March 27, 2013

Pink Squares

Posted in life at 11:54 pm by jimazing

fb redUpdate: When I first posted this, I understood the meaning behind the image, but I didn’t understand some pretty basic things about it… First, it is an equal sign (=). Seems silly now, but I didn’t see that in the beginning. Also, it is a red version of the Human Rights Campaign logo. The name of this blog entry is a testament to my ignorance 🙂

My version of the image here is a morph of the HRC logo with a photo of my daughter, Kat.

Polarizing topics like same sex marriage stir us and rarely lead to respectful dialog.  We tend to go to our respective poles and shout whatever our side tells us to shout. Yesterday on Facebook, I joined with many who changed their profile photos to a red square with two pink squared contained within. This was to show my support for equal civil rights for same sex couples as I enjoy with my wife. I have written before about how my views about homosexuality were influenced by my daughter, Kat. I stand by those words. If you have not read them, you can find them in this post, Loving Kat, Changing Me.

I am aware that because of the polarization of same sex relationships in general and gay marriage in particular, my recent posts in support of gay marriage probably imply things that I do not mean. So please allow me to explain what I believe today (it will likely change).

  • I do not automatically believe that everyone who disagrees with me about these matters is homophobic or hateful.
  • I believe that marriage should be a religious joining that fits the beliefs of the couple being married.
  • No church or other religious order should be required to perform or sanction marriage that violates their teachings. A church organization should retain the right to hold that homosexuality is a sin and should never be forced to perform same sex marriages.
  • I believe that the government should get out of the business of regulating marriages.  Period.
  • I believe that appropriate legal benefits and consequences should only be administered through legal contracts of domestic partnership agreements.
  • There should be no legal recognition of marriage at all. This is not a state matter.
  • Any two consenting adults… (It should go without saying, but since this is about clarification… I do not advocate any kind of sanction for child sex relationships)… again, Two consenting adults should be able to make a binding legal contract in which they commit to one another no matter whether they are different sexes or the same sex.

I strongly suspect that 50 years from now (or less), our descendants will look back at this debate much as we look back at issues like racial segregation and women’s right to vote today.  They will wonder why we had such a hard time accepting people who were different than the majority.

I am one of a quiet but growing group that is stepping carefully and fearfully into the unknown, asking hard questions of the leaders they have followed unquestioningly all of their lives. I have been on both sides of this “issue”. Kat helped me see it not as an issue, but as a human rights situation involving real humans; humans who deserve the same civil rights as I do, not because of my sexual orientation, but because I am a living breathing human being that deserves respect.

I welcome conversation around this topic from people who disagree with me. I only ask for an agreement up front that we will listen to one another honorably and respectfully and that it is okay to end the conversation with disagreement on the topic.


  1. Judy Byrd said,

    Jim, tell me if I read this wrong. It sounds like you are saying that you believe gay couples should have some sort of “contract” that gives them the right to benefits, unlike married heterosexual couples who automatically get these benefits. Please explain because that would not be equality.
    Also, I don’t think God hates gays, and the church that supports that is not any church I would want to belong to. I don’t see any reason why gay couples cannot be treated exactly as heterosexual couples. Period! I love you

    • jimazing said,

      @Judy. Great question. I will try to clarify my position. I would like all consenting adults (no matter our sexuality) to get our legal standing from the legal system. In essence, I think it should apply the same to all. Today, we automatically get these rights as heterosexual couples when we get married. I am proposing that marriage should be something altogether different than it is today.

      I am suggesting that the water is already muddied by the way things are. We won’t be able to make the waters clearer by adding more muck to the water. We really need to separate church from state on this issue. Does that help?

      Update: After reading Larry’s comment, I responded in more detail about what I meant. Please read that and let me know what you think.

  2. D. E. Davis said,

    When we are prepared to disenfranchise fornicators, adulterers and drunks (Of course, then the debate would be, “Does this human sip or guzzle?”), then we would need to consider the homosexual person, as well, for such treatment. Until we are so motivated, the current law situation is both hypocritical and morose.

