Monday, April 13, 2009

2 M 4 M

The campaign announced in the last few days by the organization NOM

( National Organization for Marriage) has been labeled by that group as

2 M 4 M, but the group sadly neglected to reserve that name as an

internet domain name. The group intended it to be an acronym for

Two Million For Marriage.

But here's one of the first significant postings on the 2M4M website being developed by sane people in favor of marriage equality as

2 Men for Marriage!

Why Marriage Discrimination Matters: Seven Scientific Reasons


For people of every religious persuasion, marriage is a cherished part of our tradition, and for good reasons: It is the building block of families. Marriage helps adults codify and solidify their commitments to each other. Marriage creates a stable base from which to raise the next generation. Marriage even helps us relate to each other across lines of race, religion, and creed.

People of all heritages and all beliefs get married, in ceremonies long or short; religious or civil; solemn or filled with laughter, and we understand that their marriages are similar to our own and those of our families in a fundamental way: that they represent a promise to each other, to their God, and to their community. Marriage is such an important institution that no person should be excluded from its power to create and strengthen the family.

Indeed, social science research confirms its importance to our society. The National Organization for Marriage lists the following seven scientific reasons marriage matters:

1. Marriage reduces the risk of poverty for children and communities. The majority of children whose parents don’t get or stay married, experience at least a year of poverty.

2. [Unmarried] households increase crime. Boys whose parents divorced or never married, for example, are two to three times more likely to end up in jail.

3. Marriage protects children’s physical and mental health. Children whose parents get and stay married are physically healthier, have lower rates of infant mortality, and also much less likely to suffer mental illness, including depression and teen suicide.

4. Both men and women who marry live longer, healthier and happier lives. On virtually every measure of health and well-being, married people are better-off than otherwise similar singles, on average.

5. Just living together is not the same as marriage. Married couples who cohabit first are thirty to fifty percent more likely to divorce. People who just live together do not get the same boost to health, welfare and happiness, on average, as spouses. Neither do their children. Children whose parents cohabit are at increased risk for domestic violence and child abuse and neglect. Children born to parents who were just living together are also three times more likely to experience their parents’ breakup by age 5.

6. Parents who don’t get or stay married put children’s education at risk. Children whose parents are divorced or never married have lower grade point averages, are more likely to be held back a grade, and to drop out of school. They are also less likely to graduate from college.

7. When marriages fail, ties between parents and children typically weaken too. Adult children whose parents divorced are only half as likely to have warm, close ties to both their mothers and their fathers. For example, in one large national survey, 65 percent of adult children of divorce reported they were not close to their fathers (compared to 29 percent of adults from intact marriages).

As you can see, providing the benefits of marriage to all couples secures these social benefits for them and their children, and so builds strong communities and benefits us all. Opponents of same-sex marriage -- proponents of marriage discrimination -- will tell you that they are being compassionate and loving by "protecting traditional marriage". But in upholding tradition, it is always important to reflect on whether that tradition supports or is detrimental to your overall aims. In particular, it is cruel to deny the children of gay parents the benefits of their parents being married. If your aim is to protect children and build strong communities, the compassionate choice is to secure the benefits of marriage for all couples and their children.

The battle for compassionate and inclusive marriage happens at the coffee shop and in your email. Here are the answers to some questions to help you defend the family:

Q: But how could traditional marriage be wrong? And how can we change tradition without breaking marriage?

A: The history of America is a history of extending freedoms and rights to those that deserve them even if the denial of those rights is traditional. Marriage in America has previously included the requirement that women submit to their husbands in all things and that the couple must be of the same race, neither of which are requirements today. The tradition of marriage is flexible enough to expand to encompass changes in our understanding of the propriety of its requirements without breaking the community- and family- covenants it represents.

Q: Won't allowing same-sex marriage lead to polygamy? Or marriage to dogs?

A: This is a popular scare tactic to wield, but there's a reason this type of argument is considered a logical fallacy. Ending marriage discrimination against same-sex couples is not the same thing as re-defining the entire concept of marriage to include more than two people or non-humans. And we as a society can choose to end the discrimination without re-defining the number of people in a marriage or the fact that they must be people and not animals.

Q: What about the children?

A: Ending marriage discrimination will be good for thousands of children whose parents are the same sex. Ending marriage discrimination will have no effect on the children whose parents are opposite-sex parents, except in that their friends who are children of same-sex couples will be allowed more stable of homes to live in.

Q: Will my church be required to perform same-sex marriages?

A: No. Your church is not required to perform marriages that are not within its faith. No Protestant churches are required to perform Catholic marriages. No Catholic churches are required to perform Jewish marriages. No church will be required to perform same-sex marriages.

Q: But what about that church in New Jersey?

A: That church in New Jersey rents out a secular property they own to people of all faiths for wedding ceremonies, and allows free public use of the property at other times. They had been claiming a state tax exemption on the property under the grounds that it was open to all of the public "on an equal basis". Of all of the people allowed to use their secular property for events that had nothing to do with their church, they singled out a lesbian couple as disallowed, in violation of their state tax exemption claim, and were successfully sued and later denied continuing that particular state tax exemption. If your church reserves its sacred spaces for worship in its own faith, and does not discriminate during non-faith-based events that are open to the public (bingo nights, for example), and does not claim special tax exemptions based on the fact that its property is open to everyone of any faith, it should never have this problem.


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