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April 21, 2005

Two Paths Diverged in the Libido

Toward the tail end of the (currently) 152 comments to my "Whitewashing the Fence" post, Michael begins an extended answer with the following interesting observation:

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.

The difficulty in figuring out how to formulate a response to this quotation illustrates how differently the issue of same-sex marriage is being approached. The question that springs first to mind: Why are homosexuals "forced" to do such deeper thinking than heterosexuals about the meaning of sexuality? The bottom line answer — clear enough to merit an <obvious> tag — is that any heterosexuals inclined to derive one have an answer within easy reach.

Here, the "tolerance" maven might jump in with one of the two related quick-response reactions:

  1. Heterosexuals have that easy reach because their sexuality does not open them to ridicule. They are not shunned or worse because of their sexuality.
  2. Heterosexuals have the benefit of elaborate social constructs — from childhood rituals to marriage — geared toward helping them define their sexuality.

Rebuttal 1 applies less and less. Indeed, I'd argue that the reverse is true in certain settings. Furthermore, anybody who believes that ridicule doesn't (and doesn't inevitably) play a role in the formation of heterosexuals' understanding of life must lack a broad view of youth.

Rebuttal 2 brings us to the divisions between "liberal" and "conservative" that Michael subsequently attempts to draw. It has been a social-liberal project for decades (centuries, depending where one draws the line) to break down those constructs. The opposition isn't surprising: conservatives wish to maintain those constructs (again, with different lines), to fortify them so that society can rely on them to achieve other goals. (And clearly marriage counts among those constructs.)

But these are distractions. The main reason that heterosexuals, generally speaking, don't require extended inner dialogue about the meaning of sexuality is that a plain observation of biological reality provides the essential: procreation. (Frankly, when I was an atheist, I would have argued that the single most objective "meaning" to life is procreation.) As pleasurable as sex may be, and as much as the provision of pleasure can rightly become a secondary meaning, the fact that procreation remains central can be seen in the lengths that heterosexuals must go to deny it. Even all of the contraptions, the changing of body chemistry, and the dismemberment of unborn progeny do not fully succeed in permitting denial.

For homosexuals, on the other hand, not only is that denial allowed, but it is required if they are to formulate "what sexuality means" in a way that doesn't mire their sex lives in the secondary. Even conservative gays (among whom Michael counts himself) must take a radical view of sex or else admit something in which there is neither sin nor reason for shame: that their sexual attractions are, in the Catholic phrasing, "objectively disordered."

Whether they like it or not, denial of this conclusion — which is not meant to be belittling — is inherently subversive. Witness Michael's insouciant response to the question "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.

In one swoop, the meaning of sex has not only engulfed the significance of gender, but also installed the individual as the definer of roles in a relativist process of blending what one wishes to do and be with a self-assessment of what one is "good" at doing and being. The denial is, in St. Paul's language, of what can be "understood and perceived in what [God] has made." We do well to consider his explanation and admonition, not as an insult, but as the advice of one concerned with our individual and collective well being — lest while claiming to be wise, we become fools. Even inner dialogues require more voices than one's own.

Posted by Justin Katz at April 21, 2005 6:03 AM
Marriage & Family
Comments

Justin:

When you say that “men and women are compatible” you’re not just talking about sexual organs and making babies, right? You are talking about their different personalities, their different capabilities, and, ultimately, their different purpose in life—and that it matches whom they’re sexually drawn to. When you say that gays’ sexual attractions are “objectively disordered,” you are saying that whom they’re sexually attracted to does not match their personalities, capabilities, and purpose. You are, however, applying the “personality” “capabilities” and “purpose” of the straight man to the gay man. That is the mistake you’re making, and the mistake most gay activists make, and the reason why these discussions go nowhere. But if gays and straights are essentially different, the same rules don’t apply. And since the same rules don’t apply, it is likely gay marriage will take a different form when gays enter into it. But if gay marriages will look one way for gays, because gays make it that way, straight marriages will continue to look, also, in the way that straights make it for themselves (good or bad, it is their own making).

