Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

New York Becomes the 6th State to Legalize Same Sex Marriage – And It's About Damn Time

I am happy.  In fact, I’m a little ecstatic.  You should be too.  The fact that New York has legalized same sex marriage SHOULD matter to everyone.

When you live in a country and lauds itself for being the best, brightest, and most progressive nation in the entire world, that kind of amped up rhetoric becomes bitterly difficult to swallow when you pay attention to the fact that we still treat some of our fellow citizens as if they don’t deserve the same rights as everyone else.  Is that the best?  No.  We can certainly do better.  Is that the brightest?  Hell no.  Treating people unfairly undermines everything we try to teach our wee little children this country is all about.  Is that progressive?  Well, if you think denying people civil rights is progressive, please let me play with the time machine you traveled here in from the past because I’d love to go visit whatever era you’re from which might make this whole set up seem at all forward thinking.

I am happy.  I just wish we were further along in this process by now.

And what is one of the major forces (if not THE paramount force) keeping the progression of this country from moving forward, especially when it comes to gay rights?  Oh yeah, buddy, it’s religion.

Just today, before the vote was cast, I found myself participating in one of the ultimate forms of mental masturbation – fighting with a fundie online about the right to marry.  His arguments mirrored the ones I’ve heard so often in the past.  He didn’t hate gay people – he loved them!  But, the bible says marriage is between a man and woman, so his hands are tied.  Sorry gays, don’t blame the fundies, they’re just doing what their book tells them to do – discriminate against their fellow man because of the antiquated writings found in an outdated book of mythology.

Well, when you put it like that, how could anyone really disagree?

I’m glad this fella put me in my place.  I mean, how I could I really argue with such airtight reasoning?  Such as –

Just because governments and legalities have hijacked marriage does not change the FACT that marriage is a religious institution and did NOT exist until ordained by God.

Yeah, that’s not true.

No, not supporting gay marriage is not homophobic.

I dunno man, maybe it isn’t homophobic, but it certainly is bigoted.

I love, respect and treat everybody the same way regardless. Others in here obviously cannot say the same just in their words and treatment of me and my belief. Yet somehow I’m the one accused of being hateful toward others. Whatever! The bottom line is sin is sin whether we are born with it or a conscious decision we make. Being born with a certain sin does not make it any less of a sin. We are all born with sin, that doesn’t make us any less sinful.  It’s not about a religion I believe in. It is a fact. Marriage did NOT exist until it was ordained by God. You need to come to that realization.

This is pretty obvious to me, but if this guy really treated everyone the same way, wouldn’t he SUPPORT the right for gay people to marry?  Opposing gay marriage is a clear example of NOT treating everyone the same.  Am I wrong?

Marriage isn’t a right. Also, marriage is a religious institution which says it’s is ordained by God for one man and one woman. PERIOD. That says NOTHING about whether or not God loves and accepts them. There is something more profound in marriage than just 2 people loving each other and living together that can only be experienced by a true marriage.

So – God made marriage.  Well, if that’s the argument, then God made gay people too so God is sounding quite dickish right about now for creating an institution and then creating people who were born to not be able to participate in that institution.  Or sorry – I guess they could if they could only conquer their own sin.  You know, turn straight and marry some nice opposite gender person, thus creating a wasted farce of a life for not only one but TWO people.  Yeah!  God wants you to deny your own sexuality and be miserable, AND he wants you to drag someone else into that misery with you.

Man, who wouldn’t want to worship that guy?  Sounds like a peach.

But what kind of an argument can you present to someone who has convinced themselves that their own bigotry is mandated by their god?  Therein lies the problem.  “God did it” is one of those comments that can’t really be argued effectively against because the very premise of the argument relies on the will of a magical, inivisible force that exists beyond definition.  You might was well say “Sagan’s dragon created marriage – and it intended for it to be between a man and a woman” because that makes about as much sense.

But let’s take a look at the bible itself, since that’s something which is a little easier to pin down.  The Old Testament was supposed to have been written sometime between 1500 and 1450 BCE.  So, it stands to reason that even with the oral tradition of sharing stories and the like, marriage probably didn’t exist much in other cultures before then, right?

Not quite.

In fact, we need only look to good ol’ Hammurabi to see evidence of marriage existing long before the bible was ever written.  Hammurabi’s reign was from 1795-1750 BC, and during that time he produced his code – or laws which his people were expected to live by.  Included in these laws were provisions regarding – you guessed it – marriage!

Marriages were arranged by the parents for their children. All parties involved signed a contract because without it the couple was not considered legally married. The husbands provided payment to the parents of the bride, in return receiving a dowry from the bride’s family. Women had very little rights in the marriage and failure to uphold their responsibilities were grounds for divorce. If the wife was not able to bear children or left home to engage in business, her husband could divorce her and did not have to return the dowry. In the case of divorce, if the man divorced the wife for no good reason, the wife could get the dowry back with just cause. Consequently, if the husband died the wife inherited his lands and would decide which son would receive the inheritance.

If this sounds a bit loveless and cold, it’s because that’s what marriage initially was all about – money, ownership, and assurance that a woman’s offspring was the product of her husband and no one else.  Religious people might try to claim this isn’t the same marriage as the marriage we have today and they would be right.  But the marriage we have today is also far different from marriage as it’s defined in the bible, so I don’t see how that argument is at all relevant to the fundamentalist position that gays don’t deserve to be married.

So yes.  New York did the right thing tonight, and they deserve applause.  People should celebrate, it’s an awesome step in the right direction for the country and for humanity.  However, if we really want civil rights throughout the nation for gay people, we need to start challenging religious doctrine even more when it comes to the claims that marriage is somehow a product of and therefore owned by religion.

And that “biblical marriage” bs – well, let’s take a look at an oldie but goodie about just what biblical marriage really looks like.

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I guess they could if they could only conquer their own sin. You know, turn straight and marry some nice opposite gender person

To quote Roy Zimmerman, “So don’t embrace the way God made you / Here’s what you should do / Choose to be a hetero and seven foot two.”


I wrote this late last night and should have added that not all religious people oppose gay rights. Obviously many awesome religious people are totally supportive of the gay rights movement, and those people are awesome in my book.


Here’s the thing. Even Obama says that a “Marriage” should be between a man and a woman. Why do gays have to have “Marriage”. Why can’t it be a civil union? why isn’t that good enough? I understand you are an Atheist and any religious argument is looked upon with disdain, but you are doing the exact thing that you accuse others of doing to you. You are treading roughshod over their beliefs. There was and is a solution. Don’t call it gay marriage. However, as per usual, it seems the gay community must thumb it’s collective nose at everyone… Read more »

Mike Gillis

No one’s rights are being trampled if same-sex marriage is legalized. NO ONE’S. If a religious person’s beliefs condemn marriage between two people of the same gender, then they shouldn’t marry people of the same gender. They don’t have any right to limit the rights of OTHER people, particularly those in other religions or with no religion. If someone else is allowed to marry their same sex partner, the anti-gay marriage advocate is affected in no way, oppressed in no way, their right to hold those beliefs are violated in no way. Just as orthodox Jews aren’t victims of oppression… Read more »

[…] a number of comments on the blog entries, including this one in response to Beth’s piece on why we’re thrilled that New York has legalized same-sex marriage: Here’s the thing. Even Obama says that a “Marriage” should be between a man and a woman. Why […]

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