Overheard on CNN.com: What is a 'marriage' anyway? Prop 8 commenters debate
In light of a federal appeals court's ruling against Proposition 8, readers are talking about the meaning of marriage.
February 7th, 2012
04:43 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: What is a 'marriage' anyway? Prop 8 commenters debate

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

A federal appeals court ruled against Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage. It argued that the ban unconstitutionally singles out gays and lesbians for discrimination. People hashed out the finer points, but there are plenty of thorny questions involved. What is the definition of "marriage"? Who has a say in what parts of people's lives? What will the impacts of this decision be?

Appeals court rejects California's Proposition 8

This reader said they don't understand the controversy.

1doctor: "Kim Kardashian's 90-day marriage (for publicity) and Britney Spears' one-week marriage consummated during a drunken state in Las Vegas is legal, recognized and upheld as a foundation of society this is worthy of protecting. But, my 30+ year monogamous committed relationship with my same-sex 'partner' (hate that word) is illegal; a threat to marriage and the family. Maybe ... just maybe one day, our U.S. Supreme Court will settle this once and for all, making marriage equality real for all of us across this great nation."

But this person said they stand by their beliefs. Some agreed, and some did not.

M1sf1ts: "I will not condone, accept, or recognize a gay partnership as a marriage, nevermind the law."

worktolive: "Neither I nor my children nor my grandchildren nor any generation thereafter. They will be taught it is a sinful lifestyle and against God's will. And if our schools try to make our kids accept this against parents' wishes - homeschool or send them to a Christian school."

This was the most-liked comment:

yooobetcha: "This is a very bad day for religious fanatics who want to legislate their hate."

One interesting discussion started about the motivations behind the ban and possible impacts of the decision against it.

queersmurf: "The main point in this whole appeals process is that judge after judge is finding the same thing that makes this entire thing unconstitutional ... that the opposition hasn't and can't give a rational, reasonable reason that this ban should be upheld. All they have is personal religious beliefs and prejudiced opinions that cannot and should not be enshrined into law. And this has been the crux of the debate from the start – the reasons being given as to why some people think this should be upheld are irrational, unreasonable and are based solely in personal opinion and religious belief rather than on fact. And the facts speak for themselves: no straight marriage will be affected by this, no religious person, organization or entity will be forced to do something against its will, no religious freedoms or liberties are being removed as nobody is telling religious people they can no longer have their marriage as they see fit. The list goes on but I think I've made my point."

Ethnya: "Not yet. One day, a gay man will apply for a position at a local parish, or a gay couple will request to be married in a church building that has been allowed to be used for a fee. The conflict against their religious beliefs will forbid them, and they will sue. This has already happened in California, and the church lost its tax exempt status, de facto religious persecution. It's only a matter of time."

Some said it's an issue of reproduction, although some argued on that point.

matybostonZ: "I takes a straight couple to make a gay person."

imkookoo: "Not necessarily if you have a gay sperm donor and a lesbian surrogate."

One reader said it's difficult to ask people to vote on some issues.

CathyfromK: "Civil rights should never have been put to a vote in the first place. Segregation would have lasted another generation if it had been subject to a vote in Mississippi. Interracial marriage might still be banned. You have the right to marry the consenting adult of your choice. Simple."

Others debated the terminology of "marriage" versus "civil unions."

DohickeyJoe: "I am heterosexual, I am a conservative, and I will be voting Republican in this election ... and I 100% agree with the Appeals Court. Homosexuality is not a 'choice' or a 'lifestyle' or 'fashionable' - not for real homosexuals. And those people should absolutely be allowed to marry each other if they choose. My only question is this. Does a civil union come with the same rights and benefits as a marriage? If so, then why push for the 'marriage' label, which has more religious connotations than legal connotations? Religion, as you know, hasn't been kind to homosexuals."

thobrg: "No, the same rights to not apply to civil unions as to marriage. That's why I think all government sanctioned "unions" whether gay or hetro couples should be civil unions with equal rights. States should issue civil union licenses to all and make judges available to have the union ceremony. If a couple wants to get "married" keep that label for churches who wish to perform the marriage ceremony based upon that church's doctrine. Some will 'marry' gay couples, some will not. Some churches may only want to 'marry' gay couples and not straight. This way federal and state rights could be applied equally."

