I'll Kiss Ed Harrison

at Monday night's Town Council meeting if that's what it takes to demonstrate Chapel Hill's commitment to gay and lesbian rights.

My intro is glib but the issue is serious, especially in the aftermath of the recent attack on a gay UNC student. The Herald reports today that "A Christian activist group plans to bring 200 to 500 people to Monday night's Town Council meeting to protest the council's stance on same-sex marriage." Groups like this live off and in turn breed the intolerance that leads to hate crimes.

As I discussed in my Chapel Hill Herald column of 4/3/2004, there are over 1000 automatic federal protections, benefits, and responsibilities that come with a marriage license, many more at the state level. All Americans, and all North Carolinians, should have an equal right to these privileges and responsibilities.

Here is Equality NC's action alert:

On Monday, March 7, the Chapel Hill Town Council will vote on their
legislative agenda for 2005. They are expected to approve the inclusion
of two pro-LGBT requests to the legislature. They will call on the
General Assembly to pass inclusive hate crime legislation, and to
repeal that discriminatory so-called "Defense of Marriage" law.
Equality NC applauds the council's leadership on these issues.

Equality NC has learned that the far-right, conservative Christian
group Called2Action is planning to bring lots of their supporters to
the meeting--even supporters from outside Chapel Hill. It's important
that the LGBT and allied community attend and show their support for
the Council.

Please plan to attend the Town Council Meeting Monday night. The
meeting starts at 7:00, but we encourage you to arrive early, as the
opposition may try to pack the meeting room. The meeting will be held
at the Chapel Hill Town Hall on N. Columbia St. This item will be
early on the agenda, so you shouldn't have to sit through a long
meeting to show your support.



I will be there! But I will NOT kiss Ed Harrison. Can I kiss Sally Greene, instead? ;-)

Is there any way those of us coming out in support of LGBT rights can identify ourselves there? Should we all wear red or purple or something?

if we start re-writing the rules about who can be allowed to marry, what will be the response when poligamists demand that their multiple marriages be recognized or someone else who wants to marry a close relative or someone who wants to marry a child? if you say "yes" to one group, how can you say "no" to the next group?

Bill, the "slippery slope" arguement, as we say in Texas, just won't hunt. It's pretty easy to deliniate an "age of consent" etc.

The question of polygamy gets a little complicated, because if any two adults can legally marry, why not three? Heck, you can't even use the biblical argument against polygamy since several biblical patriarchs were polygamous, but that is another issue.

To quote Elvis, I'd like to see "a little less conversation, a little more action" out of both CH and Carrboro on gay marriage. If mayors in upsate NY can start marrying couples, why not right here ?? If civil marriage is a civil right (which it should be), why isn't there a little more civil disobedience to try and affect some change in the woefully inadeqate status quo ? Resolutions and requests are appropriate gestures, but since thousands of such items are submitted every year by every group, most go almost entirely ignored.

That's called a slippery slope argument. The slope runs both ways. If you think allowing some to marry inevitably opens the door to polygamy or child marriage then the solution would be to ban marriage altogether.

Proponents of same-sex marriage believe that marriage is a valuable institution whereby competent, consenting adult couples pledge their commitment to one another and thereby gain access to a host of rights and responsibilities that society attaches to that institutionalized commitment. Only irrational prejudice denies this right to same-sex couples, the same sort of prejudice that has at times prevented inter-ethnic, inter-religious, or inter-racial unions.

So Bill, it sounds like you would also have argued against changing the law so that people of different races could legally marry. Was that the first misstep on your 'slippery slope?'

Personally, I find it embarassing that our state and federal government is so guided by fear. I hope we can put this homophobic era behind us, just as we did the age of racist segregation. (Although we still have a long way to go on both fronts.)

f only "irrational prejudice denies this right to same-sex couples", then will irrational prejudice also deny this right to polygamists? Do you think the idea that polygamists will want their multiple marriages recognized is far fetched? While they may not be as organized as gay marriage proponents, there are polygamists out there who surely yearn for the same benefits and protections afforded by a legally recognized marriage. Do you think if gay marriage proponents are successful, polygamists won't think "why not me?" If you start changing the definition of marriage because certain aspects seem like a relic of a quaint, bygone era, why won't the definition keep changing to please each group that cries discrimination?

Here's how you shoot down a slippery slope argument:

"Identify the proposition P being refuted and identify the final event in the series of events. Then show that this final event need not occur as a consequence of P."

Proposition P = gay marriage
Final Event = polygamy

Have at it...

Bill, I take it from your comments that you have no objection to same sex marriage per se. If so, please join us tomorrow night in support of the Chapel Hill initiative.

Will the Council on Monday night take the wise and pragmatic advice of Sen. Kinnaird and not fuel the "fire already burning strong in Raleigh?"

Bill, nice try, but that doesn't wash. No one, not even Ruby, can prove a negative. Rather, you will need to give some argument why legalized polygamy would be caused by legalized gay marriage.

On the other hand, Ruby asks a good question you wisely chose to ignore. Not so long ago, arguments against interracial marriages included some of your same arguments. Doesn't seem possible? Well, maybe they'll be saying that about gay marriages in fifty years.

