Referendum 74

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Discussion by: Statler N Waldorf
I live in the United States, in the State of Washington. We vote entirely by mail, and voting began last week. The results of this election will not be known to us until after the final day in which ballots can be turned in and then counted, being 6 November.

This year, a ballot measure called Referendum 74 will decide whether I am allowed to have the same rights as my fellow Washingtonians. You see, I am gay. In Washington, as in many other states, I cannot legally marry. If this measure is approved, that will change and I will have the same basic right to marry a partner of my gender preference as any other citizen of my state.

Polls suggest that currently only 49% of my fellow Washingtonians (as we are called) believe that i should have this right. Opposition is mainly coming from two very specific religious groups, being the Church of Latter Day Saints or Mormons, and the Catholic Church. Advertisements appearing constantly on television and the radio, which have been sponsored by these churches, suggest that I pose a danger to children and to society itself, simply because I exist. This strikes me as rather rich, coming from organizations known for the sexual exploitation of children and women (who do after all constitute over half the population). While they are demonstrably worse for women (whom they subjugate) and children (whom they rape), I am considered to be far more dangerous-because I want to have consensual sexual relations with adult men, and hopefully someday marry one.

Slightly less than half the population of my state thinks that I am human, in other words. The other 51% believe that i am something slightly less. Their rationale is not based in any nefarious conduct of my own-I have served int he military and numerous volunteer projects at home and abroad, do not violate any laws and live a quiet life. No, their reason for declaring me unworthy fo human rights is because of their religion, which must be respected more than my DNA, which has apparently condemned me to a life of sin.

What a strange place to call my home.

22 COMMENTS

  1. I Live in Washington also, I for one am voting for this to pass. I am ashamed that in this country where we are all supposed to be free, that we even need to vote on something that grants others the freedoms which most  already enjoy. I can’t stand bigotry, especially the kind that hides behind the mask of Religion. People need to mind their own damn business and quit worrying about other peoples private lives. I sincerely hope sir, that this will pass,and so do most of the people I know.

  2. Good luck,
                        I’m unsure of any particular problem with paedophilia in the LDS church (there maybe in USA), more cultish, brainwashy and misogynistic.  I assume you are referring to Catholic Church here.   All the best hope it gets through.

  3. Perhaps the RCC is so against gay marriage because they think you should become a (celibate) priest instead?  Then, if you develop a taste for altar boys, they’ll gladly relocate you around the world so you can sample lots of them.   Please excuse my cynicism, and I hope the referendum comes out in your favor.

  4. As a Canadian, who lives less than 20 miles away from you in Victoria, BC Canada, I am often astounded by the different societies we live in. What your right wing politicians claim to be freedom seems to be the authority to impose their beliefs upon the majority. I see the advertising on your television stations and proponents of your position have made incredible arguments for your right to exist as equal citizens. I cannot see how your campaign will not end successfully. Good luck, and if things don’t work out, come north. We also have Starbucks up here.

  5. I wish you and your fellows to succeed in this fight, with all of my heart. I know that there must be some good Americans in USA, but as I see it living in Europe, America is generally a police state. If someone doesn’t think as your government, they are likely to be bullied, and I am sorry to say it but your country is indeed a strange place. I would like that this referendum wins, really! And you to have some basic human rights.

  6. I never knew any gay people as a kid. The one guy at my high school who was out only ended up there because his mom and dad shipped him there to break up his relationship back home. Now I know 20 kids who are gay through my daughters. 2 are engaged and the ex and I are doing their floral arrangements when our state gets it’s act together. Nobody can look at any young couple who love each other,  say it ain’t natural, and still be worthy of the name human. I feel myself getting out the soapbox and your all starting to look like a very bored Choir so cut this short except to say, If the measure doesn’t pass, throw the fit to end all fits. Sue the state to allow marriage. Yell so loud even the Morons and Crapolics will give in just to shut you up. 

  7. I considered not responding to this as I know I’m going to get it in the neck. But that would be cowardly.

    I live in the United States, in the State of
    Washington.  [...]

    This year, a ballot measure called Referendum 74 will
    decide whether I am allowed to have the same rights as my fellow
    Washingtonians. You see, I am gay. In Washington, as in many other
    states, I cannot legally marry. If this measure is approved, that will
    change and I will have the same basic right to marry a partner of my
    gender preference as any other citizen of my state.

