I’m no fan of gay marriage, but bake the cake and arrange the flowers (COMMENTARY)

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Wedding cake with groom figures on top.

Photo courtesy of Ivonne Wierink via Shutterstock

Wedding cake with groom figures on top.

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(RNS) If you serve the public, you have to bake the cake and arrange the flowers. Don't pick this one thing to use as justification for not loving your neighbor as yourself.

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  • mike

    Donna, I get what you’re saying but what you are calling for is compromise. I think the florist and baker could have compromised without going over a line that is drawn in a moderate place, for they were draconian in drawing it where they did. However, the photographer is different – he doesn’t feel comfortable taking photos of gays acting all warm and fuzzy on their “wedding” day and he shouldn’t be forced to take do that. While the participation of the other business owners is indirect, his is not. It shouldn’t be rammed down his throat.

  • mike

    Donna, I get what you’re saying but what you are calling for is compromise. I think the florist and baker could have compromised without going over a line that is drawn in a moderate place, for they were draconian in drawing it where they did. However, the photographer is different – he doesn’t feel comfortable taking photos of gays acting all warm and fuzzy on their “wedding” day and he shouldn’t be forced to. While the participation of the other business owners is indirect, his is not. It shouldn’t be rammed down his throat.

  • ben in oakland

    Frankly, I find your attitude both very generous and very small minded. So, thanks????

    “I simply think that equating any other coupling with that capable of producing human life is illogical.” Simple? Yes. Thinking? No. There is NO requirement for heterosexual couples to reproduce. Yet they can get married. Adoptive families are LEGALLY equal to families that do, yet haven’t reproduced. Step families may have children from previous marriages, and absolutely no intention of producing more. They can get married with your blessing.

    And a great many gay people have children– sometimes their own from previous marriages, sometimes the unwanted, castoff products of irresponsible hetero reproduction. No different from hetero second marriages.

    “Not to mention social suicide as the strongest bonds we’re capable of forming no longer beckon as something special.” If you require me not to be married so that your bond is “special”, if mine demeans yours, then yours isn’t special…

  • Larry

    ” I think the florist and baker could have compromised without going over a line that is drawn in a moderate place,”

    The whole point of refusing the business based on “religious belief” grounds was to act like a malicious and harmful jerks to the gay customers. They weren’t looking to be reasonable. It was simply a semi-socially acceptable excuse to to demean the potential customers in a public setting. That is primarily the purpose behind discriminating in open commerce.

    Those venders could have easily made more mundane and plausible excuses for not providing the services. Ones difficult to prove as discriminatory in court. But they chose instead to act badly instead. Whatever penalties they incurred were entirely justified. If they wanted to be treated well, they should have treated others likewise.

    “It shouldn’t be rammed down his throat.”

    The oral fixation of the anti-marriage equality crowd is ridiculous already. Can you guys please use a different expression…

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  • James Carr

    I believe gays specifically target certain bakers/florists who they know will turn down their request for services at their “wedding” . That is malicious intent, as most gay challenges are today. It’s not as though there is any shortage of businesses that will indulge the troublemakers. Personally, if I had to intimidate a baker to make me a cake, I would NOT want to eat it. And there can be all kinds of “mistakes” that can happen that may delay or embarrass the buyer’s ceremony. Just go somewhere else……..like normal people do.

  • J.C. Samuelson

    I can appreciate the distinction between private beliefs and public behavior, and the author is correct in writing how “[p]rivate views are not subject to consistency, fairness or logic,” though I don’t understand why she appears to think this is an acceptable state of affairs. Inconsistency often indicates things like ignorance, confusion, or dishonesty.

    Also, she takes pains to establish her socially conservative attitude toward marriage and remark on its secular nature, glibly dismissing marriage outside her favorite narrative as somehow deficient as if this is all perfectly fine. I truly wonder why the author believes childless marriages constitute a lesser bond, to the point of being social suicide? Her attitude is contemptible, and leaves me wondering about the sincerity of the rest of the article.

  • Normandy

    Imbecilic. The STATE goes after these bigots-not the victims. Ever heard of enforcing laws? yeah-that’s what the state does…

  • Normandy

    I think this strange headed woman named Donna is being disingenuous. Her belief that gay marriage are wrong DOES come from her religious nonsense. There is no mandate about procreation-never has been-associated with marriage! Religion deems gay “wrong”. At least own your bigotry, lady!!

  • Hi Mike, I can’t agree. What if a photographer doesn’t feel comfortable taking photos of an octagenarian and his twenty-something bride? (Think Hugh Hefner and a Bunny.) There’s almost no end to the things a photographer may find too uncomfortable to photograph, but then he or she is in the wrong business. No shirt, no shoes, no service is about the only objective line a business can draw because it isn’t inherently discriminatory; anyone can put on a shirt and shoes.