The bottom line is: one does't discriminate just because it might--just might, who knows?--lead to something worse.

Yeah, polyamory aside, how DO the pro-l/g/b/t folks recognize one another? Aside from the dearth of bad golf pants and the delicate rustle of too many Bibles being lugged in one purse, that is?

I plan to be there in a grey pull-over OR a white button-up & burgundy tie, black spats and black slacks. Ruby may or may not recognize me, as I don't think we've been in the same room in over a decade, though we have met (I worked on The Lambda years and years and years ago).

I would love to know I'm amongst friends.

The debate is all well & good, but forgive me if I'm a bit tired of it. What bothers me is that this event is effectively an invasion of Chapel Hill by outside agitators. This is an attempt to apply the tactics of civil rights in a crusade against those very rights.

If Chapel Hill isn't a place where bigots can be faced, then no such place may exist anymore.

As it happens, the issue is personal to me. I'd like to think I'd be there even if it weren't. It's sad to see so little response in this thread -- I hope some OP readers are hitting their email lists...

"For years now I have heard the word 'Wait!'. It rings in the ears of every Negro with piercing familiarity."
-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I can't imagine how anyone would think that legalizing gay marriage might lead to legal marriage of minors or close blood relations.. those are pretty cut-and-dry cases..

The concern raised about polygamy is legitimate, though, and I think a lot of progressives who support gay marriage either aren't aware of the issue or haven't taken the time to think it through properly. It may be true that if we extend marriage rights to gay couples, it could be a step in the direction of legalizing polygamy.

But at the same time, this is not a good reason to deny marriage rights to gay people. There are a lot of gay couples who are monogamous and committed, and have every bit as much right to social sanction for their relationships as straight couples do. They ought not to be penalized just because other people (both gay and straight) would like to see polygamy legalized. What about all the young people who are gay and are being told that there's no socially sanctioned way for them to have sexual relationships? If we deny them marriage rights, we're encouraging them *not* to form monogamous relationships and participate in the general social good by raising families.

Looks like this may be my first Town Council meeting.

Oh, and when the massive polygamist movement in this country stands up and say they want equal protection rights, I'm willing to listen to their arguments. I'm unfamiliar with the specifics of the "over 1000 automatic federal protections, benefits, and responsibilities that come with a marriage license", but I would think that a lot of them would apply to polygamists as well. Obviously you get into some difficulties when to try to write a will, but if a man is insane enough to want to live with more than one woman, more power to him. ;-)

I say get the government out of the marriage sanctioning business entirely and leave it to the churches. If folks want to sign legal documents giving each other the rights and responsibilities that used to be implied by government-sanctioned marriage, more power to them.

This comment about getting government out of marriage is important, because it brings up something a lot of people who are against gay marriage believe about those of us who advocate it: that we want to *get rid of* the institution of marriage, at least in its legal capacity. *That* is what they worry about most with us.

I think Donald is right. Why should marriage be sanctioned by the state at all? I don't need the government to tell me how to declare my personal love and commitment.

It's really a matter for me, my partner, our family and community, and our faith (if we choose). It's old-fashioned social engineering to give all these extra privileges to people who have relationships that conform to just one (very old) definition of "family." You would would think these "christians" would be glad to get the government off their backs telling them how to practice. Don't they want freedom of religion?

Anyway, I am really looking forward to this session tonight. I think Council chambers will be packed! Anyone want to meet up for a quick dinner at 6:00 and walk over together?

Yes, indeed, it's very clever of O.A. to notice my use of a familiar phrase used against civil rights organizers. Hey, look! I found a quotation from Dr. King's Letter From a Birmingham Jail, so I must be right!

Well, if the Devil can quote Scripture for his purpose, certainly a human being can quote Dr. King and still be wrong. I'm not even sure the line O.A. picked is to the purpose. The state of affairs advocated by this action already exists -- the demands for patience and passivity mostly run to the other side. Context, anyone?

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

Do the Christian mercenaries of North Raleigh mega-churches truly believe that they are the oppressed? As far as I know, no one is asking fundamentalist theocrats to "wait" and deprive people of civil rights at some future time, when society has matured. Here's a bit more from Dr. King's "Letter":

Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The called2action website tries hard to claim the moral high ground, but falls well short of "the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood". I respect that the advocates who openly intend to overfill the Council chamber so that only their voices will be heard have embraced non-violent tactics, but I refuse to conflate the means with the end:

I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.

I think everyone here is missing the point. Marriage isn't about love. Marriage isn't about commitment. It isn't even about simplifying legal arrangements.

The purpose of marriage is to keep your grandparents happy so they'll stop pestering you.

If marriage is obsolete, it's not because of Lawrence V. Texas or Goodrich V. Board of Health; it's because there are now enough Walmarts available to give every eligible grandparent a job as a greeter. This gives them something else to do

BTW 3rd place match (Texas V. Board of Health) is 9pm on ESPN2)

I have heard that Rev. Ron Wood, pastor of Celebration Assembly of God, a church on Weaver Dairy Road, intends to be the next Republican victim to run against David Price in 2006.