The way we know that a gay man is “compatible” with another gay man, and not with a woman, is because a gay man is happier, a more productive citizen, and a better spouse (and when there are children, a better parent) when he is with another gay man. That is, ultimately, how we value individuals, gay or straight. Not by the fact that they made a baby with their sexual organs.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 21, 2005 2:45 PM

Arturo, why did you put “men and women are compatible” in quotes, when it's not in the post (it's not even in the 'Whitewashing' post)? Your whole comment is a nonsequiter.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 21, 2005 4:15 PM

Thanks for the scripture link, Justin. Here is some more of St. Paul's inspired language from Romans:

Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. ... Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

These sentiments are barbaric and evil.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 21, 2005 4:43 PM

Fortunately for us, we don't live in a theocracy where selective reading of the Bible (or other Holy book) creates social policy, lest we turn into Iraq or some other fundamentalist/orthodox theocracy.

It's really fine if your religious belief means gays are "objectively disordered" but that doesn't mean it should infect social policy or hijack a legal relationship like marriage.

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 21, 2005 5:15 PM

I'm right there with you, Justin. Life's requirements are non-negotiable. We must procreate if any of our beliefs or social institutions are to survive. That's not a legal requirement; it's simply a fact of nature.

People used to understand this. There's 1969 James Bond movie called On Her Majesty's Secret Service, with the villain played by a very young Telly Savalas. As always, the villian is about to unleash a sinister plan to bring the world to its knees. He plans to distribute a virus that will render the world--gasp--sterile! Unable to procreate. That's right: Our hero steels his resolve as he risks his life to prevent a world of low birth rates.

Watching that movie a few months ago, I kept hoping that Austin Powers would appear next to Bond, and say: "What's the big deal, James? Infertility just means that we don't have to bother with rubbers and abortions."

Life requires birth. The Constitution does not say that the government must be neutral between fertility and sterility, between life and death. We may desperately need more babies soon--sooner than most people suspect. Let's not tie our own hands.

Res: "It's really fine if your religious belief means gays are "objectively disordered" but that doesn't mean it should infect social policy or hijack a legal relationship like marriage."

Should only atheists be allowed to vote? Is that what the free exercise clause means?

Posted by: Ben Bateman at April 21, 2005 6:54 PM

Matt,

Thank you for clarifying that you believe the Christian faith to be rooted in barbarism and evil. It certainly will help us to gauge your comments in the future. I do wish to suggest, however, that you might have done well to keep reading into the second chapter:

Therefore, you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things. ...

Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance?

Guess I must be engaging in, as Res says, "selective reading."

------

Res,

I would only add, to Ben's comment, a mention of my astoundment at this phrase, as applied to marriage traditionalists and Christians:

... hijack a legal relationship like marriage...

If you go outside at midnight, tonight, be sure to wear your sunglasses. And if you venture out at noon, be sure to bring your flashlight.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 21, 2005 7:31 PM

"fundamentalist/orthodox"

Because these two terms are interchangeable. That's why you always hear about the Eastern Fundamentalist Church.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 21, 2005 8:09 PM

My point, Justin, is that if we want to have a theological discussion about homosexuality, than that's one conversation. If we want to have a discussion about whether a legal right should be extended, that's another conversation. Those conversations are, ultimately, unrelated unless we live in a theocracy.

It really comes down to whether we are going to make legal decisions based on how orthodox people intepret religious texts. While marriage is obviously a religious rite and based on religious traditions, that shouldn't really change the legal determination about whether equal protection is violated by limiting it the legal relationship to only a select group of people. No religious group will be forced to marry same-sex couples and religious people will still be able to define their rite the way they choose based on their particular interpretation of the bible or religious text.

Whether you or your religion believes homosexuality is immoral matters little in this entire discussion of the expansion of legal rights.

Posted by: res ipsa at April 21, 2005 8:09 PM

"We may desperately need more babies soon--sooner than most people suspect."

Can't we just import them from Muslim countries, like Europe is doing? That seems to be working out so well for them...

