I Guess I’m Not Allowed to Get Married? October 24, 2010

I Guess I’m Not Allowed to Get Married?

We know a lot of candidates for Congress are opposed to gay marriage, but Ted Danz, a Republican running against incumbent Democrat Paul Tonko in the Albany, NY area, might be going even further (emphasis mine):

I am opposed to same sex marriage. Marriage is a term that should only be used to define the religious union between one man and one woman.

Got that, atheists? None of you are allowed to get married, either. Now we have to figure out what happens to those heathens who are already married…

(Thanks to Muggle for the link)

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  • sailor

    Oh well. I guess we can still fornicate!

  • Sully

    If it’s a religious term, then it has no place as a government institution.

  • JD

    If that gets the state out of defining consensual interpersonal relationships, sure, but I think that’s the opposite of what he has in mind.

  • Dave

    What does same sex marriage have to do with atheism???

  • Even further, if couples marry in a religious ceremony, but then one or both decides to change religion or leave religion altogether, is their marriage automatically null and void, or do they have to do something special to ensure their marriage carries over and gets recognized in the new religious status?

    What a crock!

  • Courtney

    I also wish we hadn’t chosen to make ‘marriage’ the government sanctioned term for those who wish to tie their lives together, when in fact *all* unions that are recognized by the state are by definition civil unions.

    However, I don’t think one person has the right to define marriage for all religions, either, so while the gentleman may be accurate in describing how his religion/church/sect defines marriage, it’s clearly not within his rights to define it for all churches.

  • Steve

    Those heathen marriages were made legally and can’t be annulled by law. But if your partner dies or you divorce you can’t remarry.

    Same with the 18.000 marriages that were entered into in CA prior to Prop 8.

  • ChrisZ

    At least that gets your mom off your back.

  • exe

    Hmmm, yes, my husband and I were married by the mayor, not by a religious figure. I guess we’ve been living in sin all these 25 years! Who knew?!

  • Ibis

    You have it backwards, Courtney. Marriage has always been the term for government sanctioned familial unions. It was the Church that decided to make marriage a sacrament in the Middle Ages.

  • Alycia

    Interesting, Ibis. Do you have a link(s) for that information? I’d love to read it.

  • Ben


    This is another case of Christians trying to claim what isn’t rightfully theirs. How anybody can, with a straight face, claim religious ownership of the word “marriage” and that nobody (especially them dastardly gays) should use it just boggles my mind.

  • Michelle

    Here is a word origin link

  • fritzy

    I am opposed to same sex marriage. Marriage is a term that should only be used to define the religious union between one man and one woman.

    Sounds like he chose his wording carefully–“Should.” He fully recognizes that it is not legally a religious union. If anyone calls him on his pathetic knowledge of law, he can simply point out that this is his personal feeling on the matter and he recognizes that marriage is a civil union seperate from the religious sacrament. And it’s a bit of red meat for the true believers–letting them know that if it were up to him, it would indeed be recognized by the state as more than a civil contract. In his world, I’m sure he would be perfectly satisfied with denying marriage to those who do not want to recognize it as a contract with his god.

  • Just another religiot who thinks he can claim ownership of something by simply demanding it.

  • Kimpatsu

    Some years ago, I was in conversation with the head of Republicans Abroad in Tokyo, and he said much the same thing: that only Xians are truly married, and at best everyone else is in a civil union. When I pointed out that in Japan, that means almost no one is married, he agreed, then realised he was standing in a bar full of Japanese people and shut up quickly, but in vino veritas.

  • Well, you are not an American citizen either, according to George Bush Sr.!

    Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?

    Bush: No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

    Sherman (somewhat taken aback): Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?

    Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I’m just not very high on atheists.

  • anatman

    oh noes! atheiests are getting athe-married! civilization is teh doomed! now all the real married people will break up and get athe-married to atheist dogs and sheep and vacuum cleaners!

  • Mikko

    Ban divorce (Until death do us apart) 🙂

  • Marriage is a legal contract. Divorce proves that to be true.

  • AxeGrrl

    Ben wrote:

    This is another case of Christians trying to claim what isn’t rightfully theirs. How anybody can, with a straight face, claim religious ownership of the word “marriage” and that nobody (especially them dastardly gays) should use it just boggles my mind.


    Do they do it out of ignorance or out of wilful ignorance?

  • LGC

    Wow, so it’s wrong to have sex before marriage but now I can’t get married. All work and no play makes LGC a dull girl.

    You know, if religious people are this @n@l, they should really not use any form of medication developed from science – the good Lord will touch you and heal you – FFS.

  • MH

    AxeGrrl, even if you point out that something existed before Christianity, they’ll say that their god inspired that human institution or idea. I’m not even sure what to call that.