  • Hi Normandy, it’s definitely a loaded issue, and I understand your reaction. I don’t believe gay marriage is “wrong” as you put it, just that it isn’t on a level with a union that can create life. (Can not must.) I come from divorced parents and I’ve adopted children, so when I say the married biological union is unique, I’m not in that group, either coming or going. Just trying to call it like I see it.

  • Hi Ben, I followed you up until the last paragraph, probably my failure. I agree with everything you’re saying about the the legal definitions of families, and I know gay families are especially willing to adopt kids with special needs, which I admire. I’m only stating that biology matters, for example, the oxytocin released in the brain of both mother and infant during breast-feeding is a powerful basis for trust in later life. No matter what we think, feel, vote, worship, legislate, or argue, biology matters.

  • Doc Anthony

    “A florist in Washington state, a New Mexico photographer and a baker in Oregon all refused to provide services to gay couples who expressed their intent to marry. Barronelle Stutzman…declared, ‘I just put my hands on his and told him because of my relationship with Jesus Christ I couldn’t do that, couldn’t do his wedding.'”

    The fact is that every single one of them did the RIGHT thing, the Bible-honoring, Christ-honoring thing.

    They REFUSED to produce goods or services that clearly affirmed and celebrated an evil event that OPENLY contradicts and negates the saving, cleansing, and sanctifying work of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially as applied to the issue of homosexuality (1 Cor. 6:11).

    Furthermore, they went ahead and PAID the gay-bullying, anti-religious-freedom price for their courageous obedience to the Christian faith. Barronelle Stutzman’s brief comment was — and IS — the perfect summary. Period. End transmission.

  • Hi J.C., I think we can’t help but be inconsistent and illogical in the personal realm. For example, even the very best parents want to throw their kids against the wall sometimes but would in the very next millesecond step in front of a bullet for them. I’m not distinguishing gay marriage from all other forms of marriage; I’m distinguishing the union that can create life from all other unions. I think what is social suicide is not to elevate and magnify the most stable bond for procreation of the species.

  • Hi Larry, I don’t know the gay couples in question so you may be right that they are jerks. I can only speak for the gay couples I know, and they are simply trying to live their lives in familiar circles like the rest of us, which includes the businesses they’ve always frequented.

  • Hi Doc, you said “end of transmission” so I assume you’re not reading this, but I’d like to respond anyway, just for grins. I care a lot about honoring Christ; I’m just not as certain as you about how to do it in the most Christ-like way. If I go to the absolute foundation, religion is about personal feeling and the work of human beings in writing and interpreting scripture. Even if inspired by God, prophets channeled that inspiration through carnal minds. I know some Chistians believe the Bible to be infallible. I don’t happen to be one of them. It is simply too self-contradictory to be absolutely perfect in my opinion. I also think it would be too easy if the Bible were perfect, could be understood only one way, and required none of us to wrestle spiritually. I believe God works only through faith because it requires so much of us to work out an understanding and application of spiritual principles. What I do know for sure is that we all do the best we can with what we have.

  • Fran

    Neither is God supportive of same-sex marriage (Genesis 2:23-24; 3:28) and He is our Creator and knows what is best for us.

    God lovingly provides us with his Word, the Bible, to let us see his personality and have a close relationship with him, to acquire wisdom by applying his principles and guidelines in our lives and by obeying his commands, which will result in a happy and fulfilling life.

    Obviously, imperfect man’s laws, principles and desires can be very different, even opposite to God’s; and applying them can lead to bad results.

    Therefore, when man’s laws, principles and guidelines go against God’s, then those claiming to follow Jesus and worship God, his Father, feel compelled to obey God as ruler, rather than man (Acts 5:29), including when it comes to marriage and sexual matters (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

    Those who do not care about God and his guidelines will “do their own thing” according to their own desires, thoughts or conscience; and they will reap what…

  • Fran

    …they sow.

  • Larry

    You missed my point or failed to read closely.

    I was calling the VENDORS the jerks for acting in an uncivil manner. Not the gay couples.

    The vendors could have easily used any number of legitimate, tough to prove in court, excuses for refusing business but instead simply chose to say, “we don’t serve your kind here”. Something crass, blatantly discriminatory and malicious in nature.

    Discriminatory behavior in one’s business, whether you claim a religious excuse or not is meant to demean and attack the person being refused service.

    Its meant to say, “I am going to deny you the basic dignity and respect I would bestow to anyone else who walks into my store besides you”. Since such malicious conduct violates laws of general application, it warrants sanction under the color of law.

  • Larry

    Except if one says, “I don’t think I can accomplish this job in a satisfactory faction” you can’t really prove it is discriminatory. Nor if one claims to be all booked up. There are tons of better excuses one can make. One would have a helluva time proving them to be discriminatory in a court.

    All better than, “we don’t serve gays because God hates you and your wedding”.

  • J.C. Samuelson

    Thanks for responding, Donna. If what I wrote was unfair, I apologize, and as I said I agree with you regarding the inherency of human inconsistency and irrationality. With that said, I also think it’s possible to align our values with reality, which seems to be at or near the root of what we’re talking about.