    I’m not sure marriage is a right. In my country we have what I think is a reasonable compromise. Civil Partnerships, this legally recognises the union and gives similar legal rights (inheritance, joint ownership of property, rights over children, next of kin etc.). I don’t really see why the ancient  institution of marriage needs to be chopped about. Incidently p***ing off quite a few people.

    Polls suggest
    that currently only 49% of my fellow Washingtonians (as we are called)
    believe that i should have this right. Opposition is mainly coming from
    two very specific religious groups, being the Church of Latter Day
    Saints or Mormons, and the Catholic Church.

    the RCC and LDS make up 51% of the population of Washington State?

    Advertisements appearing
    constantly on television and the radio, which have been sponsored by
    these churches, suggest that I pose a danger to children and to society
    itself, simply because I exist.

    this. of course, is outrageous. Far more heterosexuals commit offences against children than homosexuals. (Though I’m not sure someone who is sexually oriented towards young children is really heterosexual either). I think such a campaign might actually be illegal in my country.

     This strikes me as rather rich, coming
    from organizations known for the sexual exploitation of children and
    women (who do after all constitute over half the population). [...]

    Slightly less than half the population of my
    state thinks that I am human, in other words.

    whoa!  This is rather over-egging it! I’ve no doubt you’re human I simply don’t think this is a “right”. Is it in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? The UN Charter?

    The other 51% believe that
    i am something slightly less. Their rationale is not based in any
    nefarious conduct of my own-I have served int he military and numerous
    volunteer projects at home and abroad, do not violate any laws and live a
    quiet life. No, their reason for declaring me unworthy fo human rights
    is because of their religion,

    Again you are over-stating the case. I don’t believe those 51% are all religious (some may simply not give a toss either way). Not everyone who isn’t for you is against you.I for instance have no religion.

    which must be respected more than my DNA,
    which has apparently condemned me to a life of sin.

    I think the jury is still out on that one. For instance if one member of a pair of identical twins (monozygotic) is gay it is highly likely but not certain that the other one will be gay.There is also some evidence that it is an in utero phenomenon. Or it may be some early environmental influence.But your point that you didn’t choose to be gay is well taken.  I remember being astonished when someone described being gay as “self indulgent”. Did that mean he wanted to have sexual relations with men but only his strong will and high moral standards held him back?

    What a strange place to call my home.

    most places don’t allow gay marriage.

     

  8. @ nick keighley:
    “I considered not responding to this as I know I’m going to get it in the neck.”
    Why should you “get it in the neck”? You are entitled to discuss your opinions on this site without fear of abuse.

    “I’m not sure marriage is a right.”
    Marriage is a contract between two people. There are various “purposes” for this contract, but in the United States I think it probably falls under “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The only requirement for the sex difference seems to come from religious people who are concerned about what consenting individuals do in the privacy of their bedrooms.

    “I don’t really see why the ancient  institution of marriage
    needs to be chopped about. Incidently p***ing off quite a few people.”
    Marriage between heterosexuals is unaffected by same-sex marriage. I have been married to the same woman for over 30 years. The knowledge that there are married couples of the same sex doesn’t bother me a bit. If people are “p***ed” off, what of it? Nowhere, as far as I know, is it written that any person is guaranteed the right never to be offended. Personally, I think the happiness of people trumps the offense others may take from it.
    Remember: “Four out of five baptist divorcees want gays to stop undermining the sanctity of marriage.”

    “most places don’t allow gay marriage.”
    Maybe true, but these are the less-enlightened places where the majority are influenced by religion. This will change, as more people realize what is and is not their business.
    Steve

     
     

  9. This is rather over-egging it! I’ve no doubt you’re human I simply
    don’t think this is a “right”. Is it in the Universal Declaration of
    Human Rights? The UN Charter?

    Yes, marriage is a fundamental human right.  The UDHR article 16 states that

    Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race,
    nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.
    They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and
    at its dissolution.

    There is no mention that men have to marry women and vice versa. Granted, there is also no explicit mention of gay marriage, but considering the thing was passed in 1948 there of course wouldn’t be. Also the denial of the right to marry for gay people clashes with article 2:

    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this
    Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex,
    language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social
    origin, property, birth or other status.