  • SeekerLancer

    Marriage is a legal status and everyone in the United States is supposed to have equal treatment under the law.

    If they want marriage to be a sacred and religious thing then they need to put everyone on a level playing field and give up all of the legal rights they have for being married as well.

    Odds are they aren’t going to do that.

    The funny thing is I don’t care if they say “I don’t accept gay marriage as legitimate” which they can keep on saying after gay marriage is legalized. Why should it bother them what the laws of man say? They can just keep on pretending that gay marriage isn’t real marriage and everybody’s happy.

  • Silent Service

    Well said, SeekerLancer. Who gives a crap is somebody else’s church doesn’t like your marriage. Now if they’d just shut up and quit demanding that the Law follow their religious idiocy we could get on with life.

  • cat

    @Ibis, your facts are off. The Roman empire kept track of civil marriages, but, after it fell, civil marriages went with it. The Church handled marriages from the fall of Rome until the late middle ages, when cities began to get back into the business of marriages. During the vast majority of the middle ages, with the exception of some nobles (because of the massive property interests and negotiations involved), you were considered married by the city or nation if you said you were. It was up to the church to try and invalidate any unapproved relationships, most cities did not get involved. There is actually a interesting case from medieval florence where the city recognized a gay marriage, under the auspices that it was none of the city’s business to say who and who was not married (the couple still had to pay the fine for sodomy though). Medieval scholar Helmut Puff (yes, that is his honest to goodness name) has a lot of interesting work on these topics, and I recommend it for those who want to know more about sexuality and gender in the middle ages.

  • Since I wasn’t married in a church, I guess I’m raising my family in “sin”.

  • Mike

    Wow, so it’s wrong to have sex before marriage but now I can’t get married. All work and no play makes LGC a dull girl.

    No worries! It’s not pre-marital sex if you don’t intend to get married… 😀

  • JB Tait


    You know, if religious people are this @n@l, they should really not use any form of medication developed from science . . .

    The associated problem is that there are religiots doing exactly this and letting their kids die unnecessarily.

  • Someone

    Think if I told Mr. Danz that I’m an atheist in an open marriage and have a girlfriend who lives in Albany, his head would explode?

  • Gwenny

    I think the government should stop supporting the sacrament of marriage. It could, instead, sponsor “domestic partnerships”, the details of which could either be cookie cutter from govt forms, or unique to each group (and combination of gender(s) in any number). The contract to form the partnership could include the “goals” of the partnership, i.e. child rearing, companionship, sex . .whatever was the binding needs of the group.

    Also, the tax breaks for marriage can go away. They were enacted at a time when it was more likely that only the husband worked, to compensate the couple for “lost wages”. A spouse can be claimed as a dependent if s/he doesn’t work, as children are.

  • Heidi

    This should save me money on my divorce.

  • Steve

    It’s far more simple to require people to get married at the city hall in a civil ceremony. Then, if they want a religious ceremony they can do that in addition.

    People who place more emphasis in the religious part can just keep the civil ceremony really simple and small. And people who don’t want to get married in a church can have a more elaborate civil marriage.

    As said, the churches weren’t always involved in the marriage business. They are the ones who should stay out of it aside from ceremonial stuff.

  • Suedomsa

    Marriage in general is a crock anyway. Why do we NEED to marry? Why get the government involved in your relationship? I would think a few documents written up by a lawyer and a ceremony to your own liking should be ample “commitment”, if that is what is desired.

  • Steve

    Tell that to gay couples who did just that and had the legal documents rejected by hospitals and other institutions. It works for some, but not for everyone. It depends on the people you deal with.

    The simple fact is that there are a lot of secular rights and monetary benefits attached to marriage. Some of which can be extremely important in certain situations. That’s a constant in all modern societies.

  • Suedomsa


    Ill admit I am not totally up on the benefits attached to marriage, but is there some reason independent legal documents cannot provide the same or similar benefits?

  • Steve

    One is a matter of practicality:
    1.) Legal documents are expensive and can run a couple thousand dollars. And that’s just for powers of attorney and wills, so that another person can decide what to do if you’re unable
    2.) You need to carry them with you whenever you travel in case something happens. In comparison, no one ever asks for a document to prove that you’re married in an emergency
    3.) Not everyone accepts such documents even when they should. There is a huge amount of uncertainty involved.

    And legal documents simply can’t cover some things like insurance or pensions for spouses, which can be essential for some people to survive. For example, in the US it’s a simple matter for a company to cover one’s spouse in an health insurance plan. If that’s not possible, private insurance costs a lot of extra money.

    Ideally, yeah, maybe everyone should just accept a notarized paper that says you’re in a relationship. But that’s just not how laws are written and it won’t change.

  • Sean

    “is there some reason independent legal documents cannot provide the same or similar benefits?”

