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April 9, 2005

Whitewashing the Fence

There it is, the assumption that social conservatives have ulterior motives when it comes to the same-sex marriage debate:

One version of this argument would hold that Class B so reviles Class A that they will, at the margin, want less to do with any institution Class A has contaminated. Social conservatives on their best behavior are at pains to avoid this one.

You've got us, Jim Henley, we don't actually believe the arguments we make. They're all just cover for the easily dismissible argument that none of us — save the liberal-manufactured strawmen in our midst — have made. Actually, this social conservative can shake the impression that liberals are merely assuming that we're doing that which they observe about themselves.

The impression originates with the underlying one that liberals don't take this debate as seriously as conservatives do. I don't mean seriously in the sense of wanting to win the issue; if anything, most of the strongest proponents of same-sex marriage have a more direct emotional desire for victory. I mean seriously in the sense of wanting to find the right answer — in the sense of taking opposing arguments seriously enough to understand them as rational ideas from a particular perspective. Instead, SSM proponents' minds are made up, correct by definition, and all the rest is just, to borrow Henley's pun, fencing.

Take the man himself: as intelligently and compellingly as Henley's post is written, he mischaracterizes, deliberately or not, just about every argument that his opposition makes about same-sex marriage. Consequently, he misses the fundamental aspect that makes his position wrong. To begin with the limited, here's what he believes social conservatives on their "best behavior" argue:

Instead they argue that marriage is deeply attractive because it is an opportunity to "step[] into an explicitly gendered role," as Megan puts it, and opening the institution to Class A, gay couples, compromises that.

I don't think that's the point that Megan McArdle (herself not a social conservative) is making, but whether it is or not, her phrasing is adequate to describe the social conservative view:

... social conservatives reply that institutions have a number of complex ways in which they fulfill their roles, and one of the very important ways in which the institution of marriage perpetuates itself is by creating a romantic vision of oneself in marriage that is intrinsically tied into expressing one's masculinity or femininity in relation to a person of the opposite sex; stepping into an explicitly gendered role. This may not be true of every single marriage, and indeed undoubtedly it is untrue in some cases. But it is true of the culture-wide institution. By changing the explicitly gendered nature of marriage we might be accidentally cutting away something that turns out to be a crucial underpinning.

It isn't that young men pursue wives because it's a "deeply attractive... opportunity" to behave explicitly masculine. Believe me — as a man who's spent time in a fraternity as well as working on the docks and on the construction site — such opportunities abound. What marriage does, in this circumscribed aspect of its function, is to define what the explicitly gendered role should be in relation to women and in relation to children. The importance of gender to marriage isn't its utility as a sales and promotion vehicle, but as a matter of definition. And the importance of marriage to society is not that it fashions a garment for role-playing, but rather that it tethers with cultural accessories a feature that opposite-sex relationships uniquely have.

Here, Henley builds on his flawed interpretation:

Furthermore, this will, if anything, strengthen, not weaken, heterosexual marriage as an institution for child-rearing. Right now a heterosexual man hungry for a "gendered role" has two obvious options open to him - father children out of wedlock, or within. ... His choices are "kids within marriage" or "kids outside of marriage." Gay marriage means the marginal straight guy, the one looking for any excuse to avoid The C-Word, ladies, sees that many fewer "kids outside marriage."

The third option that Henley ignores is "no kids" — whether that means no kids born or no kids binding. Children are entirely a matter of choice for the homosexual couple; they are a matter of potential consequence for the heterosexual couple.

Heretofore, most compassionate social conservatives whom I've read have seen committed gay couples with children as bearing the unfortunate burden of the larger social necessity that marriage remain male-female. But it may be that Henley has unearthed a reason that such couples would be a detriment in their own right. What gay marriage means to the marginal straight guy — yes, the one looking for any excuse to avoid commitment, whether to women or to children — is that it doesn't matter whether his children's mother is married to him, just that she's married to somebody. Or even that their parents are married, whoever they are.

This relates to Henley's dismissal of one of McArdle's historical "case studies," the easing of divorce laws. McArdle writes:

When the law changed, the institution changed. The marginal divorce made the next one easier. Again, the magnitude of the change swamped the dire predictions of the anti-reformist wing; no one could have imagined, in their wildest dreams, a day when half of all marriages ended in divorce.

And Henley responds (emphasis his):

Needless to say, allowing homosexual marriage doesn't remove legal barriers to ending marriages; it removes legal barriers to starting them.

This response neatly sidesteps the apposite clause: "the institution changed." As McArdle goes on to explain, when you enter into modern marriage, "you aren't really making a lifetime commitment; you're making a lifetime commitment unless you find something better to do." And in that, Henley's new vision for marriage and parenthood makes divorce even easier. Creating children need not be a lifetime commitment to them or to their mother, because the institution for commitment — marriage — is no longer defined for the purposes of one man and one woman and the children that they may create. It is defined for the purposes of one person and another person and any children that they may or may not acquire.

We're not talking strict legality; we're talking culture and social meaning. And contrary to Henley's narrow requirements for analogies, one can't separate the meaning of a marriage's beginning from the ease with which its members dissolve it.

The broader view brings us to the mutually agreed upon wisdom of an image suggested by Chesterton, as Henley quotes:

There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable.

Henley sees this as a test requiring the formulation of some reason, but the social conservative — here, the "intelligent reformer" — is insisting on the reason. In its totality. With the issue at hand, in particular, I've noted a tendency among the other side to break marriage into a series of discrete considerations and to address them each in turn. This part is invalid; this part is outdated; this part makes no sense; this part is religious; and this remaining part is arguable... so there is no rational basis to oppose our proposed massive change. This is simply an insufficient approach. Marriage, in particular among social institutions, is effective and crucial most profoundly in the way in which its various parts have been honed to work together.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Henley's argument is his mention of a non-gendered reason for marriage (emphasis his):

It is probably as important on the other end - as a way by which children separate themselves from their parents on reaching adulthood. Every marriage ceremony I've ever attended has been quite clear on this, as is the Bible. ("The wife shall cleave to the husband.") We know that this is important for genetic mixing. I'd argue it's also important for social mixing. Marriage as separator of offspring from forebear makes society less clannish. The search for and taking of mate widens social circles and enlarges trust networks while at the same time militating against mere atomism. You don't just separate from the old family, you cleave to a new one.

Indeed, I'd cite this as a compelling reason for another defining restriction of marriage: proscription of consanguineous marriages. And it's true that the social mixing will remain intact even should the genetic mixing be withdrawn from the essential definition of marriage. However, McArdle's point about each step making the next easier comes starkly into play: there are currently two reasons for the fence against consanguineous marriage: procreative and social. At the very least, same-sex marriage would invalidate the former, leaving only vague notions of clannishness that a society (or judiciary) that takes individual choice as the supreme principle would surely deem an inappropriate basis for the law.

Stepping outside of the narrow point, though, we observe that Henley has made the repeated assertion that he is leaving out the "justice claims" of same-sex marriage supporters. Those claims, and every other argument that Henley puts forward on behalf of same-sex marriage, would apply equally to any other couple or group that wished to have the government recognize its relationship as "marriage."

Jim Henley closes his post by de-emphasizing his objective. His "isn't even an argument for taking the fence down," but rather "for adding another gate." To the contrary, just as he is wrong to insist that historical "form-factors" must match modern problems perfectly in order for lessons to be drawn, he errs in treating his closing distinction as a difference of kind. Whatever social liberals might say (on their best behavior), each gate makes it more plausible to add another, until the fence has been removed with neither understanding nor even, truly, conscientious awareness that it has been done.

(via Marriage Debate Blog)

Posted by Justin Katz at April 9, 2005 1:19 PM
Marriage & Family
Comments


Once again we have a promoter of same-sex marriage talking around the elephant in the living room; that one expansion of the definition of marriage will lead to other expansions. If two men can marry, why can't two brothers? If two women can marry, why not two sisters? The only modern objection to incest is the issue of cosanguinity leading to birth defects; but two brothers or two sisters won't be having chilren with each other. Therefore there's no way to say, with any support from the Lawrence or Goodridge decisions, that two same sex siblings may not marry.

Voila! Legalized incest as one result of same sex marriage. And following the "fairness" doctrine, if one form of incest is legal, all forms must become legal.

If two men can marry, why not three? If three women can marry, why not four? There's nothing special about "two", and much that is arbitrary. What are the long term social effects of polygamy, polyandry and other forms of polymarriage? I don't know, and I wager that not one advocate of same sex marriage knows either, but that doesn't even seem to slow them down, let alone stop them.

The advocates of same sex marriage may claim they just want to put a little hole in the proverbial fence across the road, but there are others that want to utterly demolish it, and they'll gladly use the precedents same sex marriage would establish to do their work.

Posted by: nobody at April 11, 2005 6:38 PM

Right On

Posted by: Fitz at April 11, 2005 7:53 PM

I've seen some people on both sides of SSM argue for a non-genetic basis for laws against incest, but I don't understand their argument. In some alternate reality of close-knit extended families I could maybe imagine an argument against incest based on preserving the integrity of sibling relationships or keeping families from becoming too clannish. But we're facing families that are completely atomized, coupled with an attempt at redefining the word 'family' to the point of nonexistence. Given that harsh reality, a non-genetic argument against incest seems quaint and largely irrelevant.

Posted by: Ben Bateman at April 12, 2005 12:08 PM

Well gee, if we pass a Constitutional Amendment preventing any state from legelizing SSM, then next, we'll have to ban inter-racial marriage, inter-religious marriages, childless marriages, marriages with more than a 20 year age gap between the partners, and eventually we'll be back to marrying someone arrianged by our parents who we never met.

No. Incestious marraiges and polygamy are separate issues and should be discussed & debated separately. If there are realy a large number of brothers who want to get married (and I don't think there are), we'll discuss it then. Until then, stick to the subject.

Posted by: Dancar at April 12, 2005 12:28 PM

Nobody wrote: There's nothing special about "two", and much that is arbitrary.

Actually there is something very special about the number two -- when one of them is a man and the other is a woman. In every other circumstance, you're right -- there's nothing special at all.

Posted by: Marty at April 12, 2005 1:06 PM

Can a brother and a sister marry under current law? So why would SSM complicated this even more?

Friends can already get married, people who never intend to have sex or children can get married. So did I miss the parade of horribles marching through our current marriage system???????????

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 12, 2005 2:08 PM

Can a brother and a sister marry under current law? So why would SSM complicated this even more?

The majority of people have internalized a set of traditional assumptions about marriage. Once you challenge those assumptions, with SSM, sibling marriage, or whatever, a lot of people are left wondering "what the heck is marriage, then?"

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 12, 2005 3:29 PM

And the next thing you know, people won't get married anymore, there will be no children, and the human race will die out.

Posted by: Dancar at April 12, 2005 4:04 PM

Dancar, it's like an article in the Onion.

"Gays Blamed for Species Dying Out."

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 12, 2005 4:38 PM

Dan and Res,
You forgot to add the <sarcasm> tags.

You two are overstating our arguments. I've never claimed that humanity will die out. I don't think any other commenters here have ever made that claim either. The real argument is that this particular society that you will have radically modified will become unviable and will be replaced. What the replacement will be nobody can guess. Some believe it will be replaced with a fundamentalist muslim society. In which case your ssm couples would have to start hiding again, only not from fear of being ostracized. Whatever replaces American society will not be as friendly to homogamous relationships as you hope to enjoy. It won't happen overnight of course. It may not even happen until your ssm grandchildren, but it will happen just like it is happening in Europe.

Posted by: smmtheory at April 12, 2005 4:51 PM

And the next thing you know, people won't get married anymore, there will be no children, and the human race will die out.

That's not the claim. Just that the possibility of SSM makes people question their concept of marriage. The average Joe has probably never met an open same-sex couple and has no idea why anyone would want SSM, so the very idea seems absurd and arbitrary to him. That's why SSM gets compared to all sorts of bizarre ideas like marrying your cat, etc.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 12, 2005 5:21 PM

>> Ben: "we're facing families that are completely atomized, coupled with an attempt at redefining the word 'family' to the point of nonexistence. Given that harsh reality, a non-genetic argument against incest seems quaint and largely irrelevant."

The increased prevalence of blended families should increase the concern about intrafamily disharmony. Incest laws ought to include adoption and step-parenting, but not for concern about genetic problems. First, for the protection of family harmony; second, for the safeguarding against the further devolution of family into a household of room-mates or friends.

The "family diversity" mantra is based on the idea that family is whatever one can cobble together in place of tradition. This is closer to the typical experience in the homosexual community where one's family of friends (cum ad hoc siblings, uncles, aunts, etc.) remain potential intermitten sexual partners. This can be viewed with great compassion, given that many homosexual individuals have been ostracized from their families of origin. And though direct government interference would be antithetical to an open and free society, viewing this social phenomenon with approval is another matter.

>> Dancar: "If there are realy a large number of brothers who want to get married (and I don't think there are), we'll discuss it then."

>> Res Ipsa: "Can a brother and a sister marry under current law? So why would SSM complicated this even more?"

On one hand, the SSM side will argue that even if one same-sex couple was denied marital status, this would be unfair. One the other hand, if other unmarriagable combinations are denied, in principle, that is a matter of numbers.

About 11% of the homosexual adults in our country actually live in same-sex households. And that is not to say that these households resemble the touted SSM ideal. Nor that such households would eventually convert to SSM arrangements, if SSM were enacted. But the concern about incest still exists where a same-sex household includes children: about 95% of same-sex households with children are populated by children who have migrated from homes in which one of the adults in the same-sex household used to be in a procreative relationship (i.e. marriage) with the opposite sex. In other words, such households share some basic features with step-families and families in which adoption has blended unrelated people into a special example of family diversity.

If the SSM side argued that the numbers support overturning the man-woman criterion of marriage, they would concede that their goal is no stronger than that of the polygamists and, yes, those who'd form incestuous marriages.

The answer is to strengthen the incest laws, not to weaken them. In my view, anyway.

Posted by: Chairm at April 12, 2005 6:08 PM

"Just that the possibility of SSM makes people question their concept of marriage."

Does it? Is there any proof of that? Beyond the questionable data from Scandanavia, has there been any polling or research to show a correlation between allowing same-sex marriage and people deciding to abandon their legal rights and quit getting married?

And before you start spouting the Scandanavia and Netherlands data (which is highly suspicious), I am looking for evidence where people say, "I am not getting married because gays can get married.

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 12, 2005 6:36 PM

Res: ...has there been any polling or research to show a correlation between allowing same-sex marriage and people deciding to abandon their legal rights and quit getting married?

The claim is that they question their concept of marriage, not that they actually change their marital behavior. I'm just speculating on why people compare SSM to all sorts of other variations on marriage, some of them obviously absurd.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 12, 2005 6:49 PM

I'm sorry, Res, but one of the frustrating things about this debate is the juvenile reactions from SSM supporters. As Matt already noted, you've met a measured point with hysterical exaggeration (even mischaracterization). And in a related fashion, you've illustrated that you've devoted not one credulous moment to understanding the other side's argument.

Personally, I'm tired of repeating myself. Do some reading, do some thinking, and then rejoin the discussion.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 12, 2005 7:02 PM

"And before you start spouting the Scandanavia and Netherlands data (which is highly suspicious), I am looking for evidence where people say, "I am not getting married because gays can get married.""

A rough analogy of this from the anti-SSM side would be, "I am looking for evidence where large numbers of gays say, "I will definitely get married and not have an 'open' marriage."

Posted by: Mike S. at April 12, 2005 8:55 PM

"No. Incestious marraiges and polygamy are separate issues and should be discussed & debated separately."

Well, maybe in your perfect little organized world, that's how things operate. Here in the real world, thinks aren't that organized.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 12, 2005 8:57 PM

RI: "I am looking for evidence where people say, I am not getting married because gays can get married."

How many times have you heard "I'm not getting married because i don't want end up divorced like X (mom, dad, those lousy heterosexuals who have ruined marriage)"? Dozens and dozens of times -- it's practically cliche these days.

Why? Because such rampant divorce makes a mockery of Marriage. So does a same-sex couple. So would a brother and his sister.

Posted by: Marty at April 12, 2005 9:09 PM

I am sorry you are frustrated, Justin, but I am not sure why you don't think I've thought about this or ead about it, I've done a great deal of thinking and writing about this topic and believe I understand the other side farly well.

I am frustrated by the circular arguments made by SSM opponents and the inability of opponents to ground their arguments in facts or reality, instead of speculation. The endless discussions of procreation, for instance, are so circular in nature and not based in the realities of the law.

It seems ironic you are scolding me when SSM opponents are suggesting that approving SSM will open the door to incest without any basis except more circular arguments and half-baked analysis.

Posted by: res ipsa at April 12, 2005 9:09 PM

Res,

You'll have to paraphrase SSM opponents' "circular arguments and half-baked analysis" before I'll believe that you understand what's being said. Your dismissal of our arguments as such does nothing at all to dispel the impression that you haven't given them serious consideration.

But a comment on this:

The endless discussions of procreation, for instance, are so circular in nature and not based in the realities of the law.

I'm sorry you feel these discussions to be endless. Perhaps you aren't aware that simply rejecting the other side's bottom line doesn't invalidate it. Again, I'm not sure what you're talking about vis-à-vis circularity, but I will make this point: our society is the master of, not the servant of, our laws. Moreover, the structures and symbols of our society are larger than any corresponding laws, not circumscribed by them.