Posted by: Mike S. at April 21, 2005 8:11 PM

I used fundamentalist/orthodox to encompass the entire spectrum of religious belief that focuses on absolutist, fundamentalist interpretations of religious beliefs and texts. It includes conservative Cathollics, Orthodox Jews, Southern Baptists and other Evangelicals, Mormons, various Muslim sects and groups, like those that control Iran and Iraq.

Posted by: res ipsa at April 21, 2005 8:14 PM

Res Ipsa
It seemed clear to me that Justin was not using Paul to back up a legal argument, but to make a poit about the antological roots of knowledege.
When presented with Mikes true understanding of human sexuality and its importance (as well as Arts above)the SSM proponents tend to reveal how skewed their worl view is.
Our cultures understanding of human sexuality is very much rooted in Christian understanding. That understanding is inturn rooted in the truth of the human person.
You cant avoid such basic distinctions when advocating a change in what legal relationships a goverment subsidizes and protects with the force of law.
equal protection is but a small part of this argument.
Although SSM-proponents tend to make it their prime, all encompassing God.

Posted by: Fitz at April 21, 2005 8:20 PM

Res
Dang, you did it again - Fundementalist means someone who reads scripture literally. There is no such thing as a fundementalist Catholic. It is a religion of the Word, not of the Book.

Posted by: Fitz at April 21, 2005 8:24 PM

Fitz, that's why I used the word Orthodox, to describe conservative Catholics.

Posted by: res ipsa at April 21, 2005 8:32 PM

Orthodoxy is not a strain or branch, its how well you live in Christ.
I think Chesterton wrote: there's only one way to stand up straight, there ae many ways to fall over.

Posted by: Fitz at April 21, 2005 8:45 PM

Thank you for clarifying that you believe the Christian faith to be rooted in barbarism and evil....

Umm ... no, Justin. I believe that invoking God's name to call for the murder of human beings is barbaric and evil, regardless of which faith the speaker claims to hold.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 21, 2005 9:07 PM

Matt,

Maybe I presumed too much. Do you know who St. Paul is?

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 21, 2005 9:13 PM

Res,

As has been pointed out, I wasn't making a legal argument. However, I think you betray a frightening concept of law and rights — all too common in modern America — with this:

While marriage is obviously a religious rite and based on religious traditions, that shouldn't really change the legal determination about whether equal protection is violated by limiting it the legal relationship to only a select group of people. ...

Whether you or your religion believes homosexuality is immoral matters little in this entire discussion of the expansion of legal rights.

It's important that you admit that SSM would represent an expansion of legal rights — as in, not extant. Expanding rights, changing the law, is what we have a representative legislature for, so that we the people can ultimately determine how we are governed. The judiciary's role is supposed to be to judge actual cases against the law as it exists.

The frightening part is that you apparently have no concept of where the objective middle lies and what would be parallel. Nobody whom I've read has argued that it would be unconstitutional to implement same-sex marriage, much less done so on the basis of religion. What we've argued is that marriage should not be redefined for a collection of reasons and that, especially, it should not be redefined by judges. What your side argues is not only that marriage should be redefined, but that it must be, at the hands of the courts. Somebody's seeking to govern according to religious views, but it ain't the conservatives.

The conversations that you mention are intrinsically related... unless we live in a dictatorship (or judicial oligarchy).

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 21, 2005 9:26 PM

Maybe I presumed too much. Do you know who St. Paul is?

The apostle Paul, I assume ... wasn't he the author of Romans?

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 21, 2005 9:34 PM

As we deconstruct these issues further and further, i've just about concluded that whay same-sex couples do cannot even be called "sex". It is merely "fooling around".

When opposte sex couples "fool around", life and death issues are at stake. When same-sex couples do it, it's just fooling around.

And of course, if killing a fetus is no big deal to you, then it's ALSO just "fooling around".

Sex is a matter of life and death.

