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February 4, 2005

Full Steam Ahead

Well, the judicial imposition of same-sex marriage continues apace:

A Manhattan judge declared Friday that the section of state law that forbids same-sex marriage is unconstitutional _ the first ruling of its kind in New York and one that if upheld on appeal would allow gay couples to wed.

State Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan ruled that the words "husband," "wife," "groom" and "bride" in relevant sections of the Domestic Relations Law "shall be construed to mean 'spouse,"' and "all personal pronouns ... shall be construed to apply equally to either men or women."

I've read the decision (PDF), and it follows the Goodridge template, so it doesn't merit complete analysis. See my "Mawage" post from shortly after Goodridge for some such analysis; see my "Making Use of the Pain" post, addressing a case that Ling-Cohan cites, for some tracing of the ways in which limited, contextualized precedent expands throughout the law.

Ling-Cohan finds, as she must, that the law defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Then, through a panoply of quotations, picked and chosen from the voluminous library of judges' decisions, mostly involving sex and abortion, but also such things as rent control, in the United States and abroad, from parenthetical notes to dissents, she constructs such a wall of legal rhetoric that the obvious ceases to be visible. On page 31, Ling-Cohan repeats what opponents of same-sex marriage have been ridiculed for saying:

However, the right to enter into a marriage is not at issue here. The [Domestic Relations Law] does not bar any of the ten plaintiffs from entering into a civil marriage.

Asserting that there is another "aspect of the fundamental right to marry" that exists independently of the previous — "the right to choose whom one marries" (restated on the next page as "the right to choose one's life partner" — Ling-Cohan works her way around to the conclusion, on page 43, that:

... in the present case, the "liberty at stake" that is fundamental is the freedom to choose one's spouse. Thus, for the State to deny that freedom to an individual who wishes to marry a person of the same sex is to deny that individual the fundamental right to marry.

Homosexuals are not barred from marriage, in other words, because they can enter into the relationships that the definition of "marriage" covers. But because the definition of "marriage" does not include the relationships that they would prefer, they are barred from marriage, and the definition must be changed.

By the time she announces her judgment, Ling-Cohan has found a right to same-sex marriage on just about every possible grounds — due process and equal protection. She has continued the practice of turning the inherent circularity of a definition (A is A because it is A) into a license to rewrite definitions. She has claimed freedom to interpret New York law as distinct from the laws of the federal government and other states when it suits her, and she has relied on other governments' laws when that suits her. On page 51, she notes "an evolving public policy," evinced purely in the "recent decisions" of other New York judges, and as described above, she has literally rewritten the law, under the judicial euphemism of "construed," in order to accord with her own preferred policy:

There has been a steady evolution of the institution of marriage throughout history which belies the concept of a static traditional definition. Marriage, as it is understood today, is both a partnership of two loving equals who choose to commit themselves to each other and a State institution designed to promote stability for the couple and their children. The relationships of plaintiffs fit within this definition of marriage. (60)

The reality that we must face is that a judiciary armed with the precedent of the following language (from Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey), which Ling-Cohan quotes on page 27 and which is rapidly becoming ubiquitous, can nullify whatever social laws it wishes:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.

I daresay that a Federal Marriage Amendment is the least of the measures that must be taken. But the reality that the measure must be taken is exemplified in the possibility that some future judge, cutting and pasting her way to another progressive ruling, will find this paragraph on page 45 of Ling-Cohan's effort too apropos not to find precedential:

Defendant's historical argument is no less conclusory than amici's tautological argument that same-sex marriage is impossible, because, as a matter of definition, "marriage" means, and has always meant, the legal union of a man and a woman. Further, the premise of that argument is factually wrong; polygamy has been practiced in various places and at various times, for example, in the Territory of Utah.
Posted by Justin Katz at February 4, 2005 7:38 PM
Marriage & Family
Comments

Ling-cohen is a feminist and an anarchist, obviously. To paraphrase:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of liberty without regard for the liberty one's neighbors.

What on earth does this have to do with democracy?

Posted by: Marty at February 4, 2005 8:27 PM

It's the modern/postmodern mantra - the individual is the source of meaning. It's a given - it's not something you can argue with. That's why some of the conversations here are like beating one's head against the wall. People will not give up that foundation, regardless of the logical and practical contradictions it engenders.

