Stable states have equal marriage

From the Failed States index, the most stable states:

159 United States: marriage in CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, IA, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NJ, NM, NY, RI, VT, WA, 8 tribes
160 United Kingdom: marriage in Scotland, England and Wales
161 France: Marriage
161 Portugal: Marriage
163 Slovenia: Civil unions
164 Belgium
165 Germany: Civil unions
166 Austria: Civil unions
166 Netherlands: Marriage
168 Canada: Marriage
169 Australia: Civil unions
170 Ireland: Civil unions
171 Iceland: Marriage
172 Luxembourg: Civil unions
173 New Zealand: Marriage
174 Denmark: Marriage
175 Switzerland: Civil unions
175 Norway: Marriage
177 Sweden: Marriage
178 Finland: Civil unions

Poor Belgium! Not long now, I hope.

“Christians” and weddings

File:Blumenschmuck.JPGBarronelle Stutzman is a florist sued for refusing a wedding floral arrangements for a gay couple. I found out about her from this eejit, saying she is a Christian martyr. Other commenters act as if this is such tyranny, the US might as well not have made its declaration of independence. A better place to read of her is here.

Why do we have anti-discrimination law? Because celebrating diversity benefits the whole population. It brings people together by reducing false reasons to dislike others, and facilitates everyone reaching our full potential. Discrimination against people because of race or sexual orientation is a bad thing. It oppresses historically marginalised groups.

What is the Christian position?

There is diversity within Christian beliefs, but if you really have your heart set on the idea that Marriage Is Between One Man And One Woman, then there is no problem. Arrange the flowers. They will be at a party, not a wedding, where you believe the whole has no real significance and what the priest or pastor does has no effect.

In that post, there was a load of balderdash about the florist “participating” in the gay wedding. Sorry, but the partners “participate”, the pastor witnesses, the guests celebrate and the florist, well, arranges flowers. This is not “participating” in a wedding.

The eejit- “Apologetics and Agape”, forsooth, he has no understanding of the word– posts a video of the florist, protesting she prays for “courage File:BrautstrauĂź rote und weiĂźe Rosen.JPGand knowledge and wisdom” while rejecting the Christian course. Don’t watch it. The most sickening part, for me, was the other “Christians” egging her on with cards, money and a Bible signed by lots of people.

Honestly, I would prefer a homophobe. “Ew! I can’t be in the same room as him! He puts his penis in anuses [because Gays couldn’t possibly make love any other way].” These “Christians” provoking that poor florist make Christ into a persecutor.

What would Jesus do? Remember that Jesus ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners, so Jesus would probably go along. “I have not come for the healthy, but the sick.” At Cana, Jesus made more than 120 gallons of wine, better than the “good wine” served before. That is a stonking party.

More seriously, Jesus saidDo good to those who hate you.” Jesus gave himself as our example, not turning away from his path, and not resisting though he could have called on twelve legions of angels. St Paul agrees.

Barronelle Stutzman, however, is backed by “Alliance Defending Freedom”, an extreme-Right organisation which supported the Arizona Bill.

The law is clear. There is a very long, exhaustive definition of “Any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement” which includes any service which could be bought or sold. I was fascinated to read that that definitions section states “Sexual orientation” means heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and gender expression or identity. As used in this definition, “gender expression or identity” means having or being perceived as having a gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth. Stutzman committed an “unfair practice”. Therefore she is liable.

On 18th February 2015, therefore, the county superior court granted summary judgment against Barronelle Stutzman. Her pleadings had not been legally relevant.

Christians and Divorce

File:John Everett Millais, The Somnambulist.jpgDo Christians divorce more than atheists? They should stay together because they are religious and good- or split, because they are deluded. Research will tell you what you want it to tell you.

Here’s Valerie Tarico on how atheist marriages last longer. Any Evangelical who says that atheists are amoral should look at her Wisdom Commons site.

