Thursday, May 15, 2008

Love & Marriage: the California Way

Big news this morning:
In a much-anticipated ruling issued Thursday, the California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.

Several gay and lesbian couples, along with the city of San Francisco and gay rights groups, sued to overturn state laws allowing only marriages between a man and a woman.

"There can be no doubt that extending the designation of marriage to same-sex couples, rather than denying it to all couples, is the equal protection remedy that is most consistent with our state's general legislative policy and preference," said the 120-page ruling.

It said that the state law's language "limiting the designation of marriage to a 'union between a man and a woman' is unconstitutional, and that the remaining statutory language must be understood as making the designation of marriage available to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples."

With the ruling, California becomes the second state to allow same-sex couples to legally wed. Massachusetts adopted the practice in 2004, and couples don't need to be state residents to wed there.
...
Oral arguments in the case in March lasted more than three hours, a sign of the political and legal issues at stake. Six cases were consolidated.

Groups saying they were promoting a pro-family agenda had vowed to fight a statewide law allowing same-sex marriage.

"The government should promote and encourage strong families," said Glen Lavy of the Alliance Defense Fund. "The voters realize that defining marriage as one man and one woman is important because the government should not, by design, deny a child both a mother and father."

An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely. The federal high court has never addressed the question of same-sex marriage.

Full Story: California ban on same-sex marriage struck down


My incoherent thoughts in no particular order (taken from various conversations I've had this morning):

It's a situation of church and state separation. The second you remove the religious basis from the argument against gay marriage, there is no logical explanation for the ban. None, whatsoever. The lamest ones I've heard (and yes the government lawyers did attempt to use some of these before the Supreme Court:

  1. Marriage is traditionally between a man and a woman.*Well, remember our traditions of lynching people? Or our traditional ban on interracial marriage?
  2. Procreation: gay couples cannot procreate and thus should not be allowed to marry. *Many straight couples are infertile. Should they also not be allowed to marry?
  3. Domestic partnerships are sufficient. Same sex couples can get the same rights straight couple get via marriage thru registered domestic partnerships. *Separate but equal isn't Constitutional. Refer to the school integration cases for a full explanation on that one..
It's really awkward seeing Muslims get upset about this decision. I understand what the mainstream Islamic approach to homosexuality is, and I'm not disagreeing with that. However, we need to be able to distinguish the two necessary approaches to this situation:
  1. The Islamic law approach
  2. The civil rights advocate approach
The problem is the two overlap for a lot of us.

I don't have a solution per se. How do you reconcile your Islamic beliefs with a concern for fairness in this society? (Remember, we have not earned an Islamic state. We do not live in one. If we can all shape up and attain that, the discussion of appropriate laws in that setting can be had.) What I can say is the solution is not for us to get upset and vile, attempting to advocate for a selective separation of church and state. Oh yes the government should not impose Christianity on us, but it should on same sex couples?

Maybe a better solution is to:
  1. Educate ourselves so that we fully understand Islam's approach to homosexuality. You'd be surprised at some of the hateful comments I'v seen just this morning.
  2. Properly be able to distinguish between the two approaches to the issue.
  3. Realize that here and now, today, the American Muslim community has other fish to fry:
    • Muslim couples are having issues adopting homeless children because of their faith.
    • Guantanamo Bay is still up and running.
    • McCain's spiritual adviser wants to annihilate Islam
    • Today marks 60 years of occupation in Palestine. 60 years of apartheid, oppression and state sponsored terrorism.
And we're going to get upset because the court has decided that two people of the same gender can now share health plans?

In the end, Allah (swt) knows best.

***This is one of those times where we really want to hear from readers. We are curious to know what you think. All thoughts (except the hateful kind) are welcomed. Comment anonymously if you please, but do comment.***


14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Salams,

I would tend to agree with you Z. I am not really bothered by the idea of same-sex marriage. I am bothered by the idea of same-sex unions in general, but the notion of legitimizing them in the eyes of US law doesn't really bother me. GLBT people have marriage ceremonies all the time, now they are just going to have a tougher time of getting divorced. :)

Perhaps one issue that might be important to me is whether or not this makes it easier for same-sex couples to adopt. I'm sure there are a lot of same-sex couples out there with a lot of "love to give" but that doesn't mean that innocent children should have to be exposed to that type of environment. Despite all of the "arguments" that can be made about just how bad straight couple homelife can be, male and female role models in the home are necessary for both boys and girls. Also, aren't there statistics on how many GLBT people were actually abused as children, from what I understand it is pretty high, something like 70-90%. If these people were abused as children, wouldn't there be a greater likelihood of repeating that cycle of abuse? I'd be interested to learn more about that.

