A Response to those in California who believe that Human Rights are subject to Popular Vote.

16 June, 2010

Today, in California, arguments are being made before the state supreme court regarding the legality of Proposition 8 (liveblogging here).  Here is my response to those who think that mythology is a good reason to deny human beings their human rights:

Marriage is, ultimately, a civil contract in which the partners merge their economic interests — taxes, home and car ownership — and (presumably) creates an obligation on the part of both partners to provide, financially, for any creations of the marriage through procreation or adoption. The actual plumbing has zilch to do with the civil contract (and yes, it is a civil contract: as I have written before, (((Wife))) and I were married in her parent’s living room by a Justice of the Peace with no involvement by any religious group (organized or other) and no reference at all to god(s) or ‘holy’ texts).

If a couple (or polycouple (if I may coin a word here)) want to add another layer and involve a church, by all means, go right ahead if it makes you feel happy to imaginarilly bless your marriage by an imaginary sky daddy. Of course, if you plumbing (or polycouploid joining) does not concur with the mythology, do not expect a church to be forced to recognize your union.

However, with or without the ‘blessings’ of mythology, the civil contract still exists and the state (as well as employers) must recognize that the two or more people who have come together as ‘married’ now, in certain limited economic and civil situations, are recognized as a unit. This includes rights such as hospital visitation, burial preferences, schooling, property ownership, and right of inheritance. Notice that all of these civil unitary situations are non-religious (a veneer of religion can be placed over most of them, but it is not necessary) in nature.

The state does have an interest in marriage. Specifically, the state’s interest is the same as any other civil contract — the state exists as a legal recourse in the event of dissolution of said contract or disagreements by the parties involved regarding the specific legal rights and duties of those who have signed the civil contract.

When a right-wing religious asshat starts spouting off about the sanctity of marriage, the tradition of marriage, the holiness of marriage, the blessings of marriage and all that other claptrap, I always feel queasy. They seem to be saying that marriage is an inherently religious act, that without religion, the marriage itself does not exist. Which is, as I hope I have pointed out above, pure and unadulterated bullshit.

California, please recognize that marriage is a civil contract and that the pearl-clutching of some Christianist asshats is not enough to deny human rights to human beings.


I have had an incredible case of writer’s block (along with sprained ankle and lots of life hitting me).  I wrote the above as a comment on the Endless Thread at Pharyngula and was so impressed by my rant that I decided it needed to hit my blog.  Will that solve my writer’s block?  Hopefully.  We’ll see.


  1. Maybe the state ought to get out of the marriage business entirely. Just call everything a civil union, and deal with that. Let the churches have their marriages. They’re all just pomp and circumstance anyway, sound and fury signifying nothing.

    • I’m with SI. Let’s just do away with marriage.

  2. Occasionally Successful Cure for Writer’s Block:

    Just sit down and start typing. Anything that pops into your head, or even a string of letters and symbols that mean nothing. Force yourself to do that for ten minutes.

    You’ll get so pissed off at the drivel you’re chugging out that you’ll start trying to “edit” it. Watch your edits carefully, because they may clue you in to something you’d really like to say. Don’t censor yourself.


    (Edited version: Of course, you may have nothing to say that day. Just accept it, and try again the next day. And the next. Eventually, you’ll either write something or break your keyboard.)

  3. Glad you are back, love reading your insights into the crazy world in which we live.

  4. SI & Poodles:

    I really don’t care what we, or the state, call it, as long as the plumbing of the partners doesn’t enter into it. I think the state will always have at least some interest in the civil contract we call marriage, just as the state has some interest in any civil contract (of course, the state only expresses its interest when something goes wrong).


    I found myself commenting on the Endless Thread over at Pharyngula which, I guess, does count as ‘just typing something, damnit!’



  5. Funny, the Chaplain recently made us aware of a dvd from AFA about the Constitution where it said the Founders never intended us to be governed by the whims of the majority but rather the Constitution, yet that’s precisely what the religious right are trying to do here and in the failed attempt to take over the courts in San Diego. It just boils down, as always, to saying or doing whatever they need to in order to get what they want, which is their bible elevated to a status where it is the supreme authority of the land. As such, they can then use it to justify things like subjugating women and doing far worse to gays and non-believers.