    Again, sexual orientation is not explixitly mentioned as a category in which discrimination is forbidden, but that’s again due to the fact that the document is from 1948.

  10. I considered not responding to this as I know I’m going to get it in the neck.

    Prepare yourself to be savaged, Sir, in the manner we British do things. Fairly politely. Queensbury rules, Sir, Queensbury rules!

    I’m not sure marriage is a right. In my country we have what I think is a reasonable compromise.

    I used to think the same but a bit more reading on the subject and with a bit more thinking about it, I changed my opinion somewhat. Firstly, it technically is a right but even if it weren’t, consider it just as a contract. The current hodgepodge in the UK (whilst a lot better than nothing, certainly) states that gay people cannot use the same contract as straight people. It’s discrimination, flat out and it’s wrong. Imagine saying that black people couldn’t get married and they had to have civil partnerships. There’d be outrage!

    Secondly, why are we even compromising? Compromise shouldn’t be necessary. Equal rights should mean just that.

    Additionally, the ‘ancient institution’ of marriage isn’t the historical province of straight couples either – there were various types of same-sex unions stretching all the way back to Ancient Greece; long predating the youthful religions that currently lay claim to the concept and try to tell everyone how we should do it.

    And, just for the record, this isn’t something I’m arguing for because it impacts me in any way. For one, I have no intention of ever getting married. Two, I’m not gay. I’m arguing for it because it’s the right thing to do. In this day and age, in suppposed civilised countries like ours, institutionalised discrimination (supported by law, no less!) has no place at all.

  11. I have nothing constructive to add to my last comment, but I am actually very interesting how can anyone vote in referendum by mail? Isn’t that contradictory? I do not know anything about voting system in america, but can someone explain to me how referendum can be by mail.
    Thank you :)

  12. I think you may be over-dramatising this. Two of my favourite political writers are gay: the wonderful Douglas Murray and the equally wonderful Lee Harris. One is in favour of gay marriage, the other isn’t. For the latter (who has lived with his partner for a couple of decades) the ability to have a civil partnership is good enough. He has written a long essay on this issue, seen in the context of tradition in general: http://www.hoover.org/publicat

    The main thrust of his essay is that tradition for its own sake has a certain amount going for it. You can agree or disagree with this, but I think it is wrong to paint those who are against gay marriage as simple bigots. There may be more to their qualms than you think. Either way, you can rest assured that both men see you as being 100% human so perhaps you should re-think that particular slur.

  13. “I used to think the same but a bit more reading on the subject and with a bit more thinking about it, I changed my opinion somewhat.”

    Ah, you have certainly left us all below the dizzying heights you have now reached.

    ” The current hodgepodge in the UK (whilst a lot better than nothing, certainly) states that gay people cannot use the same contract as straight people. It’s discrimination…” 

    Yes, it is discrimination. To discriminate means to discern a difference. All you are doing here is re-stating what we already know i.e. that gay people won’t be treated the same as straight people, just as young people are discriminated against by not being able to claim a pension.

    “Imagine saying that black people couldn’t get married and they had to have civil partnerships. There’d be outrage!”

    There would be outrage because black people have always been allowed to get married. To revoke a right is not the same as to extend one. But I thought you were trying to counter the argument for tradition? I’m not sure how black marriage bears on this.

    “Additionally, the ‘ancient institution’ of marriage isn’t the historical province of straight couples either – there were various types of same-sex unions stretching all the way back to Ancient Greece; long predating the youthful religions that currently lay claim to the concept and try to tell everyone how we should do it.”

    So let’s get this straight. As long as something predates a current tradition, regardless of how long ago this all was and how seldom it was actually practised and how unusual that culture would have looked even at the time it was practised, it must trump every other consideration? Do I have that right?

    “And, just for the record, this isn’t something I’m arguing for because it impacts me in any way. For one, I have no intention of ever getting married.”

    I’m sure any lady readers will be devastated by this revelation.

    “Two, I’m not gay. I’m arguing for it because it’s the right thing to do.”

    Very noble. That brought a lump to my throat. But whether it is the right thing to do is precisely what we are arguing about. You know how we sometimes get religious people on this site who resort to circular arguments? It now seems that they don’t have a monopoly on such daft tactics.

  14. Well, the people have spoken and I’m pleased to see the result.  

    I live in BC and the topic of same-sex marriage is old news here.  Interestingly, the world hasn’t ended.  

