Thoughts On Marriage

The notion of legalizing gay marriage is working its way steadily through the federal courts and, so far so good. The courts continue to like the idea of ending discrimination against homosexuals under the same constitutional clauses that helped the civil rights movement in the last century.

You’d think the various states would just sit still for a while until the Supreme Court has its say on the matter. But no. North Carolina, which I’m guessing is just north of that other ridiculous state that I wrote about repeatedly in 2009, is going to jump in anyway.

On May 8 North Carolina voters will be asked to vote on a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriages. The amendment would read in part “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”

Not to bring up the good ol’ days of southern glory, but you’d think that just this one time these people from the Carolinas would hit the pause button before doing something that will justify all the jokes.

This is the state, after all, that had a constitutional ban on mixed race marriages until…1971. In my humble opinion, citizens a hundred years from now will look back at these constitutional amendments banning same sex marriages and have a very similar icky feeling to the one that you will have reading the below:

All marriages between a white person and a negro, or between a white person of negro descent to the third generation inclusive, are hereby forever prohibited.

This is largely a party issue, although it shouldn’t be. The Democrats have as much to be ashamed of here as the Republicans (Clinton signed the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act).

We can do better. Imagine how you’d feel if someone told you that you couldn’t marry because you’re different than they are. This is exactly wrong.

55 thoughts on “Thoughts On Marriage

  1. Mark Thomas says:

    Thank you Michael for writing about this. As a gay tech entrepreneur, nothing pains me more than hearing people tell me that I can’t marry the person that I love (I’m actually single, but if I was in love with someone, I’d want that right). The current laws are disgusting, discriminatory, and as you mentioned, people will look back on us in 100 years and cringe at the very notion that gay people were kept from being married.

    I know that some people will chastise you for not sticking to writing about technology in every blog post, but sometimes when there’s a wrong, it just needs to be talked about to make it right. Thanks again.

    • And thanks to the “Defence of Marriage Act” gay tech entrepreneurs can’t get visas or green cards for their spouses – even if they do manage to get one for themselves – as immigration does not recognise same-sex marriages.

  2. dangoldin says:

    The problem is the lack of proper separation between church and state when it comes to marriage. Most arguments against gay marriage are religious in nature so the solution is to get rid of marriage entire from the state and replace it with a civil union. The various religious establishments can then maintain whatever requirements for marriage they want.

  3. pell says:

    I want to vomit.

  4. David Callahan says:

    … somehow, homosexuals believe that marriage is similar to “paradise.” In reality, and I am NOT the first to say this… but it is closer to hell than it is to paradise — Why? If you have to ask, is because you have never been married…
    For starters, the divorce rate in the US is now close to 60% — there are many reasons for this. Also, the federal government actually punishes [with taxes] those who are married . Look it up! It is the so called “marriage penalty.”

  5. collinlyle says:

    @dangoldin: How’s about calling a religious wedding something else? The church doesn’t issue marriage licences, the state does. The church doesn’t have to be involved in any way currently. A judge can marry you, the captain of a ship can marry or even your buddy who gets a certificate on the interwebs. How about religious marriages be called Holy Unions and keep marriage to the states as they already have the say in who can and cannot get married.

    • dangoldin says:

      I think the fact that it’s called “marriage” just gets some people really worked up and it’s better to avoid that just by calling it something else. As much as I agree with you that they can be called Holy Unions people are just too used to calling it marriage. By changing the name it’s possible to avoid the issue but of course it’s not an ideal situation.

      • Michael Arrington says:

        I think people need to get worked up over this. Calling it the same thing (marriage) provides the psychological benefits that are the central point to all of this – treating homosexuals as if they are human beings, not dogs (as the other commenter said).

  6. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Forget 100 years; in 40 years, marriage equality will be broadly accepted and we’ll look back on today and think how backwards it all was. If that long.

    America calls itself a freedom-loving nation. Great! So two consenting adults should have the freedom to marry if they want, for crying out loud. Let’s fix this and go solve world hunger.