Posted by: Mike S. at February 5, 2005 9:53 AM

Actually, i love it when this sort of thing happens. It just created more momentum to the FMA. Keep it up yall...

Posted by: Marty at February 5, 2005 11:26 AM

What it means is that so long as it doesn't break your leg or rob your purse it is none of government's business.

Pretty sound advice. T. Jefferson. It would have prevented alcohol prohibition if followed. Ah, well.

Speaking of gayness how is Alan Keyes treating his daughter?

Posted by: M. Simon at February 5, 2005 11:27 AM

Did anyone expect an intelligent and reasoned judgement from someone who has made it her life's work to pander to society's parasites?

Posted by: russ at February 5, 2005 11:46 AM

Ahhh, thanks M.Simon for letting us know that you think its o.k. to be a degenerate deviant...

Posted by: russ at February 5, 2005 11:50 AM

Well, M. Simon, the obvious problem is that NO marriage breaks anyone's leg or robs his purse. So why have civil marriage at all, if that radical libertine philosophy is so sound? Your position obliterates the rationale behind recognizing marriage at all, and maybe that's a consequence you're perfectly at home with. I don't think, for most people, it is. And since we're talking about public recognition here, perhaps the public ought to have something to say about it all. Is that so abhorrent?

Posted by: Sage at February 5, 2005 11:51 AM

Marriage is not and has never been private. The definition of personhood line is irrelevant. Society promotes marriage for the sake of society-stability is better for children. Men and women tend to create children in a moment but children need years of care. Children are society's future. What to do about this? Marriage-a public contract between private people - promoted, given special priveleges, etc. because its better for the children and therefore society. (Of course there are exceptions to the rule, just like homeowners tend to be more stable and responsible neighbors, but aren't always and still home ownership is promoted by society.)

What does gay marriage do for society? Being a help to society is not considered-not that I've seen anyway. Its all about the "person". All I can say is if a gay couple gets the benefits of marriage why can't I "marry/civil union" a friend if she needs health insurance? I can use all of the arguments gay couples have used. My definition of personhood includes being a good friend, for instance. Can't have my attributes of personhood formed under compulsion of the State, right?

Posted by: random at February 5, 2005 12:17 PM

Opposite-sex friends have been getting married for centuries. Nothing stops a man and a woman who are "friends" from getting married. There is no sex test. So, random, your argument is a bit of a strawman argument. Friends can already get married. Roommates can get married. The military has a number of sham marriages for extra benefits. As long as it is a man and a woman, the state will allow two strangers off the street to get married.

Posted by: mike at February 5, 2005 6:14 PM

Any SSM supporters want to comment on the article in the NYTimes mentioned here (or Kurtz's reaction to it?)

Posted by: Mike S. at February 7, 2005 9:38 AM

The Kurtz response was predictable. He and Maggie Gallagher have been trying to pawn this "parentless children of Saskatchawan" argument for months, picking two independent variables and suggesting they are related, without a shred of proof.

Gay marriage isn't the law yet in Canada, so it makes sense that Canadians would wait to make sure they will be eligible for important federal benefits before actually getting married. So they are being cautious. Seems people being cautious about getting married is a lesson heterosexual should consider, given the high failure rate of those relationships.

Just as Kurtz's Scandanaviz stats have been widely debunked by REAL social scientists, he is going to have a hard time proving that a year of gay marriage in Canada is responsible for the decline in heterosexual cohabitation.

Posted by: Mike at February 7, 2005 10:36 AM
Just as Kurtz's Scandanaviz stats have been widely debunked by REAL social scientists

That's quite an assertion. Which "real" social scientists are those? I've debunked a few of the debunkers. But as with the Juan Cole spat, it seems that those on the "progressive" side prefer the "authority" granted by titles and slips of paper (denoting nothing so much as the willingness to regurgitate Leftist pap, as Ward Churchill has recently illustrated) to any form of logic.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 7, 2005 10:41 AM

But as Kurtz and the Maggie Gallagher affair point out, calling yourself an "expert" should require a little level of intellectual honesty. If you are going to make a living shilling perspectives on social science research, it might be nice to have more than a single undegraduate course in stats and logic.

The Kurtz analysis of Scandanaviz is deeply flawed and demonstrates a great example of using the numbers to flog any ideological conspiracy theory.