    To borrow your example, parental frustration with our kids and a willingness to die for them stem from the same source – a desire for their well-being. So, this doesn’t involve conflicting values, whereas evaluating the relative quality of marital bonds as you do does. And I might add you expressed your values publicly – i.e., your private views express a public preference.

    I admit this is a bit personal. Though I have a child, my wife and I did not marry for procreation. So for someone to denigrate my marriage as being of lesser worth because we married for love instead of babies seems rather paternalistic.

  • Larry

    Three people who proved that free exercise of religion never meant deliberately and maliciously harming others. It was no more the right thing than it was when people would refuse doing business with you on the basis of your skin color. There were plenty of people who thought God sanctioned that as well.

    Corinthians is not, nor ever will be the law of the land in the US. Religious freedom means you can blow the New Testament out of the orifice of choice for all its relevance to our laws. Nobody has to care. Least of all our laws.

    Discrimination in business is a legally recognized harm to the customers discriminated against. You can quit martyrbaiting.

  • J.C. Samuelson

    I just read your reply to Normandy in which you state procreation isn’t a must but marriages involving procreation are, in your view, on a “different” (i.e., higher) level and are unique, even in relation to your own situation. By what – or whose – standard?

    To indulge this train of thought briefly, surely you know there’s no legitimate evidence suggesting biological unions are any more stable, nurturing, or effective at child rearing than adoptive unions, or those involving artificial insemination. Also, biology is a very poor standard of value because it merely involves the transmission of genetic information, and indicates next to nothing about postnatal parental fitness or ability. Indeed, special family courts exist partially because the failures of biological parents to fulfill their obligations to their children are common enough to warrant them.

    So, again, what standard leads you to conclude biological unions are better?

  • I really appreciate your dialog, J.C., and that you are focused on the ideas rather than the quality of individuals expressing them. You’re totally right that the values of good parents are the same whether they’re in a throwing or jumping mood. I’m not convinced there is such a thing as Reality that we can align ourselves with. There are empirical facts, but the glass half-empty/half-full seems to be the dominant mode of human subjective evaluation of those facts. When I say “private” I mean the domain outside commerical or government activity, so even public discussion is private in that sense. There may be an unbridgeable divide between what I’m trying to express about biological unions and what you’re hearing me say about the quality of your marriage. I’m always willing to examine my positions further, and I am scanning, scanning, scanning to make sure I’m not consciously denigrating anyone. I think we’re talking apples and oranges, which I will expand on below.

  • So the apples are I think you’re hearing me evaluate the quality of marital bond depending on whether someone marries for love, or has children, etc. The oranges are that I’m saying biological bonds can POTENTIALLY but not necessarily boost the quality of relationship. It’s like the old necessary but not sufficient distinction. Biology is necessary for the species-perpetuating, primitive instincts, but isn’t sufficient for quality bonds or parenting. I would much rather have children raised by Ellen and Portia than Snooki and Jionni. Having said that, I do think there is credible evidence that biological children raised by both parents in the home do far better on almost every measure: HS graduation, depression, age of first sexual activity, substance use/abuse, divorce, etc. Like I said, I’m not a product of such a home and I’m not the head of such a home so I’m not arguing for myself, and I don’t feel inferior. Just calling it like I see it.

  • You’re right, Larry, I misread your point, sorry. So if I understand correctly, you’re saying the vendors were extra hostile (paraphrasing) by being so explicit about their reasons. I actually prefer that because then at least they can be challenged and corrected as they were in these cases. I think the hidden ways people discriminate are much harder to address. I read about a study once where job applicants with identical resumes were sent to several companies, but half the applicants had the last name of Washington, an overwhelmingly African-American name. Results of the study showed that even with identical education and job experience, the applicants named Washington were far less likely to be called for an interview. I think that’s much harder to fight.

  • Hi Fran, I agree with you that the God of the Bible cannot sanction same-sex marraige, but I also know that “fulfilling life” is in the eye of the beholder. I’m in no position to judge someone who finds fulfilllment (with a same-sex partner) only outside biblical commandments. I worship God the way I understand him, which starts with the principle of honoring agency in all his children to believe and conduct their lives as they wish. Belief of any kind (even atheism) is just one big guess in this life. I would die for my faith, but I wouldn’t enforce it on anyone else because I might very well be wriong. We might all be wrong. We might all somehow be right in some God-level arithmetic. My soapbox if I have one is agency, humility, and sincerity. I don’t think we have to be right, we have to be sincere. I think God cares most how we treat each other, next how sincerely we derive our beliefs, and only lastly whether we get it right in this life while we still see through a glass…

  • darkly.

  • The Great God Pan

    Unfortunately, your analogy doesn’t quite hold up to scrutiny.