To my experience, SSM proponents such as yourself have constructed a tightly bounded rhetorical mechanism that (you think) justifies a policy that you feel emotionally to be correct. Anything that drifts outside of that box must therefore be either invalid as bigotry, religious dogma, etc. or circular and unfounded. That's not a game I'm interested in playing, after years of going over and over the same ground.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 12, 2005 10:29 PM

Justin Katz wrote this:

"...our society is the master of, not the servant of, our laws. Moreover, the structures and symbols of our society are larger than any corresponding laws, not circumscribed by them."

Wow. Such perspective is sorely lacking these days.

Posted by: Marty at April 12, 2005 10:53 PM

Res: ...SSM opponents are suggesting that approving SSM will open the door to incest...

Personally, I don't think SSM will open the door to incest. There is no widespread desire for incestuous marriage, so even if it were universally legal, you would probably never see a brother-sister couple, grandma-grandson, etc. except on Jerry Springer.

However, there is a psychological connection between incest and SSM: the historical understanding of marriage is that it does not include sexually taboo relationships. So if SSM is legalized it means that (a) homosexuality is no longer taboo or (b) sexual taboo is no longer a barrier to marriage. People who do not accept (a) therefore believe that SSM creates a marriage "free for all" which would allow incest and any number of other oddities.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 13, 2005 1:06 AM

Matt:

"There is no widespread desire for incestuous marriage,"

It's strange that you should say something like this. The same is true for same sex marriage. As with same sex marriage, it is a fairly narrow segment of the populace that really wants to be able to marry the same blood. Proponents of same sex marriage keep hammering at it with the argument that the minority shouldn't be left out. Of course the same argument can be applied to sanginous marriages. Here's a question for you on that notion. Is a sexual relationship between two brothers or between two sisters incestuous? If so, no offspring can arise from the sexual act, why is it considered so? If they are practicing gays, what reasoning would you use for constricting their marriage under homogenous relationships.

Posted by: smmtheory at April 13, 2005 2:33 AM

The more common argument (mine, as it happens) is that SSM changes the meaning of marriage. In one respect, it is being reduced from being about relationships that tend toward childbirth to being about relationships that tend toward sex. I don't think, especially in this era, that's a theme that will long hold. And if marriage isn't about childbirth or about sex, then why shouldn't siblings or parent/child couples that take care of each other be able to marry?

It isn't fear of incest so much as fear of dilution of marriage.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 13, 2005 5:27 AM

smm: Is a sexual relationship between two brothers or between two sisters incestuous? If so, no offspring can arise from the sexual act, why is it considered so?

Your implicit assumption is that incestuous marriage is forbidden because it could create offspring with birth defects. I don't think there is any such conscious line of reasoning in the historical exclusion of incestuous marriages.

Justin: The more common argument (mine, as it happens) is that SSM changes the meaning of marriage. In one respect, it is being reduced from being about relationships that tend toward childbirth to being about relationships that tend toward sex.

SSM does indeed change the meaning of marriage. That is why I support civil union or domestic partnership over SSM.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 13, 2005 8:10 AM

What it really comes down to for most people is what sort of couples they are comfortable applying the term "married" to. I have no issue with the label being applied to same sex couples, but many people do. However, I have to admit I'm not comfortable with siblings and other couples among immediate family members being referred to as "married."

However, among the benefits of marriage are the legal rights and responsibilities. It is my understanding that same sex couples wanting to establish these legal arraigements have to hire an attorney and pay several thousand dollars. I can understand why they feel discriminateted against.

Also, a brother and sister wanting to get married could respond to the birth defects argument that people with genetically transmitted medical problems can still legally marry, despite the risk of passing medical problems on to children.

Therefore, I would be happy with the establishment of civil unions that allow any two people to establish marriage-like legal relationships between each other, available with the same cost and convenience as marriage licenses. Same-sex couples could still have weddings in churches that are willing to perform them, but the legal term "marriage" would still only apply to opposite-sex couples who are not related. I have heard of people getting married for the legal reasons who but have no interest in sex or children with each other, and this arraingement would suit them as well.

As for siblings and other immediate family memebrs, this might make sense if both are single and want the other to speak for them critical medical situations, or pass assets in case of death outside of probate. Civil unions don't have to presume the partners are having sex together, so if they do that's their own private business (as it is now).

As for poligamy, current family law is not adequite to address all the issues that may arise. For example, is one or more of the wives divorce, then what are the child visitation rights among wives and ex-wives? Unless such issues can be sensibely ironed out, polygamious relationships will just have to exist outside of legal recognition for now.

So I would think that civil unions would satisfy most reasonable people. But there are some that oppose civil unions, as well as company health plans that offer benefits to same-sex partners. I still see that as little more than bigotry.


Posted by: Dancar at April 13, 2005 12:15 PM

Dancar: As for poligamy, current family law is not adequite to address all the issues that may arise. For example, is one or more of the wives divorce, then what are the child visitation rights among wives and ex-wives? Unless such issues can be sensibely ironed out, polygamious relationships will just have to exist outside of legal recognition for now.

Polygamy is legal in many other countries. If civil union were to cover polygamy, maybe the laws of those countries could be used as a model.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 13, 2005 1:07 PM

But there are some that oppose civil unions, as well as company health plans that offer benefits to same-sex partners. I still see that as little more than bigotry.

Marriage between a man and a woman -- the biological mother and father of their own children -- til death do they part, is what society wants to encourage and reward.

Encouraging anything less, and rewarding them for doing less, is a lowering of the standard and will result in fewer and fewer people meeting the previously high standard.

I'm no bigot -- i just have higher standards than you do. I don't think prize for "also ran" should be the same as the prize for first place.

Posted by: Marty at April 13, 2005 1:23 PM

It seems a real waste of time to argue with homosexuals about SSM.
They have to much of an emotional investment in their lifestyle.
If I must say, I have found their attitudenal approach to be narrcassitic & sophmoric.

The proper approach anti-ssm proponents should be taking is not a defensive posture.
By this I mean making the argument on our terms not theirs.
The fact of the matter is that sexual liberationist policy's (easy divorce, sexual looseness, apologizing for illegitamacy)
has brought are culective marriage culture to the state it is in.

The destruction of the marriage culture is as close as any inner city. 70% illigitamcy rates & 50% divorce rates all have a very painfull human face.
Our approach should be how can you inhuman monsters (leftists, not gays specifically) force THIS argument -after all the damage you have already done?

Posted by: Fitz at April 13, 2005 1:30 PM

The reason for civil union is not to reward or encourage anyone's behavior. It is meant to recognize the reality that people live in de facto familial relationships outside of either blood or marriage. When the distinctions made in law match up well with reality, the law works better for everyone. Keep in mind that civil union may not always be to a couple's advantage -- for example it would make conflicts of interest resulting from their relationship more legally visible, could make them responsible for each others' debts, etc.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 13, 2005 1:43 PM

The point of the law is not to "recognize peoples relationships"
The point of the law is to safegaurd and subsidize those relationships that are benificial.
SS coupling is of little benifit to society- indeed, inasmuch as it resembles marriage - it merely helps breakdown an already fragile institution.

We are not defending a word- we are defending an institution. (a concept, a culture, an idea)

Posted by: Fitz at April 13, 2005 1:48 PM

It is meant to recognize the reality that people live in de facto familial relationships outside of either blood or marriage.

These are adults living with the consequences of their very adult choices -- and the children they willingly took along for the ride. They made their beds, why does society owe them anything extra? Society wants to encourage BETTER choices in the future, not shield these people from the consequences of their actions.

Posted by: Marty at April 13, 2005 2:05 PM

Society wants to encourage BETTER choices in the future, not shield these people from the consequences of their actions.

Our law is based on the principle of liberty -- that people are better able to run their own lives than have the government do it for them. The law is especially deferential to the choices of private citizens in family matters. For example, parents who make poor educational and career choices have just the same parental rights as their more successful peers, even though their life choices are detrimental to the children.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 13, 2005 2:24 PM

"Our approach should be how can you inhuman monsters (leftists, not gays specifically) force THIS argument -after all the damage you have already done?"

Given the highest rates of illegitimacy and divorce are in traditionally conservative states, I am not sure why it is liberals to blame for this.

"The point of the law is to safegaurd and subsidize those relationships that are benificial.
SS coupling is of little benifit to society- indeed, inasmuch as it resembles marriage - it merely helps breakdown an already fragile institution."

What about providing legal protection for the children raised in same-sex relationships? What about normalizing effect marriage could potentially have on those who enter relationships? What about providing access to legal rights that are completely unconnected to procreation.

And if we only subsidize relationships that are beneficial, why do we subsidize the relationships of infertile couples or the elderly? Or why do we allow prisoners to marry or allow the mentally retarded to marry?

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 13, 2005 2:27 PM

"Our approach should be how can you inhuman monsters (leftists, not gays specifically) force THIS argument -after all the damage you have already done?"

Given the highest rates of illegitimacy and divorce are in traditionally conservative states, I am not sure why it is liberals to blame for this.

"The point of the law is to safegaurd and subsidize those relationships that are benificial.
SS coupling is of little benifit to society- indeed, inasmuch as it resembles marriage - it merely helps breakdown an already fragile institution."

What about providing legal protection for the children raised in same-sex relationships? What about normalizing effect marriage could potentially have on those who enter relationships? What about providing access to legal rights that are completely unconnected to procreation.

And if we only subsidize relationships that are beneficial, why do we subsidize the relationships of infertile couples or the elderly? Or why do we allow prisoners to marry or allow the mentally retarded to marry?

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 13, 2005 2:28 PM

The point of the law is to safegaurd and subsidize those relationships that are benificial.
SS coupling is of little benifit to society- indeed, inasmuch as it resembles marriage - it merely helps breakdown an already fragile institution.

What some people seem to forget is that individuals make up society. You can't talk about something being beneficial to society without talking about something being beneficial to individuals. Individuals, real people, real children, are affected by barring of marital recognition of SSM. You can say that SSM will help breakdown marriage, but you need to be specific when you say "breakdown". Yeah, yeah, bad things will happen. But what? And how? And why won't there be any good things? Isn't that even a possibility?

Isn't it possible that marriage is being weakened by all the legal ways that our government is trying to get around the glaring inequality in the way it treats its gay citizens? One Connecticut state senator, one of only three Democrats voted against the civil union bill, not because he wanted to protect marriage but because he wanted it to be open for straights. Many of the ways that the government encourages people to get married, incentives if you will, are being offered to same-sex couples by private companies (health benefits, for example) or domestic partners, all of which are, for equality purposes, open to heterosexuals. Gays can raise children, gays can name each other beneficiaries, gays can commit to each other till death do they part. These are things the government should encourage, but is actively discouraging them for one class of people.

Posted by: Michael at April 13, 2005 3:17 PM

Our law is based on the principle of liberty -- that people are better able to run their own lives than have the government do it for them. The law is especially deferential to the choices of private citizens in family matters.

and another

Gays can raise children, gays can name each other beneficiaries, gays can commit to each other till death do they part. These are things the government should encourage, but is actively discouraging them for one class of people.

That's total BS.

Gays can and do and are encouraged just like everyone else to marry a member of the opposite sex. WHY? Because children -- even children of gays -- deserve a home with their real mommy and real daddy. This is what society chooses to encourage.

If you don't want to play by those equal rules, then don't play -- you will not be penealized for not playing. No one is discouraging you from your freedom and liberty to choose your own family structure. But these are choices, and they are NOT equal to the choices that society would encourage you to make.

You have equality now -- in spite of your sexual orientation. What you're asking for are some very special rights, because of your orientation. But that's not quite the same as equality now is it?

Posted by: Marty at April 13, 2005 3:27 PM

... children -- even children of gays -- deserve a home with their real mommy and real daddy. This is what society chooses to encourage.

Yes, children deserve their real mom and dad, and we should encourage that. I personally do not believe gays or lesbians should try to raise children in an environment that deliberately separates kids from their real mothers and/or fathers. That is why civil union is better than SSM, because the "civil union" language does not carry the connotation of child-rearing.

You have equality now -- in spite of your sexual orientation.

You are generally right -- gays and lesbian adults already have broad freedom, at least those living in major metropolitan areas of the US. SSM would be more of a symbolic victory for gays than a substantive improvement of their lives.

What you're asking for are some very special rights, because of your orientation. But that's not quite the same as equality now is it?

You have argued that existing marriage law treats gays and straights equally because both are free to marry a person of the opposite sex. By that logic, same-sex-only civil union also treats gays and straights equally, because both are free to form a union with someone of the same sex.

... but I don't really buy either of these arguments. This is not fundamentally an issue of "rights" or "equality". Like I said before, it's about making laws that fit the social realities in which they operate. Civil union does that while minimally impacting the institution of marriage and its role in raising children.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 13, 2005 4:05 PM

How can SSM be "special rights" if there is no seuxal orientation requriement. It isn't a special right if it applies to everyone. Thus, Marty, you can marry your best male friend or your college roommate, just as a woman can marry her best male friend or her male college roommate.

In other words, you will be able to enter into a "sham" SSM just like you believe gays and lesbians should enter into "sham" opposite-sex marriages.

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 13, 2005 4:46 PM

Now we're getting somewhere.

You have argued that existing marriage law treats gays and straights equally because both are free to marry a person of the opposite sex. By that logic, same-sex-only civil union also treats gays and straights equally, because both are free to form a union with someone of the same sex.

Correct. To make things "equal" while still accomodating the special needs of gay people, we have to lower the bar for everyone, essentially stripping marriage of most of its traditional meaning.

I'm not neccesarily opposed to some special accomodations for the very special needs of gay people -- but they have to be recognized as just that -- special, otherwise we're gutting the institution for 95% of the population, simply to make it palatable for the 5% with special needs.

For instance, i'd support civil unions for same sex couples (and likely even support true "gay marriage") on two little conditions: 1) that both parties are indeed gay, and that this can be proven, and 2) that this orientation cannot and wil not ever change, and that this can be proven.

In other words, two straight men getting married to each other would be fraudulent. Likewise, someoen who entered into a gay marriage and then changed their orientation, would be considered fraudulent.

Same-sex marriage is NOT the same as gay marriage, but it's being sold as if it were.

Posted by: Marty at April 13, 2005 4:46 PM

"In other words, two straight men getting married to each other would be fraudulent. Likewise, someoen who entered into a gay marriage and then changed their orientation, would be considered fraudulent."

But why is a gay man marrying a straight woman (or vice versa) not fraudulent? You seem to think that's the preferred approach if gays want to be married, yet you reject the idea of two straight men getting married as fraudulent.

Posted by: Res Ispa at April 13, 2005 5:06 PM

These conversations are always to narrow, legalistic, and overly rational for the subject matter.

Justin understands this and I believe opponents of SSM do also.

People are not purley rational human beings.
If that was the case we would not have ANY social problems.

Marriage is a cultural institution.
The effects of SSM will change the definition and the perception of it in the culture.
Civil Unions are no different (what a red herring)
People forget - they dont have SS- marriage in Scandanavia - they have Civil Unions
People equate it as gay "marriage"
It shows the value we now hold traditional marriage in as being elastic and changable.


I am not looking foreward to saying I told you so!
Remember.

When no-fault divorce was being argued- acoomon refrain was...
"what does someone else geeting a divorce have to do with your marriage?"

Posted by: Fitz at April 13, 2005 5:11 PM

I'm not neccesarily opposed to some special accomodations for the very special needs of gay people -- but they have to be recognized as just that -- special, otherwise we're gutting the institution for 95% of the population, simply to make it palatable for the 5% with special needs.

What you just described is exactly what civil union intends to do.

For instance, i'd support civil unions for same sex couples (and likely even support true "gay marriage") on two little conditions: 1) that both parties are indeed gay, and that this can be proven, ...

If the issue is fraud, current law should already have provisions to deal with "fake" marriages, i.e. those concocted for purposes of immigration status, financial gain, etc. Similar provisions should apply to civil union.

and 2) that this orientation cannot and wil not ever change, and that this can be proven.

Why is it relevant whether a person's sexual orientation can be changed? The law is neutral with respect to other differences that are supposedly a matter of "choice", like religious denomination or political party.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 13, 2005 5:26 PM

>> "Given the highest rates of illegitimacy and divorce are in traditionally conservative states, I am not sure why it is liberals to blame for this."

Whatever inference you'd make from that asssertion (and I think you strongly imply the incorrect inference), if you think that socially conservative societies have suffered from the lowering of sexual standards and the increased ease of divorce, how can you also continue to argue that enactment of SSM could not have an adverse influence of the same scale on non-SSM marriages?

>> "You can say that SSM will help breakdown marriage, but you need to be specific when you say 'breakdown'."

I was specific earlier in this thread. The typical homosexual individual constructs a "family" of friends. And, in practice, these quasi-familial relationships are also highly prone to becoming sexual. So if the diversity of family includes brothers, for instance, engaging in intermittent sexual behavior, does that not erode the concept of family harmony? If not, does it even qualify as a family in the sense that incest causes disharmony?

>> "These are things the government should encourage, actively discouraging them for one class of people."

Actively. Discouraging. Come on, Michael.

Posted by: Chairm at April 13, 2005 5:27 PM

Fitz: People are not purley rational human beings. If that was the case we would not have ANY social problems.

If reason is the antithesis of social problems, then we should strive to be as rational as possible, shouldn't we?

