About Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier teaches Politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012)

Comments

  1. Robert you are wrong prove it

  2. The “tide is turning” your ass. Marriage by definition is limited to a man and woman. PERIOD. Same sex marriage is an ABOMINATION and should be outlawed!

  3. Two comments.

    (1) First, I actually agree with the prior commenter’s operative conclusion – create a civil-partnership term for all state-recognized partnerships.

    I disagree with a big (in number of words) part of his argument. In effect he claims that meaning and interpretation of the word ‘marriage’ is inherently reserved (on the basis just of tradition??) to church (i.e., certain Christian churches) rather than state. This claim is mistaken, but it’s silly to argue overmuch about it, because it amounts to arguing over which English word we will reserve for what: and after all English is a language with a huge and ever-growing and ever-growable vocabulary.

    What we may all agree is that a partnership recognized by the state is recognized on the basis only of rationalized civil criteria, not sectarian criteria.

    (2) Most of the pro- and con- Prop 8 lingo – including a bit of Judge Walker’s opinion and the lingo ‘gay marriage’ used in the title of the article – is totally beside the main constitutional issue.

    Same-sex marriage need have NOTHING to do with gayness, just as opposite-sex marriage need have NOTHING to do with straightness.

    Both in a plethora of examples in history, and in respect of individual conduct today, there is nothing about a legally sanctioned two-person life partnership (even most cases of church-sanctioned marriage) that logically ties that partnership in regards gender identity, sexual orientation, or actual sexual behavior.

    Indeed, prohibition of one-gender marriage, as by Prop. 8, is an unrationalized assault on the rights not only of people with certain sexual inclinations but indeed on the right of everyone, regardless of the direction or prominence of those inclinations.

    Yes, it is the reasonable and progressive to recognize that gays have ‘equal’ rights to their gayness. However, recognition of such equality is not actually needed in order to appreciate that ANY person inherently has the right to choose a life partner on the basis of WHATEVER personal characteristics most matter to that person.

    These characteristics MAY or MAY NOT include considerations of gender, or of sexual orientation, or of actual sexual behavior.

    It is quite legal and possible now to have a state-recognized marriage of a man and a woman where: there is no sex; or, the man is gay and the woman is lesbian; or both man and woman are straight, and each is sexually active not with the spouse but with outsiders.

    The irrationality and unconstitutionality of Prop. 8 turns not on actual gay rights or the nature of gayness but on the failure of Prop. 8 to give any rational non-self-serving answer to the simple question: why should all this above-noted freedom and possibility be restricted preferentially to two-gender couples rather than being open also to one-gender couples?

  4. Dear Peter;

    Citizens who think a “Separation of Church and State” clause is in the US Constitution are thinking of something else as the word “separation” is not in the US Constitution. The words separation of church and state do appear in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a church pastor. It is often taken out of content because who reads all those letters from Jefferson to that pastor? Jefferson is thought to have been non-religious, yet Jefferson held church services in the White House, Congress held services in the capitol, and the Supreme Court held Sunday church services in the court building. Such church services were held for all faiths until enough churches were built. Look at all the religious symbols on the Supreme Court building, we take religious oaths when testifying in court. The founders knew European governments had state religions and did not want state churches in America. Our government should support all religions, 91% of us believe in a God, but not favor one over another, a first amendment right.

    If there were a separation clause, why do proponents consider it a one way clause? Would it not be a two way clause that prohibits each from interfering with the other? Proponents claim the church is trying to influence the state yet do not claim the state is trying to influence the church. If the state were taxing the church, we could see that would lead to state control of the church. Once, the church may have been able to influence the state, as they did during our revolution (the Black Robe Brigade). Now church membership is a lower percent of the population and while that membership is larger than the gay population (2%), a pastor telling members to vote a certain way would not determine an election outcome if everyone voted.

    There is currently a problem for that two percent of our population. Gays seem to have a preference for the term gay marriage over civil unions. My gay child’s partner is a different ethnicity. They would be happy to have a civil union with all the legal rights of a marriage but gay activists only want a gay marriage even though a civil union would be more attainable. If civil rights were the gay goal, why not accept civil unions and structure them to be used by anyone not wanting a religious marriage, not just gays. Minorities are good for balance in national thought but a country composed only of gays will have a population problem and a country composed only of Amish or Quakers will have a defense problem. Every country needs both genders.

    If the federal government finds or creates a “Gay Marriage” clause in some section of the Constitution, then the state will have altered the laws of the church, a first amendment right. The word marriage appears in the Bible numerous times and appears in the Constitution zero times. It seems there is no federal Constitutional right to marriage for anyone as that is a religious right managed in the states, a tenth amendment right. If any state or the federal government supports gay marriages outside of the church, then they will have crossed over the first amendment line and would be changing what are now religious law and will be creating a civil marriage when the state should really create a civil union.

    I feel this is a tenth amendment and states rights issue. Gay marriages over unions will be looked at as a mental thumb in the eye to major religions as they do not support it. The state can support the civil rights of the few gay citizens by creating a civil union to be used by anyone, those with or without religious affiliations, which would have the same rights as married couples. Why would gays want the term gay marriage over civil unions if the rights were the same anyway; if not only to put a thumb in an eye like they did in a church service not long ago ?

    The US should remain a secular country and pass a federal secular civil union law, which would be used by all states to grant the same legal rights of church marriages to gay or non gay civil unions without using the words marriage or gay. I assume non religious civil unions would be structured as to not allow concurrent multiple unions and allow for divorce. I want something that both sides can call a good advantage, not something devides us.

    respectfully yours,

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