This commenter offered another definition of "marriage."

wellthen1616: "Marriage is not a right. Tax benefits, hospital visitation, civil liability claims relating to spouses, etc. are privileges that should be afforded equal protection. Marriage is something old and stupid that was created by religion and they can do with it what they want. What the government can't do is provide married people with certain benefits and protections and deny those same things to other couples who can't marry."

Along the same thread, there were a couple of commenters who said the comparison of marriage to racial equality doesn't quite work.

upsetinCA: "Mixed race marriages can have children. Try getting that with two dudes. I have no problem with same-sex partnerships and certain legal/insurance protections, but to me "marriage" is something different and if a MAN and a WOMAN want to get married – best of luck to them, regardless of their ethnic make-up."

nalda: "Marriage is between a man and woman ... period. There is nothing 'hateful or bigoted' about that belief. The polygamists, pedophiles and others will use 'freedom' and 'bigotry accusations' for their twisted logic just the same as the gays."

This person said they are conservative but still liked the decision.

RKW29: "I consider myself a conservative but I have no problem with Gays marrying. It does not effect me or my life or my family. The only reason other conservatives are against it is because of a reference in the Bible and having nothing to do with their American way of life. Get over it and let these people be happy. If there is a God, let him judge them. They are not hurting anyone."

IggyDad: "Are you sure you still have a place in what the Republican Party has become?"

RKW29: "IggyDad, you would be surprised. Many real conservatives or moderate conservatives have the same viewpoint. We agree with less government intrusion in our lives, more individual accountability and are very patriotic, but are annoyed by the vocal religious right's morality war."

Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (143 Responses)
  1. maryashley7

    Reblogged this on maryashley7 and commented:
    It's becoming increasingly understandable, why the Country is in the state it now finds itself. The courts of Cali. have shown that the voting voice of the people mean, as much to those Judges as, the lives of American troops mean to Politicians, so we must learn to live with the lesser......evil, I'm not saying your choice of a lover is evil, I'm saying, as usual we can't see the bigger picture. A vote was taken, it didn't mean you couldn;t have as a lover whoever, but Marriage as known throughout all time is between men and women, now we want to, like a child, ask "Who started that???" My guess is the Person who said I need this Kind, and one of that Kind to reproduce this kind, the people were wise to carry their request to the court, that's the right place to go when you need a answer of FOOLISHNESS, let me share with you how un-focus we the American people are, Obama is drawing down the wars in the Middle East, and what few loose ends there may be He and Hillary are using Specials Forces to dismantel, thus doing more with Special Forces the the 3 or 6 past Administrations did with all out war. Their reward for saving the rest of America's children..........hang he and Hillary on a cross someplace high in a Utah mountain, because we fell to plain for rainy days, or because a group of CEO's like, Judges in Cali., and like most of us (Americans) want what's good To Me, and damn lives or Country, it's all about ME. Marriage, it is what it is, change it when we can call a kid back for the grave, why don't you ask the Judges for something like that, I'm all but sure this is also within their power......Please get back with me on that.....

    February 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Token Square


      February 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angela

      Am I imagining thgnis, or does every single book on marriage written by women neglect to state that men are not marrying because of the preposterously unfair legal structure leveled against men?Venker & Schlafly's "The Flipside of Feminism." Carolyn Graglia's "Domestic Tranquility." Countless others.Left wing or right wing, no woman wants to acknowledge what every MRA web site has on its banner: presumptive paternity and no-fault divorce are deal-breakers.Why is this so hard for women to grasp? Or is it just that no woman wants to set into motion the demise of their financial golden parachute when she decides to jump out of the plane?I have always had a hard time swallowing the "Gov't-sponsored, feminist-driven financial redistribution scheme" concept that many men claim marriage really is, but the more I have been looking into the matter, the more marriage just looks like a way to keep her floating at his expense.Sorry for the bleak cynicism, but the statistics on marriage kinda bear me out.

      January 2, 2013 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. leeintulsa

    marriage.. i've had a few.

    i won't have a third, as i don't want to strike out..

    fortunately, i've found a woman of similar stride, and we've been together ... waiting for her to tell me ... (jeopardy music in background) ... 4 and a half.. not long.. for me, not record breaking, but getting there..

    i will not pan marriage, just doesn't work for me and the women i choose..

    i don't really know how involved the government should be in marriage *at all*. isn't that, by definition, a personal thing? government has no right interfering in the marriage of *anybody*.. i would think..

