On the EDge: Utah continues war on same-sex marriage

OPINION – Despite all the spin and backslapping Utah legislators are engaged in after their recent passage of a law that ensures housing and employment rights for the LGBT community, the state continues its hypocritical stance in the most important aspect of this issue: same-sex marriage.

Utah was one of 15 states – the others being Louisiana, Texas, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma and West Virginia – that filed a “friends of the court” brief asking the Supreme Court to uphold same-sex marriage bans.

The reasoning?

These states claim that the decision on same-sex marriage should be left up to the states. So, if you are a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, you can live in Utah, you can work in Utah, but you cannot marry somebody of the same sex.

In other words, the rights of members of the LGBT community are sort of, but not quite, equal to the rights of everybody else in the state. It is hypocritical and an insult to the LGBT community.

Sen. Steve Urquhart, who wrote the Utah bill, will tell you that members of the LGBT community were grateful for its passage.

What they did, however, was settle for something less than what they deserved.

Had Urquhart been truly looking to create true equality, he would have included same-sex marriage as a part of the legislation. But, he didn’t.

The reason, of course, is that it was a matter of conscience on one hand, as he realized the inequity of rights, and a matter of practicality on the other, as he wants to continue to be reelected and not offend his constituency. He wanted it both ways.

Unfortunately, when it comes to civil rights, you can’t have it both ways. The right to marriage is not, and never should be, a states’ rights issue.

It’s not like legalizing recreational marijuana, a state lottery, or absurd liquor laws that simply force residents to cross the border for the good stuff.

This is about the rights of individuals to make a legal commitment to a life partner. It has no impact whatsoever on how you or I conduct our lives or who we choose to love and share our lives with, nor does it reflect on the morality of our society. It is simply an acknowledgement of life, as we know it, and how we choose to live it.

There are, of course, certain rules of morality we should all follow.

We should do no harm to others. We should not take that which does not belong to us. And, we should not persecute those who live or think differently than us.

I don’t know of anybody on this planet qualified to hear directly from God – whether prophet, pope, or preacher – but, if I may be so bold, I seriously think His first order of business would be for us to stop killing each other and taking advantage of the poor and weak.

I would also think that He would smile down on those who express love and make a commitment of that love and fidelity to another, whether they are of the same sex or not.

On April 28, the United States Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on the issue of same-sex marriage.

The two primary issues to be resolved will be if a state has the right to ban same-sex marriages and if a state will be required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

It is expected that the Supreme Court will hand down its ruling by the end of June and that it will find it unconstitutional for states to ban or not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries.

It would be easy to chalk this up to the theocracy that is Utah, especially since it comes on the heels of the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last weekend where L. Tom Perry, a member of the church’s Quorum of the 12, said that Mormons should “not be swayed by a world filled with media and entertainment that presents the minority masquerading as the majority and tries to make mainstream values seem obsolete;” that “strong traditional family values are the basic units of a stable society, a stable economy, and a stable culture of values;” and that the LDS church’s “investment in the topic is even deeper than other religions because they believe marriages and families are for eternity.”

While Perry’s statements can be viewed as narcissistic and self-serving, it must also be remembered that they are also shared by those of the angry right conservative states that have also signed this brief to the Supreme Court as “friends of the Court.”

This is an important time in U.S. history, a time when it will be decided whether the nation is a theocracy or democracy, and whether rights will be extended to all or only those who subscribe to a certain set of beliefs.

The bottom line is that nobody should be compelled to believe that same-sex marriage is right. That is a personal belief and you are free to believe whatever you wish.

But, that belief should not inhibit or restrict the rights of others who believe that a same-sex marriage can be just as viable – societally, economically, or as an indication of the stability of cultural values – as so-called traditional marriages, a fact lost on those closed minds that are willing to sacrifice the rights of others to justify their own narrow belief system.

A little equality is not equality.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • fun bag April 7, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    And why does Ed Kociela have such a fixation with homosexuals and “the gay community”?

  • semantics? April 7, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    We live in a society where free speech and expression of ideas is held in high regard. Good people can disagree on an issue and no bashing is necessary or appropriate. I disagree with your stance, but disagree more with how you argue than what you argue. It does not logically follow that because some argue that a state should get to define marriage that, I quote: ” I seriously think His {God’s} first order of business would be for us to stop killing each other and taking advantage of the poor and weak.” That is a non-sequitur. Where is the data to suggest the Utahns have “killed” each other over same sex marraige? Where is the data backing up the notion that LGBT or LGBTQ members are taken advantage of or are poor and weak. Are you arguing that they are poor and weak?

