the same rights anyone else in America does. They can vote, marry the opposite sex, etc. What the author means is that we haven't given special rights to gays, nor have we redefined marriage to suit their desires." This is not true when it comes to survivors rights, the rights to visit your partner in the hospital, and in some cases to be burried side by side. The birth family of a person can exclude their partner if that person is unable to voice their wishes. Medical insurance for spouses is not available for partners of the same sex, but in many cases it IS available for common law partners of opposite sex, and many "religious" cemetarys refuse to allow same sex partner's to have side by side burial plots.
    Jonathan said "Jesus died to take away your sins, not your minds. Read The Bible with an understanding of the time it was written and stop using it as a tool to hate. The Bible doesn't tell you to treat homosexuals any different or to limit their rights, so stop using it as a crutch and excuse for your hate"

    The term MARRIAGE is just a WORD. It symbolizes a partnership and promise between 2 people. If 2 people are willing to enter such a partnership, then it should be recognized by the governing body like any other legally binding partnership.

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  113. People like you give me hope that everything will be alright. :) Thank you for this!

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  114. Amazing, this is really well written. Thank you for posting this. I've been trying to tell people, they just don't get it.

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  115. From Mike at 11:00 AM: “Again, religion is not the same thing as morality, nor is it a prerequisite of such. Undoubtedly, my moral system is based largely on the bible, as is our legal system - that doesn't mean morality has a thing to do with believing in a god, or going to church (I do neither).”
    Indeed, religion is not the same as morality. However, the religious people find it a basis for morality and, if the religion is true, it is the only basis for any kind of absolute morality, as opposed to any morality based on personal opinion or whatever serves the individual or the masses. If absolute morality exists, something is right or wrong no matter how many people believe otherwise or complain about not hurting anyone by their actions. It does not rely on whether the person acting even believes it to be absolute. In its permanence and the fact it doesn’t rely on any belief of others to exist the same way it does, it can be compared to mathematics (or, frankly, any physical law, property, etc). It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe 2 + 2 = 4, it equals 4 regardless of if you believe it, but it is only useful if you recognize it to be true. However, consequences can still arise if you don’t recognize it to be true, such as many problems with anything math-related that you do. Saying 2 + 2 = 5 doesn’t necessarily hurt anyone (though believing could), but it is wrong nonetheless. In parallel, the Law of God is true whether or not you believe it and it affects you despite your disbelief. It is useful and helpful if you believe, but you can still suffer for ignoring it even if you don’t believe it. It doesn’t matter if your actions supposedly “don’t hurt anyone”, it can still be against God’s Law and still be wrong.
    I’ve noticed that your answers for not wanting to murder your neighbors never indicate that murder is morally wrong (though, this might have been an oversight). Whether or not you believe it, your perspective of morals is not necessarily better than anyone else’s unless you have a standard of morality to compare it to. If your standard is your own standard of morality, then of course your morals are more likely to resemble your standard. However, if your standard is made up by you, that doesn’t logically mean anyone else should care. If, however, there is a standard that was developed by an all-knowing, all-just, and all-wise God, He would know better than anyone else what is right and wrong, and comparing actions to His standard would indicate absolutely whether the action is right or wrong. To sum up, if there is a God, then actions that are in accordance to His Law are right and those not in accordance are wrong absolutely; people will be judged accordingly and the consequences are eternal. If there isn’t a God, then (so far as I can tell) morality is relative, a philosopher’s standard of morality isn’t actually better than that of a child’s (merely sounding more profound and possibly accepted by others, as if that mattered), most moral issues ultimately boil down to happiness and selfishness, and none of it matters to any person involved beyond his lifetime.
    P.S. I post anonymously because my name shouldn’t matter, especially on a forum.

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  116. From Mark at 1:45 PM:
    “And for the 75% of the world who is NOT Christian, (like me) that book means less than nothing. What DOES mean something is that in the name of Christianity, the followers of Jesus are attempting to force legislation through, based on THEIR religion alone, that relegates millions of Americans to second class citizen status. That is a rapid road on the path to stripping them of all their rights. It is what Hitler did with the Jews in the 1930's (In fact, they started out as second class citizens, with less rights before he came along, which is why he had such an easy time relegating them to death camps) Think long and hard before you start selecting any group for discriminatory treatment, remember Christians worldwide are a minority. That road could lead back to you.”
    Yeesh, I know what you mean, Mark. As for me, I’m tired of the 84% of the world that isn’t nonreligious, atheist, agnostic, etc, complaining and trying to indicate that religion-based morality isn’t a good enough reason to vote and marginalizing either the most important or one of the most important thing(s) in the lives of so many people, namely their beliefs. That sure makes religious people feel like second-class citizens when what is most important is suddenly not good enough to a group that is a minority worldwide. Reducing the right of religious people to practice their religions to the lesser right to believe their religions but not act according to their religious faith is the beginning of a rapid road on the path to stripping them of all their rights, as Hitler did with the Jews in the 1930’s, etc. That road could lead back to those nonreligious people.
    But seriously, let’s say Christians are the only ones doing that and they are only doing it based on their religion. If their religion is the basis for their morals (as it is for most religious people), than they are doing what they think is right. So, your argument would boil down to you being outraged that religious people act based on what they think is right. How dare they?!

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  117. I think Anonymous at 10:58 would be totally alright with Jewish dietary standards being strictly enforced by the federal government, or adherence to Muslim prayer practices being required for all U.S. citizens. Since legislating religious doctrine despite its utter lack of secular purpose is alright with Anonymous, they would surely be completely cool with these scenarios. Yes. I'm sure that's the case. Right, Anonymous?

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  118. From Ginna:
    "I think Anonymous at 10:58 would be totally alright with Jewish dietary standards being strictly enforced by the federal government, or adherence to Muslim prayer practices being required for all U.S. citizens. Since legislating religious doctrine despite its utter lack of secular purpose is alright with Anonymous, they would surely be completely cool with these scenarios. Yes. I'm sure that's the case. Right, Anonymous?"

    I'm not Muslim, and forcing people to pray when they do not believe would be sinful, so no. I'm not a big fan of Jewish dietary laws, but ceremonial cleanliness (which is what those laws were meant to achieve) has already been completed for Christians by the death of Christ, so those laws would serve no purpose from a Christian perspective. So, to answer your question, no, not right. I don't support making legislation that forces people to do what might be right for believers to do (donate to charity, study the Bible, etc). I am, however, in support of making legislation that prevents everyone from doing immoral things, which is something that everyone else seems to support too; the difference would be that we disagree on what is and isn't moral.

    Since you mention secular purpose, what exactly is the secular purpose of legalizing same-sex marriage? I can think that it might make some people happy (those that support it) and some people angry (those that oppose it). It will give some people legal benefits, including inheritance benefits, tax breaks, etc. Well, banning same-sex marriage would make some people happy (those that oppose it), make some people angry (those that support it) and it would prevent some people from getting benefits. The difference between these two sides would be moral perspective, who we make happy or angry, and whether or not certain people get benefits. Well, if you look at it from the perspective of an individual that thinks homosexuality is immoral, those benefits would be rewarding people for their immorality. I am not in support of that, whether or not the people involved have my perspective of morality.