As a Christian and an American I strongly support same sex marriage and an end to all legal bigotry because I believe that God's love and the US Constitution do not exclude.There is never a wrong time to stand up for what is right!
What time will folks be speking tonight?

I won't be able to be physically present tonight but my heart will be there supporting. It breaks my heart that there is opposition among our local residents for this.

Like Donald, I think the government should just get out of marriage altogether. If it weren't for property rights (including children) there wouldn't be any need for regulation of personal commitments. When we discussed this before, someone said that there were a lot of rights that went with marriage that are not covered by domestic partner laws. Perhaps we could 'restructure' marriage into 2 separate acts, church-sanctioned union and domestic partnership.

My wife and I would have preferred to have a civil union because we are both atheists and marriage has the odor of religion on it. However, we felt we were left with no option but marriage. My thoughts are that government should just concern itself with rights and responsibilities of persons who enter into civil unions. If the religious people want the word marriage, so be it. The religious right already feel under attack, I think fighting for gay marriage using that term just gives them something to rally behind.

Thanks for the report, Will.

Can you -re-post it on this new thread I just started: http://orangepolitics.org/2005/03/live-from-town-hall/


That's it, the lot is full.

Chambers are about 1/2, 2/3rds full.

Cal Horton doesn't think there will be any problems, just a big crowd. There's more of a mix of people - hard to say what the ratio of pro-civi rights citizenry, anti-marriage visitors is now.


The crowd is beginning to pickup. There are
parking spaces available NOW if you head on down.

Outside, there's a few serious looking folk squinting at all the multi-colored haired kids streaming in.

There's a couple police outside to make sure things don't slip out of control.

Right outside the chamber, a group of activists have arrayed a nice selection of pro-civil rights signs.

Inside the chambers (now roughly 1/4 full), the crowd appears to be comprised of your regular zoning request guys, about 20 of what appears to be pro-civil rights people and a scattering of helaciously well-dressed and stern visage visitors.

Let's show these folks how some of us think the DoM (Damage of Marriage) act cheapens marriage instead of strengthens it.

I agree with those of you who stated that they didn't like government to be involved in the marriage business. It's for that very reason that I oppose gay marriage: I don't think goverment should have the power to change the definition of marriage. For me, a marriage is a union between a man and a woman. However, because government does convey rights and priveledges to those who are married and because I don't believe that anyone committed to a serious, long-term committed relationship should not have access to those same rights and privledges, I am ALL FOR civil unions.


The thing is, I never asked anyone to "prove a negative". I merely asked what consideration will be given to polygamists when they come knocking at the door? I hardly think that polygamy activism is far-fetched. Estimates of the number of praticing polygamists in Utah alone range up to 100,000. If you don't think polygamy is alive and well, do some research on Colorado City, AZ. But no, rather than address the question--probably because she doesn't have an answer--Ruby preferred to counter with a "are you still beating your wife type" question in an attempt to make me defend a position I never advocated.

Thanks to those of you (Katrina Ryan, Susan) who actually chose to address the possibility.

I think the state''s authority should be limited to the legalization of civil unions, period--and in the interest of upholding our constitution, those unions should be open to any two people of consenting age who want to do so (polygamy? another discussion). If a person wants a "marriage" then his/her faith based community determines whether that relationship meets their standards for a faith based marriage.

We've all been to a "church weddings" where the couple have no faith at all and the church is just a scenic backdrop to an orchestrated event--and the marriage may not last as long as the debt incurred to pull off this Cecil B. DeMille event. As a Christian, that bothers me at LOT more than two gay people who want to make a lasting commitment to one another. At the end of the day, I have enough of my own sins to worry about--I don't have time to police other people!


Amen Anita, well said.

(Cross-posted from Afterdeadline.net)
My dearest and I took our vows in the living room of a Justice of the Peace at 8:00 p.m. on a rainy Wednesday night, after working all that day. Our only witnesses were the JP's two dogs. His wife respectfully excused herself to the next room.

Our marriage, licensed by the state of Connecticut, has never been validated by either of our churches.

We have, however, a remarkably rich spiritual life. We take good care of each other and our children. We cared for his parents until each of them died. After 27 years of marriage and 28 years together, we still stay up late talking to each other, whispering our hopes and fears across our pillows.

It is too much to hope for that every couple could enjoy such comfort and happiness. It is too little to demand that every human being have the chance to pursue it. Perhaps this is why our country's founders put that "pursuit of happiness" clause in the earliest documents of our creation. It is not the espoused "values" of any church that matter here, it is the public policy of a civilized society.

After all, churches don't license and regulate marriage -- the state does that ... and that's all the state should do. My marriage doesn't need "protection" from gay couples any more than I need "protection" from people with blue eyes or red hair.

What I do need protection from is the intrusion of the state and corporations, whether under the disguise of the Patiot Act or the everyday indignity of the store clerk asking my zip code before selling me a pack of gum for 50 cents.

Of course, that's a whole different rant ...


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