    It is argued that somehow a state or society should now be required to recognize same sex marriage in the same manner as what is referred to as traditional marriage or marriage between one heterosexual man and one heterosexual woman. To be precise it is actually between one man and one woman, nothing in the law suggests or dictates that either cannot have SSA as well. Yet, until recent years there has not been the case. Constitutional law has historically limited equal protection to issues dealing with gender, race, and religion, but not sexuality. There is a difference in outlawing certain behavior, which is not the case, and to granting certain rights based upon sexuality. Certainly, SCOTUS is moving in the direction of granting equal protection status to same sex marriage. Nonetheless, your belittling opinion against those who do not see the world in the same manner as you shows your own lack of tolerance and civility. Ironically, you berate Sen. Urqhart for not being strong enough, at the same time he likely has constituents who wonder what he is doing. It is admirable of him to take on the issue at all as in reality it is such a divisive issue that it would have been much safer for him to simply leave it alone altogether.

    I look forward to seeing you against him in the next election cycle.

  • ladybugavenger April 7, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    The wheels on the bus go round and round round and round round and round. The wheels on the bus go round and round all through the town.

  • proudpatriot April 7, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    The gay rights movement has come a long way in a few short years, but it has recently been joined by anti Christian groups and has know become more of a war on Christianity disguised as gay rights.
    The real victims of this movement are the Christians that hold the meaning of marriage and family sacred since Christ.
    The hypocrisy is in the hatred for good Christians .

    • fun bag April 7, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      “a war on Christianity”

      uh oh! better keep them guns loaded and under ur pillow while ur sleepin’, cuz them libruls and gays might just come in the night and try ‘n steal all ur bibles!

      • maggie April 8, 2015 at 7:08 am

        Guessing Bibles are the last thing they would steal ,or a book of any kind for that matter.

  • Roy J April 7, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    There is a difference between being married by an official of the United States government and being married by, say, a Catholic priest. What constitutes the first is dictated in large part by the culture of the United States and is made legal by its laws; in the second is ratified (or if you prefer, sanctified) by the Catholic church, and the legality of that Catholic marriage is governed by the Catholic church’s code of Canon Law. Now, in so far as the first sort of marriage has anything to do with morality, it has to do with the legally accepted limits of our culture’s current ethics. A Catholic marriage is also recognized and protected under these laws because its’ morals do not conflict with those currently acceptable to the state. Therefore, it should be obvious to everyone that if homosexuality is (according to the culture that informs our laws) morally acceptable as a lifestyle in itself (though it conflict with some or all religious systems of morals included in that culture) , and it has the status of being protected by law, then there is no logical reason to prevent a homosexual marriage being instituted and protected by the state as well; in fact, to say so is only to make explicit a necessary corollary. The argument that we were founded on Judeo-Christian morals and culture is not really a good one, since now-where in the Constitution is Jesus mentioned either by name or by His relation to the Divine Providence, or to the Creator. It is probably possible to have an almost entirely Muslim nation living under the United States constitution; it is certainly possible to have an entirely pagan one. The idea of religious tolerance that is agreed upon in the Constitution will always run the danger of supplanting true charity (of which religious tolerance is either a species, or it is nothing at all); that is the inherent price of our sort of compromise. The bottom line is, that if you want to succeed in changing the laws within our framework to a specific, narrow framework of morality, you must first change the culture into a suitable form to receive them.

  • BIG GUY April 7, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Ed, you say “And, we should not persecute those who live or think differently than us.” Yes, Ed, start with the pizza parlor in Indiana. You and people like you are persecuting those with strongly held values who are unwilling to compromise those values for a newly-identified same sex marriage “right” that no one had identified 20 years ago.

    If you are consistent with your statement that people should be able to marry whomever they love and that states don’t have the right to define marriage, then you will support polygamy (between consenting adults age 18 and over) and polyandry as well as be in favor of overturning laws prohibiting marriage between siblings, first cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. Do states have a right to limit these “rights?”

    • fun bag April 7, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      what about monkeys? why can’t they marry monkeys?

      • maggie April 8, 2015 at 7:09 am

        Maybe next year.

      • anyonemouse April 13, 2015 at 9:30 am

        1. In one word “Consent”. Marriage has a sexual component and joint head of household decision capability. These require an adult level of cognitive function to fully understand the consequences, agree and make decisions. Monkeys just aren’t at that level.