  6. Good to see you back, (((Billy))).

    I just want to mention that Christian pastors, priests and other shamans constantly indoctrinate their sheeple with the idea that marriage is primarily a sacrament, or a religious covenant. As such, the government merely recognizes what god has already blessed. Most sheeple, who don’t usually have reason to think about the details because they work just fine for heterosexual couples, just accept it as presented. In the minds of the sheeple, the civil, legal stuff is easily viewed as secondary, and the spiritual stuff is what really counts.

    It’s hilarious that today’s wedding industry (in North America, at least) is based on exploiting marriage as a religious ritual. Church weddings quickly become horrifically expensive, with many couples and/or their parents going into debt for years to pay for the sacred events.

    Religion + capitalism = God’s Own True Way of Doing Business.

  7. In France marriages are performed by certain civil authorities, i.e., judges, mayors, city clerks, etc. If a couple wants a religious ceremony they’re free to have one but it has no legal standing. If a couple is married by a priest but not by a town clerk, the marriage isn’t legal.

  8. Philly:

    Majority rules if it is what they want. If the majority disapproves of their asshattery, the Constitution protects what they want. Didn’t you get the memo?


    They don’t seem to understand that marriage without civil law does not exist, but marriage sans religion does. And you are correct — it keeps the churches rich.


    Here in the states, unless the priest/pastor/rabbi/leech uses some form of “by the power vested in me by the state of fill-in-the-blank”, the marriage isn’t valid.

  9. unless the priest/pastor/rabbi/leech uses some form of “by the power vested in me by the state of fill-in-the-blank”, the marriage isn’t valid.

    At our wedding rehearsal, my dad (who was the officiating minister) left that phrase out. He explained that if he said it that night, then we would be legally married then and there. He had to save that line for the official wedding the next day. That shows which part of the wedding is legal and which is fluff.

    • But the religious right still claims that their mythology defines what can be considered marriage. Weird.

      • What’s weird about that? Haven’t you ever heard the religious right, left and center make unsubstantiated claims?

        You and I would both think it was weird if the religious nuts woke up one day and said: Hey, those secularists make sense. Marriage is, ultimately, a civil contract.

        If you think you’ve got writer’s block now … what would all of us in the Atheosphere blog about if the theists suddenly started acting reasonably?

      • Sorry. Been away for a while. I forget that religiosity is a wonderful conduit for cognitive dissonance. My bad.

  10. Ah, William, welcome back. I see that you still seek to destory or at least help to destroy the economic underpinings of our exgreat nation. California was extrememly hard hit by the economic doenturn because of the execrable law passed allowineg those who flout the historic compact among God, our nation, and our laws to persue their unlawful and unmoral lifestyle. California is on the cusp of recovery. A real American conservative will be elected governor. A real conservative will replace the lesbian Pelosi. Real consedrvatives will dominate the judges. And now rather than accept the free democratic vote upholding the only correct moral an deconomic and legal system which will protect our country and our economy a few out-of state lieberal activist judges have brought a lawsuit in order to overturn the legal election of protectoin of marriage. And the courts supported by out of state contributions will destroy not only marriage but, but upholding the freedome of a few pederasts and analophiles to contunue to flout the compact among God, law and nation and destroy even furnter the economic underpinnings of eh state of California and thus the economy of the United States of America Blessed by God. What these lawbreakers do in the privacy of their own apartment is their own business. But when they try to claim that their unholy union is lawful, that it creates a home or a family, they risk the punishment of the Almighty God as has happened numerous times historicallly such as Argentina in the 1950s, England in the 1960s, Russia in the 1900 and again in the 1980s, Germany in the 1920s, Cambodia in the 1970s have all countenanced an immoral break with the three way covenant of God, law and nation and have invited economic chaos down upon their own shoulders and their children and their childrfens’ children through a devestation of the monetary system whch holds the civilation together under God. why do you support the destruction of America.?

