Saturday, April 04, 2009

Traditional Marriage: America's New Jackalope

Jackalope according to Wikipedia:

"The legend of the jackalope has bred the rise of many outlandish (and largely tongue-in-cheek) claims as to the creature's habits. For example, it is said to be a hybrid of the pygmy-deer and a species of "killer rabbit". Reportedly, jackalopes are extremely shy unless approached. Legend also has it that female jackalopes can be milked as they sleep belly up and that the milk can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes. It has also been said that the jackalope can convincingly imitate any sound, including the human voice. It uses this ability to elude pursuers, chiefly by using phrases such as "There he goes! That way!" It is said that a jackalope may be caught by putting a flask of whiskey out at night. The jackalope will drink its fill of whiskey and its intoxication will make it easier to hunt. In some parts of the United States it is said that jackalope meat has a taste similar to lobster. However, legend has it that they are dangerous if approached. It has also been said that jackalopes will only breed during electrical storms including hail, explaining its rarity."

The call to defend "traditional" marriage is similar to pranking your friends into hunting jackalope; jackalopes don't exist and neither does "traditional" marriage. Anyone who claims otherwise is either misinformed or out to deliberately mislead others. Where are people getting the idea of "traditional" marriage from? From religious leaders and others who seem to want to pass off their religious rite of marriage as civil marriage so they can confuse law makers and voters alike. In the confusion created they hope to continue to deny equality to GLBT people, and resist the call for introspection. Civil marriage is offered by our government to avoid unnecessary intrusions into religious ceremony.

We can all smile at the expense of others when promoting the jackalope because it is harmless fun. There is no fun or honor when denying people's rights based on deliberate misinformation especially when that misinformation perpetuates both discrimination and violence. Christians are not obliged by their religion to impose their values on others, that's an individual choice. Let's review some facts so that people can be more fully informed.

From the HRC we find the following:

"Isn't marriage only between a man and a woman?

No. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa; the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia, Canada; and the nations of Belgium and the Netherlands have all ruled that marriage is not the exclusive right of opposite-sex couples. Furthermore, there is a significant difference between marriage – a licensing system set up and administered by the State that affords hundreds of important protections under law – and religious marriage.

This ruling has nothing to do with religion – it has to do with the legal rights and protections provided by the government to people in long-term, committed relationships. Government cannot and should not interfere with religion or impose one religion's beliefs on everybody else. Our federal constitution already protects the free exercise of religion. Churches do not have to perform ceremonies or recognize relationships for gay couples or anybody else."

In particular, the Court said:

"Simply put, the government creates civil marriage. In Massachusetts, civil marriage is, and since pre-Colonial days has been, precisely what its name implies: a wholly secular institution. … No religious ceremony has ever been required to validate a Massachusetts marriage."


In the colonies, weddings were not religious ceremonies. Rather, they were a civil contract that set the responsibilities and duties of husband and wife.

This part of our "tradition", how far back should we look?:

Despite romantic notions to the contrary, many of the colonial wives were bought brides. Between 1620 and 1622, over 150 "pure and spotless" white women were brought to Virginia and auctioned off to men for an average of 80 pounds of tobacco.

The motivation for denying GLBT equality in marriage is simple; fear has always been a great motivator to rally people with when profits start to sag and control seems to be fading. If Church's that teach against the acceptance of GLBT equality allow civil marriages to same sex couples to go uncontested their flocks will start to question the validity of their teachings in this instance. That questioning may lead to other questions and possibly the separation of the flock from it's perspective church. The almighty dollar, not God's will, seems to be the "tradition" that's being fought for.

There is no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Faerie, jackalope, or "traditional" marriage. What we do have is the opportunity to live as we promised via the social contract we empower, our Constitution, or to stand behind what we know to be false in order to perpetuate our own comfort at the cost of others. The opponents of equality have failed in their responsibility to prove what they accuse, yet some people, even law makers, seem to believe. Perhaps there was an event in their lives, perhaps they hide their same sex attraction that causes them to oppose equality in this matter. It is the verifiable facts and only the facts that law makers should value, not personal opinions no matter how impassioned.

