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. Mary

    I think Leeintulsa and Snoopy would be very happy together. 🙂

    February 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      lee is a person, Snoopy is a cartoon dog...illogical answer. Next...

      February 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pope Benedict XVI

    Marriage is whatever I say it is.

    February 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Good thing you don't speak for the United States.

      February 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    Agreed totally.
    One may live according to any book they like, but to foist THEIR own beliefs upon another person, or a whole group of people, shows more of the character of that person than the people they are usually railing against.

    February 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zidane

      "but to foist THEIR own beliefs upon another person, or a whole group of people"

      Funny, seems to me that you and the people who support this are "foisting" their beliefs on those of us who are also part of the group called the United States and who don't want this.

      February 8, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      ....and again, religious beliefs have no place in civil and equal rights.
      Don't marry a gay person.
      I wouldn't, as I'm not gay.
      But I would NEVER try and legislate anything that would impinge on another's rights.
      This is not a theocracy.
      And, just for an added bonus of knowledge, I am NOT atheist, either.

      February 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Token Square

      Hey Zidane – how would us who "support" the striking of Prop 8 be forcing our beliefs on you? Are we telling you that you cannot marry who you want to marry? That is what your x-law tried to do to us. Are we telling you that you do not have the same rights as other people have? That is what your x-law tried to do to us. Are we writing into law a limitation to what heterosexual people can do? That is what your x-law tried to do to us. Now that this law is struck down, is your ability to marry or practice your religion as you see fit, with whom you see fit where you see fit effected in any way? No! It is not. But your x-law tried to use your religion to cause us not to have the right to live our lives as we saw fit. It is clear to anyone with a layman's understanding of your x-law that it was a vehicle to force your, and all its other supporters’, religious view upon us. Good riddance to bad rubbish! And may you live your life long and healthy – able to practice your religion with others of like mind as you see fit.

      February 10, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Zidane

    So if a person can prove a goat is happy being his marriage partner then it should be legal? No because people can't reproduce with animals?

    Polygamy is illegal, how is that different from gay marriage?

    February 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Animals cannot give consent.

      February 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr Shabby

      I live with 14 goats, a cat, 2 dogs, and a circus bear. I'm married to the cat and 9 of the goats, and I have outside relations with a robot and a small shrub. With all of this in mind...er...I forgot what my point was.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Philip

    If the government told you it was ok for 12 yr olds to marry you would go along with it. The only thing keeping Americans from going over the edge of our immoral cliff is the few remaining decent laws we do have. But watch as they too fall by the wayside. When it comes to American depravity, you ain't seen nothing till the ADD generation comes into power.

    February 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Ah...the old "you"...right along with "they".

      February 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. saywhat

    Not me at 11:37. Though I agree with comments posted by Saywhat?

    February 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Zidane


    There are two types of cannibalism, homicidal cannibalism and necro-cannibalism and that doesn't even take into consideration the fact that a person does not have to be dead for cannibalism to occur. Even if the person is dead it could have been from natural causes so why is cannibalism illegal if it happens with consent? (Eating someone’s toe or non-functioning organ, tonsils, etc. is considered cannibalism.)

    Attempted suicide, suicide where only one person dies and the other doesn’t, a failed suicide where both people survive, all of these end with charges against those people, why is it illegal?

    Polygamy may be fine with you but the law states it is illegal, why do some people don’t agree with polygamy even though they agree with gay marriage, where’s the big difference, I’m pretty sure religion isn’t involved in that decision.
    Now, why are those things illegal and gay marriage isn’t?

    Again, this has to do with morals, not religion; I don’t murder people not because there’s a law against it but because of my morals, religion has nothing to do with the issue much the same as it wouldn't for many athiests.

    February 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Zidane, you have written a extremely goo dpost, and thank you for the clarification.
      I have my own morals, and they coincide with yours, for the most part.
      I see nothing wrong with two people who want to commit to each other doing so legally, no matter the gender.
      You do.
      That's fine.
      But one's beliefs to not trump another's rights for equality, whether you like it or not.

      February 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    The *if the shoe fits wear it* you, of course.

    February 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    ...back when they were there but not so all in our face about it you mean?

    February 8, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      I don't recall anyone trying to covert people into being gay.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mary

    @ Zidane
    Didn't have time to say what you just did but thanks in any case.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      If your going to delete Zidane's post then you have to delete mine above since it was in response to a post of his that got deleted.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mary

    banasy God laws will TRUMP your beliefs EVERY time

    February 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      And that's your belief, Mary. And that's fine.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    President Onama's bible holds no meaning. It's just there for show I guess, though he swore on every word, not just the cover. We might as well all flush our bibles down the toilet and be free of God's will and stop stradling the fence.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      Isn't that the same Bible *all* Presidents swear upon, or does he have a special one?

      February 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    God's word says 'no', you say 'yes'. We should take your word for it Banasy? I don't think so.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      Live according to your beliefs, and let others do the same, even if they do not coincide with yours.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Philip

    Another neat thing about the bible is you don't have to hide it from your kids. Not even in the laundry room.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      I'll be sure to ask raven about that next time I talk to her, because that's the person you're referring to with that comment.
      My laundry room contains *laundry*.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mary

    We all post our views on each subject here.
    I and others do not agree with prop 8, therefore if anyone here does not agree fine and we can discuss and debate till our hearts content, but leave the "your trying to tell us what to do" bit out of it , no one is doing that.
    I will continue to express my views as others do on this blog
    Thank you
    And Nicle what was wrong with Zidane's post after the 2:54 post?

    February 8, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      That's what we're all doing, Mary.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
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