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 13, 2005 5:35 PM

No Matt.
We should strive to be as Humane as possible.
Rationality can be a dangerous thing.
Stalin said "no man, no problem"
Any utilitarian approach to human problems risks upsetting the carefull balance of humanity.

SSM poponents are attempting to set up a radically egalitarian vision that
BY DEFINITION (the new one)
does 2 things (at least these two things)
#1. Androginizes marriage
#2. Seperates it from childbearing


By removing these two elements they will have inuterably changed how society percieves the institution.
You can have whatever you want...
You just have to have the consequences.

Posted by: Fitz at April 13, 2005 5:43 PM

Res said But why is a gay man marrying a straight woman (or vice versa) not fraudulent?

Because one is a man, the other is a woman, both of these things are easily proven, and neither is ever going to change. Marriage law is is totally ambivalent to the question of "orientation".

If you want to change that, then lets do so -- and test everyone for orientation to make sure that no gay person ever marries a straight person. But that's not what's happening here -- to make marriage seem like it fairly takes orientation into account, you're asking society to forget any notions of gender, sex, or procreation -- those things which lie at the very CORE of the institution!

Posted by: Marty at April 13, 2005 5:57 PM

They dont understand CORE arguments, or foundational truths, or the effects of culture and the power of standards.

All it seems to be about is a vehicle for exceptance by society.
Once they can get "married" then no one can call it a sin without sounding anachronistic

Posted by: Fitz at April 13, 2005 6:00 PM

"The typical homosexual individual constructs a "family" of friends. And, in practice, these quasi-familial relationships are also highly prone to becoming sexual. So if the diversity of family includes brothers, for instance, engaging in intermittent sexual behavior, does that not erode the concept of family harmony? If not, does it even qualify as a family in the sense that incest causes disharmony?"

This is easily one of the most bizarre assertions I've read in a debate full of bizarre assertions.

Do you have any evidence to support this notion that "homosexuals" tend to have sex with their friends/family?

Posted by: Res Ispa at April 13, 2005 6:01 PM

Matt asked Why is it relevant whether a person's sexual orientation can be changed?

Because if orientation can be changed, then this whole conversation is a waste of time. If you want to marry, then marry an opposite sex partner. If being "gay" makes that an unreasonable choice, well, there is still hope -- your options are still open. The ONLY reason we are having this discussion is because conventional gay wisdom has it that orientation cannot change, and asking gay people to marry like everyone else is unreasonable. I can accept that -- IF it's true, that they cannot change. But i think we both know differently, don't we?

Posted by: Marty at April 13, 2005 6:08 PM

Resn Ipsa

I dont know what (exactly)Charim was geeting at.
I do know however that my (very frank) gay friends talk about how they often live with a past lover (sometimes sleep with, but are more often bored with) and share whatever benifits thay could get from work.
This is also related to gay "marriages" that are open.
Regardless - this behavior being associated with traditional marriage will only alter it further.

Posted by: Fitz at April 13, 2005 6:12 PM

Marty:

For instance, i'd support civil unions for same sex couples (and likely even support true "gay marriage") on two little conditions: 1) that both parties are indeed gay, and that this can be proven, and 2) that this orientation cannot and wil not ever change, and that this can be proven.

What about people who want the legal rights & responsibilities with respect to each other that married people have, but are not gay, don't have sex with each other, don't want children together, and prefer not to be labeled as "married?"


Gays can and do and are encouraged just like everyone else to marry a member of the opposite sex. WHY? Because children -- even children of gays -- deserve a home with their real mommy and real daddy. This is what society chooses to encourage.

Many children of gays & lesbians came from relationships that were failed attempts to "cure" homosexuality. If SMM was legal and the stigma against homosexuality removed, gays and lesbians would not attempt to "cure" themseleves by heterosexual sex or marriages. The result may be FEWER children in same-sex households, not more. There would be less divorce due to gays and lesbians not marrying the opposite sex in the first place, and the hetersexuals what would have married would get married other heterosexuals, increasing the likelihood of being raised by their real mommies and daddies.

Fitz wrote:

The fact of the matter is that sexual liberationist policy's (easy divorce, sexual looseness, apologizing for illegitamacy)
has brought are culective marriage culture to the state it is in.

The destruction of the marriage culture is as close as any inner city. 70% illigitamcy rates & 50% divorce rates all have a very painfull human face.

Another factor in the destruction of the family in inner cities are welfare policies that make it more financially advantagious to for women to have children as a single parent than to build a family with a husband. We probably agree that these policies were destructive to the very comminities they were intended to help.

But this has nothing to do with SSM. While we can explain by financial incentives why a women in the inner city would get pregnent and raise children with no father in the home, no one has explained how SSM would cause otherwise healthy marriages to get divorced, or discourage heterosexuals who love each other and want children from getting married in the first place.

Posted by: Dancar at April 13, 2005 6:26 PM

Dancar: What about people who want the legal rights & responsibilities with respect to each other that married people have, but are not gay, don't have sex with each other, don't want children together, and prefer not to be labeled as "married?"

Personally, i'd like the Honor and Prestige that goes with wearing a military uniform. Of course that's not likely, since i'm not interested in joining the Army, but is that any reason to deny me the same common decency and respect we extend to decorated war heroes?

A ridiculous question sir. If you don't want to get married then don't. But why should you expect to be treated as if you were? It's your choice. Get married. Or don't. WTF.

Posted by: Marty at April 13, 2005 6:34 PM

Dancer

The point of bringing up the destruction of the family in the inner cities is twofold (70% illegitamcy rates)

#1. When welfare was adopted nobody thought (except conservative commentators) that it would have any determental effects on the family (like SSM)
#2. The family (especially poor families) are in such a week condition- No one can resonable expect That as a society -we will
A- adopt a new Gay (androginized & childless)
marriage standard
&
B- also resurect the marriage culture in the underclass (or anywere else)

You said no one has "proven" that it will effect straight marriages (well be it divorce or welfare policy) you cant PROVE it will do it until its done. (you guys always dismiss Scandanavia -because it does exactly that- PROVES our case)

What your having me believe is that a new generation of young, poor, blacks & hispanics (much less me) will see the new gay marriage standard & (somehow) be MORE eager to make the emotional and financial commitment that marriage takes.


Posted by: Fitz at April 13, 2005 6:46 PM

Funny how dancar asks why we don't give welfare to any couple who just wants to "play house", and in the next breath blames welfare policy for inner city turmoil -- to suggest that MARRIAGE POLICY is irrelevant!

Sometimes i wonder why i bother. Then i remember.

Yes or no question for Dan and Res: Can i marry my father in law (my ex-wife's father)?

Posted by: Marty at April 13, 2005 6:59 PM

The sad reality is that Civil Unions are a popular(idea) in some northeastern states because of the THREAT of SSM
(voters & politicians think they are buying them off)
Without the threat of SSM through the courts - no one would be even talking about civil unions..

This is the saddest but most effective political tactic I have ever witnessed

Posted by: Fitz at April 13, 2005 7:05 PM

Marty: The ONLY reason we are having this discussion is because conventional gay wisdom has it that orientation cannot change

You left out the other bit of conventional wisdom ... that one orientation SHOULD change. Since >95% of people are heterosexual, there are plenty of normal, married couples to continue the species. If gays can be accommodated without harm to the general society, it would seem to be a win for everyone.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 13, 2005 7:06 PM

Fitz:

Re Scandanavia: Just because A and B co-exist does not prove that A causes B. I could propose that lutefisk causes a decline of marriage - then dismiss anyone who asks me to explain how.

What your having me believe is that a new generation of young, poor, blacks & hispanics (much less me) will see the new gay marriage standard & (somehow) be MORE eager to make the emotional and financial commitment that marriage takes.

You're misrepresenting me. I don't think that SSM would make young hispanics & blacks more or less likely to getmarried.


Marty:

You misunderstood. Welfare made having an unemployed man in the house a fanancial liability. So it is no surprise that this led to less marriage where employment is spotty or non-existant.

I would not prevent you from marrying your ex-wife's sister or even your ex-wife's mother if you felt it was going to be a healthy relationship, so feel free to marry your ex-father-in-law also.

Posted by: Dancar at April 13, 2005 7:19 PM

Res Ipsa, could you pleasse clarify the remark you made about illegitimacy and divorce in "traditionally conservative states", as per my previous question about that remark?

--

>> "Do you have any evidence to support this notion that "homosexuals" tend to have sex with their friends/family?"

Read my previous comment regarding the notion of family diversity that is colored by the SSM argument (which plays fast and loose with the common meaning of terms).

I was not speaking of incest between birth-siblings, for instance, but between friends of the same sex who are considered to be ad hoc family members with whom one may have sexual encounters of some sort. If there is a line against it, it is deliberately very changeable.

If someone is considered family, a sexual relationship ought to be considred incestuous. If someone is considered to one's Uncle Steve, this strongly suggests a relationship that is out of the bounds of sexualization. Likewise with step-parents and adoptive parents. So when a homosexual man "adopts" various brothers, uncles, and so forth, but leaves the way open for sexual encounters within those constructed family bonds, it does indeed take on the hue of incest.

Technically, not so much, because they are not related by blood nor by affinity. But if family is whatever one cobbles together with friends and room-mates, then, the lines are no less important to family harmony.

If you think that these are not actual families, okay. Maybe such openness promotes some form of harmony in such a circle of friends. That would still be a significant concession to those with whom you disagree about SSM in general.

Posted by: Chairm Ohn at April 13, 2005 7:29 PM
I could propose that lutefisk causes a decline of marriage - then dismiss anyone who asks me to explain how.

Except that you'd have to explain how lutefisk suddenly began doing what it never did before. Not quite comparable, yes?

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 13, 2005 7:34 PM

Fitz: Without the threat of SSM through the courts - no one would be even talking about civil unions.. This is the saddest but most effective political tactic I have ever witnessed

Man that's so right on. Somewhere "we the people" get shut out of the question. So, we call for one constitutional referendum after another, with landslide results. Feels kindof like a date-rape doesn't it? Sooner or later, you've got to fight back, when he won't take NO for an answer.


Matt: You left out the other bit of conventional wisdom ... that one orientation SHOULD change. Since >95% of people are heterosexual, there are plenty of normal, married couples to continue the species.

Yep. Gays are accomodated -- great gains have been made, and continue. But same-sex couples don't marry because they CAN'T do anything to help continue the citizenry. As for "Should Change", well, i think you are at liberty to, and i am at liberty to hope you will, and you are at liberty to tell me to go eff myself. But marriage isn't about that. It's about the one special thing that makes a man and a woman a mother and a father.

Matt: If gays can be accommodated without harm to the general society, it would seem to be a win for everyone.

As i said, i agree -- but i only ask that gayness be proven, and proven immutable. That way, we can keep the same definition of Marriage for straight folk, and open up a brand new Gay Marriage for same-sex couples. You yourself would agree that the McGreevy story is a tragedy to be avoided, so if this is about homosexuals, then my concerns do not seem at all unreasonable.

Dan: You misunderstood. Welfare made having an unemployed man in the house a fanancial liability. So it is no surprise that this led to less marriage where employment is spotty or non-existant.

Welfare that undermines marriage? Why would anyone do such a thing! Oh gee -- it's those same liberal democrats, the ones that brought us abortion -- most effective in the inner city, where they are killing marriage, and now same-sex marriage, which will redefine "Family" for the rest of us rich white folk. Gee, thanks guys! Never saw it coming!

Dancar: so feel free to marry your ex-father-in-law also.

Thank you. I just married my kid's grandpa. gee...

Posted by: Marty at April 13, 2005 7:48 PM
Given the highest rates of illegitimacy and divorce are in traditionally conservative states, I am not sure why it is liberals to blame for this.

Well, the states to which you refer also have higher percentages of poor people and minorities. If your point is that liberal social policies tend to hurt minorities and the poor the most, I'm not inclined to object. In fact, it's a point I've made before. (One of the underlying scandals of SSM is that it represents a relatively privileged class of people demanding social change that would most profoundly affect disadvantaged classes of people.)

As for your scattershot questions, I have to ask: have you never heard them answered before? Talk about circularity!

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 13, 2005 7:56 PM

Marty: i only ask that gayness be proven, and proven immutable. That way, we can keep the same definition of Marriage for straight folk, and open up a brand new Gay Marriage for same-sex couples.

Is your concern that the new, same-sex institution would result in more married people leaving their spouse and kids, i.e. changing from straight to gay? (I don't mean this facetiously in case it comes off that way.)

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 13, 2005 8:02 PM

Matt, in a nutshell, i believe that SSM will result in more children, not less, who do not know their own mother and father.

A tragedy easily avoided, IMHO.

Posted by: Marty at April 13, 2005 8:09 PM

Marty: i believe that SSM will result in more children, not less, who do not know their own mother and father.

If that is the case, then SSM is not worth it.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 13, 2005 8:13 PM

Matt.
There is a much undisscused issue about SSM and its effects on young people with regard to homosexuality.
This has to do with the ligitimazing effect SSM (and ideed open & excepted homosexuality in general) would have on what is sometimes called "waverers"
This is a serious sub-set of the debate.
It often avoided because it hits on the thorny issue of "why someone is gay" & if gayness is diserable.
I believe every kid should have a fighting chance to be straight.
And I wish to maintain a world were that is possible

Posted by: Fitz at April 13, 2005 8:15 PM

Dancer

The rate of illegitamacy for first born children in Scandanavia is 60%.
That would give any humane person pause.

Childish plea's of "prove it" really miss the point.
The only way anyone "proves" anything sociologically is by establishing a statistical link.
(now a statistical correlation does not neccessarily denote a causal connection)
In order to "prove" the correlation is a causal connection - what do you need?

A- a bunch of social scientists to agree.

Thats all - thats "proof"
other wise it would never be seetled.

It took this long for Social Scietists to settle on the "fact" that children are harmed by divorce.
Im not going to wait for your proof.
sorry

Posted by: Fitz at April 13, 2005 8:22 PM

Fitz:

Ok, let’s not avoid the “waverers” subset of the debate, as you call it. Waverers try to compensate for what they fear is a “lack” in “masculinity,” and they do so by being the most homophobic. You and Marty are the most obvious examples. SSM will help you with this. You’ll learn to live with the “choice” you made, but without having contempt for those who “chose” something else

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 13, 2005 10:04 PM

Why can't we expect you to live with your choice, art? Dare to be different, my friend -- and stop expecting everyone else to do all the changing for you. Embrace your choice -- or think seriously about making a different one.

Posted by: Marty at April 13, 2005 10:15 PM

Right, Arturo. When argument fails, use distant armchair psychology on your opponents, in the hope of psyching them out.

Even if your psychological analysis were true, it does not constitute an argument or a refutation of your opponent's argument.

Posted by: R.K. at April 13, 2005 10:15 PM

"We probably agree that these policies were destructive to the very comminities they were intended to help.

But this has nothing to do with SSM. While we can explain by financial incentives why a women in the inner city would get pregnent and raise children with no father in the home, no one has explained how SSM would cause otherwise healthy marriages to get divorced, or discourage heterosexuals who love each other and want children from getting married in the first place."

Dancar, did you read McArdle's post? It's all about the law of unintended consequences. The whole point is that the fact that you cannot see the likely negative effects of changing the definition of marriage is irrelevant. An institution like marriage has lots of unwritten rules, cultural assumptions, and hidden connections. If you disturb part of it, you are likely to impact other aspects of it in unforseen ways. You're doing exactly what the people did in the previous examples that she talks about (including welfare). "Well, I don't see any obvious harm, let's go ahead and do it." You are gambling the lives of future children to satisfy the needs/desires of a small handful of people. Just like with no-fault divorce - how well do you think that turned out?

Posted by: Mike S. at April 13, 2005 10:32 PM

Fitz: I believe every kid should have a fighting chance to be straight. And I wish to maintain a world were that is possible

I agree that if someone makes a decision to marry the opposite sex and raise children, that decision should be respected and supported. A mother or father's sexuality is not as important as their role as a parent.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 13, 2005 10:34 PM

Yeah, look who avoids talking about "waverers" Arturo. You are a prime example of a "waverer" who refuses to acknowledge it because you are afraid of what it means. This is why you appear to be so heterophobic.

Posted by: smmtheory at April 14, 2005 8:38 AM

Smmtheory:

Let's at least be honest when we argue. You guys have repeated said that you are drawn to men. I have not said anything about being drawn to women. You guys are the waverers, not me.

It is you guys who are the heterophobics (also). You think that male hetosexuals will loose their masculinity (a fear, again, that waverers project to them)--or as you put it, become "androgynous"--just because two gay guys marry. I don't think heterosexuals "masculinity" is so vulnerable.

However, I will qualify something. Not all "waverers" become homophobic. But those who do have become the intellectual force (being partly gay, thus more intellectually driven) behind the anti-gay movement. Being a waverer is not a bad thing. Oppressing others because you are unable to deal with it is.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 14, 2005 12:29 PM

What are you talking about art.

Posted by: Fitz at April 14, 2005 12:45 PM

What are you talking about art?

Posted by: Fitz at April 14, 2005 12:48 PM

No Arturo,
This is being honest --- I have no more gender orientation than anybody else; I understand that when I am physcially attracted to anyone, it is all about satisfying carnal urges within my own body and mind. When I am in that state, it doesn't matter what equipment the focus of my desire might have. Because I realize that, I use self-control and focus my urges on my spouse instead of what or whomever happens to be breathing and available. This is the socially and theologically acceptable, not to mention emotionally and physically healthier, way to channel our carnal desires.

