Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gay Marriage In Massachusetts

In the mid-1970s I was active in the gay liberation movement (the gay rights movement had not yet formed). The issues of the day were much more frightening than whether or not homosexuals were allowed to marry. There were evenings spent at police stations bailing-out men who had been swept-up in a sting in a public restroom or a public park, threatened with charges of sodomy, whether they were passing through the park, using the rest room, or actually having sex.

Some of these men were not homosexuals, or participating in homosexual sex; they were just taking a leak or using a short-cut home. The men would usually be convinced to plead guilty to the lesser L&L charge to avoid a public trial. They would pay a fine, the district attorney would get his headlines and the world would continue to turn.

As a liberationist, I saw this, as did many other radicals, as a critical issue. We never discussed "equality" or "rights"; we were trying to stop the police from harassing, frightening and blackmailing homosexuals for political gain.

At the time I believed we needed the legislature to repeal antiquated and draconian sex laws, especially the sodomy laws, that were used exclusively to harass homosexual men. Sodomy laws were never used to prosecute heterosexuals.

I never believed that we needed new laws passed until the old laws were repealed.

Fast-forward thirty-plus years, and gay liberation is long gone, replaced by the much cleaner, whiter, straighter notion of gay rights.

Homosexuals no longer want to make the world a better place, they want to be able to behave, and be treated, just like straight people. A rather dull goal, if you ask me. But it's the goal of the gay rights movement, nonetheless.

Gay marriage is the lynch pin issue for gay rights. Gay rights activists have stopped working on protecting people with AIDS, their jobs, their rights to health care. The gay rights movement isn't a movement at all, it's stagnant, it is a nice middle-class community looking after itself. Which I guess is fine. It's what the blacks did, and the women did, and why would I expect homosexuals to be any more creative then any other dull American middle-class suburbanites?

No, gay liberation is long dead and the issues of class, gender, race, economic unfairness, etc., that were part of the gay liberation movement are pretty much ignored so we can focus on the issue of gay marriage.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was the first state to pass a law legalizing gay marriage, and I say good for Massachusetts!

Even though I have been in New York for a while now, and my little girl is Brooklyn through and through, Massachusetts is where I was born and raised and I will always consider it the place "where I am from." I am proud that Massachusetts passed its gay marriage law.

In the big picture, however, I would have preferred that Massachusetts repeal its existing marriage laws altogether, because marriage is a religious institution. The government shouldn't be participating in religion, we should be protecting the rights of religious organizations to perform marriages, but not sanctioning, licensing or approving the marriages.

We can get into long discussions about bastard children, and spousal support, and death benefits; but that's really only so much mental masturbation. The government shouldn't be in the marriage business and that's that.

Should we as a government promote monogamy and partnership by recognizing a union between two people who are assuming the responsibility of forming a family, paying their taxes, and building our nation? Sure, why not. But that isn't marriage. God has nothing to do with those notions.

Be that as it may . . .

As a government we are in the marriage business, and if we are in the marriage business, then all taxpayers are entitled to the benefits (and penalties) of marriage. Heterosexual and homosexual couples should be treated equally by those laws.

Massachusetts (God bless them) recognizes this and issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples, who then they get married. It's nice.

Massachusetts then found out that a 1913 law prevents the Commonwealth from marrying out-of-state couples if their marriages would not be legal in their home states. I do not know the origin of the law, but I suspect it had something to do with minors and/or "white slavery."

So, another intelligent being appeared in the Massachusetts legislature (which is hard to believe, I know), and Massachusetts repealed the law.

So, my gay and lesbian friends, you can now go to Massachusetts to get married, even if you are a resident of another state!

Good job, Massachusetts! Now get to work repealing some more antiquated laws before you start passing new laws!

A 1913 Law Dies to Better Serve Gay Marriages

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