PW 323: Everything you need to know about the history of gay marriage in the church

Did you know that for hundreds of years, the Catholic church performed same sex unions and has never declared marriage to be between one man and one woman?

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Under-18 warning and redirection to Scarleteen

1:00 News and host chat

Richard Wagner, Dr. Dick7:00 Topic: What you need to know about the church and gay mar


Welcome to our special guest, Richard Wagner, otherwise known as Dr. Dick of Dr. Dick’s Sex Advice, a former priest and sexologist. Dr. Wagner debunks common misbeliefs about gay marriage, citing historical evidence that up until the 14th century, the church conducted same-sex unions, had an Office of Same Sex Unions and has never defined marriage as being between a man and a woman; in fact, it seemed to avoid using those terms.

Articles discussed: When Same Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite, Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe by historian John Boswell

Dr. Wagner’s new book, the Amateur’s Guide to Death and Dying.

30:00 Thanks

Thanks to Shana, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at OpenSF, for the generous $200 donation!

32:00 Wrapup

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From Poly Living 2009: Diana Adams on gay/poly marriage

Diana Adams speaking briefly at Poly Living 2009:

From Poly Living 2009: Poly Weddings and Gay Marriage Rights

Diana Adams’ talk on Poly Weddings: the legal impact of same sex marriage decision on your poly family with Diana Adams. (I did record audio of this session with permission; check the Poly Weekly feed soon)

  • There is a legal bias against those who are sex-positive
  • Discussing “emotional pre-nups”–discussing what your relationship will look like and the terms of your breakup beforehand
  • She uses a forensic psychologist to help refocus on the issue of which of the parents is doing more negative parenting–the one who never puts the kid to bed or the one who does and who happens to have a locked cabinet of sex toys
  • The vibrator laws aren’t about vibrators but what it would mean if we allowed that: “You have the right to sell Tupperware, but not if there is a dildo in it.” Now focusing on how and whether these rules are actually to prevent harm.
  • Definition of “prostitution” in New York: sexual conduct for a fee. That is, whatever a judge decides is “sexual,” creating a culture of fear and shame for all workers, sexual and even sexual healers as well.

Prop 8 in California
The debate is whether this should be an actual amendment to the California constitution, which is surprisingly easy to amend. Diana argues this should be a court decision, not one put to the voting populace. There are now questions as to whether gay couples married during the legal period will still be legally married. She showed an Amicus brief from an organization associated with the religious right stating that because bisexual and polyamorous people can’t get legally married, we don’t need to give marriage rights to gays, either.

Same-Sex Marriage Debate and How It Affects Us
Diana explains how arguing that marriage is a fundamental human right actually harms the poly marriage issue. Lawrence v Texas overturned older sodomy laws, with an apology, maintaining it was undignified to afford homosexual citizens the same right to have private sex in their homes. (Does everybody know what “santorum” is?)

Two arguments being made:

  1. Sexual orientation should be a legal right as a “suspect class”, or group that has traditionally faced discrimination and thus needs protection. Saying that sexual orientation is a “suspect class” is a major step and very powerful. In states with civil unions, the argument is that allowing civil unions but not marriage for suspect classes is inherently as unfair as “separate but equal.”
  2. We ask: why aren’t we making the argument that the state shouldn’t be making marriages at all? The issue with making marriage a fundamental right is valorizing it and thus further entrenching it into our law, and we’ll no longer be able to separate church and state. This is dangerous because it’s appealing to morality and accepting the institution of marriage without examining it. We went from criminalizing to heterosexualizing our relationships.


  • We have passed the time where we link sexual relationships with economic dependency.
  • Participants recommend readings by Stephanie Koontz on the history of marriage and marriage as a tool of governmental control.

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