09 February 2011

My Maryland Senate Bill 119 (SB 119) Testimony

Yesterday, I was planning to give oral testimony against MD SB 119, but I didn't get to speak. There was a finite amount of time allotted for testimony, and there were too many that wanted to testify to fit the time (it would've gone well into the night after starting at 1P). Thank goodness I submitted my oral arguments in writing.

The written oral arguments that I submitted are below (except for my real name and other info removed). Note that the quotes below are linked to the source at the first (few) word(s) of the quote.

I'll be writing about some points that stood out for me tonight and tomorrow that hopefully will be published tomorrow here at WZE.


Testimony of [Gerry] for
SB 116, “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act”

Hello, I am [Gerry], a husband and father of three children who lives in [a], County, District [#]. Thank you for the opportunity to speak about why I think this Senate Bill should be voted down.

First, before I talk about the bill, let me very briefly talk about marriage. One way to contrast the original and proposed definitions of marriage is to think about the differences between two types of jewelry, (1) a friendship chain with one heart attached that is divided in half and (2) a charm bracelet with two or more charms. The former illustrates that marriage has to do with the complementary of the sexes (“two become one”), while the latter is an arrangement of two or more people. The former has a definite physical orientation while the latter can describes any loving relationship of two or more people (brother/sister, aunt/nephew, sister/sister (convent of sisters?), three or more of varying sexes).

Non-marital friendships are characterized by a union of hearts and minds; but marriage, being a comprehensive union of persons, extends this unity to the bodily dimension. For our bodies are integral aspects of us as persons, not merely our extrinsic instruments. And in coitus, a man and woman’s bodies unite much as a heart and lungs unite within an individual—by coordinating together toward a single biological good (here, reproduction) of the whole (here, the whole couple).”

The original definition does not depend on the fertility of the couple. “[Just] as a person’s stomach action retains its orientation to nourishment even when nourishment doesn’t occur (e.g., because of intestinal problems), so a man and woman’s [consummation] is still coordination oriented to the single biological good of reproduction even when reproduction doesn’t occur (e.g., because of ovarian problems)." Plus, the state shouldn’t go around asking people if they are fertile.

Now, I turn to the bill. In the California Supreme Court case that dealt with Prop. 8, it was concluded that procreation was not a rational basis for barring same sex couples from marriage. Theodore Olson, who argued for the same sex couples said, “’It is the right of individuals, not an indulgence to be dispensed by the state. The right to marry, to choose to marry, has never been tied to procreation.’”

First of all, the right to marry has been tied to procreation. “[The] 2,300-year-old philosophical tradition, originating independently of such policy considerations (and of Judaeo-Christian influence), that similarly distinguished the uniquely comprehensive unions consummated by coitus [and tied to procreation] from all others. Indeed, the three great philosophers of antiquity—Socrates, Plato and Aristotle— [and others] defended this view amid highly homoerotic cultures.”

Secondly, the US constitutional freedom of association currently allows same sex couples to say that they are married. I know same sex couples who say that they are married and have not been arrested. The debate about this bill should not be about whether same sex couples can marry. It’s about state sanctification of and civil benefits for their relationship, while still excluding others.

At the end of the day, I believe that if the definition of marriage is legally rewritten in view of the US Constitutional Equal Protection Clause (as currently interpreted by SCOTUS) to simply include all freely associated relationships beyond this bill’s prohibitions, all associations will want the same sanctioned privileges. Marriage will become meaningless and could be dropped from state protection to make way for a sort of overall welfare state unless there is a clear limit to what marriage includes (while also reforming divorce laws).

Third, as one from [a] County, people know that children who are raised by their married natural parents have the best chance of making it in whatever positive ways they can, more reach adulthood, are most often the best citizens, more often stay out of poverty, and have fewer children out-of-wedlock than do children of other family arrangements. The State should protect these consummated marriages that have or may result in the creation of children.

(“[Gay marriage will] encourage marital instability and broken homes, and children growing up in these situations are more likely to exhibit a variety of antisocial behaviors.

“Children growing up in traditional homes, on the other hand, have these problems to a significantly diminished degree. They have better emotional health, engage in fewer risky behaviors, are less likely to engage in premarital sex, and do better educationally and economically. Finally, a recent Utah study found that divorce costs the federal, state, and local governments $33 billion per year. For all these reasons, the state has a vested interest in promoting stable traditional marriages.” From The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage).

I have two quick comments. First, it is true that there are same sex partners who adopt or artificially create children for themselves. However, these matters should be handled by adoption and surrogate laws but not marriage statues.

Lastly, even though a religious exception is included to protect “an official of a religious institution or body authorized to solemnize marriages”, who does that exactly include? Also, can a bed and breakfast (often someone’s private residence) or similar business be protected from lawsuits? How about protecting employees who don’t want to condone same sex marriages on the job?

Thank you.

Bibliography of sources
Beyond Gay Marriage

The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage

Unitarians for Polyamory

Interracial Marriage and Same-Sex Marriage;

The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage

Incest and the Degradation of Our Vocabulary

Same-Sex Marriage and Formal Discrimination

Does Marriage, or Anything, Have Essential Properties?

New Jersey Senate Kills Gay “Marriage” Bill

The following were quotes that didn't make it to the testimony due to time constraints.
(1) Prior to the vote [in the NJ Senate of S1967, the "Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act"], Regina Griggs, director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), criticized the comparison of homosexuality to racial issues.

"Contrary to Bond's statement equating skin color with homosexual behavior, major scientific studies and mental health associations have stated homosexuality is not innate," said Griggs in a statement.  "No replicated scientific study has found a gay gene, gay DNA, or gay center of the brain. 

"Sexual orientation is a matter of self-affirmation and public declaration.  Many African-Americans have come out of homosexuality, proving sexual orientation can change, but skin color does not."  
(2) Accordingly, in 1999 they created an organization, Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness (UUPA), with the avowed goal of making Unitarianism the first denomination to endorse polyamory.
(3) The overwhelming consensus among scholars is that the reason for these [discriminatory interracial] laws was to enforce racial purity [of progeny from interracial marriage], an idea that begins its cultural ascendancy with the commencement of race-based slavery of Africans in early 17th-century America and eventually receives the imprimatur of “science” when the eugenics movement comes of age in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.6 In Loving, for example, the statue overturned, SB 219, The Racial Integrity Act of 1924, was the product of the eugenics movement.
(4) Spouses and same-sex "partners" are not taxed when one dies and the sisters have attempted to have the new laws interpreted to allow them to enjoy similar exemptions.

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