Muslamics said...

Administrator's note: though this blog was posted by Zahra, her views are shared by Affad as well. He's just busy actually focusing on finals. :)

Anonymous said...

as to the adoption question that anonymous stated, regardless of the marriage issue, the vast majority of states allow for same-sex couples to adopt.

i don't think gay marriage would make it any easier same sex couples to adopt.

in CA, same sex couples have been allowed to adopt for a while.

Angie said...

Annonymous, I am bothered by same-sex unions as well but I'm just as bothered by adultery, alcohol consumption and all the other sins out there.

May Allah (swt) protect us all. amin.

So I don't think we should be ok with it nor endorse anything that angers Allah (swt).

wa Allahu a`lam.

rafiq said...

I think men should be able to have 4 wives, sunnah revival!!!!!!!!!!

Paki Girl said...

Anonymous One: Studies about gender roles aside, when gay couples adopt they are taking children from the streets and orphanages. They are not taking them from functioning or even slightly troubled heterosexual houses. I agree that the "arguments" about bad straight couples are not helpful. But at the same time, gay couples are not competing with those parents.

If we had to choose:
Gay couple vs. orphanage?
Gay couple vs. life on street?
Gay couple vs. child molesting father?
Gay couple vs. physically abusive parents?

Wouldn't gay couple in the end, religion aside, make more sense? Children need parents, and gender role models but more than anything they need love. And unfortunately there is too little of that in that world.

Anonymous 2 makes a good point as well. I believe even single people can adopt. Too many kids, and not enough loving people to take them in.

Rafiq: how is the four wives discussion even relevant?

Anonymous said...

Salam,

I don't want to comment on personal views on the matter, because I believe when we have so little consensus in the Muslim community and leadership about how we should approach the matter of homosexuality, we are going to get a lot of opinions.

However, I do want to address a premise in Zahra's argument -- that of separating your Islamic perspective from your civil rights perspective. With all due respect, and with deference given to the argument as it stands (i.e. how to reconcile shari`ah with a non-Islamic state), we shouldn't be separating our "Islamic" selves/beliefs from our "mainstream society" selves/beliefs. It's a distinction that is hard *not* to make, given that what we practice at home and in our mosques is so different from what we hear and see in society to be fair.

We should ideally step back, and assess what our Islamic beliefs ought to be, rather than conform them to some societal notion of fairness or propriety. Islam is the most just of religions.

Again, I'm not trying to score points for one side or the other. In no way am I advocating homophobia, which many Muslims have resorted to. Like Angie said, if adultery angers us, then homosexual *behavior* should anger us to. However, the LGBT individuals, as do any other individuals, deserve respect and basic human regard from all of us.

W'Allahu `Alam.

Anonymous said...

i second the sunnah revival that br. rafiq suggested!!!!!! (disclaimer: this is coming from a sister). I'd rather see us advocating to revive this sunnah than advocating for something that will earn us the displeasure of Allah azza wa 'jal....wa Allahu`alam.

Sarah said...

I personally have mixed feelings on this issue. I think what really really sticks out to me the most is that we should have seen this coming so it should not come as a surprise to most of us. It's true the society standard has now officially changed, it has now become officially a social norm (by law), but that shouldn't stop us from taking advantage of the situation. There are so many other social-ills in our society that need our more immediate attention- Abandoned children, kids who live in poverty and aren't receiving proper education, child abuse, domestic abuse, over crowded prisons, the list is endless. I personally agree with the points several of the "Anonymous" have said, things anger us, but honestly - what are we going to do to channel our anger out into something positive and action oriented? In my opinion (and I could be totally wrong with this) that khalas, whats done is done - we need to move forward and discuss how we will deal with it rather than how it just bothers us. Maybe this is a bit far fetched to say right now, but even to discuss how this will affect the Muslim community in the long run? How will the society at large function in the future and the following generations? How will we deal with Muslims that come out and want to get married to the same gender - what will the Muslim community do then?

A law has been put into place, so what are we going to do about it? There are much more important issue's to discuss that need our more immediate attention. (Remember the post a couple months ago about the Hijab Ban?, and much more.)

Allah'u a'lam, this will be interesting to see where this is going to end up....

Seyed Ali said...

Salaam allaikum,

In reality i don't believe is an issue of fairness or "living in a secular society". This is the pushing of a pro-homosexual agenda on us, the people of America.

