Monday, February 13, 2006

Good Letter in the Gazette

Dan Furmansky, of Equality Maryland, published this letter in the Gazette last week. I was out of town, and didn't get it on the blog.

This letter does more than express an opinion. In it, Mr. Furmansky explains a lot of the history of the legal institution of marriage in Maryland. You might learn something here, check it out.
Last month, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge analyzed a 1973 Maryland law that denies same-sex couples the ability to legally marry. She declared this law a clear violation of our state constitution’s Equal Rights Amendment.

In response, many individuals, including our governor, condemned the ruling and stated they would do whatever it takes to protect "traditional marriage." including support a constitutional amendment.

Just what these detractors of marriage equality mean with their rhetoric is open to interpretation. Does this mean they don’t believe two people of the same sex can love each other as much as a heterosexual couple? Do they think the "traditional" institution of marriage in Maryland has been the same since the founding of our state? Do they feel that gay and lesbian couples don’t need the same legal protections other couples already have should a spouse take ill, lose a job, weather tough financial times or face the uncertainties of old age? Or perhaps they simply believe the children of gay and lesbian couples don’t deserve the same safeguards as other children whose parents are allowed a legal relationship to one another.

Some people argue a constitutional amendment banning marriage for same-sex couples is necessary because gay people want to fundamentally change the institution of marriage. It’s true. Allowing same-sex couples to marry is an evolution, but the institution of marriage has already changed dramatically over time.

Years ago, women were not full participants in a marriage. They had no rights to property and no legal recourse if raped by a husband. Until the early 20th century, marriages performed by non-Christian clergy were not allowed. In fact, marriages performed by non-clergy were not legalized in Maryland until 1967. (Today, 40 percent of marriages in Maryland are performed by clerks of the court or judges).

Until a Baltimore Circuit Court ruling in 1957, there was a criminal prohibition on interracial marriages; the then-societal notion of "traditional marriage" did not include allowing people of different races to marry. The courts played a role in many of these advances.

Some people feel marriage must be a heterosexuals-only club to "protect" children, as though gay people cannot be good parents. Want to insult a gay or lesbian individual? Make this insinuation. And you’ll be wrong. Just ask every respectable organization of pediatricians, social workers, psychiatrists and child welfare experts, all who agree that children raised by same-sex couples fare just as well as children raised by heterosexuals.

So, I ask again what it means when people say they want to "protect traditional marriage" by defining it in the constitution. This is not the first time some have sought to legally "define" marriage in a constitution. In 1948, after California’s Supreme Court became the first in the country to strike down its interracial marriage ban as unconstitutional, some states rushed to declare marriage as the union of "two white people, two Mongolians or two Negroes," lest their own state courts do the same. It isn’t discriminatory, they said, because we’re not preventing anyone from getting married, just people of color from marrying whites and vice versa. As late as 1958, polls reported more than 95 percent of whites still disapproved of marriages between blacks and whites. "Let the people vote," proponents clamored.

Now, a Circuit Court has determined that the Maryland is being violated every time a same-sex couple is forced to remain legal strangers in the eyes of the law. Sadly, the irrational fear of granting legal parity to the relationships of same-sex couples is so great that some seek to amend this group of people — and their children — right out of our constitution and say that its provisions of equal protection do not apply. The Maryland constitution has been amended 217 times, but never, ever to limit rights. Every single amendment has been for expanding and clarifying rights.

If our state government has evolved over time to ensure that people who love someone of another race, women and non-Christians can avail themselves of its protections, if experts say children fare just fine with same-sex parents, and if clergies’ prerogative to refuse to marry interfaith couples, divorced individuals or gay couples is constitutionally enshrined what is the reason to deny the gay couple down the street the ability to legalize their union?

Most of us want the same things in life — to find our purpose and meaning for being here, to be good people without having our morality questioned by others with differing spiritual beliefs, to contribute to society, to fall in love, and for many of us to marry and raise children. Why should anyone want to deny the full American dream to gays and lesbians?

Ask yourself, do I want to be a person who declares that the constitution shouldn’t protect gays and lesbians because I am personally uncomfortable with the idea of them marrying? Would I want my rights, my love and my family placed for a popular vote?

Look into your own hearts, and you will see ours as well, beating just as strongly, and yearning for fairness and justice and life and love.

Dan Furmansky Don’t deny gays, lesbians full American dream


Anonymous Anonymous said...


This gay guy repeats the same offense mant TTFers do- equating people's racial and gender identity with indulgence of perverted hedonistic urges. This shows why they strive to convince people that same gender sexual attraction is irresistable and exclusively dominant in those who experience it. They are trying to hitch their movement to attain societal approval for an "anything goes" philosophy with the star of the successful civil rights movement. The tactic is disgustingly offensive.

February 13, 2006 7:34 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Thank you, Anon, for so clearly representing everything I hope not to be.


February 13, 2006 7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't let me stop you from insulting minorities and women.