  11. California was extrememly hard hit by the economic doenturn because of the execrable law passed allowineg those who flout the historic compact among God, our nation, and our laws to persue their unlawful and unmoral lifestyle.

    Really? I don’t suppose you have some evidence for this. Some statistic, showing how the economy is affected by the “execrable law” you don’t cite. Maybe something that would distinguish California’s economic downturn and that of the other 49 states that didn’t pass the “execrable law”?

    Oh, wait. I’m wasting my time here, aren’t I?

    With spell check built into the comment box, I wonder why some people refuse to use it?

    • He’s confusing correlation with causation. Everyone knows the economy tanked once Lohan went from child star to boozy slut.

    • SI:

      Reading through his word salad, I think he refers to the California Supreme Court case in which they decided that the California constitution gaurantee of rights actually applied to everyone. Of course, given his writing ‘style’, who knows? I think he composes his comments by running a dictionary through a salad shooter.

  12. Damn, Reggie. You really are a desperate little fuckwit, aintcha? As I have said before, please, pretty please with sugar on top, give me a source which backs up you bizarre view that gay marriage and economics are in any remote way related. Until you do, we will continue to mock you.


    I’ve been asking him for a citation since he first showed up. He hasn’t come up with a source for his delusions. Hell, he hasn’t even come up with a Chevy Citation.


    She was much more mature when she was a child star, wasn’t she?

  13. Hi, Reggie! Boy howdy, you are some kind of batshit insane. Also damn near incoherent.

    I don’t have anything to say to a lackwit such as you. I just came over from Pharyngula to laugh and point.

  14. Leigh:

    Welcome to my blog. Glad you could stop by.

    Unfortunately, this is but one of many marginally coherent bits of word salad from Reggie. Once, he even got onto Fundies Say The Darndest Things. And was torn to shreds there.

  15. Back and in fine form indeed! Thanks so much man! I’ve wasted many hours in pharyngula threads, so i can relate…do you post under (((Billy)))over there? I understand that this could be something you would rather not divulge, just wondering.

    To the topic at hand, I agree with what you have written. I frequently hear (from those who hate freedom) that by allowing two of the same sex to enter into this contract, we are starting down a slippery slope where we will have to allow two men and 1 woman to marry, or 5 men, or 10 women…but I honestly fail to see the problem here. Whats wrong with more than two people entering into these types of agreements with each other, and having them formally recognized by the state? Any thoughts?

  16. Wandering the neighborhood, and I see the lights are back on!

    Yes, by all means, let’s go back to marriage the way God intended; one man owning (at least) one woman…

  17. Marriage an inalienable right!

    The marriage contract is being questioned in California, and may become a constitutional issue before the U.S. Supreme Court. All features, except one, of a marriage contract can be present in any two party contracts. The unique feature of a marriage contract is the agreement of a human male and a female to procreate, to reproduce them selves. This right is incapable of being legally alienated, surrendered, or transferred; therefore a marriage contract must be retained as a legal document for this unique purpose of a human male and a human female.

    In fulfilling a marriage contract the indisputable proof of the two parties, male and female, fulfilling the contract is found in the DNA of their offspring. Neither the male nor female select the one sperm and the one egg which unite in reproduction. Once conception takes place the two are henceforth biological parents of a human reproduction.

    A marriage contract also provides offspring with the security of knowing his or her parentage. Without this knowledge the offspring senses abandonment by parent(s) and loss of genetic background. Even with the best of adoptive parents, the offspring has this feeling of loss or abandonment by biological parents. Even a surrogate parent or cloning deprives the offspring of one parent. Without a legal marriage contract there is danger of incest reproduction.

    Other forces which threaten marriage as an inalienable right are frequently based upon such things as: companionship; partnership; heterosexuality; homosexuality; fornication; and/or, adultery.

    We the people must retain and protect the inalienable right of a male and female to enter into a marriage contract for the unique purpose of reproducing themselves!

    • Since it’s not illegal to procreate without a marriage license nor is it illegal to procreate with someone outside of your marriage, your arguments make little sense. They make even less sense in light of adoption.