Posted by: Mike at February 7, 2005 10:55 AM

You can call it deeply flawed, but you haven't pointed to your "real" social scientists. You can also privilege classroom learning, which oughtn't be disparaged, but the fact that classes have or haven't been endured doesn't tell us who's correct.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 7, 2005 11:13 AM

And to be fair, Kurtz does have a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard, although one wouldn't know it from his simplistic analysis. Maybe Jonah Goldberg is right that expertise doesn't add much credibility and can be easily wasted.

Gallagher, OTOH, has an undergraduate degree in religious studies or some such nonesense. I guess that's why she gets to call herself an expert.

Posted by: Mike at February 7, 2005 11:23 AM

When I first graduated with a degree in Data Processing and got a job as a programmer, it irked me that there were quite a few people in the business with a degree other than one in Information Technologies. But as time went on and I continued to work in the business for many years next to all of these people without the same kind of degree as mine, we all became experts Mike. Maggie Gallagher may have a degree in religious studies, but it is my understanding that the number of years that she has worked in the area of marriage sociology is probably enough to qualify her as an expert.

Posted by: smmtheory at February 7, 2005 12:34 PM

Perhaps I should have said, "...comment intelligently" on the article. Nobody is ever going to prove anything in sociology or anthropology - human behavior is too complex for that. All you can do is argue whether the data supports a particular argument or not, and, if so, to what extent.

Ordinarily, I've no doubt that Mike would consider someone with a PhD in Anthropology from Harvard to be well-qualified to write about SSM. But since Kurtz reaches a conclusion Mike doesn't like, he claims that Kurtz is not a 'Real' sociologist. How do you define a 'real' sociologist, Mike? And what qualifications do you have to make such a definition?

This business of arguing from authority is ridiculous - there are plenty of people with academic credentials who think SSM is bad for marriage, and plenty with legal credentials who think the legal arguments supporting it in, e.g., Goodridge are shaky, at best. You're argument vis-a-vis Gallagher and Kurtz implies that the common denominator is that they think SSM is a bad idea - you just use the qualifications argument when it suits your purpose. Does Andrew Sullivan have any more qualifications than Maggie Gallagher to discuss SSM? Do you? The implication is that only academic experts are allowed to debate the issue. I have a PhD in biophysics, and know first hand that professors in the natural sciences, where there is much more control over experimental conditions, are routinely wrong about things - what makes you think professors in the 'soft' sciences are wrong any less frequently?

"...he is going to have a hard time proving that a year of gay marriage in Canada is responsible for the decline in heterosexual cohabitation."

First of all, it's not his responsiblity to prove it, and second, if fewer heterosexual couples are marrying, that contradicts the argument made by Jonathan Rauch and others that SSM will strengthen marriage. I agree that one year is too soon to develop a comprehensive picture, but either we look at what data we have and draw tenative conclusions, or we just ignore the issue for 10 years. And either supporters of SSM can discuss the data in good faith, or they can just admit up front that no amount of data will sway their position. What kind of timeframe and/or statistics would be enough to convince you that SSM was a bad idea, Mike?

Posted by: Mike S. at February 7, 2005 4:15 PM

Mike, forget 'experts', you referred to 'REAL social scientists'. What criteria do you use for that credential and why?

Posted by: Chairm at February 7, 2005 4:23 PM

I propose waiting until we have real data, not a year's worth. You can't draw any conclusions--or even make interesting conjecture--on a year's worth of data of two independent variables.

Posted by: Mike at February 7, 2005 5:35 PM

Excellent idea, Mike! Finally, we can bring this argument to a close. Call off the same-sex marriage activists, and we'll all watch the nations that have made laboratories of themselves for a while.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 7, 2005 5:38 PM

Okay, count me a pessimist, but I really don't think Mike has a snowball's chance in Gehenna of getting the radical activists to stop for a while.

Posted by: smmtheory at February 7, 2005 5:49 PM

That's quite an assertion. Which "real" social scientists are those? I've debunked a few of the debunkers.

I have a few problems with what I see going on here. First, I don't see Kurtz's poor sociological findings as having anything to do with his credentials; I'm sure he's well qualified. The problem that I have with Kurtz is a) his lack of primary data and b) his misuse of terms and inconsistencies of definitions in order to c) make correalations between SSM and falling marriage rates.

His lack of primary data is understandable; he often writes short pieces for print or online magazines that have little room for scores of graphs and tables. However, this makes his claims hard to refute or even evaluate since we are often unsure of where he got his statistics.