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  119. 10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

    01) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.
    02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
    03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
    04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
    05) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
    06) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.
    07) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
    08) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.
    09) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
    10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

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  120. When will everybody realize that what makes all people the same is so much more important than what makes us different. I just don't understand the bigots who discriminate against gays. As if homosexuals aren't human beings too. As if they're not someone's son, or daughter, or sister, or brother, or father, or mother, or friend. All people want to live in peace, we all feel love, we all want the best for our loved ones, we all have hopes and dreams, we can all feel pain, we all want to follow our bliss, we all struggle, we're all just trying to get through life the best way we know how. How does any of that change with the color of someone's skin, or their physical abilities, or what God they pray to, or what language they speak, or what their sexual orientation is? If a man loves and wants to marry another man, or a woman loves and wants to marry another woman, what is that to anyone else? They're not hurting anyone. Only a truly vicious, hateful, spiteful, selfish, vile misanthrope would begrudge someone their love of someone else. People who hate homosexuals should be ashamed of themselves. Those bigots deserve to live in the shadows. They're not fit to show their faces in decent society. And it seems patently unfair that gays and their families should suffer the devastating effects of discrimination, while bigots and their loved ones go along untouched. It's past time that the bigots are made to pay for their discrimination BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. Let the bigots and their loved ones start suffering and maybe they'll learn their lesson. Anyone coming into contact with Maggie Gallagher, other members of NOM, members of the Family Research Council, or other hate organizations, Folwell, the members of the North Carolina House or Senate that oppose equality, or their loved ones, should take any action possible to make them pay a price.

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  121. So, how do we allow or encourage bisexual people to ente into marriage? Do they each get to pick two spouses, one from each sex? Then do those two spouses each get to pick at least one more? Explain to me how this works. You say that you want the rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual AND transgender issue so if this is going to work for real and really work please explain the logic of how that would work? How will this institution be legitimized for EVERYONE?

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  122. If you live near Knoxville, TN please join us for a local event to promote awareness of LGBT rights Sunday, October 16th, 2011. We will be taking "video statements" on why you believe Equal Rights are important for everyone. This event is open to any person regardless of sexual orientation! Funds are also being raised to bring the Self Evident Truth's Project to East TN. For details please visit: http://speakoutforequality.com

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  123. “When will everybody realize that what makes all people the same is so much more important than what makes us different. I just don't understand the bigots who discriminate against gays. As if homosexuals aren't human beings too. As if they're not someone's son, or daughter, or sister, or brother, or father, or mother, or friend. All people want to live in peace, we all feel love, we all want the best for our loved ones, we all have hopes and dreams, we can all feel pain, we all want to follow our bliss, we all struggle, we're all just trying to get through life the best way we know how. How does any of that change with the color of someone's skin, or their physical abilities, or what God they pray to, or what language they speak, or what their sexual orientation is? If a man loves and wants to marry another man, or a woman loves and wants to marry another woman, what is that to anyone else? They're not hurting anyone. Only a truly vicious, hateful, spiteful, selfish, vile misanthrope would begrudge someone their love of someone else. People who hate homosexuals should be ashamed of themselves. Those bigots deserve to live in the shadows. They're not fit to show their faces in decent society. And it seems patently unfair that gays and their families should suffer the devastating effects of discrimination, while bigots and their loved ones go along untouched. It's past time that the bigots are made to pay for their discrimination BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.”
    I’m thoroughly convinced. It is very clear that all people want to live in peace by the fact that you strongly suggest revenge and suffering against people that think differently on this subject. *end of sarcasm* To answer your questions, it is very evident that all those qualities of “all people” do change when people pray to/worship a different God, since you think a God that is against homosexuality is the God of “truly vicious, hateful, spiteful, selfish, vile misanthrope[s]”. If a man loves a man or a woman loves a woman sexually, that is immoral to some other people. Not all immorality is immoral because it causes pain. In fact, very little immorality is immoral merely because it causes pain. If that were the qualifier, a murderer that killed his victims by numbing them up and then killing them wouldn’t be guilty of any immoral action.
    My retort: When will people realize that the Law of the God is more important than anything else, even if those things against His Law make people happy? I just don’t understand the bigots that discriminate against people following their own religious beliefs. As if religious people aren’t human beings too, etc, etc. They just want to live in peace, etc, but secular bigots will not accept the way they live their lives, namely by the laws they believe are holy. Those bigots against religious people deserve to live in the shadows, etc. It seems patently unfair that religious people should suffer the devastating effects of discrimination, while secular bigots and their loved ones go along untouched. It’s past time that the secular bigots are made to pay for their discrimination BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.

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  124. Wow. You give me hope that the world can change. Thank you.

    One of the negative posters said it was rare for gays and lesbians to adopt. As an adoptive parents of a child (birthed by straight people) I can tell him that there are quite a few of us and there would be more if states permitted us to adopt without creating barriers.

    We adopted a kid that the system had thrown away and she recently got her master's degree. How that possibly harms society confuses me. We also have two sons in college who we birthed, we've been together longer than probably most of the people who post, so over thirty years, and we pay taxes for which we do not receive fair treatment. Last year we were forced to pay taxes as a married couple but do not get the benefits of being a married couple. Not really fair, is it?

    In any case, thank you and the commenters who have a sense of justice, fairness and lack the fear that we are destroying the fabric of society by loving our children and each other, putting our three kids through college, working full time and being homeowners and volunteers in our community.

    It is easy to be bitter and forget people like you all are out there in the face of the bigots, like some of the commenters who seem to not realize that we are real, live flesh and blood people who are harmed by the hate they direct at us. Thanks, again for reminding me.

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  125. It's just about loving another person and wanting to make that legitimate. Why is that so hard for people to accept? How does it affect you, really? If your next door neighbor gay couple gets married, how would that affect your life (unless you have no life)? How can you even think to compare this to marrying your dog or daughter? So ignorant.
    By the way, God did NOT write the bible. I believein God. God is good, not ignorant.
    Great article. I am a mother of 3 and grew up Catholic. I left the church because the hypocrisy just overwhelmed me. I'm glad my kids will not be raised in that environment. I wish the best for the GLBT community. I have some dear friends in that community.
    Kari L.

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  126. Kari:
    "It's just about loving another person and wanting to make that legitimate. Why is that so hard for people to accept?"

    It's hard to accept a claim of love when it is also immoral.

    "How does it affect you, really? If your next door neighbor gay couple gets married, how would that affect your life (unless you have no life)?"

    A claim of love, even if it is believed by both parties/all parties, does not negate the immorality of a situation. The immorality is precisely what affects me and everyone else. If a next-door neighbor same-sex couple got married, it may not affect me except morally. However, neither may the murder of a guy I've never met who lives on the other side of the country. No matter how much it affects me, I still wish for the moral option in the situation.

    "How can you even think to compare this to marrying your dog or daughter?"

    I suppose same-sex marriage could be compared to incest or bestiality because it is immorality under the claim of love, as both of the latter could be claimed. Whether or not both members of the same-sex couple do love each other, whether or not your daughter does want to marry you, whether or not the dog likes having sex with you, all three situations are still immoral.

    "By the way, God did NOT write the bible. I believein God. God is good, not ignorant."

    By the way, God inspired the words of the Bible. I believe in God too. He is good and not ignorant, but homosexuality is still an abomination to Him.

    "I left the church because the hypocrisy just overwhelmed me."

    I do not know the situation of your church, and some churches do have corruption/hypocrisy that you should stay away from. However, your claims, as if you know what God would approve of despite what is written in His Word, are arrogant, ignorant, and hypocritical. Without the Bible, you have little to no basis for knowing what God would want in this situation, and to imply that not only do you know what He would want but it is directly contradictory to the Bible is sheer arrogance.

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  127. "Anonymous said... It's as if the author is saying 'Well, you may actually believe that God exists, that He knows better than anyone what is right and wrong, and that He can punish you for doing wrong, but that has no bearing on this matter.'"
    He's not saying that you're not allowed to have your beliefs, just that it should have no bearing ON THE LAW! This is one of the most basic tenets of our Constitution. God (if he or she exists) can judge us all according to what is truly right and good (if/when that day comes), but we cannot judge based upon how some of us might feel He/She/They would; this would impose our religious beliefs upon others, which why we came here in the first place.