Posted by: Marty at April 21, 2005 10:07 PM

whay==what (sorry)

Posted by: Marty at April 21, 2005 10:08 PM

Sex is a matter of life or death. I don't think you need to tell gay men that sex isn't about life or death, given the AIDS epidimic which brought home quite dramatically that sex and sexuality can literlally mean life or death.

I know it would be easier to believe same-sex couples are "less than" and it would be easier to diminish their relationships, their lives, even their "sex," but maybe you want to use another metaphor.

Posted by: res ipsa at April 21, 2005 10:37 PM

"What we've argued is that marriage should not be redefined for a collection of reasons and that, especially, it should not be redefined by judges. "

But the legal concept of marriage has always been defined, and redefined, by judges.

Sure, it would be great for same-sex marriage to be embraced by the public and approved by the popular opinion. If we waited for public opinion, however, significant social change would never have occurred in this country. Slavery wouldn't have ended, segregation wouldn't have ended. Somtimes, society can't wait for the the least-common denominator to come aboard becfore social justice can be avenged. That's why have an independent and free judiciary.

Posted by: res ipsa at April 21, 2005 10:44 PM

Res Ipsa:

"Slavery wouldn't have ended, segregation wouldn't have ended."

Oh look, more spam. Why do you keep propagating this lie?

Posted by: NotSamIAm at April 21, 2005 10:54 PM

Yes, I didn't know that the judiciary initiated the Civil War. Moreover, as I understand the segregation timeline, the judiciary essentially enforced laws already in effect. And as for marriage, the fact that it is an area that the judiciary apparently found auspicious for the usurpation of power doesn't mean it should continue.

Very interesting, by the way, that the same person who complains about the diminishment of homosexual relationships, their being considered "less than," would then turn around in short order and cite "the least-common denominator" as a reason the judiciary ought to be a law-making branch. I guess disenfranchisement pales in comparison to homosexuals' needs.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 22, 2005 5:49 AM

Res: Sex is a matter of life or death. I don't think you need to tell gay men that sex isn't about life or death, given the AIDS epidimic which brought home quite dramatically that sex and sexuality can literlally mean life or death.

Just about death Res. Gay sex can never -- ever -- create life.

Posted by: Marty at April 22, 2005 6:21 AM

Mike S:

I should have said that "men and women complement...", not "are compatible." I think you should have known that. It's one of your side's favorite phrases.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 22, 2005 10:26 AM

"Moreover, as I understand the segregation timeline, the judiciary essentially enforced laws already in effect."

It sure wasn't the courts that sent the National Guard into action in Arkansas or Alabama. (Not to mention the Union army.)

Posted by: Mike S. at April 22, 2005 10:33 AM

"If we waited for public opinion, however, significant social change would never have occurred in this country."

You're also forgetting that at least half the country opposes a lot of what you call 'significant social change' in the first place (e.g. abortion).

Posted by: Mike S. at April 22, 2005 10:36 AM

"Very interesting, by the way, that the same person who complains about the diminishment of homosexual relationships, their being considered "less than," would then turn around in short order and cite "the least-common denominator" as a reason the judiciary ought to be a law-making branch."

Least-common denominator referred to public opinion needing to wait until the most entrenched and bigoted decide to move forward or find their opinions appropriately sidelined.

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 22, 2005 10:53 AM

"You're also forgetting that at least half the country opposes a lot of what you call 'significant social change' in the first place (e.g. abortion)."

At least half of the country opposed interracial marriages when they were outlawed, hald of the coutnry opposed desegregated schools when they were mandated, and most polling shows the country is actually pretty slip on abortion.

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 22, 2005 10:55 AM

"Just about death Res. Gay sex can never -- ever -- create life."

This is true, but how often does heterosexual sex result in death? Your metaphor is a complete mystery.

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 22, 2005 10:56 AM

"...hald of the coutnry opposed desegregated schools when they were mandated, and most polling shows the country is actually pretty slip on abortion."

I don't know what polling you are talking about - roughly half the population thinks it should be banned except in cases of rape, incest, or threats to the mother's life, and larger majorities favor various restrictions on it.