I also find it poor practice for him to focus on Norway and the Netherlands when Denmark and Sweden have had marriage-like arrangements for gays longer but don't fit into his model. He hand-waves it away but when you only have four points and two of them deviate, it is disingenuous, no matter what your reason, to not examine them with the same scrutiny as the other two. He claims that Norway is a better model for America than Denmark but based only on amorphous statements like "marriage was stronger there". Stronger how? Besides, they're both quasi-socialistic welfare states so any direct comparison between either of them and America would be lacking, especially on a social policy issue.

Justin, when you say you've debunked the debunkers, did you do a detailed analysis of Eskridge, et al.? I'm curious because I've been waiting for Kurtz to write something lengthy about it but he was "busy with the election" at the time. I think Kurtz can make a very good argument about the welfare state and the family, but he's being manipulative when he tries to place any blame on same-sex marriage. I think the most he can say is that the welfare state contributes to the decline of the role of marriage in civil life which has led to more readily acceptable forms of gay relationships.

Posted by: Michael at February 7, 2005 7:22 PM

Many fair points here from both sides. We simply don't know what we think we know. My question (and yes, i think i "know" the answer) is this: Is SSM the cause of family breakdown, or just a symptom?

Posted by: Marty at February 7, 2005 9:14 PM

Michael,

You're going after Dr. Kurtz and his writings on same-sex "marriage" in Europe.

What, specifically, are you upset about that he is misinterpreting/misreading/misunderstanding about the arrangements there that would fit into public policy here?

Specifically, WHICH articles has he misused data, or misconstrued data which cannot be checked?

Because, I've read pretty much all that he's written (mostly) on this subject, and he makes a persuasive case to me (and, he absolutely cleans the clock of one of your interests on your blog, Andrew Sullivan, as well as the honorable, but wrong, Jonathan Rauch).

In fact, Sullivan hasn't responded to about 1/18th of what Dr. Kurtz has written (and this, after direct challenges, and Sullivan usually, usually responds directly and forthwith to those; not Kurtz, though).

Anyway, I'd like some specifics, please.

Aaron

Posted by: Aaron at February 7, 2005 10:23 PM

What, specifically, are you upset about that he is misinterpreting/misreading/misunderstanding about the arrangements there that would fit into public policy here?

Well, there are a few specific examples I can think of. One of the most glaring is his use of the term "out-of-wedlock birth". It is clear from his writing and from who his audience is (Americans) that out-of-wedlock birth has the connotation of unwed single-motherhood, often impoverished. But there is very little of American-style "out-of-wedlock birth" in Scandanavia; rather these births are within cohabitating parents, 80% or more of which go on to marry later. In all the articles I've read, he only clarifies this once. Not defining your term accurately, or leaving it up to interpretation, is bad science.

Second, he liberally uses the term "marriage" to refer to Scandanavian registered partnerships. He never mentions that registered partners (homo or hetero) were, up until last year, not allowed to adopt children or get state-assisted IVF aid, like married couples. If procreation and childrearing is so clearly important to marriage, as Kurtz's audience most undoubted would assume, his misuse of that term implies that these gay partners were, in an American-sense of the term, married. This is also false.

Lastly, as far as misinterpreting and misleading information that would make comparisons to America less solid, I can't remember the specific details. Which isn't surprising because Kurtz never gives any. He merely states over and over again that Denmark doesn't fit his model and Norway is closer to America because marriage there was "stronger". I suggest that you read http://www.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1055&context=ils
It is a 50+ page paper on gay "marriage" in Scandanavia, complete with the primary data Kurtz is lacking. It details the problems underlying Kurtz work better than I can. And like I said, his only defense was that he'd abandoned Denmark and Sweden for the not-very-specific reason that marriage in Norway was "stronger" and therefore a "better model" for America. He claims it doesn't refute his work because he only uses Norway. But it clearly details *how* he needs to prove his point, by showing further deviations from any trends that were prevailing BEFORE registered partnerships, something he doesn't ever show with actual data, in Denmark, Sweden or Norway.

I don't expect Sullivan or any other editorial writer to refute Kurtz any better or worse than Kurtz can refute back. 700 word articles for the NRO do not a social science argument make. If Kurtz wants to do scholarly research into gay unions in Scandanivia, I think that's great. But anyone, especially someone as intelligent as Kurtz, can hand-wave their way through a sociology argument with "logic" in a two page article. I want him to put his money where is mouth is.