  7. cch says:

    Dunno why marriage is some holy grail. I don’t think marriage should be normal, but I am all for gays trying it out. I married for love and don’t think I will ever again. She is still my best friend and love her and she is wonderfully accepting of my faults. I tried for over 10 years to be faithful and it hurt both of us as we just ended up not very sexually compatible after a few years. Oh and NC has had a huge population migration and is full of northerners.

  8. collinlyle says:

    @dangoldin: How’s about calling religious marriages something else? The church doesn’t currently have to be involved in your marriage in any way. The church doesn’t issue marriage licences, the state does. You can have a judge marry you, the captain of a ship can marry you or even your buddy who gets a certificate on the interwebs can marry you. If it’s so important for the church to have something special and exclusive, they can call it a Holy Union or something. Leave marriage to the state where the power to decide who can and cannot get married already resides.

  9. Ryan O'Hare says:

    @dangoldin marriages are legal in their very nature… i.e. the state licences churches to be allowed to marry people (and then the chuches bolt-on all their religious ceremony stuff to the process). Consequently, a civil union is precisely the same as a marriage in all but name. None of the arguments are ever really about the ‘sanctity of marriage’ etc, it all just boils down to blatant homophobia.

    • dangoldin says:

      You’re right. My point is just that by calling it marriage some people get super defensive about it and we can avoid the issue by just calling it something else. If there was a true split there would be no way for religious institutions to actually be involved in granting marriage licenses and would only be used for the ceremony. At the same time, why should we be accommodating the bigots? I just suspect this would be easier to achieve.

      Of course it’s driven by homophobia but I suspect the name exaggerates it.

  10. Adam Hussein says:

    I understand you live in California and their politics and philosophy is very liberal but here the northeast it is much different. We see gays for who they really are, a menace to the social order in society. I can understand that when “sensibility” comes to mind,it does not stand to reason why we should have to be against gay marriage. In fact the more people can be happy, the more people should be happy.

    But what if everybody became gay because it was only natural to do so, like a devilish fetish? A lot of women could find no one for themselves and nobody could care for them. That is instability. Second, gay men are a testament to social indiscipline and lack of ethics. They pretty much began adultery and lack of commitment. Honestly, ask yourself, in the last fifty years ever since the gay movement began, where has marriage gone to. I think it has lost virtually all meaning. Because there is divorce and there is cheating and there is lack of commitment, especially when times are harsh. Among gays, this is a bit more tolerated. Homosexuality is the embrace of devilish and unstructured societies.

    • Michael Arrington says:


      • Flabbergasted says:

        Perhaps the most restrained utterance from you, Michael, I have ever seen.

      • The Duke of Chutney says:

        No Mike – wow to you.

        Just because a small minority want what they want doesn’t mean to say that what they want is right – or good – for society in general.

        Sadly, your country is just like the old Roman empire in the years of it’s decline, fat, opulent, arrogant and morally corrupt – and whether you care to admit it or not, articles like yours serve only to prove that people like me are right.

        May the Lord have mercy on your soul.

        • Michael Arrington says:

          “Just because a small minority want what they want doesn’t mean to say that what they want is right – or good – for society in general.” – you can say the same thing about slavery, or suffrage, or civil rights. The point of the 14th amendment is to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majorities.

        • Tim Saint says:

          Michael, as a fellow Seattleite, I know I’m in the minority, but I have to disagree. As numerous African Americans have pointed out, comparing homosexuality with being African Amercian is like comparing apples with . . . I don’t know, tractors. Any homosexual can choose not to act on his/her feelings just like Tim Tebow can choose not to act on his heterosexual feelings, but an African American can’t choose not to be black.

          Am I missing something?

          • helpfulrules says:

            yes, Tim, you are missing something.

            comparing African Americans to homosexuals is like comparing men to women. we’re all human beings. we’re all Americans. we all deserve to be happy and fulfilled and treated equally under the laws which we all follow equally and pay taxes for equally.

            you say any homosexual can choose to “not act on” his/her feelings…. really? can you choose to “not act on” your heterosexual feelings? if so, is that a life you’d wish on your children, your loved ones, or yourself? aren’t you really saying it’s valid for you to “act on” who you are but it’s not valid for homosexuals to “act on” who they are?

            are you God?

