Selection Of Your Comments
February 1, 2004
I happened upon your website whilst Googling on an ancient Christian document called "The Epistle of Barnabas". That may sound strange, however there is an article on your website by one R. Douglas Elliott entitled "Going to the Chapel: The Case for Legal Recognition of Religious Weddings Between Two Persons of the Same Sex" in which he makes reference to the aforementioned Epistle.
Specifically, he says: "Barnabas ... asserted that the laws of Leviticus prohibited the eating of the hare. ... He then repeated what was a commonly held belief for centuries, that the hare produced an additional anus each year that it lived. Barnabas opined that this was the reason the hare was known for its lustful tendencies, implying a fondness of anal intercourse. He warned that the supposed Mosaic prohibition on eating the hare ought to be observed, lest consumption of hare should lead to pederasty."
Evidently, Mr. Elliott seems to be saying this on the authority of another author to whom a reference is given. However, having read the Epistle of Barnabas for myself, I feel it necessary to indicate to you that the above segment of Mr. Elliott's article is a gross distortion of the Epistle, as I shall now demonstrate.
Contextually, the section of the Epistle from which Mr. Elliott is drawing his conclusions sees Barnabas expounding the spiritual significances of the various aspects of the Law of Moses, for instance, the rite of Purification as representing the forthcoming Crucifixion, and the rite of Circumcision as not being solely a physical thing but spiritual too as the LORD says to "be circumcised in your hearts" (Jer 4:4).
In the particular chapter we are interested in, Barnabas is discussing the laws of diet, and how each animal mentioned represents a particular moral precept; Barnabas does not see the Divine command as a literal ban on eating. Specifically, in reference to the hare, he says: "Moreover, "Thou shall not," [the LORD] says, "eat the hare." Wherefore? "Thou shall not be a corrupter of boys, nor like unto such." Because the hare multiplies, year by year, the places of its conception; for as many years as it lives so many it has." -- Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter 10.
Indeed, Barnabas makes reference to the strange notion of the time that hares grow a new orifice in their posteriors every year, but nowhere in his Epistle does he allude to the hare being lustful for this reason, as Mr. Elliott seems to believe.
In addition, nowhere in the Epistle is it indicated "the supposed Mosaic prohibition on eating the hare ought to be observed, lest consumption of hare should lead to pederasty", as Mr. Elliott seems to think. Indeed, this proclamation of Elliott's is so diametrically opposed to the spirit of the Epistle, one must really wonder if it was an intentional fabrication.
The entire text of the Epistle can be found here. Perhaps it would be possible for you to forward a copy of my mail to Mr. Elliott, that he might take it into account and correct his article. Although I have not ventured to read the rather lengthy article in its entirety, I do have grave concerns that there may be other gross distortions of Christianity therein as it seems Mr. Elliott is not writing from an unbiased viewpoint. I would encourage Mr. Elliott to review and verify for himself the sources he used in his article, and, of course, in anything he writes in the future.
Thank you for your time.
Ad Iesum Christum per Mariam,
Chris Z. Wintrowski
Mr. Elliott replies:
The comments in my paper published some time ago were originally intended for an audience of lawyers, not theologians. I have never claimed to be a theologian. However, I have read a great deal about the subject of the Bible, Christianity and homosexuality. It is not always easy for me to recall the sources for my remarks, although I do in this case.
I will also say that I have never claimed to have an unbiased viewpoint. On the contrary, I endeavor to point out in my oral and written remarks that, among other things, I am the lawyer for the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto in the same sex marriage litigation in Ontario. That makes me very biased indeed. The audience who received this paper was well aware of my bias in this regard. However, it does not make me wrong.
I hasten to add that I am also a gay man and a Christian. That also informs my viewpoint. While sadly some Christians today seem to believe that human rights are somehow inimical to Christianity, I share the view expressed long ago by John Adams on the compatibility of equality and Christianity: The doctrine of human equality is founded entirely in the Christian doctrine that we are all children of the same Father, all accountable to Him for our conduct to one another, all equally bound to respect each other's self love. (source: David McCullough, "John Adams", Touchstone, New York, 2001, p. 619)
I first found reference to ancient myths about the hare and their connection to Bible-based homophobia in John Boswell's major work, "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality." I am well aware of the fact that there are those who accuse Boswell of bias and distortion as well. However, he was also a professor at Yale University and a highly qualified scholar.