It's interesting too, in light of the Goldberg/Cole tiff, mentioned on this site. Kurtz (or one of his defenders on the Corner) once appealed to his PhD for authority and derogatorily referred to Darren Spedale (of the paper above) as "just a graduate student" at the time, even though Spedale had ostensibly more experience with Scandanavian social policies and Kurtz who, as far as I can tell, has no specific expertise in that area, aside from his Ph.D. credentials.

Posted by: Michael at February 8, 2005 9:29 AM

Justin, could you please post a list of links to your posts on the discussion of the articles that Kurtz wrote on SSM and Scandinavia and Nordic countries? I think the emerging Canadian, especially Quebec, data may be well worth comparing in the context of those threads.

Posted by: Chairm at February 8, 2005 9:44 AM

Cohabition: One of the central points that Kurtz made was that second order and third order births to unmarried women -- particularly cohabitating women -- is on a steep increase and this correlates with the SSM-reforms. In fact, he described the weakening of the traditional pattern that linked marriage and childbearing that had withstood other changes in family formation. Kurtz did specifically describe the increasingly rapid deconstruction of the link between converting cohabitation into marriage and having childlren (first, second, and third order). This point still stands despite the supposed debunkers.

Registered partnerships: I think that Justin covered this well in one of his posts a year or so ago. And more recently in his essay on Sullivan's inconsistencies in the SSM debate.

The Netherlands as an exception: Kurtz did cite the consensus that was described by a prominent Dutch demographer. The idea that The Netherlands stoodout in terms of family formation patterns did not originate with Kurtz. Likewise on Norway which also has regional populations that have been distinguishable in terms of family formation social values. The decades worth of data, observation, and analysis written by local social scientists set the stage for the SSM-related analysis that Kurtz added.

Darren Spedale: The extent of his knowledge was on display in the pieces he wrote. And his bias was also obvious in his selective use of available data. Look for Kurtz on Spedale's use of the registered partnership data,for example. Again, I think that Justin covered this well in previous posts which would be worth re-reading if an up-to-date discussion is to be pursued here.

Posted by: Chairm at February 8, 2005 10:04 AM

Cohabition: One of the central points that Kurtz made was that second order and third order births to unmarried women -- particularly cohabitating women -- is on a steep increase and this correlates with the SSM-reforms.

Please show me a citation. Any citation. Kurtz never has. Telling me they correalate does not show me that they actually do. I'm a scientist. I need to see primary data.

In fact, he described the weakening of the traditional pattern that linked marriage and childbearing that had withstood other changes in family formation.

Again, he described it, in short articles. With no primary data. I want to look at the numbers myself.

Registered partnerships: I think that Justin covered this well in one of his posts a year or so ago. And more recently in his essay on Sullivan's inconsistencies in the SSM debate.

What he covered in that later is Sullivan's inconsistencies in the SSM debate, not Kurtz's. If you take Sullivan to task for inconsistencies, you have to do the same for Kurtz. Or it's blatant bias.

Kurtz did cite the consensus that was described by a prominent Dutch demographer. The idea that The Netherlands stoodout in terms of family formation patterns did not originate with Kurtz

No, but the fact that they stand out from Denmark does not make them inherently more like America, as Kurtz likes to imply. Can you show me in what specific ways that they are closer to family formations in America than to those in Denmark? Can you isolate what role the make-up of the government plays in changing family formation from what role same-sex unions play?

The extent of his knowledge was on display in the pieces he wrote. And his bias was also obvious in his selective use of available data. Look for Kurtz on Spedale's use of the registered partnership data,for example.

And I can say the same for Kurtz. It's a "he said, she said". Each one shows their bias; I never denied that. But at least I know what data Spedale uses and I can look at his interpretations and decide if I agree with them. When dealing with Kurtz, all I can look at is what Kurtz's spin is, not *how* he spins it.

Posted by: Michael at February 8, 2005 10:24 AM

Chairm,

I've gone back and (to the detriment of my own work today) re-read some of Justin's posts on the matter and wanted to clarify my position against Kurtz's argument.