    It’s not as if gay couples are ordering cakes that aren’t on the menu and contain ingredients the baker doesn’t use, so the pork thing is completely irrelevant. The issue in contention is not the ingredients in the cake, but the event the cake will be served at.
    Ordering a lemon cake from a baker who sells lemon cake isn’t very much like ordering pulled pork from a Halal deli.

    As for the relevant part of your analogy: it is unlikely that anyone would accuse Christians of bigotry for ordering wedding food from a Jewish or Muslim business owner, nor is it likely that the deli owner would be offended and refuse the job. The simple truth is that nobody cares about these things unless gay people are involved, in which case selling food suddenly becomes a “moral issue” requiring the seller to give his personal seal of approval to every aspect of the buyer’s life.

  • Doc Anthony

    Oh no no Donna, the phrase “End Transmission” doesn’t mean I’m gone or something. (It simply means I like watching Star Trek reruns!) Meanwhile, thanks for responding.

    The gay marriage issue (in fact, the homosexuality debate itself) provides a tough, personal, and unprecedented challenge to all Christians, whether they be “certain” or “uncertain” about the authority and infallibility of the Bible. And you brought up an additional important issue: not only what should be one’s “best we can” response in this area, but also how to do it in the most Christ-like way?

    Each situation is different, but I am certain that the Bible’s teaching concerning homosexual behavior (and hence gay marriage) is at least clear and consistent. There are no exceptions or “gray areas” at all, plus there’s even a reference to Jesus cleansing and sanctifying the ancient Corinthians from their sin of homosexuality. (Corinthian Ex-Gays, so to speak!) So I think the business owners…

  • Doc Anthony

    …were completely correct in their responses to the situations they were confronted with. They understood that their Biblical beliefs, even their beliefs and trust about the saving, cleansing, and sanctifying power of Jesus Christ, were being openly challenged, and they stood up and said “No” to it, not angrily or demeaning or hateful, but just a firm and calm “No” (and a brilliant yet brief explanation by Barronelle Stutzman).

    Then they went on and paid the legal price for their stand, even to getting shut down in one or two cases. They’re examples, not errors.

  • Earold D Gunter

    James Carr,
    Perhaps you are right. Maybe those who provide services to the public through commerce should hang a sign telling the public who they will, and will not serve. It seems to me it was effective way of letting everyone know how the minds of those business owners worked, when they demonstrated to everyone that they didn’t want to serve other Americans, just because they did not have the same color of skin as they did. It seems equally as justified as well.

  • James Carr

    Oh, not the equating with Black discrimination….here we go.

    People should just go where they are welcomed, and stay clear of of trouble. This whole controversy is trite and meaningless. Should the KKK exist? Should Blacks be allowed to join? Should Whites be allowed to enter the Black Miss America contest, and would we dare ever hold a White Miss America contest? Why is there a United Way and a Black United Way?

    The list is endless and full of contradictory “services”……here we are arguing over cakes and flowers. Good grief! A sound gay person would just order a wedding cake and put 2 male or female dolls on top. The bakery does not need to know one’s whole life

  • Rev Clyde Baker

    Good article. The ‘Christian’ motivation for refusing wedding related services lacks three elements necessary for justification. One, Jesus said, render unto Caesar. We forget Caesar demanded that he be worshiped as a God–by fervently monotheistic Jews…yet Jesus said. Two, conscientious objectors, during war, are still required to provide support to aid the war effort. If Christians conscientiously object then, in good conscience, shouldn’t they still enable the marriage? Sub-contract the work? Make the cake but let a third party put the cake topper on it? Pay a wedding planner to get them the service they wish to deny? Third, if the denial is meant to warn of or save from hell, don’t they have an obligation to explain…instead it’s always ‘I can’t, I won’t’.

  • Larry

    “I actually prefer that because then at least they can be challenged and corrected as they were in these cases.”

    I don’t buy that for one minute.

    People who are so blatant and uncivil about their prejudices in a public setting are not going to be reasonable or be willing to be corrected. They are doing so out of malice and in a deliberate fashion.

    There is no such thing as legally actionable “accidental discrimination”. It becomes a situation for the laws because it is an act of deliberate and malicious harm.

    “I think the hidden ways people discriminate are much harder to address.”

    Because they are tougher to ascribe to malicious and deliberate conduct. Its harder to do as well. One has to act on their prejudices without appearing to be doing so. They are far less likely to be addressed by laws because intent is harder to gauge.

  • Larry

    When you are making the same exact arguments as people supporting racial discrimination, its not hard to equate the two.

    The anti-gay crowd even wants to put their own version of Jim Crow out there with 14th Amendment unfriendly bills claiming religious freedom includes a right to discriminate. To segregate gays from their businesses, housing and employment.

    “Should the KKK exist?”
    1st Amendment right to free speech says, yes. Provided they play nice and don’t break laws of general application.

    “Should Blacks be allowed to join?”
    Plus private clubs are allowed to discriminate provided they stay private.

    “Should Whites be allowed to enter the Black Miss America contest”
    Is Black Miss America a public event? Is it even televised?