    "Concerning science, which I also feel very strongly about, the idea that a complex human behavior like sexuality is actually determined by genetics, hormones, and/or environment is not only unscientific but also absurd."
    -You clearly know nothing about neuroscience, genetics or human physiology. I'm not saying that we know why people are gay - in fact I'll go ahead and say that we don't know, but since basically every other aspect of our behavior -- including our emotional connection to others (oxytocin), libido (testosterone), and even propensity for belief in religion (left temporal lobe) -- is determined by our neurochemical physiology as shaped by some combination of genetics and the environment, then why not sexual orientation? in fact it's likely that there are specific contributing factors out there, but we haven't done a good job of elucidating them yet.

    "I think anyone that concludes that sexuality cannot change based on choice is not using scientific reasoning."
    -How about all of the research showing that reorientation/conversion therapy is ineffective and potentially harmful? Not saying that it absolutely can't change, but generally speaking 1) sexual orientation is consistent from childhood (yes, don't out) through adulthood, and 2) attempts to "will" one's self to have a different orientation is virtually impossible (you can't hide from yourself when it comes to sexual orientation), and 'successful' attempts usually involve creating an aversion to one's true orientation rather than accepting and being content with another orientation.

    "Such horribly uninformed conclusions that sexuality does not involve choice throws us into a particularly difficult realm of thinking that ignores people that have chosen to be celibate (people that have chosen to be non-sexual), ignores people that were of one sexuality and chose to switch to a different sexuality, and almost always glazes over bisexuality without any consideration. September 16, 2011 1:21 AM"
    Choosing not to have sex does not mean that you are not "sexual," nor is it particularly natural, especially for men (see how well Catholic priests do). I'm pretty sure we covered 'choosing to switch' above (but if you want another example, see Jim Mcgreevy). I'm also not sure how bisexuality supports one's ability to choose orientation - if someone is attracted to both sexes then they must be able to choose their orientation? or like they are then able to pick one? or like they had one orientation but then chose the other? What are you saying?!

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  128. Anonymous at 12:38, I get it now. I really do.

    When you are convinced that "something" is morally wrong (a determination which often relies upon your utterly faith-based behavioral standards which have been enumerated in your favored holy text which you believe contains the precious sacred word of your preferred deity), even if/when this particular "something" causes neither physical nor economic nor psychological harm to anyone/anything (besides making you think "ew, I bet they do icky things in private" & "I'm sure my god will smite them when they die"), you are nevertheless justified in legally prohibiting this morally wrong "something."

    You are aware that the Lemon Test requires all legislation to serve a secular purpose.

    This does not matter to you.

    You are aware that mandating adherence to the faith-based doctrines of any particular religion blatantly violates the First Amendment rights of everyone who does not wish to live their lives according to that particular religion.

    This also does not matter to you.

    In regards to this specific issue, you are aware that you embrace the validity of secular marriage contracts between opposite sex couples based on reasons like said couples wanting to secure benefits, rights, & responsibilities for the partners they love, whilst simultaneously rejecting the validity of secular marriage contracts between same sex couples based on reasons like said couples wanting to secure benefits, rights, & responsibilities for the partners they love.

    This also does not matter to you.

    What matters is that you feel entitled to restricting the civil rights (see Loving vs Virginia) of an entire group of people because your personal morals based on religion & god tell you it's a good call.

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  129. Gianna, posting at 5 AM:

    "You are aware that the Lemon Test requires all legislation to serve a secular purpose."

    I'm aware of the Lemon Test. However, just because some legislation agrees with morals found in religious texts does not mean it necessarily advances a religion. We shouldn't throw out laws against theft because religious texts also say stealing is wrong. If the voters disagree with homosexuality based on moral grounds, it serves to establish law based on the morals grounds of the people, similar to the issue of allowing African Americans to marry Caucasians or what have you (since many people found that to be morally right to allow). The legislation need not state or even imply that these grounds are because some of the voters have those morals grounded in religion, especially since some don't. As for the entanglement, if the legislation does not state or imply that any religion is necessarily being advanced, I see no reason why this would cause entanglement. Multiple religions disagree with homosexuality as well as some nonreligious people. If the people vote for something, the legislation should be passed for the sake of the people, not necessarily for their religion. The fact that this could pass the Lemon Test apparently hasn't occurred to you.

    "You are aware that mandating adherence to the faith-based doctrines of any particular religion blatantly violates the First Amendment rights of everyone who does not wish to live their lives according to that particular religion."

    You are aware that me saying religious people should and should be allowed to follow their religious morality (as I've been saying) has nothing to do with mandating that everyone follow religious morality, meaning it does not violate the First Amendment, right? Apparently not. Again, I never implied that everyone should be judged by the state or federal government based on the Bible or other religious texts. I said that people that believe in those texts are morally obligated to vote according to the morals they have. If the legislation passes, everyone will be bound by the legislation, NOT the religious texts. Whether or not it passes, people are still bound by their own religious or nonreligious morals. Apparently this also hasn't occurred to you.

    "you are aware that you embrace the validity of secular marriage contracts between opposite sex couples based on reasons like said couples wanting to secure benefits, rights, & responsibilities for the partners they love, whilst simultaneously rejecting the validity of secular marriage contracts between same sex couples based on reasons like said couples wanting to secure benefits, rights, & responsibilities for the partners they love."

    I didn't necessarily say that. Nonetheless, good intentions, such as wanting to secure benefits, rights, and responsibilities, etc, do not negate immorality. If I wanted to steal from you to provide more money for my family, that doesn't make stealing right in this case. Whatever the intentions of the same-sex couples in their marriages, the immorality persists. Apparently the importance of morality in the minds of others has also not occurred to you.

    What matters to you, or so it seems, is toting your personal opinions in poorly thought out points whilst ignoring the validity of my points, disregarding the logic of my statements, and claiming I mean or say things I don't.

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  130. Adam, from 11:59 PM:
    “He's not saying that you're not allowed to have your beliefs, just that it should have no bearing ON THE LAW! This is one of the most basic tenets of our Constitution. God (if he or she exists) can judge us all according to what is truly right and good (if/when that day comes), but we cannot judge based upon how some of us might feel He/She/They would; this would impose our religious beliefs upon others, which why we came here in the first place.”
    Because of the nature of the Christian religion, the nature of morality, and the nature of law, this paragraph is irrelevant to making headway in the argument. Law is an attempt to pursue morality in legislation. For Christians, morality is determined by God’s Law, which, in case you have missed it, is more important than the Constitution. Because the beliefs of true believers cannot be separated from their morality, there is no way for these individuals to pursue morality except under the influence of God and the teachings of the Bible. As such, they should vote accordingly. Them voting and even achieving change in legislation does not equate imposing their religion on others. As for the idea that this would “impose our religious beliefs upon others”, that’s just missing the point. Such legislation as this does not force anyone to believe what Christians believe or force them to pursue Christian lives. Resemblance of legislation to commandments in the Bible does not equate an imposition of religious beliefs.
    “You clearly know nothing about neuroscience, genetics or human physiology.”
    You clearly are bad at gleaning information. Not only have you apparently missed the part of my post in which I said that those factors had correlations to sexual orientation (which is a point which you are making in agreement with me), but I have studied all of those areas, not that me writing that on here makes it necessarily believable. Like I said before (and you apparently missed), all of those areas have correlations to sexuality, but the combination does not determine without any choice the sexuality of an individual. Likewise, oxytocin does not determine emotional connection without at least the subconscious contribution and maintenance of the individual, testosterone does not determine libido without other stimulus/stimuli, and left temporal lobe does not determine propensity for belief in religion without the influence of other factors. Of these three, libido requires the least influence and least maintenance, yet not all athletes that are hyped up on testosterone have strong libido. Each of your examples is not an example of a determinant, merely another correlation. Despite the correlations to sexuality, choice remains as the determinant, because if people do not choose to pursue a sexual attraction that person is nonsexual. Genetics and environment have strong correlations to a person’s ability to do art as well, but if the individual never pursues art and never paints or draws or does anything artistic, the individual is non-artistic. Even all these factors aside, the issue, in the eyes of many at least, is still a moral one; even having an inclination toward immorality does not make you moral when you choose the immoral option. I will explain the moral side in a later paragraph.