I believe my point, and Boswell's, is that ancient unscientific myths informed attitudes toward homosexuality. Those myths have been forgotten, but they leave behind invisible footprints of homophobia in expressions such as "unnatural" and "unclean". We now know that the hare has only one anus all its life. I hope that we also know that eating hare does not lead to pederasty. In fact, I understand that Barnabas was also probably wrong to conclude that the hare was not kosher, or at least, so my Jewish friends advise me.
You are free to say that my interpretation, and Boswell's, was wrong. Reading it again in your message, I must say that I still think it is a fair characterization of the passage.
If you want truly biased and uninformed polemics that distort Christianity, I suggest that you visit official Catholic websites and consult their documents about homosexuality. My personal favorite so far was the diatribe last July about homosexuals and same sex relationships, in many ways a synthesis of all that preceded it.
Cardinal Ratzinger, writing with the ultimate approval of the Pope, spent over 700 words informing Catholics about the perils of legal recognition of same sex relationships and "guiding" Catholics as to how they should treat homosexuals. In that lengthy diatribe, the word "love" is notable by its absence. This suggests to me that while Cardinal Ratzinger may know a great deal about Catholicism, he does not understand the basic teachings of Christ.
In stark contrast, when a lawyer among the Pharisees asked Jesus to identify the greatest law, he responded by citing two laws as the foundation of all laws, love of God and love of one's fellow human being. (Matthew 22:34-40) In teaching us how to live our lives, Christ had to use the word love twice in 4 short sentences.
Call me biased, but I prefer the words of Christ to the words of His Eminence as a guide to living.
Amor omnia vincit.
May God bless you,
February 3, 2004
You mentioned blogging on your site. I've written on the subject many times, and all of my Live Journal friends are very supportive of this issue. Today I blogged an e-mail I sent to my MP (Alan Rock) voicing my support.
Garner Haines, BA, RMT
February 4, 2004
RE: Massachusetts....this is just the beginning! Show us up people, straights (me included) have made a mockery of the institution. FINALLY, the freeze is breaking, conservatives are being shot down by our courts (WOW!), who at least somewhere, understand the Constitution.
In our lifetimes, in lots of places, you will all be married. As a straight chick, I am sick of people trying to say that marriage is "between a man and a woman". Something there smacks of sexism, as if we are their property, and it's about procreation only, or that it's biblical, as if there was some mandated Christian religion in this country (did they sleep through Constitution class in junior year?) and it isn't JUST about love and commitment. Of course it is..listen to the typical vows!
Anyway, good luck, I am very happy for you and who wants to live in Alabama anyway, right??
With love from a straight chick,
February 11, 2004
Thanks for the article by Vaughn Roste, regarding biblical marriage. I've been getting this via e-mail, and was in search of a good version to put on my web site. This is an excellent piece, because it explains the point so clearly to the satire-challenged. I'm in Massachusetts today, biting nails on behalf of my GLBT friends.
February 15, 2004
I was at City Hall yesterday and saw the lines of couples waiting to get married. I also saw several news reports on TV and in newspapers. I feel they missed the story. One third to one half of the couples in this "gay event" were straight or hetrosexual and as each couple came down the steps from inside, there was a cheer, no matter the pairing. It was wonderful. Just what a City Hall should be like.
Dear Joe and Kevin,
Vincenzo and I want to thank you for your continued effort and thank Toronto for opening their doors to us on Feb. 14th. Check out our photos on my website. I will link your site to mine as well.
February 20, 2004
Dear Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell,
I would first like to congratulate you on how far you have gone. My name is Chris Scherer and I am a thirteen year old boy from Illinois in the United States. I am writing you this letter for my language arts class because we are doing a letter on character education. The assignment was to pick a topic that is being debated in our world, and find organizations for it and write a letter. I came across your site in a Yahoo search and immediately became interested. Recently, specifically the past two weeks, a lot of gay marriage issues have been happening over here in the U.S. The first couple just got married in San Francisco and now many couples are rushing to get married. I am not gay myself, but I think I have an understanding of both sides of the argument.