        • Tim Saint says:


          No, I’m not God, and that’s a good thing for everyone, but I believe God is against homosexuality, so why wouldn’t I be against it? That also answers your question about whether or not homosexuals should be able to “act on” who they are. Of course I don’t think they should “act on” who they are any more than you don’t think I should “act on” my beliefs to ban homosexual marriage.

          The issue for me is not whether we act on our feelings, but about doing what is right. I couldn’t care less about anyone’s feelings–mine included; I just care about the truth.

    • “They pretty much began adultery and lack of commitment.”

      Umm… Henry VIII, anyone?

    • Paula Gould says:

      Not sure what’s more offensive here, your view of homosexuality, your view of women or your misrepresentation of the northeast.

      • Adam Hussein says:

        I don’t mean any offense here, just straight up facts. Men have always cared for women. That is not abnormal, nor offensive.

        Gays have always lived at the edge of liberty. They were the first to break social norms. That is not offensive either, and can actually be a complement.

        And the northeast is nothing like California. California is far more liberal. (I might be wrong in stereotyping everybody as from San Francisco). Northeast has a different “programming” and cannot be exactly represented as liberal or conservative, but rather very technical or liberal wannabe.

    • Nikhil says:

      @Adam Hussein: Congratulations on having survived from the 16th Century to the 21st without having undergone any change in thinking or growth…people like you are living proof that Vampires exist!

      • Adam Hussein says:

        I might not survive the twenty first. It seems like my world is caving in! But facts are facts and I will not lie!

  11. Lucas Rayala says:

    Great article Mike~always refreshing to hear.

  12. terrihodges says:

    Hard to believe we’re still fighting this battle. Totally embarassing to even share a continent with this type of thinking……

  13. Great backstory would be to find the descendants of those who made hate into law and ask them how felt about their families history of bigotry and discrimination. One could start with K. Ransom, President of the Convention of North Carolina, Johnstone Jones, Secretary and W. M. Hardy, Assistant Secretary of the convention and North Carolina Secretary of State W. H. Howerton a listed in the image of the despicable amendment to article fourteen of the North Carolina Constitution.

  14. Paul Bunion says:

    I want to marry my Scottish sheep dog. We are in a consensual relationship. We are in love.

    Who are you to judge?

    Someday, if we continue to advance the agenda, this union too shall be possible.

    • Mark Thomas says:

      Typical homophobic response equating 2 consenting human beings to that of an animal who can’t legally consent to anything. Do you also equate your wife or girlfriend (whom you can legally marry) to a sheep dog as well? Or do you just reserve that for gay people?

    • Well Paul, if you can get your Scottish sheep dog to say “I do” at the altar, I think you’ve got a keeper.

      Feel free to try again with a rational argument.

    • helpfulrules says:

      to Paul Bunion (above) – really? you’re equating me wanting legal recognition & benefits for my legitimate lifetime partnership with you wanting to marry your dog?

      you seem to be implying that if we don’t draw the line here, we can’t draw it anywhere.

      so why do you think it’s ok for people of different races to marry? nevermind, it doesn’t matter. it’s very clear what sort of person you are. sleep well.

    • Jaap Beetstra says:

      In much the same way giving women the right to vote now has lead to dogs voting? Oh wait, it hasn’t… You are just wrong on so many levels.

    • David Callahan says:

      @Paul Bunion
      … don’t forget horses and, of course, goats — which are very popular in Mediterranean countries for, you know… fleeting unions.

    • Does your Scottish sheep dog have the free will to make rational decisions for itself?

  15. Kyle says:

    “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
    As to be hated needs but to be seen;
    Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
    We first endure, then pity, then embrace”

    – Alexander Pope

  16. Michael,
    I’m a two-time venture-funded startup founder who happens to be gay. I can’t legally marry my committed partner of four years. I can’t sponsor his green card, so his H1B process drags on year after year—almost a decade now. We can’t file taxes jointly. We don’t have rights to survivorship. The list goes on.