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  131. Adam, from 11:59 PM:

    “How about all of the research showing that reorientation/conversion therapy is ineffective and potentially harmful?”

    I am not unaware of this research. However, not only am I often skeptical of the psychology of the situations in general, but I’m also inclined to think there is a severe prejudice in the general psychology community on this issue (for example: notice the number of psychology-related associations the author lists and the distinct lack of genetics associations and endocrinology associations, despite the claim that homosexuality is also determined by genetics and hormones). In the research I wonder (since neither I nor the researchers could know) how many people truly wanted to undergo the therapy, how many other people successfully changed their orientation without having to see a psychologist about it, etc. Also, if those individuals thought they needed to see a psychologist for therapy in order to change their orientation in the first place, I wonder what other factors might have been involved in their psychology. With regards to “creating an aversion to one's true orientation”, let’s suppose for a moment that one’s “true orientation” wasn’t determined by choice or actions but something else and that aversion to one’s “true orientation” was possible. If, as many religious texts say, homosexuality is immoral, then aversion to something immoral wouldn’t be a bad thing. However, from what I’ve read of the methods, I’m inclined to think it is a very harsh approach. I do not know what would be the best approach if an individual truly sought such therapy.

    “Choosing not to have sex does not mean that you are not "sexual," nor is it particularly natural, especially for men (see how well Catholic priests do).”

    Actually, choosing not to ever have sex does mean you are not “sexual”. That’s exactly what the definition indicates. Whether or not it occurs in nature is not my concern, since humans engage in a lot of things that don’t occur in nature. Also, the publicity of acts by some Catholic priests does not indicate a blanketing indication on all of them. That would be a fallacy.

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  132. Adam, from 11:59 PM:

    “I'm also not sure how bisexuality supports one's ability to choose orientation”

    Bisexuality doesn’t necessarily mean the individual can choose his orientation while others cannot, but the author and nearly all research as to how genetics and hormones affect sexuality do not include indication of bisexual orientation, which is primarily what I meant. I primarily meant that what the author mentions/implies does not really include all situations, such as nonsexual individuals or bisexual individuals. Now that you mention it, since bisexuals can be/are attracted to both genders, they can choose between one member of one gender and another member of another gender (as a girl with two suitors can choose between two suitors). This would indicate that one could choose between genders. Unless the bisexual mind is largely different from that of anyone else, which I sincerely doubt, then other people are probably capable (though probably unwilling) to choose between members of both sexes. I have had first-hand experience of being attracted to a girl and not pursuing her as well as being attracted to a girl and pursuing her. I’ve also been able to suppress attraction for some girls. I know many people are able to do the same, as evidenced by the fact that so many people can actually get over (stop being attracted to) the people they break-up with. The mere fact that people can make an act of will to suppress feelings for people they once were attracted to is clear evidence that choice is involved in sexuality. There are many people that, having recognized that their significant others having cheated on them, break-up their relationship with the cheater make an effort to suppress attractions due to a quality they recognize as bad (namely infidelity). If attraction was wholly not choice-based, individuals could not stop liking their significant others unless the fickle non-choice-based love switched off. Scientists often mention how certain chemicals are involved in certain emotions, but those chemicals did not randomly show up and cause the emotions; those correlating chemicals showed up in concert with the emotions, which were initiated without the chemical influx in the first place.

    Back to morality... Even if the fact that emotions can be controlled didn’t exist, and we could not suppress our feelings for others, then the action of pursuing those attractions resulting in sexuality is STILL a choice. Even if I am inclined to be attracted to the wife of another, it would be immoral for me to pursue her. If that attraction ever happened, I would be morally obligated to try to suppress that attraction and never pursue her. Even if I am unable to suppress those feelings, I must still not pursue her. That would be the moral choice. By not making a choice to pursue adultery, I am non-adulterous, just as I would be non-sexual if I never pursued anyone sexually. Even if attraction had nothing to do with choice, giving into the temptation to do something immoral is still immoral.

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  133. Anon10:50 said "We shouldn't throw out laws against theft because religious texts also say stealing is wrong."

    Anon, you're right. If a law (or proposed law) serves (or will serve) a secular purpose and also happens to match the behavioral standards of religious text, the law is valid because, when you strip away the religious basis for said law, a secular purpose for its existence remains. If, however, a law (or proposed law) serves (or will serve) NO secular purpose in the event that the religious basis is stripped away, the law (or proposed law) fails the Lemon test.

    Theft, as you mentioned, works beautifully as an example of something that is outlawed because legally prohibiting such a thing serves a secular purpose. Strip away the religiously-rooted moral judgments against thievery & we find that there is a secular purpose in prohibiting theft & punishing thieves - when someone willfully & permanently deprives another person of their possession(s), they violate this other person's right (a human right) to their own legal property.

    If, however, we were to strip away the religiously-rooted moral judgments against same-sex marriage, we wouldn't be left with any secular justification for prohibiting it. Like I said, same-sex marriage causes neither physical nor economic nor psychological harm to anyone/anything (besides making you think "ew, I bet they do icky things in private" & "I'm sure my god will smite them when they die"). Zero secular justification = Lemon test failure.

    The fact that you weren't aware of how the Lemon test works concerns me.

    "If the legislation passes, everyone will be bound by the legislation, NOT the religious texts."

    But if the SOLE basis for the legislation is religious in nature, then it necessarily follows that the legislation serves no other purpose but to require everyone to adhere to the faith-based behavioral standards of the sacred text(s) from which the faith-based behavioral standards originated. Once again, if you strip away the religiously-rooted moral judgments and a secular justification for the law does not also exist, DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT COLLECT $200 DOLLARS.

    "If I wanted to steal from you to provide more money for my family, that doesn't make stealing right in this case. Whatever the intentions of the same-sex couples in their marriages, the immorality persists."

    Pretty sure I just covered this. Theft - secular justification for being legally prohibited. Lemon test passed. Same-sex marriage - no secular justification for being legally prohibited. Lemon test failed.

    Once your points exhibit validity and logic, I will gladly acknowledge that they possess these traits.

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  134. Gay Marriage is going to happen. Gay people are not going to just give up on this. So you can either be on the right side of history or not.

    (the right side is the one where we let people be equal)

    (thanks eric)

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  135. Ginna, from 5:58 AM:

    Apparently the finer points of how morality works evade you.

    "Strip away the religiously-rooted moral judgments against thievery & we find that there is a secular purpose in prohibiting theft & punishing thieves - when someone willfully & permanently deprives another person of their possession(s), they violate this other person's right (a human right) to their own legal property."

    ... and why do we think people have any right to own property? Why do we think another person shouldn't be able to take something that the other person has as "his property"? That would be because we think that people should (a moral word) be able to own property and other people shouldn't (moral word with a negative) take what is another person's.

