Talking about Civil Marriage Equality

Do you want to speak out on the topic of true equality for all? The Human Rights Campaign offers a new guide to help you explore the questions and learn to speak on the subject like a champ. This is excellent, and HRC deserves kudos for finally stating flat out what I have been screaming for years: “Civil unions and domestic partnership … ultimately support the notion that GLBT couples are separate and unequal from other Americans, which is wrong. Separate is not equal.” Damn right, and good for you, HRC!!!

This HRC info came today via email; I’ll share it with you in hopes that you will put it to use and become an advocate for true equality in the US:

This guide is for anyone who wants to learn how to talk effectively about civil marriage equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Whether you are a GLBT person yourself, or a parent, sibling, relative, friend, or someone who just plain cares about the issue of equal civil marriage rights for same-sex couples, we hope you find this guide helpful.

We have tried to include questions that you might commonly hear when you are talking about civil marriage equality. If you have or hear a question that is not covered here, please e-mail us at with your question and we will try to include it.

Hearts and minds are changed not by acts of Congress or by media talk shows, but when people talk to each other. When a mother stands up for her lesbian daughter by challenging bigoted comments, when a friend talks to her family about the gay parents she knows, then friends and family listen. Our opinions are shaped by our families and friends much more so than by any other influence.  It is critical that we all engage our family and social circles in these dialogues as soon as possible!

Table of Contents

  • Why does this guide refer to “civil marriage?”

  • Don’t Hawaii and Vermont already allow same-sex couples to get married?

  • Aren’t civil unions the same thing?

  • If same-sex couples are allowed to get married, wouldn’t that harm the institution of marriage?

  • Isn’t marriage a religious institution?

  • Why are some Members of Congress trying to amend the Constitution?

  • What states currently have civil marriage lawsuits pending?

  • Can U.S. same-sex couples marry in Canada?

  • How do I talk to my Representative and Senators about the constitutional amendment?

  • I want to write a letter to the editor of my newspaper about civil marriage equality.

  • I want to get more involved in the fight for civil marriage equality. What else can I do?
  • HRC’s guide can be found online — check it out and get to work on giving the people the real story and on changing hearts and minds. America can be what it pretends to be, a place of justice and equality for all. Do your part to help this become reality.

    That said… on the marriage-equality front, bad news in New York state (though one can be heartened by the courage of New Paltz’s mayor); great news in Oregon.

    More on the matter from frequent AF&O correspondent Michael Hamar:

    On his web site today, Andrew Sullivan describes what I truly hope is happening and which will ultimately take down George W. Bush along with the Republican Party now that it has become the party of discrimination and intolerance. Why the “moderate Republicans” that allegedly exist cannot see this is baffling. Andrew Sullivan describes it as follows:

    “WHAT BUSH HAS ACHIEVED: I’ve been following same-sex marriage developments for fifteen years, and I keep getting surprised. The groundswell of support – in San Francisco, New Mexico, New Paltz, and now Portland, Oregon – has stunned me. What I didn’t anticipate is how empowering this issue has become for gay people and how energizing it has been for their heterosexual peers. We keep seeing straight people under a certain age seeing this as their generation’s civil rights movement. Now we see black legislators in Georgia putting aside religious objections to stop what they recognize as an attack on a small minority by forces of exclusion and intolerance they have been attacked by in the past. Bush’s religious right amendment has also united Democrats behind this issue in ways they never were before. Attacking the amendment is now an applause line in John Kerry’s election speech – and he will get every gay vote and every vote from their families and friends. Meanwhile, key Republicans, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, have come out and opposed this unnecessary meddling with the Constitution. Even the vice-president cannot manage to explicitly endorse such graffiti on the founding document of this country.

    What the religious right amendment is doing is splitting the Republican coalition and uniting the Democrats. What the religious right did to destroy the Republican party in a state like California, they are now trying to do across the country as a whole. They are not only on the wrong side of history; and on the wrong side of morality; they are putting the Republican party on the losing side of politics. They must and will be stopped.”

    If this result does indeed come to pass, it will be ironic that in a May 20, 2003 piece called “Pride Before a Fall,” noted conservative, David Horowitz, commented on the “Christian” Right’s agenda of demonizing gays and demanding that the GOP institutionalize homophobia and not even talk to gays in part as follows:

    “In four Gospels – including the Sermon on the Mount – Jesus neglected to mention the subject of homosexuality. But that hasn’t stopped a handful of self-appointed leaders of the so-called Religious Right from deciding that it is an issue worth the presidency of the United States. . . . In your confusion on these matters, you have fallen into the trap set for you by your enemies on the left. It is the left that insists its radical agendas are the agendas of blacks and women and gays. Are you ready to make this concession — that the left speaks for these groups, for minorities and “the oppressed?” Isn’t it the heart of the conservative argument that liberalism (or, as I would call it, leftism) is bad doctrine for all humanity, not just white Christian males?

    If the President’s party – or conservatism itself — is to prevail in the political wars, it must address the concerns of all Americans and seek to win their hearts and minds. It is conservative values that forge our community and create our coalition, and neither you nor anyone else has – or should have – a monopoly in determining what those values are.”

    It appears that George W. Bush (and far too many leaders of the GOP) did not get the message. In the case of Bush, it’s a price one pays for only reading what aides assemble for him rather than reading news sources himself and/or watching TV. I hope this ideology of intolerance will result in Bush’s defeat in November 2004. The far right religious fanatics that pushed for the invasion of Iraq, including Bush who acted like he was leading a religious crusade, apparently believe this country is a dictatorship in which they can force others to live by their beliefs. I continue to hope that the silent majority of Americans is waking up to the threat Bush and the far right pose to individual rights and freedoms. Gays are not the only targets of these fanatics.

    No, we are not, and it appears more and more heterosexuals are realizing that they are not fully equal until we all are equal. Let us all — gay, het, bi, trans, etc. — stand together for equality.

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    2 thoughts on “Talking about Civil Marriage Equality

    1. In talking with my dad, I’m still trying to convince him that the Federal Marriage Amendment is a bad idea because we shouldn’t impose that kind of thing in the Constitution, but should leave it to the states. I’m not sure I got anywhere but I was glad for the opportunity to talk with him about it. He’s gotten increasingly conservative as he’s gotten older while I’m getting more and more progressive all the time.

      This is really an issue where some people are imposing their religious beliefs on others who do not share their religion. That in itself violates my own religious beliefs. Also, the idea of making any law, much less in the Constitution, that says “we will never give you this certain right”, just goes against what I think America is and should be about.

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