Kurtz may not be directly stating a causation but he fails to show any statistical correalation. Spedale may be cherry-picking his numbers (but so is Kurtz (and Justin for that matter)), but all he is saying is that same-sex partneships have not exacerbated an already declining system. Kurtz argues that they have. And by even arguing that position, a layman who doesn't understand the difference between correalation and causation, mixed with his misrepresentation of terms, will come to assume that there is some sort of substantial link.

Kurtz also fails to properly define terminology. What exactly does he mean by "marriage decline"? And how much do other social policies like abortion and contraception contribute to skewing statistics. Justin points out that Spedale's adoption stats don't mean anything in a culture that has rampant abortion. The same should be said for Kurtz's use of the term "out-of-wedlock birth".

This is not to say that examining falling marriage rates and same-sex domestic partnerships is a futile effort. But it's simply disingenuous to make positive assertions of any impact that SSM can have on America based on marriage rates in Scandinavia.

Posted by: Michael at February 8, 2005 10:55 AM

Your original complaint that Kurtz misapplied the term "out-of-wedlock births" is mistaken. In fact, in responses to detractors, Kurtz referred to Scandinavian-style cohabitation. And Spedale inadvertenly reinforced the point that Kurtz made.

Re-read Kurtz and follow the references to primary data and to the published peer-reviewed articles written by social scientists. Much of these are available in American libraries but also on-line through the professional institutes and social science publications.

Both Spedale and Sullivan lumped together domestic partnership and SSM when it suited their predetermined conclusions. As for adoption, it was always on the table and that loose-end was tied-up shortly after the Dutch enactment of DP and SSM.

As for comparison of family formation patterns both within Europe and across the Atlantic, read the materials referenced by Kurtz. The UK, for example, tends to be a sort of bridge between the trends in Europe and those in the USA. And, as I suggested earlier, Canada -- particulary Quebec -- is worth comparing as well. Social scientists have been making comparisons for many years.

Kurtz, and others, have added observations and offered theories on SSM-related trends that you dispute. Fine. But I do think you need to be more specific (and accurate) first in what you claim Kurtz has said and second in the counterclaims of others that you deem better.

Posted by: Chairm at February 8, 2005 11:21 AM

Michael,
SSM is touted as making marriage stronger. I've looked at the raw data available on the internet of the past ten years for number of marriages/1000 people in all the Scandinavian countries. The overall trend for the countries that have made SSM legal is downward. If SSM is suppose to help, how come this does not show an upward trend? If SSM is suppose to make marriage more attractive, how come the predominance of out-of-wedlock births are to couples of which 80% go on to get married? Shouldn't there be fewer out-of-wedlock births? Shouldn't that 80% already be married before the child is born? It doesn't matter how many papers are published on the study of SSM, the bottom line is the birth rate is higher for OSM by far than any other arrangement. The data for the Scandinavian countries shows that births per female are well below the rate that sustains a population. SSM has done nothing to reverse that no matter how many more babies they can adopt. What the data from Scandinavia does show is that when marriage-lite options are offered by the civic authorities for SS couples, more and more marriages are replaced by those marriage-lite options among OS couples. Fewer true marriages = fewer births. Fewer births = declining population. Enough declining population = death of society. Will the Scandinavian countries be de-populated? Not likely. The land will be taken over by somebody who can fill it. Argue that.

Posted by: smmtheory at February 8, 2005 11:29 AM

Michael, we seem to have cross-commented.

While I agree with you that we need more data (and thus more time to gather relevant data) before making conclusions, I do think there is sound social science upon which to be highly skeptical of the untested claim that SSM will have no adverse influence on family formation patterns.

And I think it is not misleading to assert that it is not a good idea to reinforce trends toward decline.

Posted by: Chairm at February 8, 2005 11:31 AM

Here's a question for the SSM supporters: if you agree that the effect of SSM on marriage can at least be addressed, if not fully answered, by looking at sociological data, how can you 1) support SSM before we have more comprehensive data, and 2) argue that SSM is an inherent right protected by the Constitution? I, for one, would be more willing to support SSM if there was a lot of data showing uncontrovertibly that the availability of SSM had no effects or positive effects on marriage rates over the period of at least a decade. (I happen to think such an occurrence is virtually impossible, but that doesn't mean my mind can't be changed.) But it seems to me that the sociological data is irrelevant if SSM is truly a Constitutional right. If that is your view, why don't you just argue that the sociological data is irrelevant?

Posted by: Mike S. at February 8, 2005 3:55 PM

To wit: the previous post.

