In This Episode: A married couple in Australia was so upset the possible legalization of SSM — Same-Sex Marriage — they promised to demonstrate the sanctity of marriage by …getting a divorce. Flash update to that story. And another segment of No Longer Weird.
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- Note: this episode contains a Thursday update to the story, which was written on Sunday.
- As promised, you can find Princess Bride on Bluray on Amazon. The brief version of the scene in question is below.
- Australia’s Constitution’s language about the separation of church and state “is derived from the United States’ constitution, but has been altered,” says Wikipedia. And then it gets complicated….
- The 2007 99-Cent store wedding story, with the priest’s letter, is here in my blog, as is my essay Why I Embrace “Gay Marriage”.
- According to the Gallup poll, about 4 percent of people in the United States identify themselves as LGBT (not counting the multitude of “pro-marriage” congressmen who are arrested for soliciting other men for sex). Where did Randy’s “10 percent” guess come from? He recalled a 2011 Williams Institute report which found 8.2 percent of Americans reported that they had engaged in same-sex sexual behavior, and 11 percent reported some same-sex attraction — which probably does count the multitude of “pro-marriage” congressmen who are sexually attracted to other men. (Wikipedia)
- Links for the story update included in this episode: Australian Parliament approves same-sex marriage following lengthy national debate and What now for couple who vowed to divorce if gay marriage became legal?
- No Longer Weird: police dispatchers being fooled by threatening sounds during a 911 call which actually turn out to be …someone playing a video game. An example from Huntington, W.V.
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Randy: Welcome to Uncommon Sense, the Podcast companion to the ThisIsTrue.com newsletter with the mission to promote more thinking in the world. I’m Randy Cassingham…
Kit: And I’m Kit Cassingham.
Randy: This week we’re discussing a story from issue 1225 of the newsletter, which will be included on the Show Page at thisistrue.com/podcast21.
It’s a wonderful story by TRUE contributor Mike Straw, which he slugged “Mawwaige is What Bwings us Togevver Today”, and if you don’t immediately recognize that reference, your cultural education is severely lacking. I’ll put links on the Show Page to both the Bluray listing for “Princes Bride” on Amazon, and a Youtube link to that specific scene, where the bad guy is forcing marriage on the heroine — the lovely Princess Bride herself.
Kit: I love that movie. Remember that was one of the first movies— the first movie I got you to watch with me?
Randy: Yeah, Basically it was “you can’t be in a a relationship with me if you don’t love this movie.” And what happened?
Kit: We’re married.
Randy: Yeah. I love the movie.
But before I get to the story, I had to really laugh at a supposed “Error Report” about that slug, that Mike had misspelled “mawwaige”! The reader thought it should be m-a-w-w-I-A-g-e, rather than the way Mike spelled it, with the A before the I — as it is in the word marriage. But really: we’re talking about a priest in the movie with a hugely affected, massive speech impediment, and someone wants to quibble with how Mike chose to transliterate that gag?! Here’s the sound clip so you can be the judge:
Mawwaige. Mawwaige is what bwings us togevver today.
So pretty much, I’m going to let Mike spell that however the heck he wants. And here’s his story, which I’ll also include on the Show Page:
Nick and Sarah Jenson of Australian Capital Territory may soon be ending their 10-year marriage. The reason: in a non-binding referendum, Australians voted overwhelmingly to legalize same-sex marriage. “My wife and I,” Nick promised in a letter to a local newspaper before the vote, “as a matter of conscience, refuse to recognise the government’s regulation of marriage if its definition includes the solemnisation of same-sex couples.” Sydney lawyer Michael Tiyce has said he will offer free legal support for the couple’s divorce. “My firm does quite a bit of pro bono work in family law each year in the gay, lesbian and trans community,” he said. “I thought offering assistance to Nick and Sarah would be an excellent way of reaching out across communities with my family law expertise, because quite simply they are going to need it.” Because Australian law requires a marriage to have broken down irretrievably in order to have grounds for a divorce, Tiyce said the divorce will be tricky. But “after our divorce,” Jenson said, “we’ll continue to live together. Hopefully for another 50 years.”
And Mike’s tagline on the story: “And there’s no better way to demonstrate the sanctity of marriage than by divorce.”
Kit: There’s so many things wrong with their thinking. I just don’t even know where to begin.
