Manhattan Declaration

Apparently there is a new coalition forming around a document called the Manhattan Declaration. It presents itself as a statement of conscience on three topics: life, marriage, and religious liberty. According to this site:

So, the first point for discussion: is the coalition surrounding this document really all that significant in the gay marriage debate? Will it provide impetus and even greater coherence for the Christian anti-gay movement? Or is it a bunch of “feel good” (for the anti-gay Christians, at least) hand waving in the face of a dying world view?

The marriage section is what caught my eye, particularly this passage:

According to this, recognizing gay marriage will make it impossible to restore a sound understanding of the concept of marriage. But what is the “correct” or “sound” understanding? If I read this correctly, they are saying that gay marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions (as in sex???) – which is a false concept of marriage. This is in contrast with a “correct” understanding of marriage as a way to promote and protect life.

OK, I get the part about procreation being a bit of a challenge for gay couples. We (my lesbian partner and I) had to be more intentional in conceiving our son than the average hetero couple bonking in bed.* And for gay men, it can be a difficult hurdle. But what do you suppose they mean by “acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life”? Because if I’m reading this right, gay and lesbian couples can do this sort of thing. Beyond generating life by various means, we can promote and protect life by raising kids or caring for each other in illness and old age. In fact, civil marriage makes it much easier for gay couples to support each other during their lives together and after one spouse dies. Gay marriage encourages “spousal communion” and the rearing of children by providing certain protections for families headed by gay and lesbian parents. It’s pretty commonsensical to me that giving people financial and social protections will make it easier to form and maintain stable, life-fostering families of all sorts, not just ones headed by a man and a woman.

The other point I beg to differ on is the idea that gay marriage is just about sex and romance. What on earth do these anti-gay-marriage folks think married/committed gays and lesbians do from day to day? I can tell you that it ain’t all about sex and romance! Mind you, we have a toddler to put a damper on things – but even our childless gay and lesbian friends aren’t exactly throwing Gay Pride parades in their living rooms each weekend. We do pretty much the same boring stuff as any hetero married couple. You know, go to work, clean the house, go grocery shopping, pay the bills, mow the lawn, etc. The vast majority of our lives has precious little to do with sex. Our same-sex commitments have far more to do with the promotion and protection of family life – which this document claims is the true understanding of marriage. The point that these anti-gay-marriage folks are completely missing is that we can already have sex and romance without the benefit of marriage. Marriage brings other benefits. Ones which are remarkably similar to those promoted in this declaration.

So, the second point for debate: do people who endorse this document truly think that gay marriage is so fundamentally different from hetero marriage? Do they really believe that gays only see marriage as a way to have socially acceptable sex and romance? Do they really not grasp the concept that marriage for gay couples is just as much about mutual support and family life? Or do they just not care? Is the language in this document just another declaration that gay sex is icky, couched in supposedly loving, life-valuing Christian language?

*IMO, our efforts to get pregnant were more reflective of the fruits of our marital love than a lot of the pregnancies resulting from horny heteros getting it on. Our son was truly “conceived” in our hearts and minds, before he ever came to life in my body. However, this brings us to another statement of the marriage “ideal” in this declaration:

This is an interesting philosophical point of view. It presents marriage, and the marital sex act specifically, as a fusion of everything it means to be human. Our son definitely represents the union of my mind and spirit with my partner’s. But, they’re right. We didn’t have the union of body at the same time – unless you count the fact of my partner pushing the plunger during my IUI.

Which brings me to the third point for discussion: does the lack of one aspect of the totality of being human in the act of conceiving a child invalidate the marriage covenant? OK, sure, hetero relationships often omit one or more of these at the moment when their kids get conceived. But at least they have the potential for this perfect union. Gay relationships don’t. However, does this lack imply that gay marriage will fundamentally erode the “true” culture and meaning of marriage because it falls short of the ideal at a fundamental level, not just in practice?

I’m thinking of the second and third points of discussion in terms of talking to Christians who might be sitting on the fence. In spite of the vitriol, there really are people who find themselves swayed by discussions about what marriage really means for gays and lesbians – moved to a more open-minded concept of the function of civil marriage in society. For thinking, compassionate Christians who don’t just have a knee-jerk reaction to “teh gay”, there are points in this declaration that raise real questions about the meaning and purpose of marriage. What I wonder is, how does a person who supports gay marriage address these questions?