February 13, 2006 8:01 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Uh, yeah, sure, Anon, I won't let ... you ... stop ... me ... ?


February 13, 2006 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, Jim. I just didn't want you to...feel...bad...about...insulting...decent...people.

February 13, 2006 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We have a lot more work to do in our common struggle against bigotry and discrimination. I say “common struggle” because I believe very strongly that all forms of bigotry and discrimination are equally wrong and should be opposed by right-thinking Americans everywhere. Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination."

Coretta Scott King

February 13, 2006 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most blacks don't feel this way. Coretta Scott King got caught in the whirlwind of history and was influenced by a lot of misguided liberal ideas. She not representative of the black community.

Hope that doesn't represent some liberal heresy.

February 13, 2006 10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

November 23, 2005

NAACP Board Chairman Bond Is Featured Speaker at Equality Maryland Jazz Brunch

NAACP Chairman of the Board Julian Bond defended same sex marriage in a speech Sunday at the Third Annual Equality Maryland Jazz Brunch in Baltimore. Speaking before Maryland’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, Bond said that marriage is a fundamental institution of civilization and that is “precisely why one should support, not oppose, gay marriage.”

He noted that the NAACP has passed a resolution that promises, “To pursue all legal and constitutional means to support non-discriminatory policies and practices against persons based on race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or cultural background.” Bond said, “Civil rights are positive legal prerogatives – the right to equal treatment before the law. These are rights shared by all – there is no one in the United States who does not – or should not - share in these rights.”

February 14, 2006 7:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


February 14, 2006 7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous said of Coretta Scott King ,She not representative of the black community.


Anonymous you need to get out more.


February 14, 2006 8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do. That's why I don't believe just whatever the liberal press says.

February 14, 2006 8:45 AM  
Blogger digger said...

Dear Anonymous,

The invitation to dinner still stands. We won't even talk politics. I once had a meal with Patricia Philips, state rep in Virginia for Concerned Women for America. It was really great to have a pleasant, civil experience with someone who sits on the other side of the table from me on so many issues. When we see one another at rallies and school board meetings, we always greet one another warmly.

Difference of opinion, even great difference of opinion, is not always a reason for emnity. We are all, at bottom, children of God.

Hope you take me up on it.


February 14, 2006 11:59 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Coretta Scott King, Joseph Lowrey, Andrew Young, Julian Bond, John Lewis. According to Anon, these and other lions of the Civil Rights Movement are all now divorced from the African American community. So, too, the head of the Maryland State Chapter of the NAACP, who spoke out vigorously in favor of equal rights for GLBT citizens at the Equality Maryland rally in Annapolis last evening.

I picketed George Wallace when I was a high school student in 1964, volunteered for the Poor People's Campaign as a college student in 1968; worked in anti-poverty programs as a college student and then as a VISTA volunteer. As an adult, in the 1980s and '90s, I served on Montgomery County's Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative Committee. I did these things in large measure because the ethics behind my religious tradition impelled me to do so. I am not African American, but I know that we all have a responsibility to each other to struggle against injustice.

In the 1960s, it never occurred to me that I would ever need African Americans to return the favor. I am a PFLAG father, and the support that so many prominent members of the African American community, including lions of the Civil Rights Movement, have provided families like mine is gratifying. Dr. King was right when he said that we are all tied together in an inescapable web of mutuality.

Yes, there are disagreements on this issue within the African American community, just as there were disagreements within various white communities over Civil Rights in the 1960s. But when we listened to Dr. King, those disagreements began to fade. Similarly, the current disagreements will begin to fade as we return to first principles, as Dr. King always challenged us to do. We will continue to move toward what Congressman Lewis reminds us that we need: “A Beloved Community,” in which all of us will be able to live our lives in dignity.

February 14, 2006 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are singularly obsessed with MLK. You put up a quote from him every couple of weeks. I think he was an important historical figure. And an excellent speaker. Rhetorical skills actually reached a zenith in the U.S. in the 60s. Even the villain you mentioned, George Wallace was quite a speaker as were some of the corrupt politicians of the time, like JFK. MLK deserves admiration, though, for finding a non-violent solution to an explosive problem.

Didn't I hear a couple of years ago that MLK's kids issued a statement expressing umbrage at linking gay rights to the civil rights of blacks? An MLK groupie like you might remember.

February 14, 2006 1:26 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...


Since this post will immediately follow your comment to me, I won't paste it here. Here are my answers:

1. Everyone should be so obsessed. My admiration of Dr. King is not based on his oratorical skills (as you correctly note, George Wallace had great oratorical skills), but on the substance of his message. Dr. King was more than “an important historical figure.” His vision of what America should and could be, and his efforts to make that progress, grabbed the conscience of the nation and perhaps saved America from its “original sin” – slavery. I consider him and FDR the greatest Americans of the 20th Century. That I quote him during the season of the national celebration of his birth should not be terribly surprising. Your seemingly grudging respect for his helping to save us from a conflagration resulting from American apartheid may be revealing.