From the off, there were Evangelicals challenging the research, on various grounds. Here, George Barna is quoted denying that the divorces of Christians occurred before their conversion, or because one partner was Christian and the other not.

The Gospel Coalition found new arguments. Evangelicals who worshipped regularly had lower divorce rates: the divorce rates were among those Evangelicals who did not go to church. The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice. Evangelicals who divorce are likely to be backsliders in other ways too. The article differentiates serious disciples from mere “church members”.

Post hoc propter hoc? Why would someone who does not go to church self-identify as an Evangelical? The researchers can only say a responder to their survey is Evangelical if they claim to be so. The answer is that they still believe. Perhaps they do not go to church because it is too much bother; or perhaps because they have been uncomfortable there, as a divorced or remarried person.

The reason these soi-disant Evangelicals divorce is that they are not “serious disciples” says the Gospel Coalition. This goes against Biblical teaching about what people are like: we would not need forgiven seventy times seven times if we could be Good all the time. Here is Open Bible on Compassion: a hundred verses like Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Here is Romans 3:10: No-one is righteous, not even one. Self-righteous, on the other hand…

The Anglican gift

File:Wenceslas Hollar - Richard Hooker (State 1).jpgHow Anglican churches may be brought to celebrate gay marriage.

Where a culture imbues a single prejudice, that gays are ew, the Bible seems clear. But when people look at verses which appear to say that and see it is ridiculous, and question why anyone would ever think that, then the Bible is less clear. The Bible is clearly in favour of slavery until, well, it’s not.

I read the Pilling report so that you don’t have to. I hope that by small changes like supporting church blessings for gay relationships, and by framing the debate, it will ease the church into celebrating gay weddings. How it does so is worth considering.

It reports the origins of Anglicanism. The Anglican gift to the world is the middle way between reformed and Roman Catholic Christianity. The Reformation started war all over Europe and English Catholics in power burned their opponents, but Queen Elizabeth got people talking and agreeing to disagree. Or something: Since the bitter conflicts around its inception and in its formative times, it has sought to hold together rival traditions, theologies and priorities for the sake of the common good and in recognition that God’s Kingdom is greater than any human system of belief. The three elements of Scripture, Tradition and Reason are emphasized differently by distinct traditions within the Church itself.

The Bible is “our primary means of knowing God and God’s will”, as Cranmer says. Yet where those Calvinists use the Bible alone, Anglicans use Scripture, Reason and Tradition. This is traced to Richard, one of the most important English theologians of the 16th century, and the 39 Articles. What is not in the Bible is not to be required of any Christian- and therefore Anglicans may disagree about Scripture. I am not sure this follows, but see para 286 if you want.

Tradition is the Church reading the Bible and contemplating human experience and thought under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Yet, in one sentence at the end of this section, the report declares that the Church may err in matters of historical tradition. It cites articles 19 and 21, which say the same thing.

Reason is important because the exercise of rational thought is required in order to understand and apply the teaching of the Scriptures. Created in the image of God, we are capable of moral reasoning.

What does this mean for the church? We will continue to dispute, and may have to be content with disagreement, as we have to be about Pacifism. The church holds together distinctive traditions. Anglican ability to live with disagreement can be a counter-intuitive gift to a world fixated on immediacy, certainty and intolerance of difference.

Someone committed to the homophobe position could take great comfort from parts of this report, but it will lead to equality of marriage, even in the church.


File:Illustration of a hermaphrodite from the Aurora consurgens (15th century).jpgExegesis is the interpretation of the Bible. “Eisegesis” is reading into the Biblical passages ideas which they do not support, for the interpreter’s own ends. Homophobes often attack scholars interpreting the Bible in a non-homophobic way by claiming their work is special pleading.

To illustrate how this works, let us consider slavery.