        2. Monkeys are a different species. That’s a whole other animal. Really. Literally. (Maybe this should have been one)

        You can still have a platonic non-sexual non-marriage relationship with a monkey. Zoo Animal/ Visitor or maybe Owner/Pet. I do commend you on your attempt to obfuscate the above post by introducing monkeys, however they are not at all the same.

        As an observer I really don’t see a large distinguishing difference between the marriage, divorce cycling through circle of spouses that goes on in Hollywood and polygamy/polyandry/bigamy. Other than in the latter the commitments remain constant. And I have no intention of meddling in the affairs of consenting adults. (Double entendre intended.)

  • riccie April 7, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Please answer this directly. Does Kody Brown have the legal right to have his marriages to his 4 wives be noted as legal and lawful for all of them. Does he also get the same support and protection from you and all others as the “LGBT community” also gets?
    Please answer this directly.

    • A.Judd27 April 8, 2015 at 8:04 am

      To get an answer from him You will need to email him directly.

      • riccie April 11, 2015 at 10:31 am

        I have done tat before and he has not answered. He appears not to be responsible for answers. He will completely want to defend one area yet disavow another in a similar situation.

  • NotSoFast April 7, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    Interesting opinion piece Ed. Maybe you could do a little research and examination on other controversy areas of equal rights abuse under the civil rights laws. Such as:
    Where do you stand on right to have plural marriages? How about smoking a little weed in your front yard or a public park? How about being compelled to wearing a seat belt while driving or riding in a vehicle? Should a person be allowed to dish out Sharia law punishments in this country? What if the love of my life happens to be a dog? What then? And so on & so on.

  • maggie April 8, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Ed ,you so remind me of me. When I was 18. Then I grew up.

  • A.Judd27 April 8, 2015 at 8:28 am

    I love reading both sides, biased or not, of this argument. It allows me to see things from a different view point and helps me to formulate my own opinion, re-evaluate what I thought was important, and empathize with those who feel oppressed. a well written argument is a fun and invigorating read for anyone… This however is not a good argument in any sense of the word. There is no direction, more loose ends than the season ending of How I Met Your Mother, No defense for any of his blatant emotional arguments. I think this man for the most part has no clear understandings of how to write argumentatively or structure an argument for that matter. I feel like this was like using a news outlet as a personal journal where one and get out stupid un-logical emotional blather….Only, this isnt a journal…Its a news outlet and in a small town I worry people will read and believe that his logic is sound and needs no facts or closed ends. I’m glad most comments are about how poorly this was written. STG news: Seriously do you guys even care how your writers argue or do you only care about their so called stellar resume?

  • bettylee April 8, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Wow some interesting angry comments here.. I don’t comment often on the issue of gay marriage . However I think I will today . First of all Nobody has the perfect marriage, not everyone in a marriage will succeed. Marriage is a struggle. It is however personal, it is or should be based on love. That being said it should be your own choice to marry or not marry. It should also be the choice of the officiant to decide weather they wish to support that choice by performing or not performing said ceremony. I could go much further , but lets look at a few key points here..
    what does the state lose by gay people marrying?
    How does it affect any of you?
    Why should people who do not have the same religious belief be forced to abide by your so called moral beliefs?
    now a few other things…
    If gay couples are allowed to marry they can then insure one another
    If gay couples want children they can only adopt !! yay !!! less children looking for homes
    if you dont like gay people.. Let them marry .. Let them deal with the struggles..

  • KT April 9, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Personally, I’m proud of Utah and the other states who have the courage to stand up for what is right. So-called same sex marriage isn’t a right, it’s an oxymoron. By definition marriage man and woman and any attempt to change that fact isn’t inclusive, it is destructive. Just because you force everyone to call a tiger a donkey doesn’t make it so.

    • A.Judd27 April 10, 2015 at 9:16 am

      How do you define what is “right”? Is being in love, wanting a family, joint bank account, or commitment wrong? Or are you saying that being gay is wrong? And who say’s, god? Cause there are plenty of christian churches and other religions who are marrying those sinful gays in the name of god. This is about whats “legal” not whats right and wrong based off your own personal version of what “right” and “wrong ” is. It isn’t un-christian for gays to get married according to many christian faiths. When you say destructive… what do you mean? What is destroyed? A tiger is a tiger and a donkey a donkey but Marriage is an act. An act that so far is only granted to Men and Women. Offering it to gay couples doesn’t RE-define it since its still the ACT of marriage and offering the same benefits. To make it more simple for you. When they allowed black people to start Playing baseball they didn’t have to Re-name it, they just allowed it to all people despite how they are born.

      • Simone April 11, 2015 at 3:18 pm

        Exactly A.Judd27. Well said. 🙂

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