Posted by: Mike S. at February 8, 2005 3:57 PM

Michael,

Now, Michael, it's bad form to criticize a guy in his own blog (though you have every right, and reason to do it) and stating that he's making a dishonest argument.....without showing the links/arguments.

Let's leave Dr. Kurtz aside. He can certainly defend himself (though, I'm not done with this argument. Not in the least).

When has JUSTIN ever "fudged" or "misused" the numbers on this subject.

Links, please.

I should add (to everyone else) I've never met Justin Katz, and he doesn't need me to defend him (he can defend himself).

So, can you defend your comments regarding Katz?

Finally, if Spedale is skewing his numbers, why is that ok for him but not for Kurtz?

(Incidentally, I'm not convinced that either is, but I'm persuaded by the past work of Dr. Kurtz in numerous areas that he's correct in his assertions).

Comments?

Posted by: Aaron at February 8, 2005 10:41 PM

When has JUSTIN ever "fudged" or "misused" the numbers on this subject.

Links, please.

I never said that Justin fudged or misused numbers, I specifically said he cherry picked them.

http://dustinthelight.timshelarts.com/lint/000588.html

for one post and subsequent comments.

And I think it is not misleading to assert that it is not a good idea to reinforce trends toward decline.

While I agree with this sentiment, Chairm, it is overstating as well as itself misleading. I maintain that the data show that same-sex marriage is neutral or non-acting on marriage rates, hence I don't believe it is misleading to say that SSM "reinforc[s] trends toward decline". That is, bar SSM and the decline will continue apace. Secondly, I'm not entirely convinced that the marriage decline in Scandinavia is an actual decline, and is where I think that Kurtz can be misleading. The welfare state and falling church rates have contributed to people not getting a marriage licenses, but cohabitating couples in these countries stay together at comparable rates as married couples. The model has remained. Te religiousness surrounding that model has declined. The role of religion in modern Western public life is really what he is lamenting and in my book that is an entirely separate issue. I think he's being disengenuous when he glosses over that fact.

Back to Aaron:
Finally, if Spedale is skewing his numbers, why is that ok for him but not for Kurtz?

I addressed this at the very beginning, about ten comments up: "Each one shows their bias; I never denied that. But at least I know what data Spedale uses and I can look at his interpretations and decide if I agree with them. When dealing with Kurtz, all I can look at is what Kurtz's spin is, not *how* he spins it." I think this is an extremely important distinction.

And to smmtheory:
But it seems to me that the sociological data is irrelevant if SSM is truly a Constitutional right. If that is your view, why don't you just argue that the sociological data is irrelevant?

I believe that that is what Eskridge et al do. It's what I've always said. It proves absolutely nothing. Therefore it is irrelevant, regardless of whether or not it is a constitutional issue. And there will never be any data showing uncontrovertably that there is no effect because as long as you have people who feel strongly one way or the other, they will make a controversy. For example, I think the data are clear: same-sex unions in Scandinavia have no impact on heterosexual marriage. Kurtz, and others disagree. They think the data are clear in exactly the opposite way. Interestingly enough, no one, neither Kurtz or Spedale, did a Student's T test to see if any data point deviation is statistically significant. If there are some, it's a nail in the coffin for people like Spedale. If not, while Kurtz can hand-wave it away, it's pretty damning for him. Personally, however, I still think it's all a red herring. Gays will get to marry all over the world within the next 25 years and will continue to do so until the muslims take over through overpopulation, or we create a master plan of genetically modified superbabies.

Posted by: Michael at February 9, 2005 11:03 AM

hence I don't believe it is misleading to say that SSM "reinforc[s] trends toward decline".

Sorry, I meant that I DO believe it is misleading to say that SSM reinforces trends toward decline since it has to go beyond the trend in order to reinforce.

Posted by: Michael at February 9, 2005 12:20 PM

"Gays will get to marry all over the world within the next 25 years and will continue to do so until the muslims take over through overpopulation, or we create a master plan of genetically modified superbabies."

There's that post modernist culture of death attitude again. There's nothing like covertly saying "The world is going to Gehenna in a handbasket anyway, so what does it matter if we help it along."

Posted by: smmtheory at February 9, 2005 1:08 PM

There's that post modernist culture of death attitude again. There's nothing like covertly saying "The world is going to Gehenna in a handbasket anyway, so what does it matter if we help it along."

It's called sarcasm.