    “would we dare ever hold a White Miss America contest?”
    Already exists

  • Mike

    Donna, I see your point, but unless one lives near the Playboy Mansion, that (and that kind of circumstance) is going to be encountered very rarely on the part of a photographer. Their day-to-day life is very normal photos like senior pictures and weddings. So, I don’t think they’re out of bounds to draw a line at gay unions and refuse.

  • Mike

    Amen, James.

  • Garson Abuita

    If a kosher caterer refused to service a Christian wedding I would not only be very surprised, as I’ve never heard of such a thing, but I’d support the customers. As TGGP noted, no one has a right to demand that a kosher or halal market serve pork, but they do have a right to buy what’s already sold there.
    The NYC Diamond District is overwhelming Orthodox Jewish-run. I have heard zero cases of refusals to service gay weddings and, to the contrary, have heard at most “it’s your life and none of our business.” Why?

  • Mike

    Amen. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

  • Larry

    “I do think there is credible evidence that biological children raised by both parents in the home do far better on almost every measure”

    No there isn’t.

    You mistake is the term “biological children”.

    There is credible evidence children raised by both parents do far better. Whether they are biological or adopted is not ever distinguished. Making such a distinction between biological and adopted children is both nonsense and a rather pernicious stereotype.

    Thanks to thinking such as yours, adoption is generally denigrated as an option for families in a cultural sense. Its also insulting to families who are willing to extend their love to children despite lacking a biological connection.

    Plus marriage and procreation are not related culturally or legally. Non-marital children are still entitled to rights and obligations from both parents. They do not cease existence because their parents are unmarried.

    Your reasons are nonsense. They have nothing to do with…

  • Larry

    “The gay marriage issue (in fact, the homosexuality debate itself) provides a tough, personal, and unprecedented challenge to all Christians”

    Oh no, Christians will have to treat others like human beings!

    The horror of it all to be civil to others and conduct business to the general public!

    So maliciously harming people in public is being Christ-like. Gotcha. So where is that bridge you had for sale?

  • Ben in oakland

    ““The gay marriage issue (in fact, the homosexuality debate itself) provides a tough, personal, and unprecedented challenge to all Christians”

    No it doesn’t. we are merely asking for the same respect and interactions you routinely extend to all of the other people on the planet whom you believe are going to burn in hell forever.

  • Ben in oakland

    The question is, what does oxytocin release have to do with marriage, the specialness of hetero-reproductive marriage, or anything?

    You “social suicide” comment was indeed unclear. NO ONE is telling heteros they can’t get married, have children, release oxytocin, get divorced, that biology doesn’t matter– OR NOT, TO ANY OF THESE. What it sounded like to me was that if gay people are allowed legal marriage, in accordance (or not) with their faith, that somehow, heterosexuals are harmed, that heterosexual marriage is no longer special.

    and that is simply nonsense. Your specialness doesn’t depend on me. Frankly, it’s just a kindler gentler way of saying that our existence is somehow detrimental to heterosexuality, faith, and life itself.

    Do you know why we want marriage?

    1) Because we were raised in a culture that says marriage is important and valuable.

    2) Because our lives, faiths, assets, and families are every bit as important as yours.

    If you don’t think…

  • Ben in oakland

    Of course you believe that. Your whole narrative depends on gay people being different, dark, dangerous, and sinister. We couldn’t possible want to be treated just like anyone else.

    It’s just like that trouble maker rosa parks. How dare she demand that as a citizen, she should be able to sit in any seat she likes!

    No one has intimidated anyone. There are laws which prevent discrimination. If you don’t like those laws, work to have them repealed.

  • Ben in oakland

    “I think what is social suicide is not to elevate and magnify the most stable bond for procreation of the species.”

    And who is doing this? Not us.

    Who is telling heterosexuals not to marry, not to have children only within wedlock? Not us.

    The most stable bond? with divorce rates at 40%, adultery rates at 35%, and illegitimacy rates at 40%, rising to 70% in some vociferously antigay communities, it is very clear who is not “elevating and magnifying”.

    It’s not us.

    Perhaps what you need to do to start making some sense is to explain what you mean by “social suicide”, and then explaining how our marriages somehow promote that.

    Because unless you are willing to explain it, this just sounds like the failed arguments that somehow, gay people marrying each other is detrimental to holy heterosexuality. It’s a conservative and religious position that makes absolutely no sense.

    So please explain it.

  • Larry

    “So, I don’t think they’re out of bounds to draw a line at gay unions and refuse.”

    No more than they are out of bounds to draw a line at interracial unions or ones of a different faith than the business owners. Meaning not at all acceptable in open commerce.

    If you want to discriminate in your business, operate as a private club and through selective advertisement. Don’t hold yourself out as being open to the public if you are unwilling and too uncivil to serve the public.

    Open commerce doesn’t need to be tied up by your malicious prejudices.

  • ben in oakland

    I was going to write what Larry wrote. But he covered it, so I’ll add to it.