Other than your casual dismissal of the intentionality, and other choices heteros may make regarding having children, I agree with you.

I am disappointed, as nothing in that lengthy OP refers to being the fucking Hall Monitor.

I LOL’d.

So, there were probably organizations and big ol’ overwritten statements opposing black and white people marrying each other, too, right? Back in those days?

'Cause this is what all this current broo-hardie har feels like to me.

I’m not gay (gave it my best shot, went to the clubs, signed up for the newsletter, but it just didn’t take), but I am left-handed. Don’t know why, except that I was just borned thataway. Folks used to get upset about lefties, but fortunately, most of us aren’t like that anymore.

rivulus, I wish y’all weren’t having to go through all this foolishness, and I will be happy when it’s all over. I don’t talk much about my spiritual beliefs on this board, but know that someone here is praying for you, your love, and anyone else who is getting picked on because of who she or he loves.

I’m going to vote no. We know that the major world religions are all generally against gay marriage and gay sex. I don’t think Europe cares very much, and in the U.S., the demographics are firmly against them. It might take longer than many of us would like, but this is a prejudice in its death throes as a dominant force. Gay marriage is now legal in some states and none of them have fallen apart. It goes without saying that that hasn’t happened in Europe either. In more theocratic societies I suppose there are ugly times coming, but not because of this document. So I vote for the feel good dying worldview option.

It’s false, but it’s entirely in line with religious views on homosexuality. And these days it’s out of step with most people’s notions on marriage. As far as that goes, I guess these people are trying to put the genie back in the bottle. It’s not going to work.

I think you know the answer to that. Most of these people are unable to think of gays without thinking about gay sex, which they find repulsive. I’m straight and it took me some time to figure this out, but these people have their heads up their asses. Whatever theological support prejudice against gays may have, or not have, it’s rooted in physical disgust.

This is a really good point, and I wish you good luck with it. Some people might listen.

I don’t have much of a response to religious bigotry against gays at this point because I take it for granted, but there’s something repugnant about a document that lauds Christian activism in support of justice and equality, and then in the same breath calls for Christians to unite against gays getting married. That’s some high-octane hypocrisy right there. Barbarian tribes indeed.

Seriously. They got a quarter of a million people to sign an online petition? Big deal. That’s only about 50,000 more than signed the petition protesting the lack of dedicated servers for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

348656 signatures to stop Uwe Boll from making any new movies.

The impression I get is that they assume (from facts not in evidence / mentioned / referenced) that they believe gay *relationships *are fundamentally different to hetero relationships. Why do I think that, well because…

… if we take this statement at face value then they should be working to **promote **gay marriage. Marriage apparently is a cornerstone of societal stability.

Read that again: “where there is a flourishing marriage culture, everyone benefits”.

They want people to get married. They believe that marriage is a common good. And they want to achieve this by preventing gay marriage.

Wait, what?

Yes, there is some mention for example of divorce…

That is less usual to see amongst the tired rhetoric about one flesh, reproductive units, and slippery slopes that will lead to dogs and cats living together.

If they truly mean that divorce should be opposed as strenuously as SSM in the public forum then I’d be rather more charitable towards the sincerity of those making the proposal. (I’d still think them misguided – but consider them at least more honestly misguided – although I’d also note that unless I missed it somewhere, the death penalty is apparently not part of a death culture, or an anti-life act, which again seems more of the conventional anti-abortion platform than a truly Christian “life is sacred” argument).

There seem to be a number of inconsistencies in their logic however – it may be that my mind-set and that of the authors are just too different. They seem to want the right to have the law protect their religious principles:

i.e. we want our religiously based definition of marriage enshrined in law, and that no law may alter or oppose this – or treat a non-marriage as a marriage for legal purposes. They also want the religious freedom to disobey any laws they don’t like. Contrast the first and last parts of this sentence:

So, we agree that we have a duty to obey civil laws… unless they contradict our religious beliefs.

They then finish up the declaration with:

While reserving the right to determine what is Caesar’s. :rolleyes:

Or in summary (and using their own words): “We believe in law and in the rule of law, [but] we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in [any] anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”

The last part at least is reasonable; they have every right to proclaim their “truth”… but again taken at face value, every signatory of this declaration has just declared their willingness and intent to break any civil law that goes against their religious principles. If state X allows SSM they will not recognize it, if state Y offers legal rights by civil union they will not feel bound by those laws.

If they really mean this then 270,000 people have just signed up to be scofflaws.