    With regards to same-sex marriage, the question is whether or not people should (moral word) or should not (moral word with a negative) be allowed to marry, etc. We already have reasons for other situations involving marriages that people have mentioned on this forum before. People have decided that people under the age of 18 should not get married excepting special circumstances because they think 18 is about when someone can make informed decisions of consent for themselves. This, of course, is a subjective analysis. There are some 12 year-olds that are probably smart enough to make informed decisions and some 20 year-olds that we still worry about, but the law is doing the best it can and functions pretty well as it is stated. Why is informed consent so important, though? People think a person should (there's the word again) be able to give informed consent, etc etc. People should not be allowed to marry animals because animals, it is often argued, cannot make an informed decision and a sexual partner should be able to do that. Many people also have other reasons why they think bestiality shouldn't be allowed, but the point that it is wrong is a point most can agree upon. Polygamy is also illegal, and so far as I can tell many people put forth different reasons why it is wrong (it decreases fairness among the spouses involved, it creates a potential problem socially for people finding a spouse, etc), but a large portion of the population agrees that it is wrong (remember, that's a moral word too). Again, all of these points/laws relate to morality. Shall we suppose the lemon test passed for them? Without religion, morality becomes a very relative and flexible thing and laws are the attempt to find common ground to solidify what the population (or monarch, or whoever decides the laws in a given system) thinks is moral. Why they think it is moral may vary, but the fact that they think it is moral is what matters.

    So, just like those examples, if the sole basis for the legislation is moral, it does not necessarily follow that the legislation serves no purpose, since a large portion of legislation boils down to morality or an attempt at morality.

    "But if the SOLE basis for the legislation is religious in nature, then it necessarily follows that the legislation serves no other purpose but to require everyone to adhere to the faith-based behavioral standards of the sacred text(s) from which the faith-based behavioral standards originated."

    You are inserting that the sole basis is religious, which it is not necessarily. It is moral and the moral basis for some people, but not all, is based on religion. Besides, even if the law against bestiality was passed because people voting for the law against bestiality wanted it banned due to a commandment in the Bible against it, thus making its origin religious in nature, the law would serve to represent the morality of the population just as a law against theft does. People take it for granted that we should be able to own property, but why should we? It boils down to a moral belief. Well, so does whether or not same-sex marriage should be legal.

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  136. Ginnna, from 5:58 AM:

    “Strip away the religiously-rooted moral judgments against thievery & we find that there is a secular purpose in prohibiting theft & punishing thieves - when someone willfully & permanently deprives another person of their possession(s), they violate this other person's right (a human right) to their own legal property.”
    Theft, like many laws, has a moral basis for being illegal. Theft, as you say, involved someone violating another person’s “right” to their own legal property. Well, in a situation without a law against theft, why should we suppose anyone should own property and why should we suppose there’s a problem with someone else taking it? If you’ll notice, I used the word “should” which is a moral word (at least, as I have used it). It indicates what is right, regardless of what actually occurs. People think they should be allowed to own property and that other people should not be allowed to take it. People think they should have rights to things. That’s probably how the word started: it is “right” that someone should have this claim.
    Moral basis exists for murder (people shouldn’t be allowed to kill each other without a reason that other people recognize as a good enough reason), theft (as we’ve addressed), rape (people shouldn’t be forced into any sexual acts without their consent), etc. Even what you have mentioned as “physical nor economic nor psychological harm to anyone/anything”, which other people seem to universally recognize as a reason something might be wrong (by implying “it doesn’t hurt anyone” somehow equates to “it isn’t wrong) has a moral foundation. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to cause harm to others? Because people think harm is bad and they think they should be allowed to live without harm being caused at will. If there are no consequences, such as if there is an island with only two inhabitants and the stronger one of the two murders the other one, then the moral reason is all that matters. Laws promising consequences exist to establish what the population views is right and wrong and punish those that do wrong.
    So, if you strip away the religiously-rooted moral judgments against thievery, you find that other people also find theft to be wrong. So, why should the morality of non-religious people matter so much more? Religious people have just as much “right” to say what they think is right as anyone else and saying what they think is right is not forcing other people to believe in a religion. So, whether or not a person believes theft is wrong because the Bible says so or because the person merely likes stuff, wants to keep his stuff, and just thinks other people shouldn’t take his stuff, a law against theft will reflect both views and establish the moral outlook of both. As long as the law reflects the moral outlook of the law, the law is (at least in that respect) serving a secular purpose, namely morals, and is not necessarily advancing any religion. The government need not tack on “because God says so” to the law. All they need to do is say “because the people said so” and it will express the moral perspective of religious and nonreligious alike. This is far from entangling the government in religion, especially compared to providing funds to schools that specifically teach religion to their students, as was the case that the Lemon Test originated from.
    The fact that you weren’t aware of how morality and laws work concerns me.
    If the population thinks same-sex marriage is wrong, regardless of if they think it’s wrong for religious purposes, the law will reflect the morality of the population and serve a secular purpose. Lemon test passed.

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  137. Ginnna:

    “Strip away the religiously-rooted moral judgments against thievery & we find that there is a secular purpose in prohibiting theft & punishing thieves - when someone willfully & permanently deprives another person of their possession(s), they violate this other person's right (a human right) to their own legal property.”
    Theft, like many laws, has a moral basis for being illegal. Theft, as you say, involved someone violating another person’s “right” to their own legal property. Well, in a situation without a law against theft, why should we suppose anyone should own property and why should we suppose there’s a problem with someone else taking it? If you’ll notice, I used the word “should” which is a moral word (at least, as I have used it). It indicates what is right, regardless of what actually occurs. People think they should be allowed to own property and that other people should not be allowed to take it. People think they should have rights to things. That’s probably how the word started: it is “right” that someone should have this claim.
    Moral basis exists for murder (people shouldn’t be allowed to kill each other without a reason that other people recognize as a good enough reason), theft (as we’ve addressed), rape (people shouldn’t be forced into any sexual acts without their consent), etc. Even what you have mentioned as “physical nor economic nor psychological harm to anyone/anything”, which other people seem to universally recognize as a reason something might be wrong (by implying “it doesn’t hurt anyone” somehow equates to “it isn’t wrong) has a moral foundation. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to cause harm to others? Because people think harm is bad and they think they should be allowed to live without harm being caused at will. If there are no consequences, such as if there is an island with only two inhabitants and the stronger one of the two murders the other one, then the moral reason is all that matters. Laws promising consequences exist to establish what the population views is right and wrong and punish those that do wrong.
    So, if you strip away the religiously-rooted moral judgments against thievery, you find that other people also find theft to be wrong. So, why should the morality of non-religious people matter so much more? Religious people have just as much “right” to say what they think is right as anyone else and saying what they think is right is not forcing other people to believe in a religion. So, whether or not a person believes theft is wrong because the Bible says so or because the person merely likes stuff, wants to keep his stuff, and just thinks other people shouldn’t take his stuff, a law against theft will reflect both views and establish the moral outlook of both. As long as the law reflects the moral outlook of the law, the law is (at least in that respect) serving a secular purpose, namely morals, and is not necessarily advancing any religion. The government need not tack on “because God says so” to the law. All they need to do is say “because the people said so” and it will express the moral perspective of religious and nonreligious alike. This is far from entangling the government in religion, especially compared to providing funds to schools that specifically teach religion to their students, as was the case that the Lemon Test originated from.
    The fact that you weren’t aware of how morality and laws work concerns me.
    If the population thinks same-sex marriage is wrong, regardless of if they think it’s wrong for religious purposes, the law will reflect the morality of the population and serve a secular purpose. Lemon test passed.

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  138. Oh, the use of language is fascinating to behold.

