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. BobNAlabama

    Funny how religion divides people, preaches hate and intolerance, and justifies itself through fear and guilt.

    February 8, 2012 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. chrissy

    @ bob thats people preachin it that way. Most have their own agenda and its only portions of it!

    February 8, 2012 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. S.Lutz

    Leave it alone already. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Let the gays Be happy and content Living together in faith and love, but leave the constitution of marriage alone...PLEASE. And As for Gay and lesbians couples using Sperm banks and surrogates.....Why is that legal? A Gay lifestyle does not include children. There must Be some reasonable boundaries somewhere in this world. And by the way, some of my dearest friends are gay and they understand my feeling.

    February 8, 2012 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      Do they agree with your feelings?

      February 8, 2012 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. banasy ©

    A gay "lifestyle" is the same as a "hetero" lifestyle...the only difference if the genger of your partner.
    For people who do not believe in God, denying them marriage because they don't believe is absurd.
    If hetero non-believers can get hitched, why can't gay couples, believers or not, get married?
    If one is so disturbed by the thought of two people getting married, don't go to the ceremony.

    PS: many people who recite the pledge of allegiance are silent when the words
    "Under God" are spoken.
    That argument was a little...out there....

    February 8, 2012 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mary


    February 8, 2012 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Take the Bible out of the equation.
      Pretend it never existed.
      What would your stance on it be?
      Because for millions of people, the Bible *doesn't* exist.
      They are hurting nobdoy be wanting to marry the one they love, and your contempt for a whole populace of people is staggering.
      Yawn, indeed.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      How are you doing today, Maggie?

      February 8, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Still awaiting your stand on this issue if the Bible had never been written.
      God likes thinkers.

      February 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Micah

    Let's take this a few steps beyond Gay Marriage. If our religious right want to make a stand, lets stand together and ban women’s rights – I think all women should be in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. Lets ban Black people, we all need slaves that would keep all the illegal’s out of this country and keep them from getting their backs wet. Oh wait, I forgot about all that stupid talk about the holocaust, didn't someone from Iran state that never happened. Oh and don’t get me started on the Muslims.

    With all this hate in this world today – Why don't we stop this crazy talk and start getting along. Extremisms in this country, left AND the right have too much voice in our lives. I ask all my fellow Americans to ask yourself, without people fighting in your community for equality where would you be today? I think the majority of you would NOT be better off without them. Gay Marriage is the latest in a long list of inequalities that need to be resolved – Civil matters are not to be put to the masses.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Love it.
      Thank you.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. banasy©

    Just as I thought.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mary

    If the Bible is taken out of it YOU don't exist nor I , nor every single person who has ever taken a breath

    February 8, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Millions of people existed before that book was written.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Can't even speculate on a hypothetical?

      February 8, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      You're funny. Tell me, how is fundy land these days? Still think Jesus is your "bro"?

      February 8, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    Mary, you have a perfect right to believe as you'd like, however, you do not have a right to tell others how to believe, feel, or live their lives.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mary

    spreading the word of God IS a commandment Donna and I will not disobey God in that respect.

    And think of all the prophecies that have come true right down to minute details

    February 8, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Mary, you are truly crazy, and may god have mercy on your soul.

      February 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Never knew God's word was so malicious...I guess I should remember the OT.
      Plenty of malice there///
      And I'll need a list of those prophesies, along with the date they have suppoded to come true on.
      Thank you.

      February 8, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Philip

    The government has every right to tell you what to do. Their called *laws*. The government told you it was illegal to abort your baby. And that it was illegal have anal intercourse. But you wouldn't listen and you broke those laws anyway. Just as crooked meat and dairy ranchers illegally drugged their lifestock to make them (and you) fatter...soo many were doing it, the law had to be changed elsewise 1/2 of US would be in prison for breaking the law. Not counting laws banning hiring illegals. Uncle Sam just gives you what you want, right or wrong, moral or immoral, does not matter anymore.

    February 8, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Ah, there it is again... the "you".
      The WHO?

      February 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    Equal rights for nomose xuals! Including the right for openly gay and closet gay *holy men* to be charged with statutory raype. And you cab call the union between gays whatever you want. Just know that the word 'marriage' does not define it, let alone Holy Matrimony. Not according to my dictionary nor President Obama's bible.

    February 8, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Call it a legal civil union if you want...as long as it gives the same rights as heteros.
      I do not live my life by YOUR compass, and no one else should HAVE to, either.
      Marry whomever you like.
      Stay celibate, or not.
      Condeming people who do not share your ideology isn't right, and never has been.

      February 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Zidane

    I have a few questions for people who think gay marriage is moral, (this has nothing to do with religion):
    Why is mutually consenting cannibalism illegal?
    Why is mutually consenting suicide illegal?
    Why is mutually consenting polygamy illegal?
    Do you agree with polygamy, suicide or cannibalism?

    What's stopping people from asking for those things to become legal? Eventually groups will pop up asking for these "rights". If you think it’s ridiculous, think again, because there are a lot of people who would love these things to be legal.

    February 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      A person usually has to be dead for cannibalism, and murdering someone is illegal.
      Who are you going to charge with the suicides if both parties are dead?
      Polygamy is fine, I suppose, if the wives can take multiple husbands, also, all thing being equal and the polygamist's wives that I have known are desirous of this.

      Now, why is gay marriage illegal?
      Again, taking religion out of the answer.

      February 8, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Philip

    If you want to marry your dog, who am I to say anything. Knock yourself out.

    February 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Who are you to say anything if a girl wants to marry her girlfriend?

      February 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Philip

    Who are we to tell NAMBLA that God doesn't like what they do?

    February 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Age of consent is an issue.
      illogical argument.

      February 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      And one that has nothing to do with two girls getting married, I might add.

      February 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
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