If we want to be fair then why is polygamy banned in the US? If you truly want to be fair then why are mormons, muslims, and people of other like religions banned from having more than one wife. Yet at the same time its completly legal to have several mistresses?

If this was an issue of secularism and the seperation of church and state, then truly polygamy would have been solved long ago yet its an untouched issue.

Secondly islamicly we are not allowed to quietly sit by and see sin done in our community, city and lands. There is a famous hadith in which the holy prophet (sawws) explained that a certain city was destroyed by god even though 60% of its population was good and only 40% were evil doers. When the companions asked him why this was so when the majority were good he replied that it was because the majority did not stop the minority from indulging in their sins.

Indeed silence is assent, both in islam as well as the cultures of secular today.

It would not surprise if god does punish people due to their sins, it would be horrible if we were connected to any such groups from our silence and assent.

We live in a society in which all the people are like parts and all the parts are interconnected. We don't live in bubbles were people openly sin and it won't affect us, our children, or our loved ones. Eventually every actions will come full circle and its reverberations will be felt by everyone.

This is why its important for us to stand against the pro-homosexual lobby and not allow these people to sin in such an open fashion. If they want to indulge in their filth (yes filth) in private..so be it. But publicly it cannot and will not be allowed.

The very least we can do is speak out. May god give us the strength to stand against sin, in whatever form and in whatever place.

Seyed Ali said...

Salaam allaikum,

In reality i don't believe is an issue of fairness or "living in a secular society". This is the pushing of a pro-homosexual agenda on us, the people of America.

If we want to be fair then why is polygamy banned in the US? If you truly want to be fair then why are mormons, muslims, and people of other like religions banned from having more than one wife. Yet at the same time its completly legal to have several mistresses?

If this was an issue of secularism and the seperation of church and state, then truly polygamy would have been solved long ago yet its an untouched issue.

Secondly islamicly we are not allowed to quietly sit by and see sin done in our community, city and lands. There is a famous hadith in which the holy prophet (sawws) explained that a certain city was destroyed by god even though 60% of its population was good and only 40% were evil doers. When the companions asked him why this was so when the majority were good he replied that it was because the majority did not stop the minority from indulging in their sins.

Indeed silence is assent, both in islam as well as the cultures of secular today.

It would not surprise if god does punish people due to their sins, it would be horrible if we were connected to any such groups from our silence and assent.

We live in a society in which all the people are like parts and all the parts are interconnected. We don't live in bubbles were people openly sin and it won't affect us, our children, or our loved ones. Eventually every actions will come full circle and its reverberations will be felt by everyone.

This is why its important for us to stand against the pro-homosexual lobby and not allow these people to sin in such an open fashion. If they want to indulge in their filth (yes filth) in private..so be it. But publicly it cannot and will not be allowed.

The very least we can do is speak out. May god give us the strength to stand against sin, in whatever form and in whatever place.

Yesi King said...

ok so i'm going to ignore all the hateful, ignorant crap in some of these comments...and just say YAY! its about time, and i'm super happy about this... i can't wait to go to attend some upcoming GAY weddings.

btw Zahra, great post!

Anonymous said...

I know that same sex couples CAN adopt. How easy that process is, and how rampant discrimination is, is another matter. I also *know* that single people can adopt.. again, the question is how easy is it? There are a lot more criteria that have to be met and proven on the part of single people, higher income, etc. I just meant, would the notion that they are no longer a "domestic partnership" but rather a "married couple" make any difference.

Anyway, with regards to the other comments, I wanted to know how important they felt this issue was in comparison to other issues. For example, if we spent our time, energy and money on working against the pro-gay lobby, wouldn't that distract us from greater issues? I often feel like this whole gay marriage thing is just a bone thrown to the christian right so that they will be distracted from a little thing called war, and our plumetting economy, etc. And I feel like when Muslims get too hung up on it, they too are distracted. And again, as Muslims living in this country, as a minority population trying to demand our civil rights, I don't see how we can even make an argument against it except from the perspective of the moral breakdown of our society. And as Angie said, that also goes along with fornication, adultery, pornography, alcohol, drugs, etc. In terms of civil rights etc, that would make us total hypocrites. Oftentimes, the LGBT community are our greatest supporters in a world of islamophobia. Just remember what Sally Kearn Oklahoma rep said "homosexuality is an even bigger threat than Islam" State representatives think that "killing innocent women and children" is part of our "ideology". Thus, I think we have much bigger things on our plate to deal with than gay marriage rights.

Anonymous said...

The movie, "jihad for love", is heading West soon:

http://ajihadforlove.com/screenings.html