    Custody/adoption and immigration. There are probably other examples, but since the government regulates those, it’s impossible to make a legal document that secures either of those things without explicit government approval.

  • muggle

    Psst, Someone, his campaign headquarters are in the 20 Mall in Guilderland. I live near there and it’s really tempting to stop by and have at but he’s seriously not worth it. Plus, I like Guilderland.

    Definitely going to vote for Tonko, however.

  • JustSayin’

    Suedomsa, every single time gay (or other “undesirable”) marriage comes up in one of Hemant’s posts, some commenter like yourself always states the same thing: “Why do people even want to get married? Why not just draw up some legal documents” Then I–and others–always have to patiently explain, point by point, exactly why you’re wrong and/or ignorant. (By the way, thanks for taking up the mantle earlier, Steve.) So for future reference, as long as you’re willing to “admit I am not totally up on the benefits attached to marriage,” please refrain from speaking on the matter until you are more educated about it. So, for what feels like the umteenth time, here is my response to a statement such as yours:

    It’s a very common misconception that gay couples, if we go through the proper legal channels, can ensure that, should some emergency situation arise, we have some say-so over how our injured or ill partner is treated, should s/he not be in a position to communicate her or his will. The people I’ve mentioned–and others, as I’ve read of many similar cases–did everything they were supposed to, thinking the law would protect them. Unfortunately, all it takes is one bigoted asshole to undo many hours (and often, many thousands of dollars’ worth) of careful planning.

    To use one example, do you have any idea how difficult it can be for same-sex partners to get not only respect, but even basic human decency from healthcare providers and their gatekeepers in emergency situations? There are two very well-documented examples, one in red-state Florida and another in liberal California (please note that the URLs to both stories which I originally provided are now broken), in which lesbians were denied access to their partners, and in BOTH cases all of the supposedly sufficient legal documents were in order. In the Florida example, the ill partner actually died, and her partner was never even permitted to be by her side. Nor were their adopted children. Yes, it’s unbelievable but true. (The surviving partner later sued the hospital, only to have the case dismissed: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/gaysouthflorida/2009/09/court-dismisses-suit-by-lesbian-who-couldnt-see-dying-partner-at-miamis-jackson-memorial-hospital.html

    Now my question to you is simple: Do you honestly think either of these situations would have happened had they involved heterosexual couples? We all know very well that there would be no legal basis for a hospital employee to refuse to let a husband visit his dying or critically ill wife, all other things being equal. Further, who would be so heartless as to try? And failing that, even if someone did indeed try, the hospital wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of having the lawsuit dismissed. So why are we gays at the mercy of everyone else? This is truly tyranny of the majority.

    And I haven’t even begun to discuss the issue of property and inheritance rights, which at present are in no way any more in our favor than are hospital visitation rights. For an example that is heartrending and that should be infuriating to any fair-minded individual, read this: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/DN-brokeback_05tsw.ART.State.Edition2.3e898b0.html

    The simple fact of the matter is that these protections must be codified, and the only way to do that in a thorough, comprehensive manner is through the granting of marriage rights to same-sex couples. No less will do. The current pastiche of incompatible state-by-state laws does not suffice.
    So while it may be some peripheral non-issue for you, marriage rights for gay couples are far from trivial to us. Unfortunately, it’s you–and the straight majority you evidently represent–who too often (and unconstitutionally so) get to thoughtlessly dismiss us and our concerns at the voting booth while we are left to deal with the very real, sometimes devastating, consequences. You’ll have to excuse my tone, but I’m just sick to death of having to reiterate this crap. Please, commenters–no more with the “gay-people-can-have-all-the-same-rights as straights” crap. Do some research.

  • AxeGrrl

    Justsayin’, GREAT post!

    Thanks for laying out those (disturbing) facts on the matter.

  • JustSayin’

    Thanks, AxeGrrl! And by the way, although I think I’ve told you before, I LOVE your avatar! (That’s my favorite scene in Freeway.)

  • muggle

    Definitely great post, JustSayin’.

    Somehow I think if enough politicians joined on this idiot’s bandwagon and actually made marriage for both the religious and hetrosexuals only, people would stand for that and just shrug their shoulders and say, oh, well, my heathen spouse and I will just go spend hours of time and thousands of dollars drawing up documents in the hopes that they’ll be honored.

    Seriously, can anyone really think that being denied a right a married couple has is going to be remedied by waving a piece of paper and saying see, I’ve got a power of attorney here? Not to mention those who can’t afford to do all that. Like it or not, marriage confers legal rights and legal status. It’s time that same-sex couples were recognized in this manner. More than.

  • I figured it was just a matter of time before the religious would find others to kick out of their exclusive marriage club.

