Letter to the editor in PG: equal rites vs equal rights?

Today's Post-Gazette includes a letter from Jeffrey O. Mast of Cecil.  Mast supports the secular equality of the LGBTQ community, but draws the line at religious rites.

I was with the gay activists when what they sought was equal protection under the law. Now it seems the gay activists wish to commandeer the word “marriage.” Unless I am wrong, “marriage” is a religious “rite,” not “right.”

It appears the “slippery slope” is in full effect. If we continue with the slippery slope, in five years we will be debating whether a church leader should be forced to perform a marriage ceremony for a gay couple.

Mast is a proponent of the separate but equal approach to civil rights.  A friend of mine asked me a similar question about whether a “secular marriage” using some other term would satisfy me.  I told her that I have no desire to force any religious group to marry me, but the claim that marriage is a religious institution is deceptive.  The term marriage is inextricably intertwined with the civil institution and clearly a part of the fabric of society.  You can't just parse the language because you will always end up with two tiers — gay marriage and “real” marriage. 

Mast's other line of reasoning is that equal rights for the LGBTQ community should not infringe on the religious rights for other people:

 I believe that one's secular rights end where another's secular rights begin. I also believe in equal rights (not rites). Considering the fact that liberals believe that religion and government should be as separate as possible, it baffles me that liberals would insist on appropriating religious terminology.

Why don't religious folks come up with their own special new word and leave secular marriage alone? Hmm.  Seriously, he's playing into the fear that equal rights will destroy religious freedom which is ludicrous.  Lots of things limitt religious freedoms  – tax laws, building inspections, education laws,etc.  Lots of things in society are offensive to one religion or another – consumption of pork/beef, premarital sex, short hair, birth control, female Secretaries of State, etc.  Some you can simply ignore, others you must endure. Taking offense doesn't translate into your rights being violated.  There is no right “not to be offended.”

Still, this letter does illustrate a welcome change from the usual gay bashing rhetoric.  Acknowleding that the LGBTQ community deserves equal protection is a good thing.  That's a shift and, I think, evidence that the gay agenda is working!  🙂  


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  • I agree it’s a shift, but who was this guy (Mast) talking to? And the whole “rite” versus “right” thing was “tricky”…ooh.
    Regardless, I liken this whole “marriage” vocabulary issue to the confusion I encountered when I was little regarding the word versus the brand “Kleenex”. Puffs just weren’t the same, I didn’t need all that, but you know it was still…a kleenex. That was perplexing. And then there was “Xerox” and “xeroxes” and, well, this is where we are now.
    You know the “Marriage defenders” are always using the tag line “no special rights for special people” to refute the rights of gay people to marry, yet in reality those supporting “Marriage” are the “special rights” folks after all. “They” are probably at best the 49% of the married population who are still in “a marriage”, or perhaps the 38% who are still hanging on to their “second marriage”. The majority of those who “marry” fail in both their first and second attempts to completely execute the deal. I doubt single people are defending “marriage”, they’re busy defending “eating in the bathroom”, I’m sure divorced people aren’t defending “marriage”, they’re like France and Germany, they really don’t want to get involved, plus they’re busy defending “why they got divorced”, or the more ambiguous word…”annulment”. “Defending marriage” is done by some to protect the right/rite of all heterosexuals to have a ceremony whereby they become spouses and are then free to “f-with” “marriage” in any way they see fit. It does not need to be defended from “them” it has to be defended from those who don’t deserve it, won’t respect the “rite”, do it “right”, or otherwise not honor their “marriage”.
    Even the former POTUS caught cheating with an intern while in office was a big defender of the sanctity of “Marriage” if only in words not deed. “Marriage” is a special right for special people after all!
    Let them have their word but at least make them get a service mark on the capital M version of it! That'll keep them busy for awhile.

  • Frankly, I'm on the other side of this semantic debate. I think we should leave marriage to the religious institutions and allow everyone LGBT and S(traight) to have civil unions and all the legal rights and protections that go with them. You are right that marriage is bound up with legalese but I would argue that it's more inextricably bound with religion, and frankly, more than a little tainted by it. I'd much rather have a civil union with my partner be associated with fighting the good fight for civil rights than a marriage that was associated with all the hatred and discrimination that came before we could use that term. But after all, it's only semantics. Call it what you will, but we need a way to protect ourselves and the ones we love from harm, and to promote stability and well-being in our lives.

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