|May 14, 2012|
By G. Michael Dobbs
Hey kids, do you remember what took place on May 17, 2004 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? Same sex marriage was made legal.
That's right. For the past eight years, the civil contract that is marriage has been available to every adult in the state.
Do you recall how critics have claimed that taking such a step would lead to terrible consequences? That somehow having two people of the same gender getting married would somehow affect straight marriages. I never understood that logic.
How has your marriage been affected by same sex marriage? I bet it hasn't.
And another prediction didn't come to pass either: that Northampton would be the gay marriage capital of the world and that numerous businesses would sprout up to serve the burgeoning gay marriage scene.
That hasn't happened either.
Instead, just like straight people, gay residents of Massachusetts have either committed themselves to marriage or remained in other sorts of relationships. Marriage is simply part of life.
For me, this is not really much of an issue that should divide liberals and conservatives. If a person believes the government should not intrude into an issue such as marriage, then why worry about a person's sexual orientation? If two adults willingly want to enter into the marriage contract, then whose business is it to interfere?
Now, to be clear, I'm not suggesting forcing any religious faith to accept same sex marriages. Marriage is both a civil contract and, depending upon the couple, a sacrament. You can have a perfectly legal marriage without the inclusion of a religious ceremony.
I would like to think that people of faith could be both tolerant and open-minded. They could accept people who differ from them, but share many of the same values, such as a willingness to commit to a monogamous relationship.
I feel sorry for the folks in North Carolina who voted to approve a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriages and civil unions. And I know this will now become an issue in the presidential race with the following statement made by President Barack Obama last week: "I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."
It's too bad this will be an issue, because a secular government should not restrict marriage between two adults.
My mom heard much of her life that her great-great Texan grandfather had married a full-blooded-native American woman. This would have made my mom 1/16 Native American, which in some tribal national qualifies her to be a member of that tribe.
Now, some research has been done and now it looks doubtful if my ancestor William "Wild Bill" Brazil was ever married to a Native woman.
Too bad as my ethnic background is pretty diverse and I would be very proud to include that heritage along with my Dutch, Swiss, German, Irish and English forbearers. By the way, I am enormously proud of having someone on my family with the nickname "Wild Bill."
Much has been written about in the last few days over Elizabeth Warren's Native American ties. She, too, had been told of her family's background.
Apparently her great great great grandmother's name was listed on the Dawes Commission list, an effort that started in 1894 to act as a census for Native Americans to determine who should receive an allotment from the federal government.
Warren's family is from Oklahoma, the home of the Cherokee Nation. According to their website, the tribe does not have a "blood quotient," but rather requires proof that a person is directly descended from a Cherokee listed by the Dawes Commission.
Sen. Scott Brown is trying to make political hay on this issue. If Warren did not profit from her checking a box indicating her Native heritage, then can someone explain to me what is the big deal? If she did gain an advantage, I would be the first to admit she was wrong.
If people can point to some way that Warren benefitted from this designation, then isn't this yet another diversion from the real issues facing this state and this nation?
What I would rather know is why Brown voted to increase student loan interest rates during these difficult economic times. That is far more important to me and millions of others.
Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.
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