I believe it would be highly prejudiced and just morally wrong to have some sort of constitutional or federal ban on all same sex marriages. All the arguments made by those who oppose same sex marriages are just silly. The main thing here is, it is your decision who you will marry, and the country you live in should marry you no matter what your sexual preference is. If the government has been trying so hard to stop racism and separation, then why can’t they just marry and recognize all gay couples?
Your site helped me learn about the struggles gay couples have, and it really showed me that there is no reason at all to not marry and gave the same rights same sex couples. I will inform everyone I know of this who is currently against same sex marriages.
I am happy for you that you are now registered by Ontario. For my language arts class, could you please send me more information on same sex marriages in general, and how it is in Canada. I was shocked to find out you got married three whole years ago, when homosexuals are just starting to be able to get married over here. So, please send me any information you can about same sex marriages.
I do not know if I can do anything to help you, since I am living in the states, but if there is anything you can think of, then let me know. I think I will sign a petition for the U.S. to have equal rights for all gay couples. Hopefully the situation will improve in the United States, as well as in Canada.
Thanks for your time.
We encourage everyone to write letters to provincial/state and federal politicians, and to get involved, as you have done, by bringing the issue of equal marriage into your education assignments. Your example, when multiplied by others in the workplace, at home, or in faith communities, is helping to bring about change.
February 21, 2004
My wife and I just finished reading your piece on "Systemic problems delay marriage certificates" from February 19th.
We were married in Toronto on September 4, 2003. We sent in our application for the official document six weeks later, which is the time given on the application. We still have not received the official document, and it has been well over 18 weeks. We even sent a second application in January. Both were sent by fax to the number provided on the form. We are unsure of where you are getting the 12 week wait period before submitting the application.
The man who married us, Barry Brooks, has even tried on our behalf to try and get the application fast-tracked, and he seems to be getting the run around on this issue too. He has contacted several people at the Office of the Registrar General, the final person being Judi Hartman. She did call us, but we were told that they were backlogged at least 18-20 weeks, and that applications from September were just being processed at the time of the call, which was two weeks ago.
Apparently, based on your report, if they have finished processing application up until the end of October, then our application should have been done by now and we should have received our document. We have not. We have once again contacted Barry to see if he can work out the problem. He has been a great guy and most helpful, going above and beyond the call. If you need to refer people for services, he is at the Wedding Chambers in Toronto. He is a wonderful person who was so happy to be officiating gay weddings.
I don't know if this information will be helpful to you or not. We have spent entire days trying to call the phone number listed on the application, but can never get through. Even when we did get Judi Hartman personally, she seemed to be giving us the brush off. Now, it sounds like she was outright lying to us. We have checked with our credit card and there has been no charge made for this document.
We have sent your story on to Barry for his review and to see if he can do anything. He has email us that he is getting in touch with the Premiers Office, the Office of the A. Gen, the Reg. Gen. and 3 subordinates. He is also going to contact the Globe and Mail to see if they will do an investigation on the problem. That is all great, but still does not get us the documents we need.
We were considering moving permanently to Canada, since it seemed to be so open there. Apparently it is not as open as everyone claims, with all of these problems that are going on. Even if we did continue with the immigration application process, the fact that we have not yet received our marriage certificate causes additional problems. In order to get in as a married couple, we need that certificate. And the longer we wait, the harder it is. The only other option would be to go in as common-law, which in the US translates loosely to being "fuck buddies", pardon the language. This is not right. It is an indignity, the same as it is here in the US. We might as well stay here if we are going to face the same problems there. We have already spent $5,000 to get married in Canada, assuming there would be no problems. Apparently we are being screwed in both countries, it's just that Canada's was a more costly screw over.
If you have any special phone numbers or contact people, then please let us know. We would like to get this matter settled and then decide if immigration is right for us. We were looking to Canada as a haven for us. If we have to wait much longer, we will lose more points, since my wife is primary on the application and she turns 35 this year.