      And finally, there is nothing threatening “the inalienable right of a male and female to enter into a marriage contract for the unique purpose of reproducing themselves”, so strike three, you’re out.

      Thanks for playing.

  18. Tell me what is unique about a marriage contract that cannot be received in any other two-party contract? Why would any two people want a marriage contract when a two-party full partnership contract fulfills the same purpose?

    Ball 1. What are the other reason(s)that a male and female get married, which does not exist in other two-party contracts?

    Ball 2. Reproduction is the only uniqueness of marriage as a two-party, male and female, contract. A marriage contract announces to the offspring and others the names of the offspring’s parents. Even this contract uniqueness is destroyed when either the male or female in a marriage contract reproduces without the other party, often leading to grounds for a broken contract litigation.

    Ball 3. There are non-reputable fertility practioners. Not knowing the biological relationship of mating couples can lead to incestuous progeney. Siblings often have a special attraction to each other which can lead to sexual relations. The imperative in knowing birth parents is self evident in leading to incestuous relationships and progeny. All other reasons to know birth parents can also be had in any other two-party contract.

    Fourth Ball: When a full partnership contract provides full civil rights, what are you and others trying to protect or usurp?

    I walk!!!

    • Tell me what is unique about a marriage contract that cannot be received in any other two-party contract? Why would any two people want a marriage contract when a two-party full partnership contract fulfills the same purpose?

      The answer lies in your motivation for having two separate contracts which you allege have no differences. If they have no differences, than why are two contracts necessary when one would suffice? Why create a new one when we already have one that’s allegedly the same?

      Separate but equal doesn’t work, and it’s unconstitutional. Going with that argument makes you out before even stepping to the plate.

      What else ya got, Sport?

  19. You error again! The contracts, two-party marriage & other two-party contracts, are different as one includes the agreement to reproduce. i.e. If two parties make an agreement for owning a car, if one of the parties reproduces, this is not grounds for breaking the contract for car ownership. [Sorry about the sophmoric example.]

    You ask: “why are two contracts necessary”? Answer: For the same reason that there are several different kinds of two-party contracts, each with a specified purpose. These contracts are in existence and are in common practice today so there is no need to create a new one. A couple of examples are: An Advance Directive For Health Care, which names one as the Health Care Agent for another; and,a Power of Attorney, giving full or specified legal rights of one to another.

    Please study the rules for the game before you begin to play, that is the purpose of practice. You might just learn that the play you want to play is already in existence. The rules are for the protection of the players and the game. Therefore what are the purposes of all this debate? Pride or power? I want it both ways? I want to play baseball using a football???

    • There is no “agreement to reproduce” in any marriage license, so the reproduction argument is moot.

      Just for a change, trying thinking about what you’re saying. If such a thing existed, then there would have to be a fertility test prior to obtaining a marriage license. Infertile or couples (hetero or same sex) who had no interest in reproduction or further reproduction (think Mr. & Mrs. Brady seniors) would then be denied marriage. Oh, and here’s a what if – what if a couple changed their minds about reproduction or they became incapable of reproduction before ever reproducing? Would their license then become null and void?

      Both of your arguments, reproduction plus separate but equal, have been tried before without success, so come up with something new or give it up.

      • The “agreement to reproduce” is inherent in a marriage contract. You do know that one does not have to have a license for reproduction, or even make a two-party agreement. Only liability causes the need for any contract.

        In answer to your ending comment: Only one or the other in any two-party contract initiates action to end the contract. Many conditions in contracts are never fulfilled, this does not make the contract “moot”.

        Incidentally a license is different than a contract; although a license may be required to assure specific conditions in a contract, such as age in a marriage contract. The marriage license today assures; age, blood tests, etc. Also if a license is considered the contract rather than the requrements to enter a contract, then those married outside the jurisdiction of the license (i.e another country) would not be considered as married.

        Incidentally there are two-party contracts whereby the state is one party and a license is required. A driver’s license assures age and ability to drive and to drive without one is a “no no”. The ability to drive safely is inherent to the contract. The possibilities of not driving safely or driving on the left side of the road does not make the contract “moot”.