It seems to me that you have so internalized your rationalization for your behavior that you don't even consciously acknowledge it any more. You don't want to bother controlling your desires and since females have a much higher tendency to self-control, you switch your focus onto males whose tendency for self-control matches your own. It's far easier for you to find another male that is always turned on than it is to be patient and wait on a female. Then when somebody calls you on it, you lash out irrationally by stereotypicalizing a trait like intelligence as being a trait not available to people who practice more self-control.

Posted by: smmtheory at April 14, 2005 1:01 PM

Fitz said:
I do know however that my (very frank) gay friends talk about how they often live with a past lover (sometimes sleep with, but are more often bored with) and share whatever benifits thay could get from work.
This is also related to gay "marriages" that are open.
Regardless - this behavior being associated with traditional marriage will only alter it further.

The behaviour of many, but not all, inner city African Americans (rampant "illegitimacy" and "open" marriages driven by the need for welfare benefits, along with the creation of a whole culture around it) can be construed as being detrimental to marriage. If I were to suggest that allowing such people to have their behaviour associate with marriage, and implying that those who do get married will transfer this negative behaviour to marriage and taint the institution, I would be called a racist. And rightly so.

But I am assuming that if I call you a homophobe (or homosexist if you prefer) because of your negative portrayal of a whole group of people based on stereotypes, you would deny it and make some spurious claims about simply wanting to defend marriage, or that it's actually accurate because you are blessed to have gay friends. While it might be true to some extent, as is the breakdown of marriage in black communities, to suggest that such behaviour is inherent to a people and laws should be made based on those assumptions is appalling.

There are many defenders of "traditional" marriage who are not primarily driven by any hatred or disgust for homosexuals and are altruistically motivated. Justin, I believe, is one of those people.

You, however, are a bigot.

Posted by: Michael at April 14, 2005 1:05 PM

Art.
I know what I am talking about-Do you?

I am talking about the language of "choice"
not being applicable to teenagers & young people.
I am talking about wounded masculinity, peer labeling, effeminacy, drug use, adult & peer sexual abuse,the human need for belonging, exceptance, desirability & sex.

All under the rubric of a young person trying to secure his sexuality in our current enviroment.

Posted by: Fitz at April 14, 2005 1:26 PM

Micheal

Race is not sex, and neither is who you have sex with.

Men and women are different. this is a fundemental biological & social reality.
Race on the otherhand denotes nothing near the same signifagance.
I find it mirthfull that the only way the gay lobby can hope to win sympathy is by co-opting the moral ligitamacy of the black civil right movement. (a ractic that blacks themselves despise)

""you however are a bigot"

Men & women have different sexualities & sex drives.
You would only expect men on men unions & women on women unions to differ greatly from men & women unions.
No sane person would dispute this.
No less then Andrew Sullivan admitted as much when he stated that people would have to repect the grater "openess" in gay marriages.
My own gay friends unashameably admit as much about their relationships.
I am a male, I have a male sex drive, non of this suprises me in the least.
But I of coarse- dont have trouble being honest with myself.


Nice try Mike

Posted by: Fitz at April 14, 2005 2:51 PM

Race is not sex, and neither is who you have sex with.

And stereotypes are stereotypes no matter what you're referring to. I'm not trying to co-opt the black civil rights movement, although the president of the NAACP just stated his support for gay rights. I'm merely saying that there are many legitimate reasons to oppose SSM, and stereotyping gay men as whores is not one of them. And this is regardless of any degree of veracity of the stereotype, either. It was argued once that women shouldn't be given the right to vote because they aren't as rational as men. With deference to Larry Summers that's probably true; men and women are different. They think differently. Which means they probably make voting decisions differently. That doesn't mean we deny them the right to vote.

I do not whore around. Many gays do. I am in a committed relationship with no openness whatsoever. Other gays are not. But you know what? It doesn't matter. Infidelity and openness among inner city blacks is much higher than the average population. You might argue that that is cultural. You can say that the reason gay men ho around is biological, but you have no proof. It's probably very much cultural, as with inner city minorities.

I'm sorry, but to even make such allegations is bigotted. Sure I have an amazingly strong sex drive. But I DON'T go whoring around because I have self control.

So I'm not allowed to characterize the religious right as a bunch of nutjobs but you can characterize me as unworthy of commitment? Yeah, that's not bigotted; it's just honest....

Posted by: Michael at April 14, 2005 3:30 PM

You keep puting words in my mouth.
My original post on the subject was in a particular context. We had been discussing the cultural context in which same sex marriage would take place. Maybe your more commited than my other friends. So what? My point is that SSM will bring a number of changes to our common cultural expectation of marriage.
The sexual hedonistic side of the gay sub-culture is large and renouned. This particular brand of coupling will be manifestly different than our current assumtions about marriage. The institution cannot carry anymore cultural baggage.

Stereoytypes are not some extra deadly 8th sin or anything. People deal in them all the time. Whats true for a group is not always true for the individual.Bigotry is a irrational prejudice.
My statements are simply culled from experience & reading. They were made to illustrate how new conceptions of marriage will infiltrate the larger culture.

No one called you a slut. That was hardly my point.

Posted by: Fitz at April 14, 2005 7:21 PM

Men ho around. Period. It's biological -- whether we're white black gay or straight. Women just don't spontaneously create a culture of Orgy -- we men do that and sometimes drag them along -- willingly or otherwise.

Orientation has nothing to do with the fact that men are ho's.

But some men do have a peculiar aversion to their natural mates, preferring to mingle amongst themselves, aloof and alone and carefree in their impotence.

Posted by: Marty at April 14, 2005 7:27 PM

Rather harsh Marty, doncha think.

Posted by: Fitz at April 14, 2005 8:34 PM

How so?

Posted by: Marty at April 14, 2005 9:30 PM

Fitz:

There's a big difference between having sex with your friends, which gays don't do (and if you have gay friends, you should know this), and remaining friends with someone after breaking up with them, which is actually a good thing. Heterosexuals, on the other hand, hate each other, try to destroy each other, and end up destroying their children's lives in the process. Just one more example of how gay parents make better parents.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 15, 2005 2:39 AM

Art.

"just one more example of how gay parents make better parrents"

I believe you actually believe this art.
Except you forget one thing, gays cant be parents.
Maybe you took a different biology class from me, but I believe its physically impossible for them to do so.


The only way a gay couple can be a "parents" is by depriving their children of either their natural born mother or father.

Thats abuse Art, not "better parenting"

Posted by: Fitz at April 15, 2005 10:41 AM

"I do not whore around. Many gays do. I am in a committed relationship with no openness whatsoever. Other gays are not. But you know what? It doesn't matter."

It does matter. Read McArdle's post again - we are concerned with the marginal cases, not with those closest to the ideal. Changing marriage laws won't affect committed Christians, who don't primarily see their marriage in secular legal terms. And stable gay couples like you and your partner, or Robert and his, are not likely to have highly detrimental effect (aside from removing the gendered nature of marriage, which any gay marriage does, no matter how stable and committed) on the cultural assumptions about marriage. But the radicals who want to abolish the traditional understanding of marriage, those who want open marriages, those who don't think that monogamy is a critical aspect of marriage, will have a detrimental effect on the cultural assumptions about marriage. Look at the effect they've had on cultural assumptions about gay lifestyles. Bathhouses aren't imaginary. Even if only 1% of gay men have ever been to a bathhouse, they've obviously made an impression on the general public regarding gay behavior. This may well be unfair, but so what? Life isn't fair. This is why we keep asking you to pay attention to reality more, and to your own needs and desires less.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 15, 2005 10:47 AM

"The only way a gay couple can be a "parents" is by depriving their children of either their natural born mother or father.

Thats abuse Art, not "better parenting""


So the millions of heterosexuals who adopt children or are infertile are committing "abuse." So if adopting is "abuse," then what do you suggest should be done about the millions of children who are abused and neglected--almost all be heterosexuals, many of them in marriages--who are placed up for adoption? If such arrangements are not parenting, but abuse, I assume we need to beging orphanages or work-camps for these children.

And, in some situations, same-sex couples do have at least one biological mother or father involved. In that sense, they are no different from millions of step-parents.

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 15, 2005 11:01 AM

Marty:

Welfare that undermines marriage? Why would anyone do such a thing! Oh gee -- it's those same liberal democrats, the ones that brought us abortion -- most effective in the inner city, where they are killing marriage, and now same-sex marriage, which will redefine "Family" for the rest of us rich white folk. Gee, thanks guys!

You seem to assume I'm a liberal, so you can imply that because one liberal idea is wrong, other liberal ideas must be wrong as well. We'll I'm not really a liberal. I've always viewed myself as an independent who evaluates each issue on its own merits. As a result, some of my political views are so-called "conservative" views and other opinions I hold are labeled by others as "liberal." I am under no pressure to be politically correct and agree with positions that don't make sense to me.

Mike S.:
Dancar, did you read McArdle's post? It's all about the law of unintended consequences. The whole point is that the fact that you cannot see the likely negative effects of changing the definition of marriage is irrelevant. An institution like marriage has lots of unwritten rules, cultural assumptions, and hidden connections. If you disturb part of it, you are likely to impact other aspects of it in unforeseen ways. You're doing exactly what the people did in the previous examples that she talks about (including welfare). "Well, I don't see any obvious harm, let's go ahead and do it."

The destruction of the family in the inner-city by welfare should have been foreseen. There's a basic law of economics that says that when you create a financial incentive for something, a lot of people will do it. If a woman is better off financially with kids and no permanent man, many women will do it. If you can count on a $10,000 windfall from filing a frivolous lawsuit, there will be lots of frivolous lawsuits.

If the existence of SSM made it more financially advantageous for heterosexuals to have children outside of marriage than within marriage, then the anti-SSM arguments would carry more weight. But I can't think of how SSM would effect the financial implications of heterosexuals being married vs. not married.

Chairm:
I was not speaking of incest between birth-siblings, for instance, but between friends of the same sex who are considered to be ad hoc family members with whom one may have sexual encounters of some sort. If there is a line against it, it is deliberately very changeable.

Interesting, you seem to be labeling a gay person's circle of friends as "siblings" so that you can then accuse them of incest.

When I was single, in my 20s, and part of various circles of friends at various times, sometimes a man from one of these circles would date and/or have sex with a woman from the same circle. Is this incestuous? Or is this just normal human behavior for those of us who don't wait until our wedding nights to have sex? How is this different from the circles of gay friends you wrote about who sometimes have sex?

At the age I'm at now, most people I know are married, and I believe that most of us are faithful to our partners. Marriage seems to have a stabilizing effect on relationships for most people. I would think that there would be more support for SSM because it would encourage SS monogamy.

Re Children:

I hate to sound like a broken record (is that phrase passe?), but if the stigma against homosexuality is removed and gays and lesbians no longer feel the need to make themselves "normal" by having heterosexual sex and/or relationships, the net result may be fewer children raised by same-sex couples.

I find it intersesting that the "every child deserves their own mom & dad" argument is such a concern considering that the number of children raised by same sex couples couldn't be more than a tiny percentage of all children who don't have both biological parents living in the home.

Posted by: Dancar at April 15, 2005 11:15 AM

Res.
Children up for adoption should be placed in the best known enviroment. That is in a home with a married mother & father. The abuse accurs by seeting a standard that says the traditional definition of a family is somehow obsolete. Step-parent families, divorce, co-habitation, single parenting have all been proven to be harmfull enviroments for children.
The mother father family is the gold standard. If the goverment(or culture) encourages anything less than this, they are weaking the standard.
That hurts children.
Also-
You have a false dichotomy when you assert that hetrosexuals have done this or that bad job with the family.
By that logic, heterosexuals started WWII, or hetersexuals despoiled the enviroment-ect.
Its silly, but you guys always assert it to make yourselves look good by comparsion.
(well straights have screwed things up, how can we do worse??!!)

NO - the question is - What is the best standard to maintain for children and society?

Posted by: Fitz at April 15, 2005 11:31 AM

Res.
Children up for adoption should be placed in the best known enviroment. That is in a home with a married mother & father. The abuse accurs by seeting a standard that says the traditional definition of a family is somehow obsolete. Step-parent families, divorce, co-habitation, single parenting have all been proven to be harmfull enviroments for children.
The mother father family is the gold standard. If the goverment(or culture) encourages anything less than this, they are weaking the standard.
That hurts children.
Also-
You have a false dichotomy when you assert that hetrosexuals have done this or that bad job with the family.
By that logic, heterosexuals started WWII, or hetersexuals despoiled the enviroment-ect.
Its silly, but you guys always assert it to make yourselves look good by comparsion.
(well straights have screwed things up, how can we do worse??!!)

NO - the question is - What is the best standard to maintain for children and society?

Posted by: Fitz at April 15, 2005 11:33 AM

"I do not whore around. Many gays do. I am in a committed relationship with no openness whatsoever. Other gays are not. But you know what? It doesn't matter."

It does matter. Read McArdle's post again - we are concerned with the marginal cases, not with those closest to the ideal. Changing marriage laws won't affect committed Christians, who don't primarily see their marriage in secular legal terms. And stable gay couples like you and your partner, or Robert and his, are not likely to have highly detrimental effect (aside from removing the gendered nature of marriage, which any gay marriage does, no matter how stable and committed) on the cultural assumptions about marriage. But the radicals who want to abolish the traditional understanding of marriage, those who want open marriages, those who don't think that monogamy is a critical aspect of marriage, will have a detrimental effect on the cultural assumptions about marriage. Look at the effect they've had on cultural assumptions about gay lifestyles. Bathhouses aren't imaginary. Even if only 1% of gay men have ever been to a bathhouse, they've obviously made an impression on the general public regarding gay behavior. This may well be unfair, but so what? Life isn't fair. This is why we keep asking you to pay attention to reality more, and to your own needs and desires less.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 15, 2005 12:02 PM

"I do not whore around. Many gays do. I am in a committed relationship with no openness whatsoever. Other gays are not. But you know what? It doesn't matter."

It does matter. Read McArdle's post again - we are concerned with the marginal cases, not with those closest to the ideal. Changing marriage laws won't affect committed Christians, who don't primarily see their marriage in secular legal terms. And stable gay couples like you and your partner, or Robert and his, are not likely to have highly detrimental effect (aside from removing the gendered nature of marriage, which any gay marriage does, no matter how stable and committed) on the cultural assumptions about marriage. But the radicals who want to abolish the traditional understanding of marriage, those who want open marriages, those who don't think that monogamy is a critical aspect of marriage, will have a detrimental effect on the cultural assumptions about marriage. Look at the effect they've had on cultural assumptions about gay lifestyles. Bathhouses aren't imaginary. Even if only 1% of gay men have ever been to a bathhouse, they've obviously made an impression on the general public regarding gay behavior. This may well be unfair, but so what? Life isn't fair. This is why we keep asking you to pay attention to reality more, and to your own needs and desires less.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 15, 2005 12:08 PM

"I do not whore around. Many gays do. I am in a committed relationship with no openness whatsoever. Other gays are not. But you know what? It doesn't matter."

It does matter. Read McArdle's post again - we are concerned with the marginal cases, not with those closest to the ideal. Changing marriage laws won't affect committed Christians, who don't primarily see their marriage in secular legal terms. And stable gay couples like you and your partner, or Robert and his, are not likely to have highly detrimental effect (aside from removing the gendered nature of marriage, which any gay marriage does, no matter how stable and committed) on the cultural assumptions about marriage. But the radicals who want to abolish the traditional understanding of marriage, those who want open marriages, those who don't think that monogamy is a critical aspect of marriage, will have a detrimental effect on the cultural assumptions about marriage. Look at the effect they've had on cultural assumptions about gay lifestyles. Bathhouses aren't imaginary. Even if only 1% of gay men have ever been to a bathhouse, they've obviously made an impression on the general public regarding gay behavior. This may well be unfair, but so what? Life isn't fair. This is why we keep asking you to pay attention to reality more, and to your own needs and desires less.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 15, 2005 12:09 PM

"I do not whore around. Many gays do. I am in a committed relationship with no openness whatsoever. Other gays are not. But you know what? It doesn't matter."

It does matter. Read McArdle's post again - we are concerned with the marginal cases, not with those closest to the ideal. Changing marriage laws won't affect committed Christians, who don't primarily see their marriage in secular legal terms. And stable gay couples like you and your partner, or Robert and his, are not likely to have highly detrimental effect (aside from removing the gendered nature of marriage, which any gay marriage does, no matter how stable and committed) on the cultural assumptions about marriage. But the radicals who want to abolish the traditional understanding of marriage, those who want open marriages, those who don't think that monogamy is a critical aspect of marriage, will have a detrimental effect on the cultural assumptions about marriage. Look at the effect they've had on cultural assumptions about gay lifestyles. Bathhouses aren't imaginary. Even if only 1% of gay men have ever been to a bathhouse, they've obviously made an impression on the general public regarding gay behavior. This may well be unfair, but so what? Life isn't fair. This is why we keep asking you to pay attention to reality more, and to your own needs and desires less.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 15, 2005 12:10 PM

Hmm, I guess I really wanted to make sure everyone read that last post! Actually, I'm just having issues with the site, or my browser, or something. Anyway, sorry for the multiple listing...

