This is an Other Sheep web page
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson
A Report by Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson,
Other Sheep Coordinator for Thailand
"Here I am on the cusp of seventy
years of age . . . a Presbyterian
pastor and missionary" ministering to
fifty or sixty "queers and queens" in
"this northern Thai village context."   
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson
with Pramote, his Thai partner
of ten years.
Same-sex marriage in Thailand
Dr. Kenneth Dobson
December 4, 2010
"Same-sex marriage in
----- Forwarded Message ----
Kenneth Dobson <kdobsoninsiam@gmail.com>
To: Stephen Parelli <sparelli2002@yahoo.com>
Sent: Sat, December 4, 2010 8:37:27 PM
Subject: AIDS and Rights

Greetings Steve and Jose,

On November 26, 2010, I was invited to come to Bangkok to appear on a
panel for the opening day of a jointly sponsored week-end of events leading up
to World AIDS Day. The theme of the events had more to do with LGBT human
and civil rights than it did with AIDS. The program opened on Friday afternoon
with a mini-film festival and our evening panel on "Same Sex Marriage in

I was one of 6 presenters, the oldest, the only Caucasian, the only male -- I felt
that I helped integrate the panel. The other speakers talked about the legal, the
social, and the human-rights aspects of the up-hill struggle for same-sex
marriage rights in Thailand. Our conclusion was that it isn't about to happen. My
point was that none of the religions will advocate for us, but they will all try to
slow us down from being able to get married according to law, but that
shouldn't stop us from going ahead.

In Thailand the main force is the family/clan and if a couple is accepted by the
family/clan then the village has no trouble being tolerant and gradually including
as has been the case with Pramote and me. If the village is OK with us, then
the higher levels of government won't be a bother. They will come around to
passing laws and opening doors, however, only when there are enough of us
with enough social backing to make it beneficial to them. This is Thailand. Do
not waste time trying to get the government in Bangkok to do anything that
there is no social groundswell for.

Most of the people asked questions and voiced interest, not in my report on the
religious issues, but on
Pramote and my marriage in Iowa and how it was
accepted here in our village and family.

The chain of events for the "festival" went on for 3 more days, and included
such things as a public march, more panel discussions of such things as social
empowerment for LGBT people, and, of course, AIDS awareness.

The organizing committee included Mr. Tor of the M-Plus foundation. It was
thanks to you, of course, that we got acquainted. I want to let you know that
things are still happening here in Thailand as a result of your visit a year and a
half ago.

    Panel at World AIDS Day week-end event:  “Same
    Sex Marriage in Thailand”
    “None of the religions will advocate for same-sex
    Support must come from the family/clan level; not
    from the government in Bangkok
    Other events around Words AIDS Day
    The Organizing Committee and Other Sheep’s
    Indirect Part

First, religion and same-sex relationships:
A. Religion’s authentic role is to lead culture.
B. But actually, religion tends to conform to culture.
C. And usually, religion upholds a culture’s more conservative views.
    D. So there is a gap between what a society will accept and what a
    religion will accept.
    E. But as a society moves toward greater acceptance of a group,
    religion becomes more accepting as well, although it usually
    never catches up.

Second, religion and marriage in Thailand:
Roman Catholics: matrimony is a sacrament.
        So the Church is the guardian of marriage.
Protestants: marriage is a social contract.
        So the Church is an advisor regarding marriage.
Islam: marriage is a social arrangement.
        Religion is the guardian of Islamic society.
Buddhism: marriage is a social arrangement.
        Marriage is covered by the same Thamma as other relationships.

Third, same-sex religious wedding ceremonies in Thailand:
Roman Catholic clergy are not permitted to conduct same-sex
       Protestant churches do not condone same-sex weddings.
        But a few clergy will conduct ceremonies of some kind.
    Islam is virtually unanimous that same-sex relationships are contrary to
    religion as well as culture, so there is no option of an Islamic
    same-sex wedding ceremony.
    Buddhism in Thailand has no such thing as a religious wedding, but
    the religious component of a wedding for Thai Buddhists is merit-
    making and blessing by a priest.  This seems to be as easy to
    arrange by same-sex couples as it is by anybody.

Nov. 19, 2010
Religion and Same-sex Marriages
The Thai Situation

The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson
Dr. Dobson's Notes for Panel Discussion
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