All walks of life who have a history of being discriminated against by our fellow citizens expect that discrimination to continue. It is the free will of others to speak their minds and to believe what they wish. In contrast to that freedom we should be able to expect our government to be above this, especially since we put that promise in writing before the country was born. Now that the GLBT citizens have found their voice there will be a need to address their oppression by the government. In all instances of law where a significant compelling social interest cannot be found that outweighs the promise of equality then action is expected to right those wrongs. Perhaps once the government shows an unbiased eye to GLBT people others will follow its example. It is a source of shame that our heritage as a nation includes discrimination. It is to our credit that we correct those wrongs once enough people come forward to advocate for justice.

I do believe the inherent goodness in all people will prevail in this instance as it has in similar instances throughout time. Eventually people will see the dangerous precedent set by throwing away due process and allowing innocent individuals to be treated as criminals where their personal actions do not alter the justice delivered to them. Until the will of the majority strikes down the last bastion of government sanctioned discrimination let the cry for "traditional" marriage help us identify who in our masses base their opinions on unfounded fears, and let us who know better hunt for jackalope no more.


Anonymous said...

This post is a powerful expression and so well stated.

Before I make my actual comment - I want to say that I have known of a number of good and happy heterosexual marriages where the husband and wife have been supportive, respectful and truly faithful to each other and within their marriage.

Now for my comment - not as nice. I have also known of some absolutely horrible, tormented, abusive and unfaithful heterosexual marriages. These particular so call "traditional" marriages have been a major contradiction to what anti-same sex marriage folks are going on and on about.

(fyi - mm = man & man; ww = woman & woman; mw = man & woman.)

....... and ........ what I mean is that all this horrible stuff which happens either leads to divorce, or there is no divorce - just a couple who continue on in the same unfortunate pattern - "smiling" for the outside world pretending everything is wonderful in their so called "traditional" marriage.

My feeling - my opinion - my way of thinking - -- two people (mm, ww, mw) who have spent a reasonable period of time getting to know each other - who hopefully have discovered several things they have in common - who have truly fallen deeply in love with each other - if they both agree - should be able to get married and share any and all of the benefits of the marriage they choose to share!!

I like the idea of taking time to learn about each other. I also believe in fidelity as a very important part of marriage. (I've personally known of too many mw marriages where one person "cheated" and the other felt obligated to "accept it" and continue on.) Truly being in love should include an automatic feeling of a responsibility to and a respect for the person you are in love with.

Now, here it is .... my point. There are so many mm and ww couples who are so in love - an have so much respect for each other - and who have been together for many years - and who desperately want to be married. ... and there are so many mm and ww couples who are so in love - and have so much respect for each other - and who are starting on their life journeys together - and who desperately want to be married. NOW THERE IS one more state IOWA which has said - yes we want you to be married and share your love and your lives and your respect for one another. Thank-you Iowa !!!!

Jackalopes might not actually exist - don't know personally - I've never tried to find one. Traditional marriage - whatever that truly is. Love and two people really committed to each other for life - now THAT IS MARRIAGE. The "seed" is planted. Now it needs to continue in the cycle of life (and the legislative process) and to grow and to spread. That's a natural part of true love. That is what the "tradition" of marriage should be all about.

John said...


I know that there is not and never was a thing called traditional marriage, but are you seriously saying that Jackalope is not real?

This is serious buzzkill.

jelly said...

lol, I thought the Jackalope was real as well! Okay, maybe not.

There is good and bad in both straight and gay is two people committed to making it work.

Get over the gender stuff already and let us be and get married, really, what is the big deal? Grrr.

John Hosty-Grinnell said...

I don't know why it is that people can't live and let live. We have neighbors all around us that differ greatly in opinion, why don't they feel the need to control them too? Perhaps if we as society went down that slippery slop that's where this would lead.

Luckily we have many people like you who will call out the political "jackalopes" they see. We should always have a healthy respect for challenging authority. How else can we ensure it is just?