    The studies show that the critical issue is whether there are TWO parents in the home, or ONE. Antigay conservatives routinely compare intact two-parent biofamilies with all others EXCEPT intact two parent gay families. There is a wealth of information on relevant studies at Wikipedia and the websites for virtually every professional, scientific, and medical association in the West. Please educate yourself. your statement was false.

    Curiously, there is ONE study which contradicts this idea– the much touted Regnerus study, which claimed to study gay parenting, but in fact studied mixed-orientation heterosexual marriages. According to regnerus– and why would he lie?– these biofamilies did worse. There goes your premise.

    If course, Regnerus had an ideological goal in mind, not a scientific one. And his study confirmed his ideology in his assignment of blame, but not actual facts.

  • Lin

    Donna, I had 2 biological children (and nursed them) in my first marriage. But after their father left us to manage on our own and I had a cancer-related hysterectomy, I married again, to a gentle and loving man. Our marriage is not “the union that can create life,” as you put it, but it enriches my life (and his) in every way. We can turn to each other in good times & bad, yadda yadda– but he’s also my legal next of kin. And the same should be able to be true for any other life partners.

  • Ben in oakland


    Exactly the point.

  • ben in oakland

    If you don’t think so, then say so, and say why.

    somehow, that finale to that statement got left off.

  • Ben, I couldn’t agree more that your lives, faiths, assets, and families are every bit as important as anyone else’s. I know this subject is a minefield, and I have no wish to add more pain or frustration to your life. I’m putting myself out there because I do understand both sides, and I frankly expect to be demonized by both sides. Unless someone comes up with something brilliant, I think this is an unbridgeable divide. Rather than arguing to convince/pressure others to change (in either direction), I’m just trying to give voice to the conflict because both points of view live inside of me. I think the best we can all hope for is to have more compassion and empathy for those of different opinions. I apologize profusely if you have felt demeaned or attacked by anything I’ve said. I can’t agree with all your points of view, but I know you have every right to make them and make them passionately. Let me try to explain my “social suicide” remark more clearly below.

  • “Social suicide” is perhaps too melodramatic a word, but I was trying to convey a concept. I respect the heat and intellect behind a lot of these comments, but I have to honor my own heat and intellect about it. I’m not trying to hurt anyone, but my opinions are borne of personal experience and years of struggle with the conflict. I think it’s interesting that my article was in support of gay couples being treated fairly in business, and the most aggressive comments address only my objection to gay marriage. I don’t object to gay unions and wouldn’t disadvantage them legally, financially, parentally, medically or otherwise. I won’t keep trying to make the next point because either I’ve made it by now or I haven’t. It has become virtually dangerous to suggest that there are actual differences between men and women, but there are. The idea that two men or two women can give a child the same range of human experience as one male and one female is to me ludicrous. I may be wrong.

  • Larry, my husband and I have adopted three siblings, and I can only go on what I have experienced, learned, and studied in the last eleven years. I’m not attempting to convince you or provoke you, just offering up my point of view.

  • Agreed, Lin. I am also re-married, and my husband and I are not a “union that can create life.” Love and companionship are profound needs and I don’t begrudge anyone seeking to have those needs met in the best way for them personally. Again, it isn’t to denigrate anyone or anything to simply say that the power (latent, realized, or declined) to create life is unique. Is that not a true statement? Why is an empirical fact of biology so provocative?

  • Larry

    Do do you treat adoptive children as less worthy than your biological children? Would it be proper for any couple to do so?

    Of course not. But that is the position you were touting (unintentionally) when making a big fuss over marriage and biological children.

    People were calling you out on it.

    The more you try to explain your position on “biological children” and marriage, the less credible it became. You refuted yourself several times already by citing to your personal life. (A marriage which won’t produce children, accepting adopted children into your family)

    The stance simply doesn’t make sense.

    At this point I don’t even think that is really your motivations on the subject. It simply smacks of a position given in public to avoid the one you would give in private. You are trying to harmonize what is probably a religious stance against gay marriage with your own sense of fairness, humanity, and compassion.

  • Ben in oakland

    Thank you, donna, for trying to explain it.

    “The idea that two men or two women can give a child the same range of human experience as one male and one female is to me ludicrous. I may be wrong.”

    I suspect you are wrong, unless you are willing to posit that all men are alike in some ways, as are all women. But that’s not true, apart from the possession of one penis or one vagina. Large numbers of either are simply not fit to be parents, as you know.

    Heterosexuals produce children for one reason: THEY CAN. It doesn’t qualify them for parenthood. The jails, gangs, mental hospitals, rehab clinics, ISIS, and congress are full of the products of male-female parenting.

    You would also have to ignore mountains of evidence that gay people are at least as fit as heterosexuals as parents to make that claim. You would also have to ignore that like heteros, gay people have friends and families that are intimately involved in their lives, and the lives of their children.