You have always struck me as being sinister.


The section on religious liberty is particularly orwellian. Not being allowed to trample on other people rights somehow means that your own rights have been trampled on.

But what does it mean to be “bound” by the laws in this case? How are they likely to be “forced to bless” anything.

All they need to do is mind their own business, which is not asking too much.

It’s the part about religious liberty that should trip these people up:

Which really contradicts:

So, one can chose whatever religion they want to, but the law has to follow the Manhattan Declaration’s view of what their religion says.

It’s nutjobs like the Manhattan project that help things like this:


Sorry. That was just a reactionary chip on my shoulder. I realize that many, many straight couples do approach having, or not having, children intentionally. And others, some of whom we crossed paths with at the infertility clinic, have had to make physical, emotional, and financial sacrifices in order to have kids. It just pisses me off how declarations like one this glorify hetero, marital sex like it’s some great spiritual achievement. To quote Gershwin, “it ain’t necessarily so.” While I’m sure that some people approach it that way… well… I think there’s probably more plain, raunchy fun involved that these good Christian folks will admit. So let’s not flog the gays for having their own fun, and thereby invalidate the very idea of gay marriage.

OK, you guys. Gimme a break here! I’m not up on my internet petition statistics. :smack:

So… what you’re saying is that 240,000 online endorsements is not that many people, relatively speaking. Question is… does it matter more who endorses the thing versus how many?

Oh, I don’t think that’s likely.

From the Religious Liberty section:

I guess there may well have been other factors at play in either of these cases… but, put basically:

Question: Should a Church be allowed to selectively choose to allow or disallow the use of their own premises based on the purposes to which they will be put? (without losing their tax exemption status).

(NZ not US) I know there are particular priests at particular churches that will only marry couples who attend the church and/or attend pre-marriage counseling. The priest can decline to carry out any marriage… and answer only to their superiors. The couple however can be married in a civil ceremony at a public building with a public officiant without any requirements other than the common legal ones.

To my (non-religious) mind that is the correct situation: the law of the land defines the basic requirements, responsibilities, and benefits of marriage and/or civil unions, and then religious organizations can add (but not subtract) their own requirements for the faithful or those that want to use the church’s facilities. If a church won’t marry divorced persons, or solemnize a same-sex civil union (or for that matter a hetero- one) then that seems right and proper to me. They cannot (and should not) be able to prevent those same divorced persons from getting a civil ceremony marriage. I’d really like to know details of the Methodist case. (Not to mention that in NZ at least the local Methodists – as an organization – don’t oppose same-sex relationships).

I may have been a little harsh in calling them scofflaws. Per their FAQ they are stating a willingness to engage in peaceful civil disobedience, and to accept the consequences:

If, and I think it’s a big “if”, they really mean this – that they are willing to go to the floor for their principles (no matter how wrong-headed I might think they are) – then it will be interesting to see if they truly do willingly accept the penalties for failing to abide by civil laws, as opposed to the rather more common response of kicking, screaming, and whining about injustice.

PS: rivulus, cool and interesting OP. :slight_smile:

The Manahattan Declaration covers a little more than gay marriage- it’s an attempt to reinforce the notion that the three issues religious conservatives should be most focused on are abortion, gay marriage, and the notion that Christians are a persecuted minority in this country. Three good blog posts from a very liberal Christian on the topic here, here, and here.

The focus on gay marriage is coming from the broad defection from the anti-gay-marriage party line on the part of young conservative Christians, who simply can’t get worked up about this the way their elders do. This is the thrashing of a group who know that they’re losing the battle here, and are trying to bully people back onto their side. There aren’t enough eyerolls in the world.

That seems to be the key to blocking out the contradictions these people can’t see. My plain raunchy fun was blessed by God. Yours is of the devil. The fact that the boundaries change every generation or two? To paraphase Homer*, “That can be managed by having a short, selective memory.”

I wonder how many people who want to ban rap music** had grandparents who wanted to ban the music they currently listen to.

**Of which I am NOT a fan

Are there any people who endorsed this thing that one wouldn’t expect to endorse this thing? I mean, if Barney Frank’s names is on it, that would be a worrying surprise. Near as I can tell, it’s mostly being signed by people who are chiefly notable for their opposition to gay marriage. Not that I mean to undersell the amount of influence and damage these people are capable of inflicting on society, but I don’t really see this how this declaration changes anything.