2. About a year ago, Bernice, the youngest child of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King came out against same sex marriage. The other three King children are in their mother’s camp. The oldest daughter, Yolanda, has been very vocal in this regard. See, for example,
I hope that, in time, Bernice will see her mother's wisdom.

February 14, 2006 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information, David.

I really do think there is no similarity whatsoever between race and sexual preference. It's so obvious that I assume it's a cynical ploy by gay advocates. Maybe you're just ignorant or weighted down by personal conflicts. The church I go has a sister black church in the inner city that we do joint stuff with and I know all of them are appalled by this idea.

February 14, 2006 6:10 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Anonymous (or can I be less impersonal and call you Peter? Are you Peter?),

Here is where we differ. You seem to believe that sexual orientation is just something someone opts for and that those who "choose" homosexuality are doing it for the purpose of destroying our civilization.

I do not believe that, and with good reason. In the last decade, my wife and I have gotten to know many gays and lesbians. They are fine people, pillars of our community. Look at the Washington Post Magazine article last December on Barbara Kenny and Tibby Middleton, a lesbian couple who essentially were driven from their home in Virginia because Barbara is ill and new Virginia laws could deprive Tibby of the right to see her if she has a severe hospitalization. They have moved to Maryland. Our gain, Virginia's loss. Yet you and your allies would like to have laws like Virginia's to drive them out of Maryland, as well. Where is your conscience?

I have also learned what the mainstream medical and mental health professional associations have concluded, based on years of their study and experience: That sexual orientation is not a choice and not a disease. Gays and lesbians can lead happy, fulfilling lives -- unless society forces them into the closet. My view is not based on ignorance. It is based on study and experience.

You also suggest that I am "weighted down by personal conflicts." Would you care to be more specific?

It does not surprise me that your church would pair up with a like-minded black church. And I recognized earlier in this thread that there are differing views in the black community. But for you to suggest that, based on your experience with your "sister church," that all African Americans are "appalled" by Mrs. King's understanding of the similarities between racial and sexual orientation discrimination has no more validity than if you were to pair up with an ultra-Orthodox Jewish Congregation and from that concluded that all Jews shared your view. The Reform Jewish Movement (the largest Jewish denomination in America) has reached conclusions the opposite of yours in part because Jews understood the parallels between religious bigotry and bigotry based on sexual orientation. John Lewis understands this. Andrew Young understands this. Barack Obama understands this. Coretta Scott King understood this.

One anecdote to close. During the 1960 presidential campaign, Jack Kennedy learned that Martin Luther King, Sr. -- a Baptist minister, like his son – had said he could not vote for Kennedy because Kennedy was a Roman Catholic. Kennedy, well aware of his own father’s anti-semitic past, commented something along these lines: “What do you know. Martin Luther King’s father is a bigot. Well, we all have our fathers.” Daddy King was able to grow out of that bigotry. Hopefully, his example will be a lesson to us all.

February 14, 2006 10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"can I be less impersonal and call you Peter?"

You can call me what you want, David. Everyone else here does. You might want to avoid terms that might overly excite our homosexual readers, though.

February 15, 2006 11:51 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

By your lights, presumably your lame attempt at humor might suggest that that name might "overly excite our" female heterosexual readers, as well.

Ok, I will be more direct. Are you Peter Sprigg?

February 15, 2006 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


There have been many attempts to ascertain my identity since I started commenting in the fall. This name has been brought up before, as have a few others. I really wonder what the plan is once found out.

I won't answer the question. If that bothers some, simply change the site to not accept anonymous comments.

February 15, 2006 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"By your lights, presumably your lame attempt at humor might suggest that that name might "overly excite our" female heterosexual readers, as well."

Oh, I think normal females are more discriminating than to get excited by a generic term. Our homosexual readers, however, are suffering from a fetish obsession.

February 15, 2006 5:43 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...


The plan? I don't think anyone has a plan. But if you are a public figure in this debate, we should be able to hold you to what you are saying anonymously.

If you are someone who is a public figure in this debate, you should not be hiding behind anonymous blogs.

If, on the other hand, you are not a public figure in this debate, then I have no problem with your decision not to identify yourself. I can understand someone who has not taken very public positions wanting to keep their anonymity. Even paranoids have enemies. I am very confident that you would not be in "danger" from any of the participants in these discussions. But if you are just another face in the crowd, I have no problem with a desire to maintain your anonymity.

Still, if you are already a public figure in this debate, you certainly should have the courage of your convictions and stand by them. I certainly have done that.

If you have already entered the arena, then it is cowardly to snipe behind a secret identity.

Since I do not know into which category you fall, I must leave that to your own sense of pride and honor.

February 15, 2006 6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gee, thanks

February 15, 2006 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Low threshold for you to reach anonymous.

Very gracious of David though.


February 15, 2006 10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, I should thank my lucky stars for his kind indulgence

Whatta guy!

February 15, 2006 10:21 PM  

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