    Most Americans probably don’t think about gay marriage on a typical day, or even a typical month. But they ought to. It’s not just a “wedge issue.” It’s a strike against freedom for all of us when a shortsighted majority can trample the precious, God-given rights of a few.

    I hope that a Federal judge somewhere understands what the hoi polloi don’t, and we get our rights. Until then, thank you for adding your voice to the collective, and fighting the good fight.

    P.S. Also, thanks for signing up for my private beta invite list a few weeks ago… 🙂

  17. jon c. says:

    Great piece! I’m in North Carolina, where politics is as polarized as anywhere else. But, the place isn’t really as retrograde as our neighbor to the south. Still, I wish the vote on the amendment had garnered more national attention and more money to fuel opposition. It would actually ban legal recognition of any kind of living-other relationship other than traditional straight marriage, with fallout consequences all over the place. It’s a dangerous attempt to impose the bigoted morality of a minority on everyone else.

    The next logical step for these people is to withdraw legal recognition of any marriage not sanctified in a religious ceremony.

  18. roethlisberger says:

    Why is this the only political issue you ever mention more than briefly (maybe minus H-1B visas)? I know from some of your posts that you’re libertarian-leaning (as am I), but I just find it strange that you’ll bang the drum for gay marriage time and again but never get involved in the crippling government regulation that you see first hand in California and we see in Washington.

  19. Duane says:

    The United States was based and founded on Judeo-Christian principles-there is no arguement on this. Without a moral structure it will fall. The Roman Empire was the superpower of its day but fell, why?, because of imorality. Men were sleeping with men, women with women, men with animals and boys and everything inbetween. They crumbled. Today we have gays wanting to marry, boy-love sites, transgender and crossdressers all crying for “rights”, it’s ridiculous and we will all pay the price for it.

  20. Keith says:

    I disagree that there is discrimination in the current law. Everybody (homosexual or heterosexual) is allowed to marry someone of the opposite sex. Everybody (homosexual or heterosexual) is banned from marrying someone of the same sex.

    The example of inter-racial discrimination is not a good analogy: it forbade members of different groups from marrying each other. The current law forbids members of the same group from marrying each other. Two men cannot marry each other, whether they are gay or straight. Two women cannot marry each other whether they are lesbian or straight. A man and a woman may marry each other, regardless of whether they are homosexual or heterosexual.

    Marriage is currently a contract between one human male and one human female. If society wants to change the definition of marriage (be it in the quantity of its components, the types of parties, the species, etc.): fine. However, it should be done by agreement of the majority in a democratic process, not by imposition from a minority.

  21. Raj says:

    The gay rights issue that you raise here and the animal rights issues that you’ve raised in the past are actually all related: they both revolve around our deeply held notions of superiority and how we value those that we perceive as being inferior.

  22. Rather than replying to any of the ignorance above, I’ll merely chime in here with a hearty BRAVO to you, Michael, for this post. (Though I couldn’t resist one minor ping regarding the moronic comment from the fellow who related gay marriage to being able to marry his dog). Putting aside the fact that this is a personal issue for me, the simple fact is this. Those who oppose true equal rights (in this case gay marriage being the flash point) are on the wrong side of history. Period.

  23. Paul says:

    I think you might be forgetting one thing: it was christians who fought against slavery and right now it’s still christians who fight against the redefinition of marriage. They were the minority back then and they might as well be the minority today.

    • They didn’t really fight slavery more the enslavement of people who share the same believe

      This the number one issue I have with religion… every religion has their own way of saying “If you’re not with me you’re my enemy.” and to propagate their beliefs as the ultimate, absolute truth. Which may or may not be true… but it is actually highly unlikely given the many claims for that badge and the vast pool of options one would have to personalize and build (in the web-2.0 amazonian way) their own religion.

  24. Euuchhh. Another sad story about inequality and the misery of human nature. We need gene therapy to cure us of stupidity and rid us of antiquated ideals, superstition and last but not least “intelligent design”! Marry who you want (just not your close relatives, please) and be happy!

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