Austen Crowder

Hey NOM: care to answer questions for cash?

Filed By Austen Crowder | August 05, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: law, marriage, Nikki Araguz, NOM, policy, Questions, transgender

Hello, Brian, Maggie, Louie, and the rest of the NOM crew! nom_logo.gif

I want to thank you for dropping by. Really. I mean it. I know you read this blog. Let's face it - y'all aren't stupid and must do at least as much research on our side as we do on yours. At the very least I hope you've been entertained by what you've read here; despite our differing political opinions I like to know that everybody's having a good time. (Call it "Hoosier Hospitality.") I know I've been enjoying watching your tour unfold over the past few months, and I figured I'd try to give you a chance to explain yourself further.

Look, I'm gonna be real frank when I say I want to understand your position better. That's politics, right? Coming to an understanding, finding compromise, exploring issues, all that stuff. My only problem right now is this: I don't understand the details of your side's position on marriage.

Please don't take that as an insult, and don't downplay my confusion: I know you hold up "one man, one woman" bonds as super-special and keen and all that, but you haven't been entirely forthcoming and clear on the how for all this.

So here's my deal: I'm going to put up a few clarification questions here, à la Amazon's "Mechanical Turk" engine, and open the floor to answers from your organization. Answer the entire set of questions openly, honestly, completely and truthfully and I'll donate to NOM. Seriously. I'll even make a spectacle of the donation right here on Bilerico! (And none of this "I'm the PR Handler from NOM" stuff, either: I'd like to hear from one of your leading figures, or no soup for you.) Sounds simple and fair, right?

And hey, you've already been answering questions for free. Why not get paid to do it?

The theme of the questions is this: I don't know what you think is "straight" for people like me. Here are the questions:

"Opposite Sex," explained

Your website strongly emphasizes the need for special legal recognition of the union of a man and a woman. And, according to the court decisions found in Loving v. Virginia, people have fundamental right to marry -- which, according to your organization, only counts for opposite-sex couples.

Fair enough for a position statement, I say, but it begs the question: who should I marry? Ohio, Kansas, and Texas (until 2009, though the details are still shaky) say that I should marry a woman, but California says I should marry a man - even post Prop 8! Most states don't even define trans issues in their case law and don't really offer any guidance to trans people as to which gender is seen as "opposite" in their state.

I understand the importance you place upon states' rights to define this, but as an organization I'd like to hear your opinion on the matter. Your organization is, after all, the leading defender of marriage in this country! Who is right: Ohio, in that trans women should marry women and trans men should marry men; or California, in that trans women should marry men and trans men marry women?

Going further - when does a marriage become illegal?

Let's continue drilling down on what is and is not a same-sex marriage, shall we?

Consider a couple living in a state where same-sex marriage is illegal. This couple consists of one man, one woman, as per the letter of the state law. Say that one member of the couple transitions to the opposite sex, complete with documentation saying that the marriage is now between two women or two men. The courts presently say this marriage stands as legal! Should this marriage be dissolved as a same-sex marriage?

Furthermore, at what point (if any) does a trans person "switch sides" as far as opposite-sex marriage partners are concerned? When they look like the opposite sex? When their state ID changes? When their federal ID changes? When their birth certificate changes? Again, states have the right to decide this on their own, but I'm really curious to hear your opinion on the issue. It matters quite a bit to people who are in the middle, such that they can have the option of glorifying the "sanctity of marriage" you tout so highly.

Current Events and GOP Goings-On

Since we're on the topic of states and politics, please comment briefly on the recent rise of "natural" man/"natural" woman marriage statements on state GOP platforms. Do you support this linguistic shift, and if so, does this mean that trans people are not deserving of the right to have their nuptials legally recognized?

With that said, if I cannot change my sex as far as "'natural' man/woman marriage" is concerned, will you fight for my right to marry a partner of the same gender? (Say, a trans woman marrying another woman.) How about intersex people, who display characteristics of both genders due to their genetic code? Will you fight for their right to be recognized and married?

Specifics: Marriage and the Courts

May we have a brief comment on Nikki Arraguz's case? Texas legislature clarified the precedent set by Litton v. Prange in 2009 to include gender change as valid for determining gender in terms of marriage, and by doing so recognized marriages like Nikki's as opposite-sex. Would you lobby for the sanctity of her marriage? If not, why is her nuptial not good enough to be recognized by your group?

Why are you asking these questions, Austen?

Simple: I'm sick and tired of not hearing the answers. This goes for both sides.

The whole point of the marriage issue is to determine who can marry who. There's lots of sparks on the issue, and tons of debate, but through it all trans people are more or less ignored. Even legal counsel has few answers; we are, for all intents and purposes, stuck in a legal limbo. When groups try to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples without defining what opposite-sex entails, it causes irreparable damage to my rights to marry.