St John Chrysostom interpreted Paul’s letter to Philemon as indicating that slavery should not be abolished. Pope Nicholas in his Bull Romanus Pontificus (1455) authorised the Portuguese to reduce Muslims to perpetual slavery. At the time, the Ottoman Empire enslaved Christians at will, but that is no excuse. Here, I read By the 1850s, Southern evangelicals contended that abolitionists repudiated the Bible and saw them as political radicals. By the Civil War, most Southern evangelicals supported secession to separate themselves from Northern society and its disregard for religious instruction. This is an academic from the Texas Christian University.

People who saw themselves as Christian interpreted the Will of God to support slavery, when they thought it in their interests to do so.

Catholics consider that the traditions of their church, its “magisterium”, has authority to interpret the word and will of God. Protestants consider only the text of scripture itself is authoritative. So the argument that “We have always interpreted certain passages in a homophobic way” is no ground for continuing to do so. What matters is the actual words.

File:Witches going to their Sabbath (1878), by Luis Ricardo Falero.jpgTherefore, all we have to interpret the passages used by the homophobes are those passages themselves, and the passages which show gay relationships in a favourable light. Any allegation of trying to read things into the passages which are not there can be turned against the homophobes. So each reader has a choice whether to interpret these passages in a homophobic way.


This clause in the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill surprised me:

14 Same sex marriage: protection of freedom of expression etc.

(1) For the avoidance of doubt, File:The witches Sabbath, by Luis Ricardo Falero.jpgnothing in this Part so far as it makes provision for the marriage of persons of the same sex and as to the persons who may solemnise such marriages affects the exercise of —

(a) the Convention right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,
(b) the Convention right to freedom of expression, or
(c) any equivalent right conferred by rule of law.

(2) “Convention right” has the same meaning as in the Human Rights Act 1998.

There is an answer in Scots law to the question whether statutes of the Scottish parliament supersede or affect the interpretation of Convention rights. I don’t want to dig out the authority, but if the Parliament has any right to do so I imagine it has to be done in the clearest terms. The risk of putting a clause like this in, is that people might think any statute which does not spell that out might alter our human rights. Why not say that the convention right to protection from discrimination is not affected?

It could be a place-holder, to be amended later to say that Christians can say the most disgustingly homophobic things, or that homophobic speech in some circumstances is a public order offence. Or, it could be a sop to those who fear their freedom of homophobic speech is threatened. As drafted, it does nothing at all.

The purpose of a statute is a political decision- whether or not to allow equal marriage, for example. The wording of it should be a lawyer’s decision. What words will best put the political intention into effect? Having a clause which adds nothing can only obfuscate the issues.

Equal Marriage in Scotland

civil partnership Scotland 3civil partnership Scotland 1The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill has been introduced before the Scottish Parliament.

In Scotland as in England, there will be two separate institutions, gay marriage and straight marriage, both called “marriage”, but with particular differences. “Adultery has the same meaning for [both]”, which words, paradoxically, differentiate them: sexual betrayal is only adultery if it is opposite-sex. There is voidability of a marriage as in England: in England, the ground is called “non-consummation”, in Scotland, “impotence”, but it comes to the same thing, the failure to consummate. This only applies to opposite-sex civil partnership Scotland 2marriage.

It is a Civil Partnership bill: I rather hoped it would create opposite-sex civil partnerships, just to see what people wanted. The union of two people, indefinitely, is the meaning of the procedure. Allowing opposite sex civil partnerships would show whether people believed that “marriage” has a religious or just a civil meaning, and whether they wanted to distance themselves from it.

Aberdeen civil partnershipReligious bodies may request to be registered to perform same sex marriages. There is no particular provision for the Church of Scotland. My old lot, the Scottish Episcopal Church, say that The Church’s current position is that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and this clarity allows us the space to listen to the many differing views held by the members of our Church. I hope that means change is possible. I fear it means that resistors have the upper hand. But even the Church of Scotland offers hope: while it “opposes” same sex marriage, it is “acutely aware that opinions differ among our own members and that many people are anxious and hurt in the current situation. We re-iterate that we believe homophobia to be sinful.”