Lorraine & Theresa
It sounds like you have been in contact with the right people already. And you needn't wait for your marriage papers to proceed with immigration (check with lawyers for informed advice and check out our Canadian immigration link partners). The Ministry of Consumer and Business Services also offers expdited service (10 days!) with proper proof of urgency. However when all else fails, our readers have been contacting the Ombudsman: 416-586-3300.
February 24, 2004
Hello, My sister sent me the article written by Vaughn Roste and I found it very interesting. It fits right along with other similar arguments. There are many other Old Testament prohibitions that modern believers usually take with a grain of salt, and for good reason. We no longer pay attention to the ancient prohibitions like don't wear fabric made of two different fibers, or don't touch the skin of a pig - American football is a national sport, and nobody stops to think about that one. God gave us brains, and hearts, and I would feel like I was being less than the person He/She wants me to be if I did not use them both.
I am a liberal minded Episcopalian living in a conservative area, with a conservative home congregation, so life is pretty turbulent these days. I am someone who on the face of it might be expected to be conservative myself: I live in the midwest of the US, I have been married for 21 years, I live in the country not the city, in an area devoid of a 'gay ' community, at least one that is known and accepted. My hope is that the committed gay people who want church weddings will hang in there, and not just leave the church in disgust. I would rather have a committed gay couple as friends than promiscuous heterosexual people.
Best wishes to you in Canada in the efforts to get the same rights that we heterosexuals have everywhere.
Ms. S. W. Vodrey
February 24, 2004
I would like to comment on SSM's. Though I do not reside in Canada. And know that pretty much what I have to say will not make much of a difference etc. But nonetheless I feel that it should be heard somehow - some way.
First off I am a married , heterosexual female from Kokomo , Indiana USA. Now on to my comments. I am all FOR same sex marriages and the benefits that would entail. Be it in the U.S. , Canada , etc... Here are my reasons why. I feel it is an act of blatant DISCRIMINATION to tell two women or two men that are in love , that they cannot "marry". Just because it is against the Bible , etc. Here in the U.S. our given rights are "Life,Liberty and The Pursuit Of Happiness". If you deny two men/two women a life as a married couple , the liberty to join as a recognizable married couple and deny them their pursuit of happiness as a married couple, than you discriminate against said couple. Pure and simple.
To me , it is segregation in the lowest form. I honestly feel that two men and two women can love one another. I feel that there are enough gay/lesbian couples that have been together longer than some heterosexual couples , etc. Yes , it does look bad when it comes to media portrayal of gays/lesbians and their relationships. I do see some faults where gays/lesbians are concerned. IE: meaning that some gays/lesbians do not take love and relationships seriously and bounce from man to man and woman to woman etc., BUT you also see it within heterosexuals too.
[It seems] that marriages and relationships between man/woman are the only recognized and overlooked for all of the faults. People in general are afraid of the unknown , scared of something new and changing. It seems that it is a sad world we live in ...
I do believe that two men/two women can love , honor and obey. Can stick through the thick and thin with one another. As well as for richer , for poorer. Nowhere does it state that only a man and woman ARE the only ones that can achieve this. It seems as if there are double standards where gay persons are concerned. Gays can entertain us , doctor us , insure us , serve us our food , build our vehicles , etc. But cannot marry one another !!!!
I have several male friends whom are gay. And a few women friends whom are lesbians. And I would not trade their friendships for nothing in this world. Some of my best moments and memories have been made with someone that is gay/lesbian. Here is what I have learned about homosexuality from a few decent men and women. More and more homosexuals are environmentally conscience , more likely to participate in animal rights groups , more likely to recycle , etc. How can "we" say that you can donate time and money to this cause and that cause , you can serve this and serve that , etc. BUT cannot marry ?? I don't know , it is all confusing and upsetting to me as well as so many others.
I am not God and I cannot tell anyone how to be happy. I cannot see a man being with a woman and unhappy. And vice versa. You have to follow your heart and dreams. And no one should keep you from it. BUT , even if bans are pushed and passed here and so on. That will NEVER stop those men who truly love their man , the woman from loving her girlfriend. That is something that no law or man can ever stop or take away. And for the record I do believe that persons are born gay. And it is not something that culture , others that are gay have caused etc. I do not feel that anyone wakes up one day and says "I think I will be gay from this day forward". God created us all , gay men , straight men , lesbian women and straight women. We all bleed the same , we all breathe the same , we all LOVE the same.