    • jimazing said,

      @D.E. Thanks for your words. I pray that the government permanently gets out of the business of disenfranchisement of anyone based on who they are. Anything less will always be hypocritical and morose.

  3. Julie Martin said,

    Well said, Jim. These are very confusing issues and I appreciate hearing your point of view on them as a parent and a Christian.

    • jimazing said,

      @Julie Thank you for reading my thoughts. I think that it is not only ok to disagree, but vitally important to continue the conversation when we disagree. I would like to hear more about your confusion… here or elsewhere.

  4. Larry Groff said,

    Jim, Good to hear your views on this question. I applaud your willingness to come forward and show your support for Gay marriage – even with all your caveats. This is a difficult subject for many people especially for people of traditional christian belief and people who live in the South.
    I can’t say I agree with you that the government should not regulate marriage. There is too many legal issues involved for that to at all be practical. For instance, tax issues, getting a spouse’s health insurance, pension benefits,etc. I believe that gays should have complete freedom to marry with full legal standing and the state is the only means to try to insure this will take place. I don’t think anyone talks about forcing any church to marry gays if they don’t wish to do so – I can’t imagine any scenario like this other than using this as a political straw man to incite further resentment and hatred.

    One last thing, we didn’t marry in a church. I’m an atheist. Where would we have gotten married if the state wasn’t involved?

    • jimazing said,

      @Larry, thanks for your affirmation. I think maybe in my attempt to state my case about church vs state I was not as clear as I had hoped. I was simply blue sky dreaming about what I think would be a better arrangement than the current setup. I think the current definition of the word, marriage makes it harder to follow.

      My intent was to use the word, marriage, in a new way. I was attempting to describe a world in which the legal benefits related to marriage that we heterosexuals enjoy today (taxes, health care coverage, pension etc.) would come from a legal agreement separate from anything called marriage. 

      So in that hypothetical world, Jeanie and I (or you and your spouse) would have gone to some legal representative to sign an agreement that said we were committing to one another for life and binding ourselves to whatever stipulations necessary to have the rights and privileges of a legal couple. That same process would be followed by any two consenting adults.

      If, in addition we wanted to have a religious ceremony, we could also get “married”. But the marriage would not be the reason behind any legal benefits. It would be simply because it was something we wanted to do.

      In my hypothetical world, a person of faith could say that a marriage is between a man and a woman only without violating the civil rights of anyone else.

      I hope that makes my message clearer.

  5. Rochelle said,

    Thanks Jim for writing so thoughtfully about the topic. I agree with many of your points and I particularly agree with the compassionate way you approach the discussion. I have also given it thought (I’ve actually written this post twice. My iPad crashed on the original post. It was way more elegant). Hopefully, I can add a few ideas to this reasonable discussion.

    I agree that government should not be in the business of defining ‘marriage.’ ‘Marriage’ is a culturally loaded term with many values and meanings. Government defining marriage is just problematic in our current diverse culture. We only have to look back in recent history to see laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Some states have barely gotten those laws off the books.

    However there can be some good things that come from a required marriage license. It prevents child marriage. Some states required STD testing prior to getting a marriage license. (I think some states still do). There were public health goals behind those requirements, such as reducing congenital syphilis. Generally I think public health education is better suited to reaching those public health goals.

    How do we get rid of the concept and term ‘marriage’ in government policy? It is so entrenched along with associated unexamined concepts. Marriage defines who is entitled to employee benefits, death benefits, social security benefits, taxes, estate taxes, who speaks for you when you are unable to speak for yourself, who gets custody of your children when you die and etc… Married same sex couples want these same benefits and responsibilities awarded to heterosexual couples. And the current way in which government uses the term ‘marriage’, I agree that they should be treated equally under the law.

    Even traditional heterosexual married couples have issues with the rights and responsibilities of marriage under state law. As we live longer and our lives become more complicated many of us don’t want the state to determine things in our marriage/intimate relationships. Thus prenuptial agreements are coming back into favor (Remember the oldest human writings describe prenuptial agreements and taxes).
    But maybe we are too limited in our thinking. Maybe government should get rid of the term ‘marriage’ all together. What if adults could design a their own legal document outlining the rights and responsibilities they have consented to in contract between each other. They would define their own terms, limits and responsibilities. They could define their own family household. (People could still get married, but it would be a spiritual commitment, not a legal status)

    For example, this could be an agreement between a heterosexual couple, a same sex couple, related inter-generational adults, non sexually involved people sharing a household and childcare responsibilities. The permutations are endless. There are only a few requirements: The agreement is between consenting adults, there must be some sort of legal documentation of the agreement, and government and employers have to respect the legality of the relationship.