And how well did the mandated desegregation policies and forced busing work out? It caused a great deal of anguish and uproar, increased racial tensions, and resulted in, what? Schools are as segregated now as they were in the 1960's. People's attitudes about race have changed, but not because some judges declared that schools must be desegregated.

In any case, the ends don't justify the means. Even if a judge has a morally upright motivation for legislating from the bench, doesn't give him the right to do so. He has a particular duty and responsibility under our system of government, and forcing social changes on a reluctant populace isn't one of them.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 22, 2005 11:04 AM

He has a particular duty and responsibility under our system of government, and forcing social changes on a reluctant populace isn't one of them.

Mike, just out of curiosity, how do you feel about Connecticut's decision to enact civil unions? Which are in fact marriages by another name, not eligible for relatives (unlike VT) and only available to same-sex couples. And were not forced upon the population by the judiciary. And have support of at least half the population of CT.

Posted by: Michael at April 22, 2005 11:20 AM

And while Massachusetts had gay marriage "forced" on them--by judges nominated primarilly by Republicans--gay marriage has broad support in the state, so much so that the issue probably won't be brought up in the legislature since anti-gay marriage legislators have consistently lost in elections.

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 22, 2005 11:35 AM

Great essay by Bradley Watson on the meaning of the word 'marriage', and it's deconstruction in the SSM arena. (via PowerLine)

In the debate over same-sex "marriage," we are seeing a partial and greatly dumbed-down replay of the medieval debate between realists and nominalists. According to the realists, we possess minds capable of transcending individual phenomena and seeing the objective truth or essences that link phenomena. Thus we know that the phrase "man is a rational animal" is tautological. To this version of the Christian mind, the phenomenal world is a real reflection of God's creation and mind, and the permanent connections we perceive among the things that compose it are not illusions.

The nominalists, by contrast, emphasized that words cannot express things-in-themselves, for these are unknown and unknowable to us. We intuit only individually existing things, and can perceive, through reason, no ineluctable relationships among them. Words cannot signify universals, only particulars, and to the extent they do point to universals, they are but sound and fury, signifying nothing. For the nominalists, to claim we can know things in themselves, or a universal natural order, is to be impious and full of hubris—it is a claim to read the mind, and therefore constrain the actions, of God.

For the medieval nominalists, at least, revelation filled the gap that reason could no longer bridge. By faith and faith alone we might be aware of the order that the noun "marriage" signifies, being the order presently established (but changeable) through the free will of God. But in the absence of a guiding revelation, God's will itself disappears, and we are left only with the changeable. For the modern-day nominalists, lacking the overwhelming faith of the medieval mind, we are not permitted the concept of marriage as it has ever been. And the best way to express and enforce this aversion to any knowledge of or faith in essence, as Orwell foresaw, is through control of language.

"Marriage" across all religions and cultures has had a similar, though not identical, meaning. It is a rite of passage signifying and reminding us of the divine or natural order's purposes with respect to procreation. (Love or "commitment" are, at best, incidental to this rite.) As Blackstone says, the relationship between husband and wife is founded in the natural desire to propagate the species—which is marriage's "principal end and design." "The most universal relation in nature"—that between parent and child—proceeds directly from marriage. The "natural obligation" of the father to provide for his children is in turn cemented by the marriage tie. The law has the right, nay duty, to recognize "civil disabilities," quite apart from ecclesiastical ones, that render a union, in Blackstone's words, meretricious rather than matrimonial.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 22, 2005 11:43 AM

Michael: How do you feel about Connecticut's decision to enact civil unions... which are in fact marriages by another name, not eligible for relatives (unlike VT) and only available to same-sex couples.

Is this really true? Can you provide me a link? If that is truly the case (same-sex couples only, no relatives), then i can almost even support it myself. The only thing missing is some sort of "proof" that the parties are indeed gay, or some sort of "consummation" requirement. But very close to a perfect solution -- especially considering there were no judges subverting the normal process of democracy.