Posted by: Mike S. at April 15, 2005 12:16 PM

Sorry about the multiple posts - I'm having problems accessing the site/with my browser (I don't know what the cause of the problem is).

Posted by: Mike S. at April 15, 2005 12:22 PM

Fitz:

Yes, stable hatersexual married couples are the best environment for adopted children. I conceed that.

But society permits the marriage of heterosexuals who are marginally employed, alcoholics, incarcerated, likely to die within a few years, or have histories of drugs or physical abuse, despite the fact that people in these groups are not ideal parents, either for adopted or biological children.

So the fact that a same-sex couples are not ideal candidates to adopt children is not an excuse to prohibit them from marrying.

Posted by: Dancar at April 15, 2005 12:51 PM

Yes, and publicly exposing yourself on the third corner of Churchhill Downs is illegal too. But it would take too much effort to enforce it on Derby Day Dan. The same is true about enforcing people to match the ideal for raising children in order to get married. Up until the whiny fringe element of another fringe element (people who practice homogamous intercourse) started trying to circumvent legislation, it took nothing extra to enforce keeping marriage between a man and a woman. Now you want to make it much more expensive for the country to maintain children. Where's the logic in that?

Posted by: smmtheory at April 15, 2005 1:26 PM

The law is about line drawing.
By neccesaty it deals in generalizations.
Narrow cases make bad law.
We just are not going to allow gay "marriage"
The line is to fuzy and its risks far outweigh its advatages.

Posted by: Fitz at April 15, 2005 1:51 PM

I think we're getting offtrack here. Children of adoption are ALREADY from broken homes. If they are adopted by a same-sex couple, then so much the better. It was the kids original parents who set him up for failure, not the adoptive parents.

Orphans, children of divorce, children of single parents, and "children of gays" all have one thing in common -- a severed relationship to a biological parent.

However in the first 3 cases, these relationships were severed by the FAILURE of adults who should have known better. In the latter case, it will be by the CHOICE of adults who have no other choice -- because it is impossible for a same-sex couple to create children without explicity severing a relationship to a biological parent.

So it is one thing for a gay couple to adopt a child from an already broken home. It is quite another for them to create broken homes from scratch, via fertility technologies and surrogates. The first option is noble enough, if less than ideal. The second option is simply disgraceful.

Dan, we disagree that SSM will cause less children of gay couples. By normalizing the idea that same-sex couples can marry and "family" just like opposite-sex couples can, we also normalize the idea that their creating third-party offspring (just like infertile opposite-sex couples often do) is totally acceptable. This will result in more same-sex couples creating children with permanently broken family trees.

Posted by: Marty at April 15, 2005 2:44 PM

>> Dancar: "you seem to be labeling a gay person's circle of friends as "siblings" so that you can then accuse them of incest.

Hang on. I made no such accusation. And it is not I who would label such a circle of friends as family members.

However, if family is what one socially constructs among unrelated friends associated with the same-sex couple, or the homosexual individual, then, you might agree that sexual encounters within such self-named family-like relationships would be incest-like. As I said, I did not say these were de facto incestuous sexual liasons, but that is the context in which they should be seen if the family diversity mantra is to be believed.

Read my comment again. I did describe blended families and adoption as comparable on that score. Bluring the incest line is asking for disharmony in the social institution of family.

>> Dancar: "I would think that there would be more support for SSM because it would encourage SS monogamy."

Encouragement of some sort of stable homelife does not translate into enactment of SSM. Which is not marriage, anyway.

>> Dancar: "the number of children raised by same sex couples couldn't be more than a tiny percentage of all children who don't have both biological parents living in the home."

Agreed. And if as you say the expected outcome is that same-sex households will have fewer and fewer children, then, the refrain that such households have children has more weight as propaganda than an argument for recognition of nonmarriage as marriage.

--

Marty, relatively few infertile or subfertile married couples avail themselves of ARTs. Most just get advice on their fertile periods of each month. By far most who use IVF do not go outside of their marriages for donors. A large portion eventually have children without use of the more novel methods that have been developed. And although the media sells the gayboom, most mothers who use ARTs have husbands who walk with them through the trials and tribulations. I don't wish to be too nitpicky but I also don't think that children conceived with the help of ARTs (representing about one-third of one percent of children) concedes very much to the SSM side of this discussion.

Posted by: chairm at April 15, 2005 3:45 PM

You keep puting words in my mouth... The sexual hedonistic side of the gay sub-culture is large and renouned. This particular brand of coupling will be manifestly different than our current assumtions about marriage. The institution cannot carry anymore cultural baggage.

I don't think I was putting words in your mouth. You are taking a negative stereotype (hedonistic sex) and saying that gays are *naturally* inclined to have mulitple sexual partners and open relationships. In your assumptions, there is nothing about the cultural milieu and legal realities of the gay existence that allow for such behaviour. I said that that is akin to assuming that illegitimacy among inner city black populations is a result of the nature of blacks and not the cultural and legal realities surrounding *their* existence.

My challenge to you was that, if you assert these things outright that you are bigotted.

My statements are simply culled from experience & reading. They were made to illustrate how new conceptions of marriage will infiltrate the larger culture.

No one called you a slut. That was hardly my point.

But you were saying that because a certain highly visible and not-at-all-realistic sub-culture exists, with which I am being forced to be indentified, I am not being allowed to have my relationship legally recognized. That implied to me that you were lumping me in with sluts. I think your concern is not only unwarrented because I think the stereotype is grossly exagerated, and has been diminishing with increased rights and recognition of gays, but highly judgmental.

Mike S.:
Even if only 1% of gay men have ever been to a bathhouse, they've obviously made an impression on the general public regarding gay behavior. This may well be unfair, but so what? Life isn't fair.

Well this is rich. I'm just supposed to accept the way that people perceive me based on admittedly unfair impressions that they have and allow them to make public policy because of them? Are you being serious? That some people, based on ignorant stereotypes, might change their perception of marriage is a driving reason to not let gays marry? This might not be what you mean, but this is how I'm seeing it.

When conservative supporters of gay marriage say that marriage will be positive for gays, just as I believe strengthening marriage would be positive for inner city blacks, they aren't taken seriously by SSM opponents. And if the above is your reasoning for believing gays would do more harm to marriage than marriage will do good for gays, I'd take a serious look at why this position comes across as prejudiced.

Posted by: Michael at April 15, 2005 5:08 PM

However, if family is what one socially constructs among unrelated friends associated with the same-sex couple, or the homosexual individual, then, you might agree that sexual encounters within such self-named family-like relationships would be incest-like. As I said, I did not say these were de facto incestuous sexual liasons, but that is the context in which they should be seen if the family diversity mantra is to be believed.

I don't know why this is terribly relevant. The reason that gays often treat and refer to their gay circles as "family" has to do with their rejection by both society and their own families. As homosexuality is more accepting, the idea of the "gay family" becomes less important. For example, most of my gay friends have very accepting family and friends (in fact, the majority of my social circle is straight), so the need to create family-like structures outside of actual family is reduced. What you are describing is the phenomenon of misfits banding together and calling themselves family, because these people "understand" them better than their own families. It has little to do with actually altering family structures and is more a reaction to the rejection from the family structure that they'd prefer to belong to.

Gays aren't blurring the incest line. Incestuous family structures often occur to protect the family from an outside world it sees as hostile towards it. It's not perceived as healthy, even in the gay community.

Look, it's very easy to say that these behaviors and cultural rituals are there because gays are inherently deviant and counterculture. And that definitely is politically successful, but it's not accurate. They serve an immediate purpose but that purpose will be unnecessary with increased understanding of homosexuality.

Posted by: Michael at April 15, 2005 5:28 PM

There is a lot of discussion here about the effect of alleged gay male promiscuity on marriage. Well, if that's the concern, then why not allow Lesbian Marriage by itself, since lesbians are no more promiscuous than straights? In other words, marriage could be defined as the union of one man and one woman, or two women. Just leave male-male couples out of it and promiscuity is no longer an obstacle.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 15, 2005 5:52 PM

Fitz:

Please explain to us why it is better for children that if their parents separate it is better that they hate each other (what heterosexuals do) that they remain friends (what gays do).

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 15, 2005 10:16 PM

My goodness, Arturo. I, for one, am not sure how to respond to your recent comments. Are you speaking from personal experience, cultural representation, research, what? Or are you just making wild claims in the hopes that they'll stick as truth?

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 15, 2005 10:22 PM

Justin:

About gays staying friends after they break up, Fitz himself said he sees it among his gay friends (of course, he reworked it to show his contempt for gays, including his friends).

About heterosexual separations very often turning ugly, do you deny it?

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 16, 2005 2:28 AM

Arturo, I have seen many ugly gay breakups, and many amicable ones .. the same goes for straight breakups. The couple's orientation matters much less than their "issues quotient" in my experience, and there are plenty of issues on both sides of the fence.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 16, 2005 2:50 AM

I don't deny that "heterosexual separations very often turn[] ugly," but neither do I affirm that homosexual separations do not. I asked primarily because I sensed a bit of heterophobia on your part (to turn a phrase).

Whatever the case, it seems to me that you've gone awfully quickly from questionable observation to firm conclusion. If what you say is true, perhaps we should ponder whether the difference in post-relationship amicability indicates that homosexual relationships don't form as deeply in the parties' emotions. Superficial cuts heal more quickly and more thoroughly, after all. But I don't suspect that's a possibility that you'd be willing to entertain.

And whatever the case on that, I don't see how the promise of pleasant breakups translates to "gay parents make better parents." If separating is easier to do, it follows that it will happen more often. Moreover, from the perspective of the children, it sounds as if they'd accumulate parents through series of couplings that never completely sever, making the two-person rule of marriage as arbitrary as you want the two-gender rule to be.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 16, 2005 8:08 AM

Matt:

So have I. I'm generalizing. The other side does it all the time.

Justin:

You are putting a value on relationships that is based on the potential for damage. That is one difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals. Homosexuals can love life, without threatening to destroy it.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 16, 2005 9:22 AM

Homosexuals can love life, without threatening to destroy it.

Easy for you to say. Homosexuals can love life, without ever threatening to CREATE it.

So your stake in the matter is somewhat specious -- It is limited to your own life, and none beyond.

Posted by: Marty at April 16, 2005 11:45 AM

Michael,

Well this is rich. I'm just supposed to accept the way that people perceive me based on admittedly unfair impressions that they have and allow them to make public policy because of them? Are you being serious? That some people, based on ignorant stereotypes, might change their perception of marriage is a driving reason to not let gays marry? This might not be what you mean, but this is how I'm seeing it.

I didn't say you have to accept people's unfair stereotypes, I said you have to take them into account when proposing a fundamental change in the core social institution. The point I'm getting at is that you filter every argument through your own life - you never step outside your own personal situation, or your own personal desires, to objectively consider the ramifications. Jonathan Rauch, who to my mind makes the most thoughtful case in favor of SSM, basically goes over most of the cultural and sociological concerns that anti-SSM people have (i.e. he goes over the reasons the fence is there), but then he just ignores all those arguments. You, however, don't even go over these concerns - you just dismiss them out of hand. To you, the fence is an anachronism that doesn't need to be explained - it's irrelevant.

When conservative supporters of gay marriage say that marriage will be positive for gays, just as I believe strengthening marriage would be positive for inner city blacks, they aren't taken seriously by SSM opponents. And if the above is your reasoning for believing gays would do more harm to marriage than marriage will do good for gays, I'd take a serious look at why this position comes across as prejudiced.

I think those arguments are taken seriously. I, for one, don't doubt that SSM would be beneficial for some percentage of gay couples, and perhaps for the gay community taken as a whole. But marriage doesn't exist for the gay community, and the state has no compelling interest in making the gay community more healthy. If it were the case that these putative moderate benefits could be had without changing marriage for the rest of society, then I'd be much less opposed to SSM. The primary reason I'm opposed to it, to add to the ad nauseum repetition of this point, is because I don't think such a scenario is possible. In a sense, Rauch's essay (I forget where it is) is the clincher - he most thoroughly addresses the anti-SSM arguments, but then comes out in favor of SSM without having made any substantive counter-arguments.

Anyway, my point is I'd have more respect for your arguments, in particular, if you'd actually address the arguments we make against SSM. And your analogy to marriage in the inner city doesn't work, because it begs the question: what we differ over is not the importance of marriage, we differ over the definition of marriage. I think enactment of SSM might well make it more difficult, if not impossible, for marriage to recover in the inner cities.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 16, 2005 1:52 PM

Michael, in my previous comments I do think I covered much of the same ground as in your recent comment in response.

>> Michael: "As homosexuality is more accepting, the idea of the "gay family" becomes less important. ... so the need to create family-like structures outside of actual family is reduced."

Michael, last summer I had oppotunity to informally listen to the personal views of stand-up homosexual men and women in the city of Montreal, Canada. As with similar discussions elsewhere in the USA over the past decade or so, there was a frank admission that marriage is not the ideal way to organize one's life as a gay man or lesbian.

This has been the heartfelt and practical response of men and women who in some of the most gay-friendly places on the map. My contact with the homosexual community is not politicized. Nor is based on a scientific study of lifestyles and attitudes. I've just reached out and exchanged views on all sorts of SSM-related topics. So I don't claim this particular anecdotal evidence is definitive. But I have not come across couples whose sexual behavior was demarcated by definite lines that ruled out openness to sex with admittedly close family-like friends. In one case, a Montreal couple explained that they are open about the possibility of such encounters if they occured "naturally". Two lesbian couples explained that they had no problem with others openly crossing these lines, even if as couples they would hope to avoid the temptations. Acceptance was the operative buzzword, just as in your comments above.

These sexually-colored friendships are frequently referred to as being closer than family bonds. Not all such friendships, but enough to fuzzy-up the line. And that line doesn't seem to be very significant in the first place. The fluidity between "family" and sexual release is far too great for me to dismiss the blurring of the incest line associated with "gay marriage". Subsuming it as a positive into the societal idea of family harmony seems like a lousy idea, to me at least.

As I have said, incest laws need to be strengthened, in my view, to explicitly include those related by affinity and adoption -- step-siblings for instance -- for the reasons that blood-relatedness matters beyond concerns about the potential for genetic problems.

If a man can form a "marriage" with another man, does that rule-out extramarital sexual behavior with "family" with whom one was formerly or intermittently sexually intermittent. Is that central -- essential -- to the SSM ideal? To what extrent do you think that would reflect the practice of couples in the homosexual community?

As for relevance, here is the view of someone who believes that he accurately reflects mainstream homosexual community:

>> Warner: "Sullivan rightly emphasizes the importance of friendship in gay culture. But this could be seen as a portrait of intimacies that are an alternative to marriage. Sullivan thinks that "sex between friends is something to be avoided at all costs," that love and friendship are wholly distinct. But for many gay men, tricks become friends, friends cross into sex and back again, both tricks and friends can become lovers, ex-lovers can be friends or even tricks, and friends who don't have sex can bond over their common sexual lives. Some of us have relations simultaneously that run the gamut from long-term lover to [f-buddies], surrounding us with a web of intimacies that is also a sexual culture. All of this is utterly falsified by Sullivan's idealization of marriage as the only valid context for intimacy, love and sex. And as usual when Sullivan talks about marriage, he treats the relation and the legal regulations as one and the same. The implication is that passage of some new laws will make it easier for gay men to find boyfriends."

Warner's review of Sullivan's "Love Detectable"
http://gaytoday.badpuppy.com/garchive/reviews/111698re.htm

I doubt that your more conformist attitude would provide the antidote to the adverse influence of this outlook which is firmly established as acceptable practice.

Posted by: Chairm at April 16, 2005 5:08 PM

Another gate.

Any liberals here have a coherent argument against the polygamists referenced in this story? Dancar and Michael, take note - the polygamists aren't following your rule that each issue should be debated on it's own. How do we deal with that breach of procedure?

Posted by: Mike S. at April 18, 2005 10:35 AM

Indeed Mike,
I have had enough conversations with pro-SSM proponents that one senses the stratagey. Talk of polymory is always laughed off and painted as absurd scare-mongering.
The truth of the matter is that legally & philisophically the line is not just thin- It does not exist. Not only do all the pro-SSM arguments equally apply to polymory, but more dangerously, few of the traditionilist objections apply (It still brings men & women together, and it still provides children their mother and father under a single roof)
Politically their is a FAR greater potential demand for ploygamist relationships than SSM.
Furthermore, the interest groups go from branch-mormon & muslims, (already larger than the gay population) to the lefts own sexual liberationists.

They are forced to laugh off this challenge precisely because its so serious,.. and unanswerable!

Posted by: Fitz at April 18, 2005 10:51 AM

Anyway, my point is I'd have more respect for your arguments, in particular, if you'd actually address the arguments we make against SSM.

I'm sorry you feel this way. I can't help but think that you are being just a bit blinded by your convictions (I don't fault you for it, because we all do it). I feel as though I have addressed many of the arguments SSM opponents make. And your critique of Rauch is most telling. You say, "he most thoroughly addresses the anti-SSM arguments, but then comes out in favor of SSM without having made any substantive counter-arguments." Since you didn't remember the exact article I can't address this fully, but I can say that I have read him extensively and I *do* find him presenting very substantive counter-arguments. That you don't see them as substantive does not mean that he, or I for that matter, have not addressed them properly. You can quibble with our conclusions, but I don't think that you can say we aren't addressing your concerns.