  • Ben in oakland

    “Again, it isn’t to denigrate anyone or anything to simply say that the power (latent, realized, or declined) to create life is unique. Is that not a true statement? Why is an empirical fact of biology so provocative?”

    It’s not the empirical fact that is provocative, but the political, social, and religious uses to which it is put– usually to the harm and detriment of gay people.

  • Ron

    The article held my interest throughout, as did 100% of the responses. Even so, I feel that all the words on this page are useless (other than as windows into a handful of people’s pain and rage, and a handful of people trying to find some ways to be both kind and true to themselves, and getting attacked in the process. That’s helpful to see).

    Vendors are stuck with the laws of the land. We all obey laws we hate. There may be occasions when our conscience compels us to disobey the law. In those cases we suffer the force of the State. At different times and places conscientious objectors might be spared by people or an environment that chooses not to enforce the law.

    The gentle and conscientious author could simply have written, “I, Ms. Carol Voss have my personal opinion why gay marriage is bad for us all. That said, Obey the law or suffer the consequences.”

    Apart from that, we homosexuals will never become loved or liked by being nasty all the time.

  • God never said He hates homosexuals and no one I know has ever said He did. Homosexual acts are declared to be sinful by God whether you agree or not. A Homosexual person ordering a cake or flowers is not the same as having a florist do the flowers for a wedding. You have to directly participate for the wedding. If I worked with someone who was knowingly homosexual and they invited me to their marriage ceremony I would not attend any more than I would attend the civil wedding of Catholic heterosexual couple. Why, because it is sinful in both cases. If they have the right to choose who or how they marry I have a right to not attend and if asked tell them why just as they have a right to tell me why they choose to. We all have a right to choose. This nonsense of special rights for certain groups while denying the same rights to others is wrong. We all have a right to speak, choose , believe and when those rights are denied we have no rights at all.

  • I agree that we should not force our beliefs on anyone so the LGBT community should stop insisting and trying to force everyone to applaud and approve their choices. I am Catholic and they do not applaud mine on the contrary anyone who dares to disagree with them is attacked in one way or another.

  • Larry

    God doesn’t say it. Its his devoted followers who say such malicious things.

    “no one I know has ever said He did.”

    Then you are either a liar or naive. Many who profess belief in Christianity say such things in public on a regular basis. Many times in front of the media.

    It doesn’t matter how you rationalize what is clearly acts designed to demean and attack gay customers of a business. Discrimination in business is a legally recognized harm to the customer turned away.

    If you are doing business to the general public, you have to serve the general public. Your personal prejudices are never an excuse for refusing service to a customer. It matters not one bit if you claim God says so.

    You don’t have a right to discriminate in open business. Claiming a religious excuse doesn’t change that. This isn’t about special rights. Its about being treated like everyone else. The only one looking for special rights are people like you. You want a right to discriminate with…

  • Ben, I agree with virtually everything you’re saying. I think the only point of disagreement between us is that I do believe men and women in general are very different. I would never say all men or women are the same, but the general pattern has a–dare I say it–biological basis and value. I appreciate your comment about why it’s not the statement of biological fact that is provocative, “but the political, social, and religious uses to which it is put– usually to the harm and detriment of gay people.” I get that. I know I’m suspect because I hold the oppositional view, but for whatever it’s worth, I was in a Gay Studies class at Cal in 1981 when Phyllis Martin and Del Lyon (who were at the Stonewall riots) spoke, and I never forgot the pain and pride they shared. At the end of The Imitation Game, I couldn’t leave the theater because I was sobbing so hard at Alan Turing’s conviction, chemical castration, and suicide. I promise I don’t take any of this lightly.

  • Larry, I appreciate debate and challenge to my ideas. They are always evolving thanks to people who are willing to say what they really think and feel. You have every right to see me as not credible and nonsensical. One thing I would ask you to consider is why, if this is just a public stance to protect my true private thoughts, I am putting myself out like I am, seeking dialog with people who disagree with and even disdain me. I’m not making any points with anyone anywhere. You don’t have to believe me, but I’m doing this because I feel so passionately the views on both sides and want to express mine and listen to those of others. Like I said, I think it’s a virtually unbridgeable divide, but the pain is real, and how can it hurt to try and understand each other better?

  • Hi Ron, I went back and read my piece again trying to see it through your eyes. You’re right that I’m not gentle. My mom once referred to me as Captain von Trapp without the whistle. As far as conscientiously expressing my opinion as such, I thought that’s what I did. At least that was my intention. Everything I wrote came from personal experience and reflection. I would never ask anyone to subsitute my judgment for their own. I was only expressing some of my own pain about our world today. In any event, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. You expressed yourself with such calm and dignity. You added a sweet feeling to the conversation.

  • Ben in oakland

    No one– NO ONE– is asking you to applaud or approve anyone’s choices. We’re asking you to mind your own business, stop interfering in the lives of people you don’t know and know nothing about, and to treat other people as you would like to be treated.

  • Ben in oakland

    Thank you, donna.