  • Grimalkin

    There’s all the legal implications, but also marriage IS important for some people. The fact that it’s not important to you, personally, doesn’t matter one iota when it comes to making laws.

    I don’t own a car. I have no interest in owning a car. But that doesn’t mean that I get to sit back while, say, women are banned from driving (as they are currently in certain parts of the world) because “I don’t see what the big deal is with cars anyway.”

    Marriage means a lot to me and my husband. Being able to celebrate our relationship and make it “official” in front of our family and friends was a big deal for us. I wouldn’t want that taken away from us (and not everyone) just because we’re atheists, any more than I wouldn’t want it taken away from a gay couple who value it.

  • Steve

    Another well known case is Charlene Strong. Her wife sustained fatal injuries in a flood. She was first turned away by the hospital. Then the funeral home treated her as a stranger too and didn’t allow her to make any decisions herself. Her case and testimony was essential to pass the domestic partnership legislation in Washington.


  • Grimalkin

    @Steve – that’s sort of how it is in Canada (or at least Ontario, I don’t know if this is a provincial thing).

    Basically, you go down to city hall with all your documents and sign a paper that says that you will be getting married within the next X days. You aren’t legally married yet, but you HAVE to go through this process to get married.

    You then receive a form that will be signed by you, your spouse, your witnesses, and your officiant at your ceremony – wherever you choose to have it. Officiants must be registered with the government, but they don’t have to be religious (and the city will provide one if needed).

    I think that the idea was to space our the decision to get married from the marriage itself, to prevent “hey, I’m really drunk! Wanna get hitched?” marriages. We have the same thing for divorce – you have to be separated for a full year before you can actually file for divorce, to prevent spur of the moment decisions.

  • muggle

    Grimalkin, I’m all for preventing the I’m really drunk, let’s get married stupidity. (I doubt they usually wind up as depicted in sitcoms.) But a year’s separation before a divorce? Shudder.

    And why so long? That’s a long time to be stuck in a marriage one desperately wants out of and downright cruel in the case of an abusive relationship. Is there any outcry to change that? There really should be.

    I’m frankly of the opinion no one should be held in a marriage by force, that all it should take is an I want out, I’m filing for divorce then get to court and decide the custody of children and division of property, etc.

    NY just passed no fault divorce and I was cheering it. I still don’t understand why groups like NOW fought it so hard. How is it feminist to force some dude to remain married to you because he doesn’t have a “valid” reason not to be? He doesn’t want to be married to you. Reason enough. Put on your big girl pants and deal.

  • Sean

    Yeah, I’m not big on barriers to divorce either. Too many people keep themselves in crappy or downright abusive relationships because they are in denial, afraid, or ashamed of leaving. They don’t need the state making it worse.

  • JustSayin’

    I still don’t understand why groups like NOW fought it so hard.

    Wow. I had no idea that a group like NOW would EVER be opposed to no-fault divorce laws.

  • Foo

    Actually, I agree. The concept of ‘Marriage’ should in fact be relegated to whatever religion each two people who want to be ‘married’ happen to beleive in.

    But the GOVERNMENT needs to get completely out of the business of approving (or not) ‘marriage’, or using any sort of religious concept of it as determination for taxes, benefits, next-of-kin, etc. “Marital status” should be removed from tax forms, and any other form that has anything to do with the government.

    Instead, any two individuals should be able to setup a legal arrangement that is recognized the way ‘marriage’ is currently recognized by government. “Marriage” (which would be strictly a private, religious/personal-beliefs concept) would no longer automatically create such an arrangement, nor would it be a pre-requisisite for it. EVERYONE that wanted to have the legal arrangement, would have to specifically do so, including both couples that ‘married’ in their church, as well as anyone else.

    This would *completely* separate the religious concept of ‘marriage’ (and each ‘church’ would get to define how it wanted to recognize that) from politics and government. “Marriage” would no longer have any legal meaning – only a religious one. (And if you dont agree with your church’s definition, join a different one, or start your own, or just ignore it)

    And yes, I doubt it will never happen.

  • Grimalkin

    I think that the idea was to space our the decision to get married from the marriage itself, to prevent “hey, I’m really drunk! Wanna get hitched?” marriages.

    I think that this comes from the Anglican tradition of posting the banns of marriage. This is a public announcement in the parish so that anyone who has an objection has time to come forth and present it.

    I’d like to think that it was to allow people to think over their decision but sadly I think that it comes from tradition instead.

  • ceejay

    If the state stops recognizing marriage, then how do atheists get married? Will atheists be forced to be married in the creepy halls of a superstitious “house of god”?

    If the state stops recognizing marriage then would the transaction costs be prohibitive? Is that the point: that too many people are getting married? Maybe we should just say a single person will be charged more for multiple marriages: marriage #1: $50, #2: $500, #3: $5000…

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