Civil partners may marry each other, and the marriage is backdated to the date of the civil partnership ceremony.

Civil partnership DumfriesI read “Protection of freedom of expression” and my hackles rise, but clause 14 adds nothing. The Bill does not affect the human rights to freedom of expression or freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Well, duh.

The bill grants jurisdiction to the sheriff court in actions for declarator of marriage. In Scotland, marriage may be by “Cohabitation with habit and repute”- where people live together, the court may declare them married without a ceremony. However, this is a dead letter: the law requires “repute”. They must pretend to be married. In the past, cohabiting couples might have pretended to be married in order to avoid scandal, but now there is no shame in cohabitation, so people do not pretend. The provision is extended to same sex couples.

A married trans person cannot get a gender recognition certificate unless his/her spouse consents, but where the spouse does, the continuity of the marriage is not affected. A trans person in a civil partnership also needs consent from his/her partner to get a GRC, and regulations may provide for the civil partnership to be converted into a marriage. This indicates that civil partnership was less than marriage, separate and therefore not equal.

Thank God for equal marriage! It is a powerful symbol of equality.

I love these photographs. They feel Scots to me, not just the kilts but the faces and the architecture. Click one to find its origin, I will take it down if the owner objects.

Quaker weddings friend is delighted by the new Marriage Act, as a symbol for equality and for the change it will make in her life: she will marry her life-partner. She wants to marry in the Quaker meeting, and of course we are delighted: she attends our meeting. She has the idea that other couples will want a religious wedding, and as most denominations do not offer them, at present, she would like us to offer religious marriage to people who are not members or even attenders. There are problems with that.

Other denominations may not celebrate marriages: the Anglicans are banned by statute, the Methodists prohibited the blessing of same sex unions in 2006; the Baptists say that gay people should not suffer discrimination but may not extend this to marriage. That leaves Unitarians and Quakers.

The Marriage Act 1949 governs marriage in the Meeting: s47(1) No person who is not a member of the Society of Friends shall be married according to the usages of that Society unless he or she is authorised to be so married under or in pursuance of a general rule of the said Society in England. Each of the couple must declare that each of them is either a member of the Society of Friends or is in profession with or of the persuasion of that Society, or the Registrar must declare that there is such a rule.

So we need to amend our own rules, before we can offer gay marriages to people who are not attenders.

Would such a rule be discriminatory? Discrimination is prohibited on the ground of sexual orientation, including “orientation towards persons of the opposite sex”: Equality Act 2010 s12. By s13, it would be direct discrimination: treating a straight couple less favourably- refusing to marry them- because of their orientation.

Does that rule apply to providing marriages? A person concerned with the provision of a service to the public must not discriminate (s29). So if we had a rule saying that gay couples with no real link to the Society could get married, but not straight couples, this would be unlawful. A straight couple refused a wedding in a Quaker meeting could claim damages in the county court. It is possible that those damages might be minimal: I do not have the research facilities to assess that.

Quakers have a distinguished history of disobeying the law when we consider we are following the leadings of the Holy Spirit. We would be offering a service to gay people which only the Unitarians would, apart from us. The Unitarians seem keen to marry non-members, and without our legal difficulties.

Of course we could open our marriage procedure completely, to straights as well. Perhaps we would have no take-up. But- the couple marrying stand to speak the vow in the way that we stand to give ministry: we feel moved by the Spirit. In other churches, the couple speak their own will. Having non-members marry in the Quaker meeting would change the nature of that marriage.

Slippery slope II

“Legalising gay marriage will start us down a slippery slope to legalised paedophilia and bestiality.”

Oh! The poverty of the mind that could argue that! He imagines his disgust for lovemaking is a moral good, and a justification for legal penalties for those who do it. He imagines that once that disgust is no longer a basis for law, everything which disgusts him will be legalised. He sees other people as lacking the proper disgust which he feels and therefore broken in some way, and needing moral guidance and social control to come round to his way of thinking, or at least conform outwardly to it, from fear. Comparison to bestiality shows quite how much I disgust him.