    Well it sounds really easy until you talk about the money. Can government force employers to extend benefits in such a manner? Government already does this when people are married. All parties are just used to this in the situation of marriage. Employers would balk because this would increase the number of people they cover under their plans. Not to mention the rewriting of policies by insurance companies. Although inconvenient, they could work through all the details. The real problem would be the expense.

    For example, a working grandmother, an unemployed daughter and 2 children live in the same household. They form a legal agreement. Then the grandmother could add the daughter and grandchildren to her health plan. Another example: A working mom, disabled parent and a child form a household. They form a legal agreement because the parent cannot work or live alone. They can define how they want benefits to be distributed, clarify property ownership and estate issues. What about this, a same sex couple, not sexually involved, decide to join households for financial reasons. They share expenses and childcare responsibilities. They design a legal agreement for their needs. Then they get health coverage from the employer that has the most reasonable rates for their financial situations.

    One of the most beneficial things about this is that adults have to sit down and define relationship and household. It is so much more stable for children. Families decide rather than letting the government decide these things for the family during a point of crisis (divorce, death, illness, unemployment).

    Take sex and the term ‘marriage’ out of the picture. Then people are free to define their own family/household and have the government respect that definition. Then it is not a heterosexual or homosexual marriage issue. It is the basic human freedom of defining our own family, of designating who are our loved ones. We just need public policy, employers, and government respect those deeply personal commitments.

  6. Larry Groff said,

    Jim, good to read your thoughtful clarification. This is tricky and difficult issue and it is refreshing to read such heartfelt and mindful opinions here on your blog. I hope you are well and also hope I will get a chance to see or speak with you while I’m visiting your Mom in a month.

  7. John said,

    Great discussion, Jim. I like Larry’s comment from an atheist position. Rochelle has clearly given this great thought. Your post is brilliant – a tremendous attempt to create dialogue.

    Can we talk about this topic as citizens? We are citizens who come from different perspectives. Some of us are Christian with varying interpretations of the Bible, some of us are other than Christian and some are atheist etc. but we are all citizens. So, I would like to talk with citizen hat on and because I am a Christian with my Christian hat on at times. I do not want to force my christian views on you and neither do I want you to force your views on you. I think that we can present our views as citizens.

    Now Christian ,who care about what Jesus cares about – especially the least of these, this issue of justice is very important to me. When I say the “least of these”, I mean people who are outside the pale – the disenfranchised, the abused, the poor, the prisoner, the prodtitute, the addict etc. For centuries homosexuals have been described as the worst kind of sinner. Homosexuals were the target of many hate groups including Hitler and his friends. I would prefer to be identified with the least of these because that is who Jesus identified with. If there is hope for me then there is hope for the least if these.

    The issue of marriage equality is a difficult one due to the definitions, as Rochelle mentioned. Marriage, I believe, can only be between a man and a woman. I believe that same sex couples ought have the same rights as opposite sex couples. As a citizen, I am ok with same sex couples calling their union marriage, if they choose to, but a union for sure and a union based on commitment and love.

    This issue is complex and needs to be discussed in a religious context for some and in a separate constitutional context. Whichever is the context, love and value of people needs to be the rule. The reality is same sex marriage is here to stay. If you a homosexual, I want you to know that you are loved by me whether you are a Christian or not.

    On a personal note, I used to be afraid of homosexuality because in my culture homosexuals and women were viewed as weak. I was afraid of any perceived association with homosexuality or women because they were “less than”. Thankfully, I accept people just the way they are now. I wonder if much of the reaction against homosexuality is related to fear of one’s own sexuality? I am open for push back. No tension, no movement! Thanks for the post, Jim.

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