    I most emphatically did NOT say that men and women are not different IN GENERAL. But specifying what “difference” is is not so easy.

    There are problems with your proposal. You are not specifying exactly what is this mysterious quality that all men share, and that all women share, that makes them somehow fit to be parents. What is it? How do we know it? How do we measure it? And most important of all, how can we claim it is essential for children to have this experience when the jails and congress are full of the products of those two mysterious qualities? Obviously, it is by no means required to raise a healthy child.

  • Ben in oakland

    Donna, having reviewed all of your comments again, I think Larry has it exactly. “You are trying to harmonize what is probably a religious stance against gay marriage with your own sense of fairness, humanity, and compassion.”

    You claim marriage is for children, but you yourself are in a marriage which is not producing children. That’s hypocritical.

    You claim that a man and a woman have some mysterious quality that qualifies them for parenthood, but cannot say what that quality is, or explain how its presence or absence has any demonstrable relevance to outcome. That’s magical.

    You claim that it is obvious that hetero parents are “better” because of these mysterious qualities, and are frankly ignorant of the mountains of research which refute those claims. That’s ignorant.

    It is very telling to me that when I said “You’re ignorant. Look it up.” You said NOTHING. If you’re not willing to challenge that ignorance…

    Then why are you writing on this subject?

  • Ben, I’m not sure why you think I know nothing about it. I have been involved with women, have experienced a lot of what you’re talking about first-hand. I’m a little shocked that you came back so vicious, but I guess that’s what I’m setting myself up for. Again, I apologize for adding to your distress.

  • Hi again Ben, just read all the rest of your comments. I understand your point of view. I don’t want to argue studies because I find they say different things depending on who produces them. You may very well be right. I’m expressing my opinion, and I understand it’s offensive to you. What would you have me do at this point? Do you want to keep dialoging? I’m happy to withdraw since I think we’ve both been pretty complete in our comments, but if you want me to continue answering your questions, I’d be happy to.

  • Ben in oakland

    Donna, I’m having trouble finding where what I said to you was “vicious”. That comment was clearly made to Mary G. And I wasn’t vicious to her, either. I did point out the obvious.

    In fact, I can’t see where I was particularly negative towards you. I’ve thanked you several times. I was perhaps a little strong in my wording, but all I’ve asked you to do is to define your terms, explain yourself, and most importantly, re gay parenting, To EDUCATE yourself.

    You have not added to my pain or distress. I am in neither. What I am is amazed. You have stated an opinion about gay parenting which is contrary to fact. By your own words, you consider those facts to be merely opinion, of no greater worth than yours, and not worth investigating further. These kinds of opinions are repeatedly stated by antigay people who also have no interest in the facts. They are used to harm gay people.

    That is also a fact.

    If you see this as being vicious towards you, I don’t think I have…

  • Ben in oakland

    Much left to say.

  • Ben, so sorry. Duh. I wondered why the “vicious” comment felt so shocking because you had in fact been so respectful all along. It’s a little hard for me to follow the comment thread sometimes when people don’t use names. As far as facts, the only uncontested one I’m aware of is that male plus female equals procreation. We both agree that fact has been used to hurt gay people. From there, it becomes interpretation, perception, personal experience, and which studies speak loudest to you. You say there is nothing significantly meaningful (parenting-wise) about the biological fact. I say there is. I only apologized for adding to your distress because your responses make me think my comments are agitating you further. My mistake if I overreached there.

  • Ben in oakland

    Thanks for the apology. I always try to be respectful.

    I’ll leave the rest of it alone. As I said, there’s really not much more I can say.

  • Thanks, Ben, I appreciate your response. I too will leave the rest of it alone. Really grateful to you for being willing to take so much time and make so much effort to express and respond.

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  • Erica

    Wow. Personally, I strongly support gay marriage, but I won’t tell you that your opinion is wrong or that you should support gay marriage because no one has a right over anyone else to tell them what to believe in or to believe that their opinion is greater than another’s. I respect people like you that are able hold their own opinions without disrespecting another person’s opinions or beliefs!

  • Larry

    I feel you are a decent person who is trying to show you are compassionate, reasonable and sensible.

    But I also see that you are also mired yourself in some unnecessary equivocation. Using a point which although repeated often by many, doesn’t really make sense or hold up to close examination.

    Frequently the marriage = procreation canard is used as the sole alleged non-religious, non-prejudiced reason for banning gay marriage under the color of law. For the most part it is used as a false front for motivations which are far more religious and more pernicious than what people are willing to say in a court or in public. Even though you do not believe such things, making such a reference will raise hackles and draw ire. Even to people who agree with your basic points here.

  • Thanks, Erica.

  • Garson Abuita

    Yeah, but do you serve same-sex couples??

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  • SallyMJ

    So you’re saying that they should’ve lied, rather than honestly stated their religious objection.

    And I gather you also would also force Jewish and Muslim butchers to sell ham and bacon.