There will be no slippery slope to paedophilia, which has a victim. But here I found myself debating bestiality– as you do on blogs, well, I could not sleep because of the heat. I started from the position, no, of course there will be no slippery slope to bestiality.

But- how do I argue against it? It disgusts me, I cannot comprehend the desire, but my disgust should no more be a rule for the world than the homophobe’s.

Animal cruelty is a possibility. Animals cannot properly consent to bestiality. But, while I deprecate battery farming and experimentation on animals, I tolerate these things, and profit from them; and all farming ends in slaughter. We use animals for our benefit. Can bestiality morally be distinguished from other uses of animals, apart from via the disgust perhaps a majority feels?

Natural law is another possibility. Sex has the purpose of uniting two human beings as one, and in gay LTRs it does so, just as in straight relationships. Bestiality is so much less. But, such an argument equally opposes masturbation, and I would not ban that, even if anyone could.

So. Legalising gay marriage will put us on the slippery slope to bestiality.

Well, not exactly. Even if they cannot create an internally consistent moral argument for current law, legislators may want to ban bestiality. We improve, steadily: the UK parliament banned hunting of foxes with hounds, as a measure against animal cruelty. Just because we cannot abolish animal cruelty with the stroke of a legislator’s pen does not mean we should not take action to reduce it.

And bestiality will remain a minority taste. It disgusts most people.

But at the end, I am confronted with the bestialist. He does not find it disgusting, but sufficiently attractive to make the effort to do it. I imagine, there are better ways of pursuing human flourishing, even sexual release, and he does not. I do not set myself up as a judge over him, and reach out with tendrils of empathy and love- what is it like to be this man?

I cannot say, there are better ways of being, because that is the position of the homophobe judging the gay couple. If I believe that the route to progress is to enable people to seek their own flourishing in their own way, as long as it harms no other person, then I cannot forbid bestiality.

Here is a man who bases the slippery slope on the US concept of civil rights: and also includes an extract from an “animal sex advocate”. Here is a gay person who finds bestiality “creepy as hell”. I should say that I seek empathy with the person, and not with the act, which I find incomprehensible. Here is a person who finds sex funny. Well, duh.

Added: I am delighted that C. Scott Fowler has reblogged this. If you come from his site, please do comment here. I am interested in other perspectives, and you may even persuade me to modify my view.

Encounters at Buddhafield II


figureThe gender binary oppresses everyone. Our enforced ideals of “man” and “woman” limit the expression of both. I said this in the workshop, and after a woman came up, eyes shining, to thank me for it.

-I have read that all LGBT issues are T issues. It is all about gender. And we liberate everyone: first us, who are really oppressed by gender ideals, but also everyone else who can just about rub along with them, and is only a little oppressed.

She nods, agreeing, and we hug. So wonderful to express this, which I find Radical, and be completely understood.

Another woman comes to thank me and agree. I am feeling so affirmed, I want to continue the conversation, and let out some of my feelings. Do you mind if we prolong this encounter? She assents- she is very easy to be with- and I expatiate on the differences between same sex and opposite sex marriage enshrined in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act- just passed last week, amazing and wonderful and yet not quite enough. Pension funds, for example, are protected from not having known that gay couples may officially be couples: for contractual rights for “spouses”, only contributions after 2005 when Civil Partnerships were enacted apply. They are not protected from the fact that in 2005 we were all told there was an end to boom and bust and growth would continue indefinitely, but they are protected from the around 1% of their members who may get a same sex marriage, and whose contributions for perhaps thirty years before do not count towards spouse rights. I go into great detail on medico-legal pathways to transition, and nullity of marriage.