Randy: Well, to get the story down to the basics, preferably 100-150 words, we necessarily have to leave a lot out. And I’m not faulting Mike in any way, that’s just the way it is to get to the crux. But there’s something Mike had to leave out that does give a little balance to this, a little more light on Mr. Jenson’s point of view, which is why I wanted to explore this story a little more in this episode.
Mike hinted at this with a quote he did use, which was that “as a matter of conscience,” Mr. Jenson and his wife “refuse to recognise the government’s regulation of marriage if its definition includes the solemnisation of same-sex couples.” Here’s the continuation of this quote after Nick said he hoped to be married to Sarah for another 50 years: “And, God willing, we’ll have more children.” — Which makes me shudder at the complications to their children, because they’re not just planning divorce, but a very public one at that. Nick continues: “We’ll also continue to refer to each other as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ and consider ourselves married by the Church and before God.”
So the gentleman in the story is being consistent in his objection to the state defining marriage while at the same time, his church defines it differently. When you have a secular government, which Australia does — it actually modeled its separation of church and state paragraph of its Constitution after the United States’ Constitution, yeah: there will be conflict with the church or, at the very least, conflict with some sects, and some adherents’ interpretation of their religion. And that’s the real crux of a lot of arguments there and here.
Kit: The separation of church and state when it comes to marriage?
Randy: When it comes to marriage, when it comes to abortion, when it comes to…
Kit: …saying prayers in school?
Randy: Yeah, absolutely. We can’t have the state establishing a religion, since which one would they choose?
Kit: The “good” one!
Randy: Which specific flavor of Baptist, or Presbyterianism, or whatever? Australian is [majority] Anglican, so they do have that. But they’re being fairly careful to make sure they give rights to people of all faiths, or lack of faith. You’re necessarily going to have to offend someone—
Kit: Well, only if they choose to be offended.
Randy: True. But, you know, you’re going to have to go contrary to someone’s beliefs. And I think the only way to do it is get religion out of government altogether.
Kit: Which I think they’ve done, haven’t they?
Randy: Pretty much the point. Because the people of Australia have said yes, we want to allow this. It was two-thirds nationwide, and three-quarters voted for it in the Australian Capital Territory, which is where the Jensons live.
Kit: Aren’t Anglican and Episcopalian at least related? Or they’re flavors….
Randy: Well, yeah, to some degree. Two Lutheran synods are at war with each other since one thinks the other is going to hell….
Kit: My point is, at least in the Episcopal world, I know many priests who do support alternative lifestyles and marriage and stuff. Not just for….
Randy: Absolutely. It’s not Anglicans as a whole, as you see in this referendum….
Kit: …It’s that guy’s particular church.
Randy: It’s that guy’s particular flavor, or interpretation, of whatever church he belongs to. And that’s what gets us into trouble….
Randy: …Because nobody is going to agree with everything that somebody else’s religion goes with. He’s not. And they’re not going to agree with him completely — because they don’t.
The thing that surprises me about Australia is apparently couples have to essentially swear in court that their marriage is irretrievably broken before they can get a divorce. I mean, there’s pros and cons of denying a divorce as a political statement, as they’re trying to make here. I’m kind of in the camp of no-fault divorce, that if the couple both says they don’t want to be married anymore, why would the state force them to remain married? It seems a little sick.
Kit: Well, it seems to me that if they don’t want to be married, that is an irretrievable break.
Randy: Well, maybe that’s what lawyer Tiyce is going to argue. That’s an interesting point.
Kit: Yeah. I also agree with no-fault divorce. There are times you want to be vengeful because your partner’s done some terrible things, but….
Randy: That’s why you have a judge preside over it, to make sure things are reasonable and fair. And I don’t really believe in divorcing someone as a political statement, I think that’s going way too far. But….
Kit: But that’s not your….
Kit: …It’s not your passion.
Randy: Exactly! I shouldn’t be able to dictate whether they should get a divorce or not, just like they shouldn’t….
Kit: …They shouldn’t be able to make comment about other people being married.
Randy: Right: it’s none of their damned business. It’s not any of my business whether they’re married or not, and it’s none of their business whether we’re married or not, and whether we’re a man and a woman. We happen to be, but you know what? That’s none of their business either.
Kit: That’s right. And just wait until the same-sex couples start having kids, in whatever fashion they choose to do that. Boy, the Jensons will really be dismayed by that!