    I think the point relevant to NCarolinians is that amending the NC constitution as proposed, in addition to promoting discrimination and/or being a political maneuver by candidates for winning votes, will have unintended consequences which may be regretted by many for a very long time.

    Besides, it's only a matter of time when the inconsistencies among the states' marriage laws will be eliminated and same-gender marriage will be legalized nationally.

    We're here, we're queer, some of us want to get married, GET OVER IT!

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  139. Ginnna, from 5:58 AM:

    So, the moderator apparently wants to discriminate by deleting my post, which has occurred multiple times in the last couple hours despite the fact I'm not putting anything nearly as offensive in this post as what has already been allowed by others. Sorry for delays.

    “Strip away the religiously-rooted moral judgments against thievery & we find that there is a secular purpose in prohibiting theft & punishing thieves - when someone willfully & permanently deprives another person of their possession(s), they violate this other person's right (a human right) to their own legal property.”
    Theft, like many laws, has a moral basis for being illegal. Theft, as you say, involved someone violating another person’s “right” to their own legal property. Well, in a situation without a law against theft, why should we suppose anyone should own property and why should we suppose there’s a problem with someone else taking it? If you’ll notice, I used the word “should” which is a moral word (at least, as I have used it). It indicates what is right, regardless of what actually occurs. People think they should be allowed to own property and that other people should not be allowed to take it. People think they should have rights to things. That’s probably how the word started: it is “right” that someone should have this claim.
    Moral basis exists for murder (people shouldn’t be allowed to kill each other without a reason that other people recognize as a good enough reason), theft (as we’ve addressed), rape (people shouldn’t be forced into any sexual acts without their consent), etc. Even what you have mentioned as “physical nor economic nor psychological harm to anyone/anything”, which other people seem to universally recognize as a reason something might be wrong (by implying “it doesn’t hurt anyone” somehow equates to “it isn’t wrong) has a moral foundation. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to cause harm to others? Because people think harm is bad and they think they should be allowed to live without harm being caused at will. If there are no consequences, such as if there is an island with only two inhabitants and the stronger one of the two murders the other one, then the moral reason is all that matters. Laws promising consequences exist to establish what the population views is right and wrong and punish those that do wrong.
    So, if you strip away the religiously-rooted moral judgments against thievery, you find that other people also find theft to be wrong. So, why should the morality of non-religious people matter so much more? Religious people have just as much “right” to say what they think is right as anyone else and saying what they think is right is not forcing other people to believe in a religion. So, whether or not a person believes theft is wrong because the Bible says so or because the person merely likes stuff, wants to keep his stuff, and just thinks other people shouldn’t take his stuff, a law against theft will reflect both views and establish the moral outlook of both. As long as the law reflects the moral outlook of the law, the law is (at least in that respect) serving a secular purpose, namely morals, and is not necessarily advancing any religion. The government need not tack on “because God says so” to the law. All they need to do is say “because the people said so” and it will express the moral perspective of religious and nonreligious alike. This is far from entangling the government in religion, especially compared to providing funds to schools that specifically teach religion to their students, as was the case that the Lemon Test originated from.
    The fact that you weren’t aware of how morality and laws work concerns me.
    If the population thinks same-sex marriage is wrong, regardless of if they think it’s wrong for religious purposes, the law will reflect the morality of the population and serve a secular purpose. Lemon test passed.

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  140. Ginnna, from 5:58 AM:

    “Strip away the religiously-rooted moral judgments against thievery & we find that there is a secular purpose in prohibiting theft & punishing thieves - when someone willfully & permanently deprives another person of their possession(s), they violate this other person's right (a human right) to their own legal property.”
    Theft, like many laws, has a moral basis for being illegal. Theft, as you say, involved someone violating another person’s “right” to their own legal property. Well, in a situation without a law against theft, why should we suppose anyone should own property and why should we suppose there’s a problem with someone else taking it? If you’ll notice, I used the word “should” which is a moral word (at least, as I have used it). It indicates what is right, regardless of what actually occurs. People think they should be allowed to own property and that other people should not be allowed to take it. People think they should have rights to things. That’s probably how the word started: it is “right” that someone should have this claim.
    Moral basis exists for murder (people shouldn’t be allowed to kill each other without a reason that other people recognize as a good enough reason), theft (as we’ve addressed), rape (people shouldn’t be forced into any sexual acts without their consent), etc. Even what you have mentioned as “physical nor economic nor psychological harm to anyone/anything”, which other people seem to universally recognize as a reason something might be wrong (by implying “it doesn’t hurt anyone” somehow equates to “it isn’t wrong) has a moral foundation. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to cause harm to others? Because people think harm is bad and they think they should be allowed to live without harm being caused at will. If there are no consequences, such as if there is an island with only two inhabitants and the stronger one of the two murders the other one, then the moral reason is all that matters. Laws promising consequences exist to establish what the population views is right and wrong and punish those that do wrong.

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  141. Ginna, from 5:58 AM:

    (continued)


    So, if you strip away the religiously-rooted moral judgments against thievery, you find that other people also find theft to be wrong. So, why should the morality of non-religious people matter so much more? Religious people have just as much “right” to say what they think is right as anyone else and saying what they think is right is not forcing other people to believe in a religion. So, whether or not a person believes theft is wrong because the Bible says so or because the person merely likes stuff, wants to keep his stuff, and just thinks other people shouldn’t take his stuff, a law against theft will reflect both views and establish the moral outlook of both. As long as the law reflects the moral outlook of the law, the law is (at least in that respect) serving a secular purpose, namely morals, and is not necessarily advancing any religion. The government need not tack on “because God says so” to the law. All they need to do is say “because the people said so” and it will express the moral perspective of religious and nonreligious alike. This is far from entangling the government in religion, especially compared to providing funds to schools that specifically teach religion to their students, as was the case that the Lemon Test originated from.
    The fact that you weren’t aware of how morality and laws work concerns me.
    If the population thinks same-sex marriage is wrong, regardless of if they think it’s wrong for religious purposes, the law will reflect the morality of the population and serve a secular purpose. Lemon test passed.

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  142. *as long as the law is reflecting the moral outlook of the people, the law is (at least in that respect) serving a secular purpose

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  143. FYI - Out of the hundreds of comments left, I have only deleted two left last week which were each one line long and were spiteful and in no way added to the conversation.

    There were several left recently that had somehow ended up in the 'Spam' filter, which I just released. I am not sure why they ended up there. There may be several versions of them now.

    I have not placed any terms anywhere on the site yet re: commenting, but my general feeling is that as long as the comments are in the spirit of debate, add something to the conversation, and do not discourage others from interacting, then they will not be deleted.

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  144. Eshep:

    In that case, I apologize. I was unaware anything in my comments might be caught in a spam filter, and some of them actually showed up on my screen for a short period before disappearing, so it made me wonder.

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  145. Shouldn't the spam filter delete duplicate comments? If so, it's not doing it's job. This Anon posted the same thing 10 times.

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  146. Bravo! Spoken like a true human being and I appreciate your debunking of the arguments held forth by the bigots out there.

    And thank you for reminding me about the Lemon Test. Here's to hoping marriage equality reaches North Carolina sooner than later. I have ties to that state so I have sort of an interest in seeing it happen there.