Posted by: Michael at February 9, 2005 1:23 PM

Hi Michael,

>> cohabitating couples in these countries stay together at comparable rates as married couples

Could you provide a reference or a link to the source for that observation, please?

It is my understanding that across Europe, and no less in Scandinavia, cohabitating couples dissolve their living arrangements at double the rate (or more) of married couples. The introduction of children into cohabitation does not much mitigate the higher risk of dissolution.

Did you just lump together marriage and cohabitation?

Posted by: Chairm at February 9, 2005 3:05 PM

Michael,

Michael,

OK, "cherry picking" it is (that's close enough for "misused" and "fudged," and you and I can go to any campus you'd like to see if that comparison would hold up between "misused," "fudged" and "cherry picked." This kind of nit-picking gets us nowhere and actually detracts from the discussion at hand).

I looked at that post, and I only found comments from a "Jon," not from you.

So, the question before you still remains: WHICH data did JUSTIN "cherry pick"?

So, giving me a link to something Justin wrote a few months ago doesn't help me.

Seriously, I'm trying to be open-minded here, but I don't see the evidence (the actual evidence you're alleging against Kurtz and Justin).

What I mean is, if you don't have the evidence YOURSELF, how can you complain that someone else is misusing it (even if a source that agrees with you has it)? You ought to be able to "make sense" of it, since (and I agree with you) having the actual data makes all of the difference in the world.

Justin's not a statistician and so far all you've done is give me a post by a "Jon" who doesn't have any of the data, either.

I admire your passion for the data (although, Spedale's is only ONE report; we don't make public policy on the basis of ONE report on ANYTHING).

So, again, where has Justin misused the data and, why don't you enlighten all of us here, and post the data for us (I copied-and-pasted your Spedale link, and I came to a login screen)!

Posted by: Aaron at February 9, 2005 6:08 PM

I'm sure it's called sarcasm Michael. The fact that you so casually mock the dissolution of entire societies is indicative of the truth of my statement. You indicate that American society is insular with respect to the effects of redefining marriage since Europe has a more advanced welfare state. Yet even as you speak these words, compatriots of yours are busily attempting to mold the U.S. into an European look-alike.

Posted by: smmtheory at February 9, 2005 10:32 PM

So, giving me a link to something Justin wrote a few months ago doesn't help me.

I gave you a post in which someone, other than me, went over the misues of numbers. There are others. Do a google search on this site for Kurtz or Spedale and you'll find more links. I don't have time to rehash everything that's already been said in detail. You asked for a link. I gave you a link.

Posted by: Michael at February 10, 2005 12:34 PM


Yes, I know, and I wrote: (I copied-and-pasted your Spedale link, and I came to a login screen)! I tried accessing the article (ie - logging in, and I couldn't access the article because it's PDF).

You know what, I'll look for it myself.

Now, on to other points you don't address. "Jon" did no such thing in refuting Justin. He did, however, attack him personally (which detracts from his argument and, by you linking to it, it detracts from yours).

You want to address Justin's and Kurtz's SUBSTANTIVE points, then do it, point by point.

If you can prove to me that they're in any way "fudging," "misusing," or "cherry picking" in any way that's intellectually dishonest, I will be more than happy to apologize, write to Justin about it (and, Dr. Kurtz, with whom I have sometimes written short notes to with questions; he's usually very gracious to reply back very quickly).

But, again, when you're in someone else's blog, it's bad form to link to lame arguments laced with personal attacks. Doesn't mean you CANNOT do it (it's a free country); it means you shouldn't do it.

Finally, and before I leave here, Justin's original argument/piece was about JUDICIAL IMPOSITION of the said same-sex "marriage," NOT all of these other important, but ancillary, and unresolved problems.

I think we can ALL agree that if some states want gay "marriage," and others don't, then the states that do not do so should not be forced to do so, and we'll see if they're wrong to not do so (Sullivan's original argument....until he changes it...and then changes it back, according to the dictates of the moment).

One thing we've all learned from Roe V. Wade: the American people will NOT accept something judicially-imposed, and call it a "basic constitutional right."

As LBJ once observed: "I know the difference between chicken **** and chicken-salad."

The Court may rule it, but the people will not accept it unless they have the chance to decide it/change their opinion on it THEMSELVES.

You all have a good day, and thanks again, Justin, for the use of your site.

God Bless.

Aaron

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