It is a laughable shame to hear some say that "We need these bans to protect the kids" etc. That is such a joke it is unreal !! All these parents screaming that they do not want their children around (excuse the language here , but is something said in reference only) "faggotts" because they are afraid their little Johnny is going to be molested OR worse converted to homosexuality - is ridiculous at best. I face criticisms for "approving" of gays and lesbians. I have been labelled a "Fag Hag" you name it. I do NOT set out to befriend gay men and women. It is just something that has happened through out my life. I get condemned because I look for friends that are sincere , loyal , etc. And so what if they have different lifestyles or sexual preferences ? If they can support me and believe in me - what more could I ask for ?? I give everyone chances , it is up to them to prove me right or wrong etc... Well I guess I had better end this.. But just wanted to let you know how I stand on this issue... I say keep trying until everyone recognizes same sex marriages.... Take care ,
February 25, 2004
I am curious if there is political asylum for homosexuals from the United States because of the current state of discrimination? My partner and I have been together for 12 years and slowly see our future as a gay couple being threatened by the new American dominance. The latest threat is a Constitutional Amendment that would clearly discriminate against us. I would appreciate any information that you could provide.
Canada offers asylum to people who face serious physical harm or death because of their sexual orientation. Although many are offended by U.S. discrimination against the gay community, citizens from that country do not qualify as refugees in Canada. For information about immigration see Our Love Matters.
It is with great reluctance that I write this letter. I am not really an activist, I pay little heed to the political climate, and I generally go about my life in as quiet and unassuming a way as I can. Even as a gay man, the subject of marriage rights for gays and lesbians did little to register my interest, especially since I never even wanted to get married. But since seeing our President make motions to change the constitution to ban gay marriage, I can not remain silent. People like me are exactly what is keeping gay marriage from happening – people who believe in it but are not willing to stand up and fight for it. In our apathy there is acquiescence; by allowing such injustice, we are condoning it. In that silence there is far greater danger than in any public disagreement or political grand-standing. When people are contemplating amending the constitution to deny the rights of one segment of the population, something is definitely wrong, and it is at this time that I must speak out.
My partner Andy and I have been together for almost four years. He is a retired police officer, having served his country for over nine years before getting injured on duty. Andy sends me off to work everyday with a homemade lunch, does our laundry, cooks dinner and organizes our finances. Together we own a home, we share a life, we have everything but a marriage certificate. We pay our taxes and our mortgage, we mow our lawn and we are bound by the same laws and regulations that govern any other citizen, yet we are forbidden to marry because we are of the same gender.
Our nation’s constitution has stated that we are all created equal, that one person is as valid as another – so how can we deny one person the right to marry another, man or woman? I am not asking to marry more than one person, I am not asking to marry a child, I am not asking to marry an animal, and it’s disgusting that I even have to defend such charges.
Marriage used to be a celebration of love ~ a bond honoring the life-long commitment of two people. Why should I be hated for my love? Why should Andy and I be banned from celebrating our love and our life together? In a country that honors freedom, how can we be denied the freedom to love and cherish another person, simply because we’re of the same gender? I do not speak up now as a gay man wanting to get married. I speak up as an American outraged at the segregation and inequality that has been created by refusing a certain group of people the right to marry.
How would my marrying a man denigrate or even affect anyone else’s marriage, or the institution itself? Would people be less faithful if I got married? Would other marriages be tainted or corroded by mine in any way? It seems that divorce and separation are more damaging to the institution of marriage than two gay people making a lifetime commitment to one another. Quickie Las Vegas weddings and reality television shows bargaining off brides and grooms for money are doing more to destroy the institution of marriage than anything I could ever accomplish. If people truly care about preserving the sanctity of marriage, let us ensure that those who get married truly love one another, and care enough to fight for that right.
The opponents of marriage for gays and lesbians seem to be missing the point. This is not about preserving the sanctity of marriage. It is simple hatred ~ homophobic prejudice aimed at an innocent group who only wants to love and celebrate that love like every other person can. What they are really trying to stop is two women from loving each other or two men sharing a life together. But that has already happened, and it’s going to continue to happen. Love cannot be contained or bound by a piece of paper or a legal proclamation.