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  147. Well done. as a lesbian living in nc, I'm kind of appalled at the lengths people will go to make sure their back assward views of how I should live my life survive. As a practicing Jew, I can go toe to toe with anyone when it comes to quoting the bible.....turns out most people should be punished WAY worse than me in my gayness. from the Bacon wrapped shrimp eaters to the men who spill seed without the intention of impregnated more than a Kleenex, to the woman who wasn't a virgin when she wed......turns out bible have Sharp corners, and no one likes hearing about the sins they committee on the daily. we all need to realize the bible was written by an uneducated, violent group of people who didn't understand why people died or where the rain came from.....I always say, if you want to live your life under the archaic guidelines, thibk about how medicine would be practiced. if you need surgery, would you want someone with Jesus era med school or, perhaps you would rather have a doctor who knows what a germ is and won't pray for you while you bleed out in front of him....riiiiiiiiight. real tough decision there...
    kudos to you, I can saying without a shadow of a doubt that your boys are lucky to have you as a dad.

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  148. And furthermore, Parton oswalt said of best. Just because you believe in something does NOT mean other people HAVE to respect it. I can't go into a room and say bc I like the green lantern, I will be able to fly, make magical suits appear and/or demand everyone else like the green lantern. So why should religion be the magical exception.

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  149. Anon, I have not suggested and will not suggest that morality in general doesn’t play a part. It has, it does, it will, and that’s OK. It's not that secular morality is "better" than religious morality. It's that the people of the United States are entitled to not be bound by legislation which cannot be defended beyond “because God said so” &/or “because this holy book said so” &/or “because my faith says so”.

    Religious people are certainly entitled to live their lives according to the religion of their choice, as the First Amendment guarantees, but they are not entitled to impose upon everyone else legal control by means of legislation based SOLELY on their god(s), religion, sacred text, &/or faith. Such a legal imposition violates our First Amendment right to religious freedom. Just like you would NOT be free to abstain from participating in the religious practice of Muslim daily prayer rituals if they were legally mandated, and just like you would NOT be free to eat cheese & hamburger in the same bite if religion-based Jewish dietary standards were legally mandated, so too are many of the people of this country NOT free to enter into a secular marriage contract because of the standards of your religion.

    You said: “saying what they think is right is not forcing other people to believe in a religion.”

    It’s not about what the people of this country are being forced to believe, it’s about what they are forced to do (or NOT do). If what is “right” cannot be justified without invoking god(s), sacred text(s), &/or spirituality/faith, then it lacks secular justification, does not serve a secular purpose (meaning it must therefore serve a non-secular, religious purpose), and does not pass the Lemon test.

    HERE'S THE TL;DR VERSION: The Lemon test exists, it requires laws to serve a secular purpose, and if a law serves only a non-secular, religious purpose, thereby mandating adherence to purely religious behavioral requirements, it fails the Lemon test. That's it. That's as simply as I can put it.

    Hey, I've been curious about something - what do you think the term "secular" means? I mean, as a gut reaction, without looking at a dictionary, without Googling it, what do you think "secular" means?

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  150. To the Gay Anonymous poster above.

    Just because you are gay and don't want to be married, why should that choice be taken away from those who do?

    There are many straight couples who do not want to be married should they be campaigning against heterosexual marriages as well and get them removed?

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  151. WOW!!! Powerful and amazing! Posted to my wall and distributed to any and all. I have to try to educate people the way you are!
    Thank you!!!!
    Peace.

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  152. Ginnna, who posted at 11:14:

    "It’s not about what the people of this country are being forced to believe, it’s about what they are forced to do (or NOT do)."
    Indeed. People don't have to believe the law is right. I don't necessarily believe that I should have to go 35 mph or below on that one road I drive on, except that it's posted that way. Nonetheless, I am legally obligated to obey that speed limit. So far we are on the same page. Then again, if laws are established in an attempt (at least, usually) to reflect the moral outlook of the general population, which is certainly what my understanding of law to be and what I perceive to be the general consensus of laws as well, then we should follow it whether or not you or I believe it or suffer its consequences (perhaps suffering the consequences while trying to change the law).

    Let's suppose it this way: we make laws that reflect the moral outlook of the population in order to make the population in general happy. Making people happy is a secular justification, yes? Some people think marriage should be defined a certain way and will vote against same-sex marriage to keep marriage defined that way. Banning same-sex marriage will make them happy. etc etc.

    What is the secular justification for establishing same-sex marriage and promising all the rights of opposite-sex marriage to married same-sex couples? To make them happy? Well, that'd be a good reason. Tax benefits, medical benefits, etc? Those sound good, but why would people want them? Oh... those things make them happy, in various ways. Yes, tax benefits means more money, but why would you want that? You can do more stuff with more money. So what? Having the opportunity to do more stuff and have more options and more financial security makes people happy. Having the purpose of actions boil down to the pursuit/achievement of happiness is one of the oldest and most common ethical perspectives in history and one which atheists/agnostics/non-religious people almost always abide by in some form or fashion. It is also a perspective that all or nearly all religious people can relate to, though don't necessarily believe.

    Now, the question is this: which group of people should we make happy by the law? Well, to make a reference to the Declaration of Independence, one of the self-evident truths is that everyone has the unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, so we should let the people decide collectively.

    **I would like to make it clear that the Declaration in no way indicated that pursuit of happiness could/should be pursued by any means or in any way but merely that all people had a right to pursue it in general. Using the "pursuit of happiness" argument for same-sex marriage just lands you in an argument that leads to the question "should [some people that everyone else recognizes to be immoral] be allowed to pursue happiness as they see fit?", which will lead to the "same-sex marriage is not hurting anyone" retort, leading to the question of if immorality always has to involve actually hurting someone or not, and we'll just end up where we are now.

    My definition of the word "secular" without a dictionary:
    Secular - not pertaining to god or religion; regarding worldly matters

    Anyway, whether or not God is real, a secular fact you and everyone else that cares about democratic vote must accept to be logical is that some people do believe in God and will make decisions and cast votes based at least somewhat on their belief in Him. As long as there is no entanglement (no advance in religion in the government or a force of some sort of obligation to religion upon the people, etc), the court does not have a reason (at least, not based on the Lemon Test) to strike down a law that agrees with Biblical ethics as long as it merely agrees with the ethics of the people, since agreement with the ethics of the people has been reason enough to pass quite of a few laws in the last 235 years.

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  153. Hey all!

    We are taking action over here in TN to make a videotaped/recorded statements about Equality for LGBTQ citizens. These statements will be compiled and sent to our state representatives as a vocal petition. We also hope to raise money to bring the Self Evident Truth's project here to Knoxville and neighboring Asheville next spring.

    Please visit our Speak Out For Equality website (http://speakoutforequality.com) for more information on how you can participate. The Speak Out For Equality event is this Sunday, Oct 16th from 12pm-5pm in downtown Knoxville. Hope to see you there!!

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  154. Overall, an excellent argument, somewhat marred by the author's sneer at religion, as though all religious people are against same sex marriage (and ignorant, to boot). As a UU minister who has officiated at many same-gender weddings, certainly I support the right-to-marry movement (on civic and religious grounds). But if the author wants to understand mean-spiritedness toward issues based simply on one's personal limited grasp of or appreciation for the issue, he should re-read his remarks related to religion, which I find offensive. Like him, I despair when religion or "bibleism" is used to stand in the way of what I consider to be a civil right, but individuals' religious perspective and identity can easily be as varied and as complex as their sexual orientation and gender identity. I have no problem with the author's embrace of Humanism (which is also variously understood by its proponents), but his Humanism neither entitles nor qualifies him to define and dismiss all religion. That he has done so makes him guilty of the same kind of arrogance and injustice he decries in homophobes.

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  155. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  156. Hi RevDJA,

    I'm uncertain why you find my comments so mean-spirited, arrogant, or injust. My comments in that paragraph state that as someone who does not subscribe to religion, it is a violation of my rights to impose on me (and others who do not subscribe to religion -- or who do not participate in religious bigotry) legislation that is based on religious ideology -- particularly such ideology that does has no secular use.

