The Introduction to the Arguments
From Callie Wise, blogger and webmaster of http://redstateexile.blogspot.com/
Last week I went to a forum at the Nashville Jewish Community Center on “What is Marriage Anyway?” It was brought together by Hadassah, National Council of Jewish Women, and Tennessee Equality Project. The issue was to discuss the role of marriage in contemporary society and to hear various points of view on the topic of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. The upcoming vote on Nov. 7th on a constitutional amendment barring gay couples from marrying is what has made this discussion so necessary. Most of the people in attendance were supportive of marriage equality for gay couples; however, that wasn’t the intention of the groups involved. In fact, they purposefully invited local spokespeople of the Family Research Council, the two members of congress co-sponsoring the state amendment, and even a representative from Bill Frist’s office, since he co-sponsored the Federal Marriage Amendment, but all of these people declined to participate. While much of it felt like a preaching to the choir, there were some interesting points of view and a great discussion of the complexities and problems with a constitutional amendment. I thought I would share some of those with you. If nothing else, perhaps having a variety of arguments will help us discuss this issue better.
First of all, what is the amendment? What does it say?
Vote No on 1, the Tennessee grassroots organization fighting this amendment, has it posted on their website:
The historical institution and legal contract solemnizing the relationship of one man and one woman shall be the only legally recognized marital contract in this state. Any policy or law or judicial interpretation, purporting to define marriage as anything other than the historical institution and legal contract between one man and one woman, is contrary to the public policy of this state and shall be void and unenforceable in Tennessee. If another state or foreign jurisdiction issues a license for persons to marry and if such marriage is prohibited in this state by the provisions of this section, then the marriage shall be void and unenforceable in this state.
Panel Speakers included:
Rabbi Alexis Berk, The Temple Ohabai Sholom
Shelley Klein, Director of Advocacy for Hadassah National
Gene Floyd, Member of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Chris Sanders, Tennessee Equality Project President
Abby Rubenfeld, Attorney and Former Legal Director of Lambda Legal Defense
Julian Kanter, A Father's Story
It is my hope that the three arguments I have broken this down into (Personal/Family, Civil Rights, and Religious) will help our community and our allies in formulating a sound discussion of this issue. Use what you need of this, add your own twist if you want. Even once all the amendments have been passed or not, remember that the fight goes on. New challenges will be thrown our way. New angles of fear and hatred will be tossed at us. We need to know where we stand and what we need to say. I hope this helps.