Some of you will likely disagree with my opinion. You may think I am asking for special rights or promoting a “homosexual agenda.” You might claim religious points and wield a strict adherence to a rigid reading of the Bible. If there are enough of you then you will probably continue to deny me and other gay men and women the basic American rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But you will never be able to take away the love that Andy and I share, and you will never silence me from proclaiming our love. All the constitutional amendments in the world cannot alter that.
February 28, 2004
I am outraged at what the President is doing regarding same-sex marriage. I have married a man and had 3 kids together. The marriage was horrible. I lived a lot of years being unhappy. Three years ago I met the love of my life. For the first time in my life,I feel loved !! For the first time in my life, I am happy !! For the first time in my life, I know what it feels like to truly be in love. It just so happens to be that the other person is also a woman. I would like nothing more than to be her bride. I would love to wear a wedding gown for her,I would love to celebrate spending the rest of my life with her in front of all our family and friends.
Why is the President trying to take that away ? The divorce rate is horrible right now and all of the marriages performed in that divorce ratio are of a man and a woman. So... it's ok to live unhappy as long as you are a man and a women ? It is not ok to live happy because you are a woman and woman couple or a man and man couple ? That's insane. I do not feel that we as people have ANY rights anymore !!! Who the hell is he to tell me I can't marry the love of my life ? Who cares about the FACT that we are both happy !! Never mind the FACT that we love each-other. I guess it doesn't matter that we have a wonderful family with our 4 kids.
It just seems to me that nothing matters to the President anymore, except of course his opinion. Also, seniors get married every day with no intention of having children together. Women who are physically unable to have children are accepted to get married. None of their rights have been taken away. So what exactly is the true issue the President has ? Also, what about seperation of church and state ? Kids are not allowed to pray in school. Saying that same-sex marriage is an abomination in front of god has NOTHING to do with the constitution. It is a religous belief and has NOTHING to do with our rights as citizens !!!
If the President is so concerned he should work on the true issues the United States faces every day. For example..the war, thousands of priests that have sexually assaulted so many people and ruined their lives, the economy,etc. You tell me how same-sex marriage is a bigger problem than all of that. In fact..if it were to be legal the states and the Federal Government would benefit. Not to mention the divorce rate would NOT be so high. I live in the United States. I have rights too !! I as everybody else would like to just live with the same rights as everybody else in a more peaceful world. How is the President making that possible ? What's next ? Are blacks going to be put on the back of the bus again ?
February 28, 2004
We are a same-sex
married couple from Fredericton, New Brunswick. We have been together
for 30 years. We were married in Ottawa on September 15, 2003. You should
know that although we support same-sex marriage whole heartedly we also
believe it has to go further than that. We presently have a complaint
filed with Human Rights New Brunswick with regard to suvivor teacher pension
benifits. We were both New Brunswick school teachers now retired and if/when
one of us dies we are not elegible to collect a Teachers Suvivor
February 29, 2004
Hello from New York City!! You guys are great. I want to wish you all the success and happiness my partner of 25 years and I have had. We met at Macy's on April 20, 1979, and from that moment on, we have been a couple in every sense of the word. We have been through the gamut of situations, human experiences and spectrum of emotions as much as any married couple. We have participated with each other from that encounter, which I know was fate, right up to the very present. We are a loving, expressive couple, who are devoted to our life partner, and enjoy each other's company even more in the present than the past. Wherever we have been, whether in America or in the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada or Europe, everyone knows we are together and a couple. No one is threatened or feels uncomfortable with us, rather they want to join in our happiness. We are two normal men who happen to love each other and feel our partner completes us, as people. We offer no freak show, no threat, no undermining; just an underscoring of what love and commitment are all about. You guys have made a public show of love and desire for each other. Be proud and strong. Never give in or give up and down the turnpike of life, you'll be celebrating a quarter century together, as Joey and I will soon be doing. Is it worth it? Let me tell you, I would start all over again, back to that very first instant Joey walked into Macey's, if I could.
James Michael McDonnell