Randy: Maybe they can adopt their kids from a broken home.
Randy: The Jenson’s broken home!
Kit: Well I think raising kids in a family where the parents love each other is the best way to have kids.
Randy: Yeah, and it drives me crazy when I see people say “Oh, gay couples? They’re gonna teach their kids to be gay.” No….
Kid: I’m going to teach my kids to be tall!
Randy: Where do just about all gay people come from? Heterosexual marriages. Did they “teach them” to be gay? I don’t think so. They’re born that way.
Kit: Yep. Kids in a loving home are lucky kids, no matter what the gender their parents are.
Randy: Hallelujah. So that’s pretty much the crux. And all of this reminds me of a wonderful letter I got in 2007 on another marriage story, about a 99-Cent store in Texas offering to let couples get married inside their store for — yes — 99 cents. You can read that story at go.thisistrue.com/99cents. My tagline on that story was, “A 99-cent wedding? Big deal. What the world really needs is a 99-cent divorce.”
Kit: Can we have a 99-cent lawyer to go with that?
Randy: Probably. Now you probably remember that story because you didn’t like that tag.
Kit: No. I didn’t. I guess it’s because I’m too sensitive to how easy divorce is, and don’t think that should be the solution.
Randy: Well, I went with that tagline anyway. But the letter that I got on that tag is something that really surprised me because it was from a priest.
Kit: I don’t remember. Tell me.
Randy: That would be “Father Rick” in Louisiana, responding to my saying the world really needs a 99-cent divorce. He says
No. What it needs is a very expensive wedding license, with clerics out of the business completely. By officiating at weddings we act as de facto functionaries of the state. We got involved in weddings in the Middle Ages purely to legitimize political arrangements relating to estate management and inheritance and in so doing gave up our claim to any semblance of moral authority.
Those are strong words!
Kit: Those are very strong words.
Randy: But he’s not done yet. He continues:
Instead, we need to stop officiating at weddings entirely. My recommendation — based on almost thirty years’ experience — is that we wait for perhaps five years after the state function and then bless the wedding in an all-out joyous recognition of the civil wedding. That can be done — again, I know from experience — in such a fashion that it is virtually indistinguishable from a ‘traditional’ church wedding; and it has the advantage of recognizing a union that has a reasonable chance of success. (On top of that, the anticipation of the ceremony would provide a motive for working on making the marriage a success.)
Now that’s a priest who has his eyes open and is looking at the real world…
Kit: And paying attention.
Randy: And paying attention and realizing that yeah, the church lost its moral authority by getting involved in a state function. It’s a civil thing! And not surprisingly, that letter sparked a ton of comments — well over 100 on the page that has the story and Father Rick’s letter. It’s amazing reading, through all those comments.
Kit: Are they deep-thinking, mindful, or are they reactionary?
Randy: Well, there’s quite a mix, but mostly it’s really thoughtful and an exploration of the topic that he brought up — that was a reaction to the tagline, which, the whole thing — it’s supposed to be thought-provoking! That’s why I write this stuff.
Kit: Well and I do know that some churches require counseling with the couple and the priest or the minister, or whoever, to really explore the issues that couples really don’t explore well enough before.
Randy: But again, when you really get down to it, marriage isn’t just a religious concept: it’s a civil concept, and being married brings about certain special rights and privileges set by law — civil law. To say some aren’t allowed to exercise those civil rights because of religious precepts is where we get into trouble, especially in a legally secular country.
And I’ve written about this in much more detail in a 2013 blog post I titled, Why I Embrace “Gay Marriage” — which you can read at go.thisistrue.com/marriage. And remember, marriage is spelled with an I-A, not an A-I! That essay also got more than 100 comments. That’s one of the reasons you and I got married. Because you and I wanted some of those legal rights. One of them, very importantly— we got married 10 days after 9/11. And we realized that if one of us was hurt, or involved in a terrorist incident, and was in the hospital….
Kit: Or in any accident.
Randy: Of course. …that the other one wouldn’t have any legal right to visit the other in the hospital, make decisions…
Kit: Pull the plug!
Randy: …make decisions on whether to pull the plug or not, or what kind of treatment the other would want.
Kit: Well and I’m going to jump in here to say, we got married 10 days after 9/11, but we got engaged a week after, because we realized we needed that legal protection. The state’s protection.