For example, if enter a marriage in Indiana, the validity of that marriage is a crapshoot. If I marry a female, the marriage could be invalidated because of my female gender identity. If I marry a male, my marriage could be invalidated by Ohio precedent. (Ohio says you can't; sorry about your luck!) And even with legal wills, powers of attorney, and a myriad of other documents to prove that I'm legally the gender I say I am, there is no way to safeguard the sanctity of my marriage - no matter the gender! - in a world with DOMA-inspired same-sex marriage bans.

Yes, transgender persons are a small minority. However, that doesn't mean our rights should (or can!) be ignored for sake of convenience. Decisions made on the marriage battlefront have large implications for transgender people, and I say that if NOM is going to fight for the exclusive rights of opposite-sex couples to get married, they should fight for all opposite-sex couples - that is, once they figure out what opposite sex really means.

Again, thanks for reading. Hopefully we can get this whole mess hashed out sooner rather than later. Best of luck with those tour stops!

P.S. Great turnout in Indiana! You sure do have a spirited support base!

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I can not speak for N.O.M as I am a T-Person also! Going to take a shot to figure out what they would say! Maybe You N.O.M members can correct me?

A Guess at N.O.M.'s answer;
"You know that Transsexuals, Gays, Bisexuals, Intersexed and all you other perverts are against Gods laws! You have made choices that we Judge to be immoral and against the Bible! You are trying to take away our rights! We have the answers! That activist judge is not as smart as us! He made the wrong decisions! Only we have rights! Only we read the Constitution correctly! It makes us so very mad when you question us or someone makes a Judcial decision we know is wrong! We Repeat, repeat, repeat the same disproven stuff over and over and over until we belive it"

Well took a crack at what they might say but because of being a T-person I just can not think like them! Please answer Austin N.O.M ? Heck, I read your sites and you do not allow anyone to comment on your blogs! Maybe you can explain why no one can comment on your blogs to me and the rest of Bilerico????? N.O.M. Love to hear from you!!!! Love Regina!

Trans marriage issues are too confusing. As Shakespeare said, "marry in haste, repent at leisure." Best to just shack up.

I'm not going to hold my breath until you get a response. Blue isn't the best color for me. :)


I think your questions are very important ones that have significance which reaches well beyond the questions of marriage. I agree with you that Maggie, Brian, Louie et al probably aren't stupid. I would say they are more likely willfully ignorant. They would probably mutter something about chromosomes or DNA.

I don't know why those in GLBT activist coalitions don't acknowledge that legal matters arising out of the way sex is assigned and recognized is not the purview of GLBT activism and that, in fact, many of the goals GLBT activism attempts to achieve might make rights already achieved by people of transsexual backgrounds even more tenuous than they already are. It isn't "trans" issues that are too complicated, it is the problem of defining what sex is that is too complicated, especially when it comes to people who are transsexual or intersex.

The elephant under the card table is the whole question of intersex which has been erased by the LWPES and the elaborate name changing nomenclature described in the Chicago Consensus Statement on the (mis) Management of Interex "Disorders".

The way the medical and psychiatric community have structured their diagnoses to reinforce the illusion that rigid sex dimorphism truly exists for all people through mischaracterization by disorder with terms like "disorders of sex development" and "gender identity disorder", are major impediments toward the recognition of intersex as a natural variation of sex differentiation and the recognition of people who have legally transitioned to the legal sex opposite the one they were assigned to at birth to have their legal sex transitions recognized, affording them their legal rights in their legal sex.

Stephen Whittles' paper, ''Sex Changes'? Paradigm Shifts in 'Sex' and 'Gender' Following the Gender Recognition Act?' is an interesting read that discusses the history and dilemmas involved in sex determination. The GRA defines gender as being interchangeable with sex giving it the same meaning. In light of the proposed exclusions in the U K Equality Act of 2010, however, it seems the GRA is just a piece of patronizing double speak.

So, how many, among everyone on both sides of the marriage issue, would be as unable to answer your questions as Brian, Louie and Maggie are? If everyone were able to acknowledge that they are unable answer your questions perhaps the issue of sex in marriage would be much less of a concern.

For me the bottom line is, if Nikki Araguz had violated the terms of her probation which prison would she have been sent to? Is there consistency in the law? If there is, under the circumstances she finds herself in, how would that affect the other legal aspects of her life. For people of transsexual experience and those who are intersex, marriage is only one of many issues, so is non-discrimination. How to discriminate is very important, too.

I'd guess their answer would fall on people's birth sex, and side with the states that define marriage that way. I don't think they have much respect for the gender people are if it differs from what a doctor wrote on a birth certificate years ago if they think along the lines of the TVC.

Especially, how do they grant/deny marriage to intersexed people, who PHYSICALLY have both genitalia and/or X/Y chromosomes? It's outside of their comfort zone, outside of their realm of comprehension, and generally something they don't want to deal with's never been dealt with in recent history. Why don't THOSE people just go back into the closet or the freak shows, why are they bothering us (they ask)? Because the intersex have a right to a normal life too! Thank you for sharing your 'prayer'!

Detailed information about the Delgado v. Araguz case in Texas is available on the following blog.

audrey duesler | September 1, 2010 5:45 PM

::hears crickets, waiting for response::