        Where does this “separate but equal” come in? Any two-party contract has as it’s purpose of limitations as well as responsibilites, even if the condition is “full”. Setting age limits separates people of different ages whether it be a young or old age; i.e. not being allowed to drive because of being too young, or losing your license and consequently ending a contract to drive because age has resulted in physical impairments, making driving dangerous.

        Do you really think that there should be one two-party contract that can cover all two-party agreements?

        “Just for a change” why don’t you answer my questions so that I can become more knowledgeable?

        All of this is so basic! Why don’t you put your gun back in it’s holster and enjoy the search for knowledge before you go off “half-cocked”?

  20. The “agreement to reproduce” is inherent in a marriage contract.

    That wasn’t true the first time you said it, and it still isn’t, so until you bother to actually learn what a marriage license states, there’s no point answering your questions because they’re nonsensical due to your ignorance of the subject.

    Addressing a subject from a position of ignorance is the “half-cocked” action, Jackass. 😉

    • Having been married for 30+ years and having several married children, I do know what is stated on a marriage license and also professionally I have dealt with contracts before I retired. What are your qualifications?

      Until you are actually willing to learn the purpose of a contract and the differece between a license and a contract you are speaking from ignorance. The difference between ignorance and stupidity is: when one doesn’t know something and speaks of it, that is ignorance; and, when one only claims to know something and continues to do it or speak of it, that is stupidity.

      If you go back, my original blog begins: “The marriage contract is being questioned—.” You are the one who wants to equate a license with a contract. Which is similiar to equating apples with oranges.

  21. inhzly, your attempt at obfuscation is noted. It avails you nothing, however; your central point, that marriage is a contract that includes the intent to reproduce, is false. None of your verbal embroidery can hide that simple fact.

    Since your central point is false, the rest of your reasoning, such as it is, falls flat. You’ve not offered a single difference between hetero and homo couple other than this false assertion that marriage=intent to reproduce.

    You got anything else?

  22. If you don’t know the difference between hetero and homo, I can only refer you to a good basic biological dictionary. Even there please note that there are individual plants and animals with both sexes (hetro or hermaphrodite [an animal or plant having both male and female reproductive organs); with only one sex (homo). A human may also have both reproductive organs (hermaphrodite).

    My original statement on a marriage contract was that the only uniqueness is “of a human male and a female to procreate”. This is self-evident and thus “an inalienable right” of a human male and human female. I would ask you if this is “an inalienable right” (i.e. belonging to only the two that procreate) but I know you will not answer the question, as usual!

    In rereading your blogs, I see that you have provided evidence for registration (a legal document) of a human reproduction, either after conception or soon thereafter. Inherent in your argument is; this document would need to contain the names and DNA recordings of: the male who provide the sperm: the female who provided the egg; of their offspring; and Social Security numbers of all three. This could be done with an aborted embroyo or soon after birth.

    Purpose: 1. To provide biological relationship in a reproduction; 2. Economic and financial reasons, a record of whom, both male and female, is responsible for the rearing feeding, nurturing, and care of their offspring; 3. Legal basis for: family identification; inheritance; health; liability while the offspring is under adult age; and, 4. ______. (Possibly more purposes)

    Thanks for providing this evidence!

  23. And yet biological relationship is not the only basis for allocating resources to the young; otherwise, we’d have no laws providing adoptive relationships.

    Can’t understand why you dragged plants into it, or what you think you’re demonstrating.

    Your argument, as you admit, boils down to “it’s self-evident”. As the Ninth District decision should make abundantly clear, it’s NOT self-evident. The defendants basically made the same argument you’re making, and even themselves admitted that their evidence came down to “it’s self-evident”. They did not prevail.

    Yep, it takes a male and a female gamete to engender an embryo. So what? We still don’t have any legal requirement to procreate before a marriage is valid. We let people past the age of procreation marry. We let the infertile marry. We let the folks who stay childless by choice marry.

    The tight coupling between procreation and marriage you seem to feel is self-evident is not, at the legal level, coupled at all.

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