    Of course those who oppose same-sex marriage aren’t all bigots.  A lot are, but not all.  Those who hate the most just tend to scream the loudest.  

    I don’t see “tradition” as a valid excuse to prevent homosexual people from getting married the same way my wife and I did.  It doesn’t hurt us and it takes nothing away from what we chose to do together.  The knowledge that a couple of guys are having a ceremony that I’m not forced to witness does not hurt me and it does not take anything away from the ceremony that my wife and I shared with family and friends.

    Traditions are just things that have been done a certain way for a long time.  That in itself is of no real value and it certainly doesn’t make them “right”.  

    We used to say the lord’s prayer in our public schools.  But hey, it was “tradition”!

  15. “because black people have always been allowed to get married”

    I little pedantry on my part: In my lifetime I recall a time when black Americans were  prohibited from marrying non-African Americans and Native Americans; it was a felony to do so. Also during slavery, in a so called democracy, slaves could be denied marriage to another slave by their masters. However, a couple could get married in secret by a willing church clergy.

    “So let’s get this straight. As long as something predates a current tradition, regardless of how long ago this all was and how seldom it was actually practised and how unusual that culture would have looked even at the time it was practised, it must trump every other consideration? Do I have that right?”

    This is a very interesting good point that you have made, which brings to mind that in Canada, there are indigenous people who have the inherit right to practice certain traditions and  jurisdictional rights that have existed before European contact that are protected by treaties and the constitution . I’m not sure if same same-sex marriage could be a treaty right knowing that same sex-marriage was common among many Indigenous groups in Canada before european contact and after, but not for long due to the introduction of Christianity and the forced and non forced indoctrination of their children.

    From:Two-Spirited People and Social Work Practice: Exploring the History of Aboriginal Gender and Sexual Diversity By Jill Alaers, BSW
    “Following first contact with Europeans, the way of life of Aboriginal people living outside of typical European gender and sexual norms suddenly faced discrimination, oppression, violence and brutal murder. Despite colonizer’s efforts to conform First Nations people to heterosexuality and Christian marital customs of monogamy, the Crow remained strong in their belief that the boté were integral to the community. The Crow were known to remain so strong in supporting two-spirits that in 1879 when Indian agents attacked the last Hidasta two-spirit by stripping him, cutting off his braids and forcing him into men’s clothing, he fled to the Crow where it became the Chief’s duty to protect him.”

  16. We used to sing God Save the Queen and the say the lord’s prayer in the 1960;s, but was pretty much over by the end of the 60′s.

    “Traditions are just things that have been done a certain way for a long time. That in itself is of no real value and it certainly doesn’t make them “right”.”

    I would argue there is some value and practicality to traditions and I ‘m wondering if there are traditions in the past that may have harmed others that had any value.

    Anyhow, after reading the following, I can see value and practicality for the tribe that respects diversity.

    From:
    Two-Spirited People and Social Work Practice: Exploring the History of Aboriginal Gender and Sexual Diversity By Jill Alaers, BSW

    “Same-sex marriages were common among Indigenous groups. The entire group benefited from these unions as the skills of the individual were allowed to flourish. Not all tribes implemented gender roles that forced two-spirits to strictly adhere to roles typically associated with the opposite gender. Some groups such as the Lakota allowed winkte members to contribute towards both “men’s work” such as hunting, and “women’s work” such as gathering food or supplies, and making art and textiles (Lang, 1998). Unlike traditional European and Western ideals of dichotomous sex and gender roles, many First Nation groups in North America viewed this diversity as an asset to the group, embracing and revering individual uniqueness. Brown (1997) states that, “alternative gender roles were respected and [honoured], and believed to be part of the sacred web of life and society” (p. xviii). In 1982 a Crow Elder stated, “We don’t waste people the way white society does. Every person has their gift” (Roscoe, 1998, p. 4). As a result of the belief in the sacredness of an individual’s personal life quest or role, which may have come to that person through a dream, fasting or ceremony, two-spirits were readily supported and honoured in following their visions.”

    Also, I find it a tad ironic that the respect of the transgender and same sex married couples in tribes, comes from a belief/ a religious like value – “part of the sacred web of life and society”.

