Why I got gay-married in NYC…

27 Jan

… and why even (or especially) flat-earth fundamentalists should not be threatened by it

On January 13, 2012, on the 23rd anniversary of our first date—which was also a Friday the 13th—Bob and I got married in New York City. This union has little legal significance: Minnesota does not recognize it, and if some folks have their way, by year-end there will be a state constitutional amendment preventing its recognition. A few states and countries will honor our decision to claim responsibility for each other, but not our home state, where we spend most of our time.

Our relationship did not require formalization. We have been together for 23 years, with nothing—not legal red tape nor children nor anything but love—to bind us. But we thought it was a good time and a good opportunity to reassert our commitment to each other and to our family and community—a commitment to care for each other.

You should not be threatened by this decision—even if you believe marriage should be between one man and one woman. This is true first because our choice to call ourselves “married” does no harm to you or your choices, and in fact benefits you; second, you should support our freedom to order our personal affairs as we see fit, since you likely want that freedom, too.

To the extent that our marriage in NYC is not recognized in Minnesota, it has no effect on you. Ignore it. To the extent that our marriage is recognized anywhere, it is a symbol of our commitment to care for each other. That’s already happened numerous times in the last 23 years—many times that only Bob and I know about. This commitment to help and support each other makes it less likely that either of us will use your tax dollars or charitable contributions, no matter what misfortunes might befall us. Before we look to anyone else for help, we look to each other. Why would you deny us that?

More importantly, you should want to protect the liberty to order personal affairs as you see fit. I believe that every adult should enjoy individual liberty to the maximum extent possible without government interference. There must be limits, of course. If something I do harms you, the government may intervene to prevent it or punish it. But you should have to prove that what I want to do harms you before you seek government injunction against it. As you know, there is no evidence that gay marriages in places like New England or elsewhere have had any negative effect [updated 1/27] on hetero marriage. So what’s your worry?

I believe the government should not interfere in personal relationships by nudging some consenting adults into one kind of relationship while denying it to others. There are hundreds of little legal benefits accorded to straight married couples that are denied to gay married couples. Does that prove straight marriage is better, or just that government intervention is necessary to prop it up? I don’t know, but if we remove those little preferences, maybe we will see.

In return for your support of my right to order my personal life as I see fit, I propose to support your rights to do the same. For example, if you are a pastor, photographer, church, or other service provider that does not want to recognize or be a part of my wedding, don’t. I don’t expect you to. In turn, if you don’t want gay friends, or a gay lawyer or consultant or teacher (my lines of work), don’t call me. My heart will not be broken.

If you want to convey your beliefs to your children (who are not consenting adults in the legal sense) in your home school or religious school or Sunday school, even if you believe the earth is only 5,000 years old [update: See Tina’s elaboration on this date in the comments] or that gay people are bad, that’s fine. If your kids grow up to defy the law of the land—by beating me up because I’m gay, say—I’ll use the law against them. But I don’t question their right to believe what they (and you) want to. What’s taught in public schools is another matter—I’m helping pay for that, and I think that teachers there should teach students to respect each other, even if other students hold outlandish beliefs, like the notion that Creationism is fact or girl-on-girl love is bad.

I’m asking religious believers to put their beliefs where their mouths are. If you believe your view of the world is right, prove it by the way you live, not by inscribing your beliefs in the laws of the land. I’ll do the same. Respect the way that I choose to order my personal life, and I’ll respect yours.

Toward all people, I try to feel only a desire that you will find your way and let me find mine.

-Brian

P.S. If you are a Facebook friend, you can see pictures of the wedding!

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4 Responses to “Why I got gay-married in NYC…”

  1. Tina Hollenbeck January 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    Very nicely said, Brian…and downright libertarian-sounding of you! :^) And I have to say that I agree with you…even though a lot of my fellow Christians would want to stone me for it. The Bible is the final authority in my life, and I know what it says about homosexual behavior (NOT people – people who say that God hates gays must read their Bibles MUCH more closely; they are just wrong), but I also know that the God I love and serve allows people free will because he loves us all – so he does not want us hammering on others (IF asked for advice, that’s one thing – but still should be done lovingly – and, otherwise, it’s not someone else’s business). Plus, he has grace towards all of us…and there’s only one requirement to a relationship with him (see John 14.6 as one verse that tells it plainly, if you’re so-inclined) and that, after that, he’ll deal with each believer individually according to his plan…not what any other believer would like to see in another’s life.

    And I really appreciate your support of personal liberty, even in regards to somewhat controversial views (i.e., creation science), and parental rights. As a homeschool mom, that means a lot to me, and it’s great to have the support of someone as intelligent as you. :^)

    I’ll just point out one error in your piece: Most who believe in creation science would say the world is roughly 6,000 years old, not five. We used to give a range of 6,000 to 10,000 years, but the more exact date is based on some recently rediscovered research by a man named James Ussher, who studied the geneaologies in the Bible to come up with a date of creation at 4004 BC. I have just begun to explore that research, but it’s been very intriguing to me to have some solid basis for actual dates. I know that’s not the thrust of your piece, but – in the interest of accuracy – I thought you’d like to know. :^)

    Blessings, my friend.

  2. Brian Larson January 27, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    Hey, Tina! Thanks for the comments. I guess I am what I’d call a “provisional libertarian”–that view allows me to be comfortable with what I’d call reasonable government regulation and reasonable collective action coordinated by the government.

    Generally, I think the government should be hands-off, except where there are what economists call “externalities.” Those are cases where one person’s activities force costs onto other folks (like when my factory pollutes your air) and cases where we can’t do something individually or it’s much more efficient to do it collectively (like when we all pay taxes to pay for police protection). In those cases, I’m comfortable with (reasonable) regulations and (reasonable) taxes/expenditures.

    Of course, what’s ‘reasonable’ is where the problems are. You and I, for example, would deeply disagree about the role of free, compulsory primary and secondary education.

    My concern is that folks get labeled in the discussions, which focuses others on the labels and not the reasons, data, and options for moving forward. My support for a government program makes me a “socialist”–another person’s opposition to it is just because they are in the “1 percent.” Once that label is applied, the person applying it feels justified in ignoring my ideas not just on that topic, but on all other topics.

    OK, well, that’s enough for now…

  3. Rita Clavadatscher January 28, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    After all those words from my former and highly intelligent students, I believe I will just say that I am extremely happy for you both. After 23 years together,you certainly care about each other in every sense of the word. May your love carry you at least 23 more years. Congratulations! Rita C.

  4. LeRoy Fisher January 28, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    I agree with you completely

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