    In no way am I sneering at those who are religious. If you read my other posts, it will become clear to you that, although I have no stomach for religious bigotry or the encroachment of religion on policy, I believe that there are many religious people who are compassionate, progressive, and who do much good in the areas of social justice and equality.

    Whether or not you want to admit it, religious bigotry is most often the root of anti-LGBT sentiment. And as my comments state, religion has no place in legislation. If you find it insulting that I refer to such religious ideas as supernatural, or superstition, then I can't help you there. Religion *is* supernaturalism, and it *does* involve superstition.

    If you took offense to my "nonsense" comment, you may want to re-read the sentence. I did not state that *religion* belongs on that heap of nonsense. I stated that *religious arguments against same-sex marriage* belong on that heap of nonsense.

    There is a difference.

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  157. @Really

    Well, if statistics say something, it must be true. (Cue a raise of the eyebrow here.)

    Actually, I had the privilege of being present at the dissertation defense, the topic of which was the measurable effects of gay, lesbian, and straight parenting on their children. The results were largely indistinguishable, and, in fact, what little differences there were actually supported lesbian parenting as the most cooperative and satisfying for the child.

    I would be very interested in all this research you've done into how these studies (uncited and unsupported, incidentally) were conducted.

    Some people point to how children of same-sex parents have a harder time with their peers and with bullying. Even if there is truth to that, and I have to admit I haven't researched it myself, I find it interesting that the people who use these arguments fail to see that this is the direct result of bigotry and ignorance, not a failure on the part of the parents.

    You can find statistics to justify anything you want to. Without looking deeper into the methodology and results of a study, skipping straight to the widely misinterpreted and distorted versions that make it to mass media, you will see exactly what you expect (or want) to see.

    That aside, this is a fantastic article. I will definitely be sharing it with my father, another heterosexual married LGBT ally, and anyone else who will listen. Whenever I get depressed about the state of things out there, a wonderful ally like you comes along and gives me hope again. Thank you.

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  158. As a gay college student, average people like you make my life worth living! I just want to fall in love and get married like every body else! I thank you from the bottom of my heart, really.

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  159. If we're going to continue to talk about "separate but equal", why should religion get to keep the term marriage? Why not "religious union" and "civil union"? If you want to separate a religious entity from a legal one, I would have picked the legal one when I got (heterosexually) married. I don't want any deities in my marriage.

    As for the amendment, it would condemn any form of legal status for non-traditional couples, so vote NO.

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  160. These for/against homosexual marriages debates are so going to be irrelevant in about a decade or two (not that the pro-homosexual marriage side has a rational argument).

    When the cause of homosexuality is discovered and when biotechnology become sufficiently advanced there are two possible scenarios:

    1) If the cause is genetic, there will be screening of embryos and fetuses with "gay genes", leading to many eugenics abortions. Many people will want grandchildren. Now, many gay marriage advocates are also pro-choice advocates, which means that there is nothing immoral or unjustified in aborting a embryo/fetus if that embryo/fetus will be become gay or lesbian if the pro-choice position is valid. Woman have the right to decide what to do with their bodies as they say.

    2) If the cause has something do with instability in the uterus or with sex hormones, a potentially homosexual embryo/fetus will with certainty become heterosexual with the advanced technology of bioengineering. This will be done discreetly in private clinics.

    In any case, homosexuality will drop, and the rate of homosexuals will be so low that they'll be unable to have any political leverage anymore.

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  161. i agree completely. i am gay myself. i've known since i was about 13. i'm 21 now. and believe me, it is NOT a choice. it's sad how so many people think being gay is wrong and "not normal." It's not our fault if they're too blind to understand that we're just as normal as them. Don't we breathe and bleed and hurt and laugh just like them? How are we any different? We still love and get heartbroken and heal so we can love again, just like them. What right do they have to say it's wrong, or a sin? I think it's absolutely disgusting to hate someone because of who they love. Gay people are every bit as human as everyone else and deserve to be able to marry whoever they want.

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  162. These people who try to remove the rights of people based on prejudices really have to learn from history, that they are just going to be the historical bad guys of the future. In future chronicles these events will be referred to as a dark period before widespread enlightenment.

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  163. YES. Thank you so much for writing this. Eric sheperd, you have an awesome brain and an awesome heart. I wish I wrote your article. BRAVO.

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  164. Eric,

    I hope you see this comment, buried as it is in an old post. I could not find an email address at which to contact you.

    I work for The Guilfordian, the student-run newspaper of Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. I am putting together a SoundSlide project about Amendment One and would like to use the "Love Will Prevail" photo at the top of this post. Would this be permissible? A photo credit would be included.

    If so, please contact me at berney (dot) pellett (at) gmail.

    Thanks so much!

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  165. I am so glad I don't live in the USA, because I want any of my future children to be able to have the same basic rights as anyone else, whether they be heterosexual, homosexual or transgendered. This isn't about religious rights, it's about civil rights. It does not "step on" religious rights: treating people equally shouldn't be determined by religion. Saying "oppressing this group of people is my right" makes you sound like a real jerk, whether you are religious or non-religious. I'm going to get married in a few years, and I was raised in an atheist household. Marriage started off as a business transaction ("you give him some land, you get a cow and a bride" kind of deal) way before modern religion. It just seems so, so basic: all people should have equal rights. You aren't going to have to go home and cry yourself to sleep trying to think of different ways to tell your kids "it is possible for people to express love in different ways towards different genders". Get over yourself. If you can't handle that conversation, you should have thought about that before you decided to have children.

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  166. If thinking about two men having sex with each other makes you squeaky, just STOP THINKING ABOUT IT.

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  167. Actually you're wrong. And the fact of the matter is there are just as many STIs for heterosexual relationships as there are for same-sex couples. You're not providing any facts or figures from trusted sites to say anything about "genes" and frankly, genes alone do not determine how a person develops. And since we have an insane problem with overpopulation, I don't think it would be a problem for certain people not to procreate, in another time when it was important to the existence of humanity which necessitated continuing and growing the population yes, but right now it's a huge problem. Idiot.

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  168. Thank you. Just, thank you.

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  169. If marriage was a "purely religious thing", atheists wouldn't be able to get married. The reality is that much of the legal and bureaucratic processes of marriage are completely secular, and a religious opinion on the nature of a couple's relationship should absolutely not inhibit them from going through the legal motions of becoming married in the eyes of the government.

    It's heartbreaking in our day and age that this sort of discrimination is still so widely supported. The people who claim that "civil unions" are good enough and the LGBT community should stop complaining... I wonder if they realize how similar they sound to the people who strongly supported "separate but equal".

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  170. To be perfectly honest, I don't think the parents of gay children sit around thinking about their children performing sexual acts... if imagining explicit examples of sexual acts your son may or may not partake in, and then deciding whether or not you enjoy the thought, are the sort of things you think about in your spare time, then your problem is quite a bit beyond LGBT rights and you should probably seek therapy.

    Being the parent of an LGBT child does not mean imagining how your child would go about making love, and then deciding whether or not the thought "sits well" with you. It's about accepting your child's right to choose how they identify themselves and who they love. If you think that's too much to ask, you probably shouldn't have kids in the first place.

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  171. Aren't North Carolinians referred to as "tarheels" because they were so quickly cowardly as to get no more than a bit of the tar-and-feathers they deserved merely on their fleeting heels?

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  172. ok...so how does it affect your family if we did grant rights to brother/sisters and polygamists too? As CITIZENS, they have the right to have equal benefits. It's not up to us to argue what is or isn't "natural", just what is fair from a humanitarian view.

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