    This is very interesting and raises the question for me why and how did this benefit the tribe while in a desert tribe in the middle east this wasn’t “right”. Perhaps there is more value placed on individuals in a tribe without a surplus population? Anthropology is such an interesting subject.

  17. “Same-sex marriages were common among Indigenous groups. The entire group benefited from these unions as the skills of the individual were allowed to flourish.”

    I have no idea what this might mean. Why would skills of the individual flourish more in a same-sex union than in hetero-sexual union or no union at all? You’re not a diversity consultant, are you?

    I found it hard to read all of that because I kept expecting to come across something in the manner of, “All native Indian tribes respected the Earth and were in harmony with nature. They also never fought each other until the white Europeans arrived and introduced the innocent natives to the concept of warfare.”

    Yes, anthropology is an interesting subject. It’s just a shame that it’s often done by anthropologists who won’t hear a bad word against the tribes they study.

  18. There is certainly a history of anthropologists ignoring or not documenting/reporting important aspects both negative and positive of the indigenous communities throughout North America. 

    I was a Native rights advocate in the early 1990s and witnessed how the generalization of the indigenous and the romanticizing of certain beliefs, and way of life have been detrimental in many cases for the them in regards to their inherent rights and modern negotiations especially concerning access to natural resources.

    The indigenous people I have known over the years would not deny that capital punishment-like executions, slavery, torture, woo, and environmental exploitation existed in varying degrees in many indigenous communities prior and after European contact. One must keep in mind the patriarchal (and sometimes racist) attitudes of those who studied the indigenous during those times.

    The roles of women were often overlooked in regards to conflict resolution, war, and the supply of staple foods in both sedentary and nomadic-like communities. This brings to mind how traditional anthropological studies of the past often ignored the other half of the population – women; women like that of the Plains Peoples. This ignoring caused incomplete data which led to inaccuracies about their past and culture creating the assumption, for many, that they were primarily “nomadic hunter-gatherers” solely relying on the hunt of the buffalo for sustenance; most not knowing many had a duel economy based on agriculture and hunting – a sedentary farming people for those who lived in permanent villages. The “nomadic” were simply moving back and forth within their territory following buffalo migration, It seems the anthropologists of the day were more interested about men’s “vital” and “valorous” accomplishments like hunting buffalo. I’m guessing not as interesting as hunting elk, antelope, or women trapping, planting or harvesting.

    Also the autonomy of women was often ignored, which was greater than that of the average European woman. This autonomy declined after colonization and diminished substantially after the forced introduction of the Indian Band Chief system in Canada.

    I too would be interested in knowing how skills would have
    flourished for those allowed to marry the same sex.

    Have your read Guns, Germs, and Steel. It’s a good read.

  19.  

    “most places don’t allow gay marriage.”
    Maybe true, but these are the
    less-enlightened places where the majority are influenced by religion.

    nonsense. Do they have gay marriage in China?

     This will change, as more people realize what is and is not their
    business.

  20. but I am actually very interesting how can anyone vote in referendum by
    mail? Isn’t that contradictory?

    contradictory to what? Personally I think it’s a stupid idea but I see no contradiction. People sometimes say “paradox” when they simply mean “contrary to the way I think things work”

     I do not know anything about voting
    system in america, but can someone explain to me how referendum can be
    by mail.

    Same way as any other vote can be done by post (or email or text). Fill the form in sign it and send it off to the people who count the vote.

    problems:-
    - verification of identity. But no one asks me for ID when I vote in a polling booth. I simply tell them my name and address

    - invented people. Should be able to avoid this with proper procedures.

    - intimidation and other forms of undue influence. In some cultures women are reluctant to contradict their husbands. With a secret ballot no one ever knows how you voted.

    - electoral prostitution. People sell their votes. When an experiment was tried  with postal votes people would give their vote away for a pint!

    A reason given for postal votes is to increase turnout. Personally I think any able-bodied person who cant be bothered to travel less than a mile to vote shouldn’t get one. People died to give me  a vote!

  21. I have half-read ‘Germs, Guns and Steel’. It lies unfinished in my bookcase. For some reason I lost interest halfway through. I think the reason for this was that it was too politically correct. In no case must it be allowed to be considered that the Europeans and Asians were simply more intelligent than the people they conquered. I now believe this to be the case and I also believe all the evidence points in that direction. However, you will never know about that information if you only read books like ‘Germs, Guns and Steel’.

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