    February 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      That's a very thought-provoking comment. Thank you. Would love to hear what others think, too.

      February 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @nsaidi: I was about to say look, my comment to you commenting on my comment got deleted, too.. As I was doing it, YOUR comment got deleted.. no one is safe.. we all must fear the comment slasher..

      February 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      @leeintulsa I put your comments back. Sorry that they got pulled. There were a couple others I restored as well. We're all trying to figure this out together.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. chrissy

    All i have to say is the fanatics dwelling on same s/e/x marriage instead of all the suffering going on in the world, are probably glad there isnt a bedroom police comming to their home! Question -How does it affect you people against it? Answer-It dont!

    February 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. leeintulsa

    how would it affect you *at all* if somewhere some dude married some dude?

    is it the word you are hung up on? do you think it takes someone special to get married? it's ok for kardashian/spears/me/millionares to do what we do, but not for two guys (or girls) to do it? how is that american?

    i believe it is you who cannot see the big picture. this *IS* america, and as long as we don't hurt others, we should be free to do as we please.

    February 7, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    @ leeintulsa, i heartily agree! 1000 % i have been happily divorced for 26 years. Thank goodness im NOT a repeat offendor, but im also in the belief if youre not harming another individual, more power to you!

    February 7, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mary

    @ leeintulsa, I would hafta agree with that. It was Gods church that started marriage and therefore should have governorship over who qualifies for marriage... hence, "same s ex" or a "man and women."

    February 7, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mary

    Your harming God when you disobey his laws and even more so your self... In the end, it ya know what I mean.

    February 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @mary: that would be a belief we don't share. and a topic for another thread.. the belief blog, maybe that is what you seek

      February 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Sodomy which is part of same s ex marriage between two men is what God has forbidden in the Bible God's inspired word. It is apart of the opposing view on prop 8 and part of a h o m o s e x u a l marriage that is against Gods law.

      February 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chrissy

    @ mary, the bible also says, judge not lest yee be judged, correct?

    February 7, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mary

    Let me specify, I agreed with Lee's 6:32 post
    Not his 6:51 post at all

    This is a blog and it ask for our comments, therefore, I am giving my comment

    February 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mary

    The Bible does not condone same s ex marriage chrissy. And I am going by Gods law not my own.

    February 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mary

    So chrissy you don't condone sodomy but you do condone same s ex marriage, I see your on the FENCE right besides banasy

    February 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      What I said was I wouldn’t do it.
      I cannot and would not tell anyone not to, though.
      That’s not being one the FENCE about anything.
      That is freedom of choice, which is highly valued in this country.
      If you are going to attempt to quote me, get it correct, please.

      Many people do not go by the Bible.
      Therefore, the Bible cannot be put into the equation when it comes to law matters.
      Separation of church and state?
      You say you live by God’s laws.
      Then don’t marry a gay person.
      You do not, and never had, the right to try and tell others not to marry whom they love.
      I have loved my husband for over twenty years, and it would pain me greatly not to have been able to marry him.
      My sympathy is with them, not with the person who has every right to marry whomever they wish because they are hetero.

      The heart loves who it loves.

      February 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chrissy

    Ty for clarifying that lee, for a brief moment i wasnt sure. And mary i understand what youre saying, however, there are alot of contradictory things in the bible. Another would be, let him without sin cast the first stone! None of us walk on water!

    February 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark

    What is wrong with a person being gayried and not married if that describes the situation more accurately. Give it a different name because it is different. It is not just semantics.

    February 7, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. chrissy

    Personally, i DONT believe in either! But no one is asking for my permission! If they did i would advise against marriage altogether!!! And its NOT my job nor anyone elses except God to judge anyone! Im not perfect nor do i know anyone who is, do you?

    February 7, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mary

    Your still avoiding Gods law regarding h o m o s e x u a l acts. I go by Gods commands, amd am not judging them chrissy, God has already done that by his word, not mine.

    throw all these one liner verses at me you want and try showing me where God condone's this act.

    February 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
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