I'll give you an example that I know I've addressed here, and try to make it more succint with McArdle's post. One of your concerns, as I see it, is that allowing SSM will affect the marriages "on the margins" by further blurring the connecting line between marriage and procreation. I have since maintained that that line has already been blurred by welfare and no-fault divorce and that allowing more people into marriage would not have any further detrimental effect on marriage in that way. Rather, in an attempt to equalize as much as possible the legal protections of gays and their families, other marriage-like institutions are being set up, that have the unfortunate unintended consequence of being open to straights. Therefore, those people "on the margin", who were unsure of the commitment that even marriage with no-fault divorce entails, will enter into these other arrangements rather than marriage, and more people will opt out of marriage itself.

I have addressed this point repeatedly, in many different ways. I do not understand how you can construe this to mean that I'm not actively and acutally addressing your arguments, other than to assume that since I'm not coming to the same conclusions you are. I am not one of those people that flippantly dismisses your concerns with phrases like "how is my marriage going to effect yours" or "civilization is not going to collapse if the queers start marrying."

I also don't understand how you can say things like "The primary reason I'm opposed to it, to add to the ad nauseum repetition of this point, is because I don't think such a scenario is possible" and then say you don't respect my arguments because they don't address your concerns. Well, many scenarios are presented to you, in earnest, and you dismiss them because you don't think they are possible. That is called debating. I'm not going to accuse you of not addressing my arguments; if a counter-argument is presented, no matter how implausible you may personally feel it to be, that doesn't mean your arguments are being ignored.

Lastly, I'm concerned about this statement you made: "the state has no compelling interest in making the gay community more healthy." Why not? Aren't gays citizens? The gay community isn't isolated. For example, public health issues that concern gays (AIDS, drug use, suicide, depression) don't stay isolated; they bleed out into the "mainstream". Maybe marriage isn't the right way, but to hear you say that the state has no compelling interest in making gays more healthy yet obviously has a compelling interest in making other groups healthier, makes me think that, in some way, you're anti-gay, and anti-compassionate. Why does the state have any compelling interest in letting a prisoner get married and have conjugal visits with his wife to ensure that children born to them would be born into a broken family? Why does the state have any compelling interest to make drugs illegal or feed and clothe the homeless? Because a healthier society is a better functioning society. And again, gays aren't isolated. I'm not only part of the gay community, but part of the Catholic community and the scientific community and my neighborhood community, to name just a few. I pay my taxes, like everyone else, and when I get married even more than you. I am a citizen and the state has a compelling reason to make all its citizens healthier. Unless they aren't as useful. All the rhetoric from your side has been that gays aren't second-class citizens, and yet....

Posted by: Michael at April 18, 2005 11:24 AM

They are forced to laugh off this challenge precisely because its so serious,.. and unanswerable!

Absolutely incorrect. The only reason that polygamy can be considered along with SSM is because your side is focusing on the man-woman/procreation criteria, rather than focusing on monogamy. And, while some of your numbers do not oppose gay rights, many do. And opposition to employment protection and other non-marriage related issues keeps sexual orientation from being protected. If it were, polygamy wouldn't have a leg to stand on. Because all your defense is wrapped up in man/woman, baby-making tradition, polygamy makes a heck of a lot more sense than gay marraige. So as long as you oppose gay rights, you're going to wind up stuck with polygamy. The second gays get marriage because they are gay, and not because they are individuals making life choices, the polygamy argument dies a quick death.

Posted by: Michael at April 18, 2005 11:30 AM

I don't see anything inherently wrong with polygamy. It has a historical basis in many cultures, and it keeps children in the same household as their real parents. Western laws against polygamy are just a relic of the cultural traditions of Western countries, and are fundamentally ethnocentric.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 18, 2005 12:07 PM

Mike
Your comments are a excellent example of the modern belief in the perfectability of man. The truth is we support tradtional marriage, monogomy, are for male female complematraries AND are against pologamy.
The idea that you can remove one concept in a culture, insert another, abolish a strain of though and tradition while simaltaniously encouraging a new androgonous standard is nieve in the extreme.
Social enginerinng like that never comes to furition. It always dehumanizes instittions and individuals.
It utopian idealistic thinking, it pespeakes a belief in the perfectability of man- it begs tyranny & is perfoundly antiintelectual and inhuman.

Posted by: Fitz at April 18, 2005 12:25 PM

Michael said: I have since maintained that that line [between marriage and procreation] has already been blurred by welfare and no-fault divorce and that allowing more people into marriage would not have any further detrimental effect on marriage in that way.

It's certainly arguable that SSM will do no further damage to an already damaged institution, but what are the odds that we might actually undo some of that damage -- by making the lines clearer again -- after SSM is enacted? Sure, if the patient is already dead, it won't hurt to put another bullet into him. But if there is ANY chance of recovery, then it's probably not such a good idea.


Posted by: Marty at April 18, 2005 12:37 PM

Thats an excellent point Marty (The one I try an maintain often)
The idea that you can sell a new androgenous, childless standard of marriage to society's youth in general (much less to the poor black and brown underclass) is not just foolish- its downright dangerously obtuse.

In order to rebuild the institution - traditional sex roles, virginity, exclussivness, complematarieness, ant-divorce...ect - need to be streagthened - not weakened further-or eradicated.

Posted by: Fitz at April 18, 2005 12:43 PM

Michael:

"I'll give you an example that I know I've addressed here, and try to make it more succint with McArdle's post. One of your concerns, as I see it, is that allowing SSM will affect the marriages "on the margins" by further blurring the connecting line between marriage and procreation."

It seems as if you are suffering from a misperception of the argument. The point is more along the lines of allowing SSM would not blur the connecting lines between marriage and procreation further, but totally obliterate them because they are already blurred. Pay attention.
Polygamy would do nothing to re-establish those lines either. Polygamy only reinforces the importance of building up a harem. Not only that, but polygamy weakens the ties between parent and child. And children are the targetted group that we're trying to protect here.

Posted by: smmtheory at April 18, 2005 12:46 PM

smm:
It seems as if you are suffering from a misperception of the argument. The point is more along the lines of allowing SSM would not blur the connecting lines between marriage and procreation further, but totally obliterate them because they are already blurred. Pay attention.

You maybe say obliterate, but I have seen numerous commentators simply use the term "blur further" or some variation. Maybe you should tell some of the people on your side to pay better attention, too.

Fitz:
The truth is we support tradtional marriage, monogomy, are for male female complematraries AND are against pologamy.

And the truth of the matter is that your position needs to be defended. And the only real way that you can defend each and every one of those points is through tradition or through religion. And if you succeed in stopping SSM, I guarantee you will let polygamy in through the back door, because Muslims and Mormons have every right to argue for polygamy based both on tradition and religion.

Marty:
It's certainly arguable that SSM will do no further damage to an already damaged institution, but what are the odds that we might actually undo some of that damage -- by making the lines clearer again -- after SSM is enacted?

I certainly seem to think so. But regarless of our disagreements, you can't say that I haven't been addressing your arguments and concerns, which is why I replied to Mike S. in the first place. And to point out the subtle to not-so-subtle homophobia in some of the arguments against SSM. I don't want to continue to beat this horse any more because it's obvious that none of us are going to give. I just want to know why I can be perceived as not listening or addressing my opponents.

Posted by: Michael at April 18, 2005 1:48 PM

Polygamy, like pedophelia (as I’ve explained here before) is a heterosexual problem, not a homosexual problem. I do not know of any incident, and have not ever heard of any, of a marriage-like relationship between 3 or more men. Gays don’t have marriage now, so we should be able to see the degree to which homosexuals, without social pressure for monogamy, gravitate to form polygamous unions. All homosexual marriage-like relationships I know of, have ever known known, or have ever heard about, are between two individuals.

A difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals is that homosexuals like to make life enjoyable by making it, besides beautiful, simple (which is why overcoming promiscuity will be a challenge). Heterosexual (males), on the other hand, experience enjoyment by the degree to which other heterosexual males admire and respect them. One way that admiration and respect is imparted (and to varying degrees traditional society has in subtle ways promoted) is by how many females the heterosexual male can possess. Heterosexual males don’t care if life is easy, as long as their heterosexual ego is satisfied.

Micheal is exactly right when he says that "traditional" opposition to gay marriage is inadvently supportive of polygamy. It's no accident that muslim society is homophobic and polygamous.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 18, 2005 6:32 PM

Art said ... pedophelia (as I’ve explained here before) is a heterosexual problem, not a homosexual problem.

I must've missed that thread, but me and several thousand catholic boys would love to hear you tell it again...

Micheal is exactly right when he says that "traditional" opposition to gay marriage is inadvently supportive of polygamy. It's no accident that muslim society is homophobic and polygamous.

Heh, nice try. You're just sore that polygamy -- as socially unacceptable as it is in the west -- still has far more historical, traditional, religious, and social support than the ultra-radical agenda you're peddling. You need to get in line behind the mormons

Posted by: Marty at April 18, 2005 7:45 PM

Michael,

Anyway, my point is I'd have more respect for your arguments, in particular, if you'd actually address the arguments we make against SSM.

I'm sorry you feel this way. I can't help but think that you are being just a bit blinded by your convictions (I don't fault you for it, because we all do it). I feel as though I have addressed many of the arguments SSM opponents make. And your critique of Rauch is most telling. You say, "he most thoroughly addresses the anti-SSM arguments, but then comes out in favor of SSM without having made any substantive counter-arguments." Since you didn't remember the exact article I can't address this fully, but I can say that I have read him extensively and I *do* find him presenting very substantive counter-arguments. That you don't see them as substantive does not mean that he, or I for that matter, have not addressed them properly. You can quibble with our conclusions, but I don't think that you can say we aren't addressing your concerns.

This is the article I was thinking of.

Rauch discusses SSM in the context of Hayek. He claims Hayek has ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ versions of the argument from tradition, which basically amount to different levels of urgency in the need for change, and in the standard of proof needed to abrogate tradition. His argument amounts to the following points: 1) the level of urgency for gays to marry is high, 2) other changes have been made to marriage law in the past, which may have had greater effects on the institution than SSM is likely to have. The problem is that he simply asserts his conclusions. (Perhaps he argues in more detail for his positions elsewhere, but he doesn’t here.) He simply assumes that it is a massive injustice that gays can’t marry, and that it is urgent that they be included in the institution as soon as possible. He doesn’t defend this in any larger context, he simply asserts that gays have the right to marry. And he raises the possibility that changing a social institution like marriage could cause serious problems, but simply dismisses this concern with zero arguments. He simply points out that previous changes in marriage law have caused problems, too. He pretends to take the argument seriously, but he doesn’t really address it. I’m giving him credit for at least stating the concern properly, which is rare enough in this debate, but he doesn’t address the concern in any meaningful way. Merely acknowledging the possibility is not sufficient.

An important point here is that I don’t believe I’ve seen Rauch take a strong stand against judicial imposition of SSM (if he has, then this paragraph doesn’t hold). Any reasonable examination of the argument from tradition has to insist that any changes be made legislatively, which will involve the most deliberation by the widest amount of people. A handful of judges are not capable of, nor do they have the charter to, make significant changes in our social arrangements.

I'll give you an example that I know I've addressed here, and try to make it more succint with McArdle's post. One of your concerns, as I see it, is that allowing SSM will affect the marriages "on the margins" by further blurring the connecting line between marriage and procreation. I have since maintained that that line has already been blurred by welfare and no-fault divorce and that allowing more people into marriage would not have any further detrimental effect on marriage in that way. Rather, in an attempt to equalize as much as possible the legal protections of gays and their families, other marriage-like institutions are being set up, that have the unfortunate unintended consequence of being open to straights. Therefore, those people "on the margin", who were unsure of the commitment that even marriage with no-fault divorce entails, will enter into these other arrangements rather than marriage, and more people will opt out of marriage itself.

That’s an argument against many types of civil unions, not an argument in favor of SSM. You are begging the question by assuming that civil unions will weaken marriage (I agree with you on this), while SSM won’t. The reason (certain types of) civil unions will weaken marriage is precisely because they will equate same sex unions and opposite-sex unions legally, which is the same thing SSM would do. There wouldn’t be any push for civil unions in the absence of the SSM push.

I have addressed this point repeatedly, in many different ways. I do not understand how you can construe this to mean that I'm not actively and acutally addressing your arguments, other than to assume that since I'm not coming to the same conclusions you are. I am not one of those people that flippantly dismisses your concerns with phrases like "how is my marriage going to effect yours" or "civilization is not going to collapse if the queers start marrying."

But you always start with the premise of SSM, and fashion your arguments accordingly. Perhaps, as you say, I’m blinded by my own biases, but I have never seen you say, “yes, it’s possible that SSM could have adverse effect on marriage culture, and I think we should proceed slowly. I do not think judges should be declaring fundamental changes in a crucial social institution.” You insist that SSM is a right, even though it isn’t enumerated anywhere in our laws, and even though you can’t explain why the exact same argument cannot be applied to various other marriage arrangements that people want to legitimize, like polygamy.

Lastly, I'm concerned about this statement you made: "the state has no compelling interest in making the gay community more healthy." Why not? Aren't gays citizens? The gay community isn't isolated. For example, public health issues that concern gays (AIDS, drug use, suicide, depression) don't stay isolated; they bleed out into the "mainstream". Maybe marriage isn't the right way, but to hear you say that the state has no compelling interest in making gays more healthy yet obviously has a compelling interest in making other groups healthier, makes me think that, in some way, you're anti-gay, and anti-compassionate.

The point I was trying to make is that the state doesn’t have any compelling interest in making the gay community, as a distinct entity more healthy. Of course the state has an interest in keeping all of it’s citizen’s in some minimal degree of health – my point is that there isn’t anything particular to the gay community that singles it out for attention.

Why does the state have any compelling interest in letting a prisoner get married and have conjugal visits with his wife to ensure that children born to them would be born into a broken family?

It doesn’t.

Why does the state have any compelling interest to make drugs illegal or feed and clothe the homeless?

Those are applicable to all, and not directed at the gay community.

Because a healthier society is a better functioning society. And again, gays aren't isolated.

Well, that’s the question at issue, isn’t it: what is the healthiest course for society? You’re right, gays aren’t isolated – yet you seem to think the negative aspects of the gay community will stay isolated from the larger marriage culture.

I notice you haven't addressed Chaim's post.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 18, 2005 9:12 PM

Notice that no SSM proponent on this forum has even tried to argue the specifics of Megan McArdle's argument, or to defend the specifics of Jim Henley's response to her, or to argue Justin's specific points in his original post.

Is it too much to ask that SSM proponents give some better explanation for the reasons that no societies that we know of have developed an androgynized definition of marriage of the sort that they are proposing? Is it really just that none have thought of it? How likely, really, is this? If this is not the reason, what has prevented the idea from taking root in the past? And if there has been something in the past which has prevented it from taking root, why is this no longer relevant? (Don't give the juvenile simplistic response that it's just bigotry; it's well known that many rulers have been gay or bisexual and could easily have mandated SSM, plus many societies have tolerated or accepted homosexuality---there are just none that have successfully androgynized the concept of marriage.)

I know, the argument will be "Just because it's never been done before is not a good reason". But if the extent to which something has been successfully done is so far lower than would be expected from probability, this is a fact needing explanation.

Arturo: "I do not know of any incident, and have not ever heard of any, of a marriage-like relationship between 3 or more men. Gays don’t have marriage now, so we should be able to see the degree to which homosexuals, without social pressure for monogamy, gravitate to form polygamous unions. All homosexual marriage-like relationships I know of, have ever known known, or have ever heard about, are between two individuals".

Arturo, obviously you either didn't hear about or don't recall that big story we heard a few years ago about the two gay men who wanted a third partner in their marriage so badly that they went to Thailand to find one (because Thailand does not officially sanction marriages)? And I am aware of at least one case of a three-way gay relationship from where I live. Not that this disproves your assertion that most gay relationships are binary, if that's all you are asserting. But it only takes a few cases to challenge the law.

Posted by: R.K. at April 19, 2005 12:44 AM

>> Arturo: "I do not know of any incident, and have not ever heard of any, of a marriage-like relationship between 3 or more men. Gays don’t have marriage now, so we should be able to see the degree to which homosexuals, without social pressure for monogamy, gravitate to form polygamous unions."

If your SSM beliefs depend on the limits of your imagination and personal experience, then, your comments may be a testamont to the validity of at least one of McArdle's major cautionary points.

Posted by: Chairm at April 19, 2005 5:18 AM

Notice that no SSM proponent on this forum has even tried to argue the specifics of Megan McArdle's argument, or to defend the specifics of Jim Henley's response to her, or to argue Justin's specific points in his original post.

Megan McArdle does not categorically reject SSM. She suggests that to understand the ramifications of SSM requires explaining SSM's historical absence. She finds the usual explanation of SSM advocates (homophobia and bigotry) unsatisfactory.

I agree with McArdle that it is essential to examine why social institutions are the way the are before changing them. Let us apply this rule to another fact about marriage in modern Western society:

In the last few decades, a number of social policies have been advocated which erode the traditional structure of marriage in the name of (adult) freedom and equality. Among these policies are no-fault divorce, aid for unwed mothers and same-sex marriage. The first two have been enacted, yet SSM has not. If we are all about explaining "why things are as they are", then how do we explain our society's selection of some anti-marriage policies over others?

Note: I am by no means saying we should charge forward with SSM just because divorce and illegitimacy have already damaged marriage, just looking for an explanation of the status quo ...