She did not know any of this, and loves to hears what impassions people, because she is a story-teller. She takes people’s stories, and tells them in a folk-tale style with elements of myth. This fascinates me: how do you get gigs? Do you have jokes? No, she involves people in other ways, and she finds it difficult to extol her wonderfulness, as you have to; though she was pleased to have stood up for herself. She applied to lead a workshop in time, but Buddhafield lost her application, and then when she checked the date had passed. So she told them they had lost her application, and they fitted her in.

She is a leading light in the Transition Towns movement, and her workshop told stories of it and then led discussion of how we might meet the challenge of peak oil. I don’t think subsistence agriculture is the answer- even if people had the gifts for it, England is not big enough for us all to be peasants- but she says my belief that technology will provide the answers is a stage people go through before realising transition is the way.

A woman there talks of how Socialist ideals for the liberation of the masses are outdated, and how her parents and grandfather were disheartened by 1989 and 1991, the fall of the Wall and the end of the Union and the socialist experiment. I hope Socialism may inspire new ideas for living together, but am unsure how.

Progress did the US Supreme Court decide?

In US v Windsor the federal government sought to recover inheritance tax from a woman who had inherited from her wife within a legally recognised marriage in her home state. DOMA s3 required the federal government and its agencies to not recognise any marriage except opposite sex marriages. The court ruled this unconstitutional “as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment”, specifically its due process clause: s3 “identif[ies] a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make[s] them unequal”.

In Hollingsworth v Perry, the federal district court had ruled that the California constitutional ban on same sex marriages had no rational basis. California state officials refused to challenge this decision, and when Hollingsworth, leader of a gang of


called “protectmarriage” sought to appeal the district court decision, the Supreme Court decided that they had no “standing”- “the litigant must seek a remedy for a personal and tangible harm”.

So we are denied a Loving v Virginia type of case, where all state constitutional bans on equal marriage are overturned, as Loving overturned bans on mixed race marriages. DOMA s2, each State “or Indian tribe” to make its own decision on equal marriage for gay couples, still stands.

It cannot stand for long. When a gay couple seeks to marry in a State which bans it, and challenges the ban in court, s2 will be overturned. There are such challenges in Nevada, Hawaii and Michigan- see USA Today, my main source along with Wikipedia.

That is what people want. Polls show increasing support for equal marriage. Increasingly, people realise that treating queers differently because we are queer is disgusting and wrong, and unchristian.

Of course I want equality now- and looking back on the progress, with discrimination on goods and services and in employment only made unlawful in Great Britain in 2006, and equal marriage now being enacted, I am satisfied.

Things get better, and the emancipation of queers is one of my main pieces of evidence for that. With all the “wars and rumours of wars”, economic turbulence, and causes for disquiet, I look at the public acceptance of discrimination legislation as evidence that things get better. The fall of the Iron Curtain- Croatia, part of an enemy state when I was a student, is now in the EU- is File:Le triomphe de la Justice - Durameau.jpganother. I look back to 1485, the Battle of Bosworth, when Henry VII became King of England- before then, politics was conducted by means of civil war, and after, internal English politics was mostly conducted by judicial murder, which is an improvement. A hundred years later, we had learned to do politics mostly by talking!

Seek out reasons to be cheerful and causes of Hope. Pat Robertson, a soi-disant “pastor”, said he vomited on seeing gay couples. It is a good thing that he will be unable to keep anything down, as he could do with losing weight. He is a figure of fun. More


will carry on making such arguments, quoting Leviticus 20, saying that God sends hurricanes because of equal marriage, etc, even saying how loving they are trying to get everyone to follow God’s Will. They will come to regret it, and realise eventually that an increase in freedom for some is an increase in freedom for all.


God’s in His Heaven- what?

-seeing all the out and proud gay people, and tearing his hair out in misery, till Jesus tells him, never mind, Hollingsworth and Robertson are protecting us

-Or laughing behind his hand- they may be “Proud” now, but I’m sending them STRAIGHT to HELL! But first, I ‘ll send a hurricane, or maybe an earthquake. That’ll show them!

Nice God you’ve got there, guys.