Randy: Right. Well I asked you on Monday, and we did it on Friday, and that’s a pretty quick turnaround.
Kit: It’s hard to find wedding rings that quick.
Randy: As we found out.
Kit: They don’t carry them like shoes.
Randy: Because you know the rings in the case at a jewelry store: they’re not really diamonds. I hate to tell ya, but….
Kit: Ours were!
Randy: Yeah, they got them to us on time, yes.
Kit: So Randy, I love that you wrote that article, about why you embrace gay marriage. I do not understand why people object. How can it detract from my life….
Randy: …what somebody else does.
Kit: What anybody else does about marriage or children or anything? As long as they’re not imposing on me, I don’t understand it. So I’m grateful. We have enough gay, lesbian, trans, etc. etc. friends who are choosing different lifestyles, and I embrace it. I feel I’m a richer person for knowing them and having them in my life.
Randy: Right. And you said “choosing different lifestyles,” which is not the same as choosing who they are. I am of a mind that they’re born that way, and I think you believe that too, but, why would anybody choose — certainly not the numbers of people that are gay, lesbian, trans, whatever. That many people aren’t out there looking for, you know, shocking others. They’re just being who they are.
Kit: And it has been difficult for them. Especially up until they made the decision to take a stance. Because they’ve been ostracized or they’ve not been true to themselves. Ridiculed. Beaten. Bullied.
Randy: Yeah. I just don’t think something like 10 percent of the population would subject themselves to that if they didn’t truly believe that’s the way they are. And if that’s the way they are, and you’re religious, you’re talking about the creation of the human being, the human spirit, are you really going to say God didn’t create them that way?
Kit: People do. I mean, I can’t….
Randy: I know they do.
Randy: Hey, Randy jumping back in here with an update. Kit and I recorded this episode Wednesday afternoon. The time in ACT Australia is 18 hours ahead of Colorado time. Today, Thursday, I learned that on Thursday evening in Australia, the Aussie parliament passed new legislation by a wide margin making the people’s non-binding referendum in favor of same-sex marriage, into law. Specifically, they changed the country’s legal definition of marriage to, quote, “a union of two people.”
Which, of course, brings us to the obvious question: what are the Jensons going to do now? News.com.au reports that since the Jensons saw the overwhelming vote on the referendum, they’ve been in a “holding pattern,” saying they’d “wait and see” what Parliament would do.
Now that that result is known, Nick Jenson has completely backed down, apparently in large part from learning — I hope from the nice lawyer Michael Tiyce — that it would be rather difficult to be granted a divorce as a political protest. “The legislation currently makes it untenable for us to do this under the law,” Nick said regarding the divorce. “The point we were highlighting and that still stands however is the fact that a redefinition of marriage changes the agreement under which we were originally married.”
Sorry, but I don’t see how: that would be like saying that the Jensons getting a divorce devalued every other marriage in the country, when in reality it has no effect on how much any couple loves, honors, or cherishes each other. But it sure would be interesting to hear what his wife Sarah has to say about all of this, but it appears that Nick has the only mouth in the family capable of speech — or at least, allowed to talk. And what he says is, “We will be making no further comment.”
I’m not surprised in the least.
I’ve added links to these two updates to the Show Page, at thisistrue.com/podcast21.
And now back to the last part of the previously recorded podcast.
Randy: Before we go, another segment of No Longer Weird. This week, it’s when police dispatchers hear something really nasty going on in the background of a 911 call. In this case, it was things like, “I’m going to shoot you!” and someone else says “I’ve been shot in the back!” In Huntington, West Virginia, the dispatcher sent squad cars to the address, and found …people playing a shoot-’em-up video game. An officer at the scene radioed to tell dispatchers, “It looks like this is going to be a game of ‘Call of Duty’.” 10-4! Yep, it’s no longer weird: it’s gotta have something really bizarre, like somebody actually getting shot, to make it into This is True.
That’s all for this week. You can also support Uncommon Sense via Patreon at Patreon.com/ThisIsTrue. If you’re not already a subscriber to This is True’s text newsletter, you can sign up for free at thisistrue.com, and read stories every week like the one we talked about here. I’m Randy Cassingham…
Kit: And I’m Kit Cassingham.
…And we’ll talk at you later.
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