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 19, 2005 12:17 PM

"I don't see anything inherently wrong with polygamy. It has a historical basis in many cultures, and it keeps children in the same household as their real parents. Western laws against polygamy are just a relic of the cultural traditions of Western countries, and are fundamentally ethnocentric."

Using ethnocentric as an epithet doesn't explain anything. Clearly there are differences between societies that allow polygamy and those that ban it. Are you seriously going to sit here and claim that these societies are equivalent to each other? Or are you going to be moving to Saudi Arabia shortly?

The fact that you don't see anything wrong with polygamy just means you are obtuse, or not paying attention, not that you have some unique insight.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 19, 2005 12:50 PM

"In the last few decades, a number of social policies have been advocated which erode the traditional structure of marriage in the name of (adult) freedom and equality. Among these policies are no-fault divorce, aid for unwed mothers and same-sex marriage. The first two have been enacted, yet SSM has not. If we are all about explaining "why things are as they are", then how do we explain our society's selection of some anti-marriage policies over others?"

First of all, a few decades doesn't a tradition make. Second, the changes you refer to were instituted largely by the same liberal elites who want to impose SSM on the nation. The country as a whole went along, yes, but the general public didn't provide the impetus for change. The most important point, of course, is that now that we have the benefit of experience with two of the three changes, we ought to be far more cautious going forward. The argument that no-fault divorce didn't completely obliterate marriage, so what the heck, let's try SSM, too, is not what I would call compelling.

It's almost as if the standard of proof for SSM advocates is literally the destruction of marriage - if that happens, then they will admit that it wasn't such a good idea. But if they can point to a few healthy marriages, they'll say, "see, SSM didn't destroy marriage!"

Posted by: Mike S. at April 19, 2005 12:55 PM

Mike S: The argument that no-fault divorce didn't completely obliterate marriage, so what the heck, let's try SSM, too, is not what I would call compelling.

That isn't my argument. I am not really even making an argument for or against SSM; just trying to understand why things are the way they are.

For what it's worth, I am more or less resigned to the fact that SSM is too risky to institute at this time, so you could call me an "SSM opponent". This leaves marriage law in about its worst possible configuration for me personally (my parents were able to easily divorce, yet I can't marry my partner) but my situation is the exception, not the rule.

Using ethnocentric as an epithet doesn't explain anything. ... The fact that you don't see anything wrong with polygamy just means you are obtuse, or not paying attention, not that you have some unique insight.

.. or perhaps that there actually is nothing wrong with polygamy. As yet, nobody has offered a very compelling case against polygamy; for example, the anti-polygamy arguments offered by Jonathan Rauch and Megan McArdle seem contrived after the fact and much weaker than the arguments against SSM.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 19, 2005 1:22 PM

"or perhaps that there actually is nothing wrong with polygamy."

Well, when I have some time I'll try to find some evidence to the contrary online (I know it exists, I just don't know where it is).

Here's a few thought experiments in the meantime:

1) Name a prosperous and successful society that endorses polygamy. 1a) What is the status of women and children in such societies? Unlike the case of SSM, where we have little or no experience with widespread societal practice of it, we have lots of comparative evidence for polygamous and monogamous societies. The results do not favor the polygamous societies.

2) Imagine growing up as a child in a polygamous family. I cannot imagine anyone who thinks about this seriously for a minute, and who has any kind of normal family life to compare it to, would think this was a healthy situation for children.

3) You, I think, are imagining a stable polygamous marriage, where there is somewhere between 2 and 5 or so wives living in the same house (or location), with their husband and collective children. But there are also polyamorist groups who want their relationships recognized. I'm assuming (hoping) that you can see that this would be a detrimental situation for children. How would you distinguish between polygamists and polyamorists, legally speaking?

Posted by: Mike S. at April 19, 2005 2:24 PM

"I am not really even making an argument for or against SSM; just trying to understand why things are the way they are."

You answered the question yourself,

"In the last few decades, a number of social policies have been advocated which erode the traditional structure of marriage in the name of (adult) freedom and equality. Among these policies are no-fault divorce, aid for unwed mothers..."

Are you looking for some explanation beyond that?

"For what it's worth, I am more or less resigned to the fact that SSM is too risky to institute at this time, so you could call me an "SSM opponent". This leaves marriage law in about its worst possible configuration for me personally (my parents were able to easily divorce, yet I can't marry my partner) but my situation is the exception, not the rule."

I'm grateful that you are able to put the larger societal interests ahead of your own - I think you are the second gay person I've heard publicly take this position (I read another gay person denounce the Goodridge decision, even though they favored legislative moves to implement SSM). I think your general predicament isn't so rare, if you take out your homosexuality - people under 30 have been scarred by the divorce culture, and instinctively want to fix it by supporting marriage. And they don't see any reason why gays can't participate in marriage.

I wonder how many people exist with your particular combination of views (generally supportive of SSM, but not at the present time, but willing to condone polygamy, presumably at the present time)?

Posted by: Mike S. at April 19, 2005 2:34 PM

Mike S: Name a prosperous and successful society that endorses polygamy.

1. China, the most prosperous and powerful nation on Earth for most of the last 4,000 years. Polygamy was legal in Hong Kong as recently as the 1970's.

2. Islam, which was eclipsed by the West in cultural advancement only within the last 600 years or so.

the list goes on ...

What is the status of women and children in such societies?

Women and children were treated badly in virtually all societies in history, polygamous and monogamous alike. The relatively high status of women and children in the modern West is unique.

Imagine growing up as a child in a polygamous family. I cannot imagine anyone who thinks about this seriously for a minute...

It was pointed out earlier in this thread that the limits of our imagination should not be a reason to discount situations unlike our own.

How would you distinguish between polygamists and polyamorists, legally speaking?

Historically polygamous societies might offer some guidance, but I don't think a foolproof legal distinction is possible. Likewise, there is no practical way for the law to forbid "open marriages" and otherwise sexually nonconforming behavior in a one man-one woman marriage. Polygamous marriage is not qualitatively worse in that regard than monogamous marriage.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 19, 2005 2:48 PM

Mike S.: You answered the question yourself,

"In the last few decades, a number of social policies have been advocated which erode the traditional structure of marriage in the name of (adult) freedom and equality. Among these policies are no-fault divorce, aid for unwed mothers"

Are you looking for some explanation beyond that?

Megan McArdle's thesis seems to be that the social status quo is not an accident, but an arrangement that has been selected so as to enhance the society's survival and prosperity.

Her proposition makes a great deal of sense, but from one individual's point of view (mine), the status quo of marriage in America looks like a big loser all the way around. The simplest explanation is just that I rolled snake eyes in the Game of Life, but a rational explanation of why no-fault divorce came decades before SSM would be more satisfying.

My intuition is that it's just the selfish politics of supply and demand in a democracy (demand for divorce is much, much greater than for SSM), but I'm hoping there are some optimists out there with a less cynical analysis.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 19, 2005 3:00 PM

"1. China, the most prosperous and powerful nation on Earth for most of the last 4,000 years."

Umm, OK. Perhaps if we focus on the last 2,000 years, or even the last 1,500, which is the relevant time frame for comparison, since the ideal of monogamy wasn't widespread until then. I don't dispute that China has been both powerful and prosperous at various points of that span, but I do dispute that they have been the "most" p&p nation for "most" of the last X years. They haven't been over the last few hundred years.

"Polygamy was legal in Hong Kong as recently as the 1970's."

But was it widely practiced?

"2. Islam, which was eclipsed by the West in cultural advancement only within the last 600 years or so."

Well, what if I said one of the reasons the Christian West eclipsed it was due to their differing notions about women and marriage?

"the list goes on ..."

Please continue.

"Women and children were treated badly in virtually all societies in history, polygamous and monogamous alike. The relatively high status of women and children in the modern West is unique."

See my response to Islam.

"It was pointed out earlier in this thread that the limits of our imagination should not be a reason to discount situations unlike our own."

No, the limits of our imagination are not a good reason to dismantle traditional social mores. Like I said, I'll try to produce some evidence for the negative effects of polygamy, but are you going to at least attempt a positive defense of it vis-a-vis children, or just be content with saying that the lack of a negative argument means it's OK?

"Historically polygamous societies might offer some guidance, but I don't think a foolproof legal distinction is possible. Likewise, there is no practical way for the law to forbid "open marriages" and otherwise sexually nonconforming behavior in a one man-one woman marriage."

There used to be - it's called criminal penalties for adultery. Of course, the law can't be enforced if people are discreet enough about their behavior.

"Polygamous marriage is not qualitatively worse in that regard than monogamous marriage."

You are sounding more like a "get government out of the business of regulating marriage" acolyte. Is that your position?

"Megan McArdle's thesis seems to be that the social status quo is not an accident, but an arrangement that has been selected so as to enhance the society's survival and prosperity."

Yes, but no-fault divorce wasn't "selected" through a process of trial-and-error, and it hasn't been around long enough to have been selected for or against anyways - societies change slowly. And all the evidence so far is that it is/will be selected against, anyway.

"Her proposition makes a great deal of sense, but from one individual's point of view (mine), the status quo of marriage in America looks like a big loser all the way around. The simplest explanation is just that I rolled snake eyes in the Game of Life, but a rational explanation of why no-fault divorce came decades before SSM would be more satisfying."

Well, most social conservatives are both against SSM and in favor of tightening divorce laws, and are/were in favor of major changes to welfare.

"My intuition is that it's just the selfish politics of supply and demand in a democracy (demand for divorce is much, much greater than for SSM), but I'm hoping there are some optimists out there with a less cynical analysis."

I'm not sure what you mean by a 'rational' explanation in this context. I think your 'cynical' analysis is largely correct, though I don't quite see why you think it is so cynical. That's the way democracy works.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 19, 2005 5:07 PM

Mike S:Umm, OK. Perhaps if we focus on the last 2,000 years, or even the last 1,500, which is the relevant time frame for comparison, since the ideal of monogamy wasn't widespread until then.

China and Islam both had periods of great power and prosperity within the last 1,000 years. Other successful polygamous societies of the last millenium: 13th century Mongols, Tokugawa Japan, Incas, Aztecs

China has been both powerful and prosperous at various points of that span [recorded human history], but I do dispute that they have been the "most" p&p nation for "most" of the last X years. They haven't been over the last few hundred years.

It is hard to compare the relative power of China vs. the West in ancient times, since they had little contact -- the Han Dynasty vs. the Roman Empire, for example. But in more recent times, recall the Ming Dynasty transoceanic voyages of Zheng He (1405-1433). Many have argued that if not for a political crisis at home, the Chinese would have explored and conquered the world as Europeans did in the following centuries.

I'll try to produce some evidence for the negative effects of polygamy, but are you going to at least attempt a positive defense of it vis-a-vis children, or just be content with saying that the lack of a negative argument means it's OK?

I am not trying to argue that polygamy is superior to monogamy for raising children, only that it is not substantially worse -- certainly not so much worse that polygamy should be illegal. In both cases, children live under one roof with their married mother and father, which we all agree is ideal.

I think your 'cynical' analysis is largely correct [that divorce predates SSM because of greater demand for divorce], though I don't quite see why you think it is so cynical. That's the way democracy works.

This analysis is cynical because, if true, it would mean that Americans (and maybe people in general) don't care that much about their children. It would be tragic if SSM has been suppressed not in the interest of children, but because of a "what's in it for me?" attitude toward social policy.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 19, 2005 6:13 PM

Matt,

I think you've fallen prey to a self-misconception of the same-sex marriage movement. Same-sex marriage has not "been suppressed." To say so makes only a sliver more sense than to say that stem-cell research has "been suppressed" for hundreds of years.

There's a natural ahistoricism that applies our current perspective to previous contexts. SSM wasn't beat out by the no-faul movement; it would be more accurate to say that it grew out of it (and the broader marriage-diminishment movement). First, it contributed to the lessened import of marriage (think of all the SSM-proponent quips about Britney Spears's brief marriage). Second, that lessened import appears to have sunken in to many a psyche, and the sexual liberation of which it was a part lays various aspects of the groundwork.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 19, 2005 7:43 PM

Justin: I think you've fallen prey to a self-misconception of the same-sex marriage movement. Same-sex marriage has not "been suppressed." To say so makes only a sliver more sense than to say that stem-cell research has "been suppressed" for hundreds of years. He would have no idea what a stem cell is.

The analogy between SSM and stem cell research is flawed. You could tell a stone age hunter-gatherer that two men or two women want to marry each other ... he would laugh at the idea, but he would know what you're talking about.

Since at least the 1970s, same-sex marriage has been on the minds of some gay activists, even if they were just a fringe element. I haven't yet found a specific quote from that era, but I'll bet you at least one politician in the '70s or '80s evoked gay marriage as a potential negative consequence of gay rights.

In the 30 years since, there has been very little legal movement toward SSM while no-fault divorce has remained almost universally legal. Worst of all, that combination seems to be exactly what the voting public wants.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 19, 2005 8:12 PM

I’m giving him credit for at least stating the concern properly, which is rare enough in this debate, but he doesn’t address the concern in any meaningful way. Merely acknowledging the possibility is not sufficient.

Perhaps you should check out his book, "Gay Marriage: Why It's Good For Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America". He elaborates much more. I can see where you might find, from his shorter essays, him not addressing your concerns in a meaningful way. But I'm not sure he's not addressing them in a meaningful way and you just don't find it meaningful enough, given strong convictions. That's always a tough call, for people on both sides.

That’s an argument against many types of civil unions, not an argument in favor of SSM. You are begging the question by assuming that civil unions will weaken marriage (I agree with you on this), while SSM won’t.

No, I'm not saying that SSM won't weaken marriage. Well, actually, I am. I honestly don't think it will. I do see it as a possibility, but I think it will have much less negative impact on marriage than civil unions or marriage-lite arrangements will. The difference in our positions is not that I'm coming at this from the premise that gays deserve to have their relationships as equally protected by the law as possible. While I prefer marriage because I think that the word carries so much cultural weight as to be extraordinarily important to gays, I would accept civil unions as a compromise IF it protects gays' relationships equally to straights. That is, I'll sacrifice the word if civil unions are open only to same-sex couples and are federally recognized. Of course, if you don't think that gays and their families should be equally protected under the law then we will continue to disagree. But let it be clear, while I may believe the SSM won't harm marriage at all, I believe that the harm being done to society as it continues to mistreat its gay citizens is worse than any slight harm done to marriage.

But you always start with the premise of SSM, and fashion your arguments accordingly. Perhaps, as you say, I’m blinded by my own biases, but I have never seen you say, “yes, it’s possible that SSM could have adverse effect on marriage culture, and I think we should proceed slowly. I do not think judges should be declaring fundamental changes in a crucial social institution.”

Well, that's because, for various reasons, I've come to the conclusion that gay marriage is good for society. I've articulated it a bit above. As to the judges, I have most definitely said here that I disapprove of certain measures some in the gay advocacy community is having. I disagree with the action of Gavin Newsom, et al. I do not, however, disagree with any of the judicial rulings because they are in tune with the way I see the problem. Gays are not having their families being protected under the law and they took their greivances to the courts (since the gay movement, no matter what you want to say, is such a minority movement that the legislature can't work successfully for them). Massachusetts ruled that this problem had to be fixed, as did Vermont. The legislatures have, and are, taking steps to fix it. If Massachusetts votes on a constitutional amendment barring SSM, I will be disappointed, but it will be the way the law should work. And while I am personally disappointed that the marriages in Oregon have been annulled, I agree with the decision; the county had no legal justification for granted them.

But, if you want me to tell you that we should proceed slowly and that judges shouldn't impose changes on a fundamental institution, I won't. Because I disagree that a) we are proceeding fast and b) that judges can and have imposed changes. Marriage transcends law. The law is catching up to how people treat marriage. Why did marriage in Western society move from polygamy to monogamy? Because polygamy no longer worked. I don't think we should abandon marriage because it serves important functions.

Of course the state has an interest in keeping all of it’s citizen’s in some minimal degree of health – my point is that there isn’t anything particular to the gay community that singles it out for attention.

And yet rights and benefits are being denied to the gay community which is having a disparate impact on it. Do you believe in non-discrimination for government employees?

Well, that’s the question at issue, isn’t it: what is the healthiest course for society? You’re right, gays aren’t isolated – yet you seem to think the negative aspects of the gay community will stay isolated from the larger marriage culture.

And here is where your homophobia comes out. Referring to the gay community as a single entity is like me lumping you in with the radical evangelical community and assuming that you can't possibly believe in evolution, based solely on your identification with a conservative church. The truth of the matter is that I don't believe that "negative" aspects of the so-called "gay community" will affect marriage as a whole, and even if they did, certainly not enough to use that as a reason to deny them marriage. I can only assume what you mean by "negative aspects" and a) they don't hold very well for lesbians and b) they are no more damaging to marraige than letting feminists marry. What you perceive the "gay community" is based mostly on a radical gay agenda because it is the liberals who are the most galvanized and vocal. I want to be indentified with them no more than you want to be identified with Fred Phelps. Conservative gays generally don't want to bring attention to themselves, which is why you'll note that most of the gay couples who've sued for marriage do not have historical records of radicalism. Because they aren't interested in open marriages and threesomes and polyamory and everything else most people assume goes along with being gay.

