Old Women Talk and Gay Marriage

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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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Old Women Talk and Gay Marriage

My mother is eighty-five years old.  She has been living alone the past two months after my father, her husband of sixty-three years, passed away.  She asked me to help refinish her dining room table – and what are you gonna’ do?  So I sanded and polished while she sat and talked.  I was surprised by her take on some of the contemporary political issues.

The scene has to be set a little further.  We live in semi-rural Missouri.  The family tradition is closer to hillbilly than redneck.  Mom’s primary education is on-the-job training in the art of raising seven children.  My ultra fundamentalist conservative brother was there, sitting by Mom.  His semi-ultra conservative thirty year old son was standing around observing.  Generally, when I am in this environment, I avoid political discussion – there is no point.  My brother knows I am nuts and I know he is more nuts.  So why go there?

Anyway, I was sanding along when Mom said, “Ohg, I don’t understand this gay marriage thing.  The Constitution doesn’t say they can get married, but it doesn’t say they can’t.  So why can’t they get married?”  She was as sincere as I have ever witnessed.

“Well,” I was careful, “The constitution did not say you could or could not marry my Dad.  Did it?”

She was quick, “No, we’all just assumed that men and women can get married.  And we did.  So why do we assume the gay people cannot get married?”

My brother was squirming, waiting for an opening.  I tried to lighten the atmosphere, “Mom,” I said, “Are you getting lonely?  Maybe looking for companionship?”

My mother got a hoot out of that, practically cackling with laughter.

The thirty year old fundamentalist nephew began to pace, mumbling to himself, “I can’t believe he said that.”  His dad sat quietly, wondering where this conversation could possibly go.

I went on, forging ahead into troubled water, “Mom, the Constitution does not specifically address every conceivable social possibility.  So you are actually correct in your thought.  There is an implication of the right to marry.  There are many implications that have been deduced and codified by our Supreme Court.”

She looked surprised, “How can the Supreme Court add to the Constitution?”

I was quick out of necessity, “Mom, the Supreme Court settles disputes of law.  Laws are passed and laws are challenged – then the Supreme Court decides whether the law is within the boundaries, specific or implied, of the Constitution.  They do not add to or take away from the Constitution – they merely interpret challenged laws in the context of the Constitutional intent.”  I was feeling pretty smart with that response.

But she did not let go, “So then why is there a problem?  It is obvious that some things are implied.  How come there is a problem with gay marriage?”

I was asking myself, how come she can’t just let this go for now?  I was treading water, “Some States have passed laws banning gay marriage.  This is the sort of thing the Supreme Court looks at.  But only if someone challenges the law and takes the challenge to the Supreme Court.”

My mother finally realized that my brother was about to enter the fray.  She knows where that leads, so she said, “Ohg, you missed a spot on that sanding.”

Whooee, that was a close call.

There Are 8 Responses So Far. »

  1. You mother seems to have grasped at the very root of this question. Who said that matrimony is between a man and a woman. Society has somehow evolved into its present incarnation by assumption. Any debate which lasts longer than 30 minutes is deemed to be philosophical in nature and archived to be used only during boring afternoons. Old does not mean conservative. I would argue that there are abundant older liberals than now.

    All said and done, the world cannot wait for an intellectual American President. It is truly time to usher in a leader for the 21st century. Unlike the present one, who would have recruited by Torquemada without a blink of an eye.
    Cheerio!

  2. WHEN WAS THE REQUIREMENT OF A MARRIAGE LICENSE INTRODUCED? AND WHY?

    AS I SEE IT, THIS MARRIAGE LICENSE IS A WAY FOR STATES TO MAKE MONEY. I DON’T CARE WHO GETS MARRIED. I’M SURE THE STATES DON’T CARE AS LONG AS THEY GET THEIR MONEY. RELIGION SHOULD NOT BE A PART OF STATE REQUIREMENTS.

    ALSO, IN TEXAS THERE IS A “COMMON LAW” MARRIAGE, WHICH DOES NOT REQUIRE A LICENSE, AND, IN WHICH THREE THINGS MUST TAKE PLACE: In order to have a valid common law marriage, the couple must do all of the following:

    live together for a significant period of time (not defined in any state)
    hold themselves out as a married couple — typically this means using the same last name, referring to the other as “my husband” or “my wife,” and filing a joint tax return, and
    intend to be married. THIS APPLIES TO HETEROSEXUAL COUPLES ONLY, WHICH I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY.

    I THINK RELIGION AND STATE SHOULD BE KEPT SEPARATE. IF YOU WANT TO MARRY, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO SO. IT IS A LEGAL AGREEMENT AND BINDING BY LAW.
    AS FAR AS THE RELIGIOUS PART OF THE MARRIAGE; THAT’S BETWEEN THE COUPLE AND THEIR PASTOR/PREACHER/PRIEST/RABBI, ET AL. THAT’S WHAT I THINK.

  3. Well, I’m 42, originally from Arkansas, brought up by progressive parents, but living now in a very blue city in the north. I think there are other considerations for the government to become involved in whether or not folks can get married. For instance, close cousins, brothers and sisters cannot marry. Why? Well, at some point before we knew Mendelian genetics, folks noticed that children born to couples with close kinship ties tended to carry on the deficiencies of the family. Inbreeding was bad but “outbreeding” was good. Also, I do think the government should prohibit certain marriage practices such as polygamy. Why? Because in most instances in the past there was an unequal balance of power in the relationship that puts one group at a disadvantage. Same goes for protecting underage kids from marrying. ( I think we’ve also seen that this year in the FDLS cases)
    But what harm is there in letting two people of sufficient age and sound mind, whether they be of the opposite sex or same sex, marry? None. I have a loving heterosexual marriage and we have been unable to bear children. You can’t tell me marriage is for procreation. Otherwise you have to void my marriage on the basis of what? My having survived cancer treatments at the cost of my ovaries? All of the arguments against universal marriage (above the age of majority) simply boil down to a religious one and that, my dear friends, violates the establishment clause of the Constitution.

  4. Beth – thank you for our thoughtful commentary. That last statement really drives home a great point, since the possibility of an established state church is no more viable today than it was when the constitution was drafted.

  5. Let us never forget that the marriage was a way to trade property – a woman would no longer be owned by her father but instead, by her husband.

  6. AMEN, BETH!

    It ALSO infringes on people’s right to privacy and denies people due process.

    But since it’s only denying these things to the Heterosexual’s Gay & Lesbain creations, few seem to care.

    Sad.

    Beth, you are very lucky to have such an open-hearted mother.

  7. I think pretty much the same thing when it comes to California’s Prop 8. Where does it say in the constitution that only heterosexuals can marry. Don’t we have enough real issues that need to be dealt with. I don’t care who sleeps with who or what they do in the privacy of their own homes, that’s between them and their partner. I’m not for or against it. The legal stuff is ridiculous, if I choose to take on the issue of health insurance for someone I’m not married to, that should be my business; if I die and want to leave everything I own to a complete stranger or a partner, that’s my business. I think THESE issues are where government should keep their nose out. They have more important things to do like getting a grip on business monopolies that are gouging the average citizen on everything from telecommunications, big oil, banking and mortgage systems etc…Besides hetro or homosexuals, I really don’t think one has a moral advantage over the other. With a 50%-75% divorce rate in this country for hetrosexuals and all the politicians publically exposed for thier infidelity, and lack of ethical behavior across the board, who has a right to “throw the first stone”. I wouldn’t want to see public displays of affection from either hetro or homosexuals but I have no problem with accepting a couples oath to love and honor ’til death do them part.

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