Which is why I haven't addressed any of Chairm's posts, because they presuppose a radical left gay community. And since that is the voice that has dominated, and is the attitude that has dominated, us conservatives have a lot of baggage to overcome.

Posted by: Michael at April 19, 2005 8:12 PM

Oops. Justin didn't say this: He would have no idea what a stem cell is. I typed it in the wrong place, sorry ...

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 19, 2005 8:17 PM

Geez, this is like, deja vu!

David Chambers, a professor of law at the University of Michigan, wrote in The Michigan Law Review that those who support plural marriage ought to also support gay marriage. He argued that rather than reinforcing a two-person definition of marriage, gay marriage would make society more accepting of further legal changes: "By ceasing to conceive of marriage as a partnership composed of one person of each sex, the state may become more receptive to units of three or more." Similarly, Alternatives to Marriage Project activist and University of Utah law professor Martha Ertman noted in The Harvard Law Review that legal and social opposition to polygamy is decreasing and that increasing acceptance of homosexual partnerships is slowly (and, to her mind, rightly) resulting in the final destruction of the traditional marriage ideal.

These are not crackpot mormons in Utah -- these are serious academics, of the same sort who have brought us to where we are today, concerning gay marriage.

Be careful you don't reap what you have sown...

Posted by: Marty at April 19, 2005 8:26 PM

Heh, Okay Ertman IS from Utah (and mormon?) after all, but she IS being taken seriously by the Harvard Law Review.

Some day the sincere and well-meaning advocates of same-sex marriage are going to wake up and realize that the rights they fought so long and hard for are, in the end, just as worthless as the rights we traditionalists fought to keep. Gay activists fighting for marriage equality are pawns in a much larger battle.

Posted by: Marty at April 19, 2005 8:35 PM

>> Michael: "Which is why I haven't addressed any of Chairm's posts, because they presuppose a radical left gay community. And since that is the voice that has dominated, and is the attitude that has dominated, us conservatives have a lot of baggage to overcome."

I appreciate your honesty, Michael.

It seems to me, and I could be wrong, but the so-called radical left is very much mainstream, middle-of-the-road within the openly homosexual population. Not just in our country but throughout the liberal West.

To overcome that baggage, conservative gays and lesbians will need to deal with that baggage, one way or another. And since the mainstream gay culture is presented as a subculture, and as a contrarian culture, and as part and parcel of the SSM argument, it seems to me that it is not possible to step around the baggage in discussions like this.

For one thing, what is the principled difference between the mainstream and the conservative perspective?

Do you believe that your more conformist stance (if that is an accurate descriptor) will be emulated by the homosexual men and women in our society? Why would it not go the other way?

Posted by: Chairm at April 19, 2005 9:49 PM

For the record, I agree with Chairm. We're dealing with social policy, here, not intra-conservative policy. For example, I wouldn't attempt to dismiss the concerns of those who objected to some policy that helps me, as a conservative Christian, on the grounds that it would also apply to Phelps.

As with the points dealing with rights and emotions, an inapplicable individualist perspective seeps into your argument:

And here is where your homophobia comes out. Referring to the gay community as a single entity is like me lumping you in with the radical evangelical community and assuming that you can't possibly believe in evolution, based solely on your identification with a conservative church.

Choice of words notwithstanding, I don't think many who oppose SSM see individual homosexuals' opinions on the matter in terms of belief, but in terms of realism. Were I advocating for — making this up on the spot — a Christian council to act as a fourth branch of the federal government, you'd be correct to lump me with radical-right Christians who supported same whether or not that tells you anything about my views on evolution, or the death penalty, or abortion.

The bottom line is that, in a cultural debate, it matters a great deal which faction of a cause is "the most galvanized and vocal." I'd say there's a related discussion to be had about why conservative gays "generally don't want to bring attention to themselves." And as for this:

... you'll note that most of the gay couples who've sued for marriage do not have historical records of radicalism.

Let's not elide the reality that these couples — as made evident in every document from news reports to the court rulings themselves — are hardly anathematic to the radicals' cause. To the extent that plaintives' apparent conservatism further the shared cause, they help the radicals a great deal.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 19, 2005 10:31 PM

Chairm:
For one thing, what is the principled difference between the mainstream and the conservative perspective?

Do you believe that your more conformist stance (if that is an accurate descriptor) will be emulated by the homosexual men and women in our society? Why would it not go the other way?

Well, I hesitate to speak for the entire conservative homosexual community but...

Let me start with the similarities. All gays have a different attitude towards sex and sexuality than most straights. This is probably because, unlike heterosexuals, gays have been forced to have their own inner dialogues about what sexuality means, something that I don't think straights ever really deal with. This leads to a broader tolerance towards sexual and mating choices. Conservative gays difference from liberal gays, in my opinion, fall pretty much along the same lines that straights do, only with that differing attitude towards sex. They stress personal freedoms and personal responsibility, limited government intervention, etc. Most conservative gays are more libertarian than what we are calling conservative these days (which I feel actually boarders on theocratic socialism and isnt' really conservative at all, but I digress).

The reason I feel that the more mainstream/conservative gays will dominate in how they treat the marriage culture is because, like all radical agendas, one needs to be pushed into it. In order to find succor for his sexuality crisis, a gay man is forced into the radical culture that made gay visibility possible. These people were the forefathers of gay civil liberties and we owe them a lot; but they were reacionary. Growing up conservative and mainstream, you have certain expectations on how your life will proceed, and you certainly don't think it should consist of giving head in the bathroom at the Roxy. But that's how the reactionaries created the culture. If you want to met gays, you go where the gays are, you go where they are tolerated. And you get sucked in. And if you are conservative, you either learn that new pattern of behavior and embrass it, or you reject it. But if you reject it, where do you go? Back to the "mainstream". But if they won't accpet you, well then you react against the culture that is oppressing you.

What's wrong with Kansas? as the saying goes. How did a radical leftist culture of farmers and laborers turn into a conservative mecca? Because they got what they wanted; equal treatment under the law. And when you don't have to worry about governmental discrimination, you can start worrying about protecting your families in a healthier way.

Will gays androgynize marriage? I dunno. Probably. But that's a good thing. Not that men and women are completely interchangeable, but that men and women can feel free to fulfill the roles they're good at fulfilling. For me, coming out was liberating not only sexually, but in many other ways. We all have "feminine" tendencies (and "masculine"). I don't like to cook and go to the theater and watch stupid tearjerky melodramas (only on occasion) because I'm gay; but I don't have to make excuses about it when I'm drinking with the boys at the bar.

And... as more gays, conservative gays, feel like they can come out without damage to their reputations, finances, etc, you'll find a significant shift in gay culture. Oh the radicals will hate us for it; they didn't fight for years just to have a bunch of lesbians raise kids and walk down the aisle in poofy white dresses. That's not how they envisioned their utopia. But that's what most people want. I still maintain that the best thing that the conservative wings of this country can do to preserve there place on the top is to embrace gay marriage. Because all those people who embrace all conservative values, except are gay, will eventually get tired of fighting and crawl back to the dark side.

Posted by: Michael at April 20, 2005 11:02 AM

Let's not elide the reality that these couples — as made evident in every document from news reports to the court rulings themselves — are hardly anathematic to the radicals' cause. To the extent that plaintives' apparent conservatism further the shared cause, they help the radicals a great deal.

But Justin, you don't need to let the radicals set the terms. They're the fighters among us. And when the revolution is over, you don't want the military to be in charge. And if gays are going to have equal civil rights (and why shouldn't they?) you should strike a deal that gets you what you want. So you can appease the radicals by taking away their fight. If gays can marry, the radicals have little left to fight for and much less support from the rest of the gays, so tearing down the instutition becomes a lot harder.

I understand your concerns, but if you give the more rational gays the tools to fight the radicals, you'll come out ahead. I'm not the one who dubbed this the "culture wars", but if you think you can get out without any casualies you're crazy.

Posted by: Michael at April 20, 2005 11:10 AM

Matt,

Here's a couple of descriptions of what life is like in polygamist groups in Utah. There are similar stories from various Muslim countries.

link

link:

Polygamy-related abuses violate basic human rights to: security of person; freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; freedom from discrimination; and "free and full" consent to marriage. Reported cases in which girls from the ages of 13 to 16 have been married to older men point to a pattern of child marriage and abuse. Utah did not raise its minimum age of marriage to 16 until 1999, and girls as young as 14 can still be married with their parents' consent. Recent reports indicate that girls from Utah and surrounding states are being trafficked to Canada for marriage to polygamous men in the province of British Columbia.

In one well-publicized case in 1998, a 16-year-old girl escaped from the Kingston family clan after being whipped into unconsciousness by her father for running away from her husband. Her husband was her uncle and she was his fifteenth wife. Although her father and uncle were convicted of child abuse, incest and the sexual abuse of a minor, the state chose not to prosecute for polygamy. The girl's 15-year-old brother, who had been designated as the next clan leader, fled in September 2001, telling authorities that he feared abuse if he was returned home. Their 13-year-old sister escaped in November 2001, informing authorities that she was being prepared for marriage to a 21-year-old man.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 20, 2005 3:26 PM

Mike S, the crimes in the anecdotes you cite are child abuse and domestic violence; those acts would still be criminal if polygamy were legal. The same crimes are also committed in monogamous marriages, so to use these stories as a reason to criminalize polygamy requires a "propensity" argument, i.e. men who choose polygamy have a propensity to commit certain crimes, therefore they should be prosecuted before the fact to prevent those crimes from occurring.

This kind of logic goes against the principles of civilized criminal justice, namely that citizens are innocent until proven guilty. Sociologists could probably create all sorts of predictive indexes for criminal behavior based on race, religion, age, style of dress, IQ, sexuality, etc., but to arrest people on the basis of such predictions alone would be immoral.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 20, 2005 4:15 PM

"so to use these stories as a reason to criminalize polygamy requires a "propensity" argument, i.e. men who choose polygamy have a propensity to commit certain crimes, therefore they should be prosecuted before the fact to prevent those crimes from occurring."

Or that polygamy as an institution tends to lead to abuse of women and children. Men who enter polygamous marriages tend to want to control people. By its very nature, polygamy makes men and women unequal. Do you think a man with 15 wives and 40 children can give individual attention to each of his children? Whether you acknowledge it or not, there is a link between polygamy and repressive views of women and children. There's a reason why Muslim societies oppress women and children.

"This kind of logic goes against the principles of civilized criminal justice, namely that citizens are innocent until proven guilty."

But we're talking about social policy, not just criminal justice. One of the arguments for marriage is that young men without fathers have a higher propensity to engage in anti-social behavior. That means that we (should) discourage policies, such as our previous welfare regime, that encourage fathers to abandon their children, not that we go around arresting children without fathers.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 20, 2005 8:32 PM

Mike S:...we're talking about social policy, not just criminal justice.

Bigamy (and hence polygamy) is currently a criminal offense in the US, a felony in some states. Criminal penalties apply even when the bigamist's original spouse gives consent, though such cases are rarely prosecuted.

...polygamy as an institution tends to lead to abuse of women and children. Men who enter polygamous marriages tend to want to control people.

This is a stereotype of plural marriage based on the isolated groups in the US that (illegally) practice polygamy -- groups that happen to be extremist religious sects. It is extremist ideology that leads to the desecration of human rights, not polygamy. Likewise, instances of domestic abuse in Muslim countries can be correlated to the rise of Islamic extremism.

By its very nature, polygamy makes men and women unequal.

When it comes to reproduction, men and women are unequal. It's just a biological fact that a man can impregnate many women in a short time, whereas a woman takes many months to bear a child. This difference between genders accounts for the disparity between multiple-wife families (very common) and multiple-husband families (very rare) in human societies, just as the necessity of male-female coupling in reproduction accounts for the historical absence of SSM.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 20, 2005 9:21 PM

Matt,

I'm not sure where you're coming from, and I've neither the time nor energy to figure it out. Suffice to say that a majority of the social aspects of the functioning of marriage that apply in opposition to same-sex marriage apply to polygamy. The easier response, however, is to raise previous societies' experience with polygamy and the male underclass.

------

Michael,

I plan to finish a post on some of your comments in the morning, but for now I want to respond to this:

They're the fighters among us. And when the revolution is over, you don't want the military to be in charge. And if gays are going to have equal civil rights (and why shouldn't they?) you should strike a deal that gets you what you want.

(Why can't I resist a chuckle at the notion of a Trojan horse?)

The problem, Michael, is that you're advising us on damage control — assuming same-sex marriage is inevitable. It is not. Furthermore, that you so cavalierly make that assumption suggests that you persist in believing that we don't believe what we say, but rather are arguing from ulterior motives. You can believe that, if you wish, and for some folks it might apply. But if that's an underlying assumption, I'm not sure how conversation is possible.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 20, 2005 10:01 PM

Justin: I'm not sure where you're coming from [in supporting legal polygamy]...

I am attempting to apply to another context principles that I have grudgingly come to accept from the SSM debate -- marriage's historical form exists for a reason, and children need their real mother and father. Polygamy passes both of these tests.

Something you said to Michael caught my attention:

...you persist in believing that we don't believe what we say, but rather are arguing from ulterior motives.

I don't think SSM opponents (or proponents) are deliberately arguing from ulterior motives, but there does seem to a lot of reasoning backward from the desired policy position on both sides. I recall reading a very serious essay to the effect of "what argument should we choose to oppose SSM?", as if the point of argument was to convince the other guy, rather than to work with him in finding the truth.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 20, 2005 11:14 PM

The problem, Michael, is that you're advising us on damage control — assuming same-sex marriage is inevitable.

No, I'm assuming that gay equality is inevitable. And allowing gay marriage is the only way to preserve heterosexual marriage. I don't like to think of what I'm saying as "damage control" because it implies that my position is attacking yours. It isn't; I share much of the same goals as you.

I also don't think that you ahve ulterior motives. I think each one of the SSM opponents stated goals is pure. But I do think that, while it does come out sometimes, underneath all that positive stuff about children, etc. is the fear that homosexuality will be normalized, and the opinion that homosexuals don't actually deserve full civil equality (also mingled with the subconcious fear that they'll one day have to actually deal with a gay relative). It's the elephant in the room that none of the more rational SSM opponents are willing to touch (mainly, I think because of the crackpot bigots); and no one wants to be called a bigot.

Posted by: Michael at April 21, 2005 9:45 AM

>> Michael: "I'm assuming that gay equality is inevitable. And allowing gay marriage is the only way to preserve heterosexual marriage."

What is the distinction you'd draw between gay equality and enactment of SSM?

Hawaii, for instance, has enacted a solution that has conserved, and strengthened, marriage without enactment of SSM. In fact, it has broadened societal supports for nonmarriagable combinations -- and did so without presuming such arrangements to be sexual. This legislation is new but as such it remains open to legislative adaptations as society gains experience with outcomes that flow from it.

Where does that model fall short of the equality you see as inevitable, as per your conservative point of view?

Homosexuality per se is not the elephant in the room when it comes to marriage policy.

But the imposition of explicit and pro-active societal approval of homosexual behavior all its social constructed forms is most definitely the advocacy baggage that is tip-toed around by the advocates of SSM.

Posted by: Chairm at April 22, 2005 7:03 AM

Where does that model fall short of the equality you see as inevitable, as per your conservative point of view?

That it doesn't presuppose sex and isn't a lifelong commitment. And doesn't come with federal recognition. These are not trivial matters. And my relationship with my partner is not the same as my relationship with my sister, who I might want to make a legal arrangement with for our mutual financial benefits without having to have sex with her.

The "benefits" of marriage are not just a bunch of whiny civil rights mumbo jumbo; they really affect families. If my partner were to die unexpectedly, I could be crippled financially, especially if we were raising a family.

You are exactly right when you say that "the imposition of explicit and pro-active societal approval of homosexual behavior" is the elephant in the room; but SSM opponents are tiptoeing around it too. I've said as much. Which is what infuriates me when people bring up children and families and SSM as being anti-both.

As a gay conservative, I do not see accepting homosexuality as a necessarily liberal position. Embracing gay promiscuity is a liberal position, and one that one is presumed to have when you tell someone you're gay. And any institution that "weakens" marriage by opening up the possibilities that a marriable couple can choose some other arrangement is bad. And any institution that denies children benefits because of a societal prejudice against the behaviours of their parents is neither conservative nor Christian nor good social policy.

Posted by: Michael at April 22, 2005 11:05 AM

You propose the replacement of marraige with an alternative that is taylored to fit SSM. The effect is the very thing you'd hope to avoid.

Marital status means sharing debts and other liabilities. I don't think that you can rest your argument on financial benefits derived from state recognition of marital status.

As for extending marriage to nonmarriage, that would eventually empty state recognition of marriage of its utility in making social policy. That returns us to where the line can best be drawn.

I don't think that societal prejudice is what ought to place same-sex twosomes (parents or not) on the other side of the line.

Posted by: Chairm at April 22, 2005 5:13 PM

Fascinating. All these comments, and not one of my observations made at the very start have been addressed by any SSM advocate. It is as if not one supporter of SSM has actually read either _Goodridge_ or _Lawrence_ and seen what the plain language says.

That language, full of nice fuzzy sounds, is already being used by polygamy supporters and others to further tear at marriage for selfish benefit. How anyone can claim that SSM will somehow support marriage as an institution when it is already being used to attack it is a mystery to me.

I keep finding myself wondering what the -real- agenda of the SSM movement is...

Posted by: nobody at April 25, 2005 5:24 PM