Posted by: Marty at April 22, 2005 12:23 PM

For homosexuals, on the other hand, not only is that denial allowed, but it is required if they are to formulate "what sexuality means" in a way that doesn't mire their sex lives in the secondary. Even conservative gays (among whom Michael counts himself) must take a radical view of sex or else admit something in which there is neither sin nor reason for shame: that their sexual attractions are, in the Catholic phrasing, "objectively disordered."

But isn't infertility just as "objectively disordered"? And doesn't marriage help to bring order back to a disordered state? There is no sin or shame in sex, inside the marriage vows. Gays are trying to emulate the morals and values that a heterosexual society has prescribed for us. And we are chastized for it.

That denial of procreation is of course a requirement; but it is also the requirement of the infertile couple who cannot conceive. They are forced into an understanding of their sexuality outside of procreation and yet are not required to remain chaste and often adopt. They are emulating a procreative marriage but their bond is unitive, spiritual and often with the intentions of raising a family, if they are blessed through adoption. And yet, the homosexual is being forced by society to either remain chaste or be chastized for promiscuity, since society does nothing to encourage gays to join their lives (and in fact punishes us monetarily). Sex plays a role outside of procreation and that role is emotionally and psychologically important. The homosexual must deal with his sexuality every day because society makes him accutely aware of it all the time.

In one swoop, the meaning of sex has not only engulfed the significance of gender, but also installed the individual as the definer of roles in a relativist process of blending what one wishes to do and be with a self-assessment of what one is "good" at doing and being.

That wasn't what I meant. But whenever we talk about androgyny in marriage I have a really hard time figuring out what male/female roles I'm supposed to focus on as being immutable. If I say that a woman can teach her son how to throw a football, I'm accused of being too superficial. But every other example I can think of is sexist. A little boy doesn't need to grow up thinking that if he likes to bake he's a fag. But he doesn't need a father to teach him how to treat women properly.

And of course one needs more than an inner dialogue. What I meant was that homosexuals are more introspective of their sexuality on a regular basis. I didn't come to understand myself without outside help, and that includes friends, family, the clergy, the scriptures, psychiatrists, etc.

Posted by: Michael at April 22, 2005 12:28 PM

Is this really true? Can you provide me a link?

http://www.cga.ct.gov/2005/rpt/2005-R-0354.htm

Straight from the CT government website. It also protects people who refuse to perform civil unions. Scroll down to eligibility requirements to see that it's only for non-related same-sex couples.

I'm from Connecticut. And I'm very proud of my state.

Posted by: Michael at April 22, 2005 12:35 PM

Charles Krauthammer on judges.

It was Ruth Bader Ginsburg who said that Roe v. Wade "halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believe, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue." Whenever such an obvious sociological truth is pointed out, proponents of judicial imperialism immediately resort to their trump card: Brown v. Board of Education and the courts' role in ending Jim Crow.

But Brown was different. The race cases were cases of a disenfranchised citizenry. The representative branches of government were legitimately superseded because they were not representative. Millions of blacks could not vote. Millions of blacks could not participate in civic life. The courts had to act to end this aberration and injustice, and, to their glory, they did.

And they have lived off that glory ever since. The prestige the courts inherited from Brown fueled their arrogant appropriation of legislative power in areas radically different and suffering no disenfranchisement -- abortion, gay rights, religion in the public square. For decades they have been creating law, citing emanations from penumbras of the Constitution visible only to their holinesses.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 22, 2005 12:38 PM

From the Washington Post:

Ann Stanback, president of the Connecticut chapter of the gay rights advocacy group Love Makes a Family, initially argued that the bill would enshrine a lesser status for gay couples into law and leave legislators satisfied that a compromise had been reached.

But as the bill gained momentum, she said, she had changed her view because lawmakers made clear that granting civil unions would not halt the push toward to same-sex marriage.

"We feared it would not be a steppingstone [to same-sex marriage] but a dead end in the marriage debate," said Stanback, whose Hartford office is adorned with the sort of detailed, statewide ward and congressional district maps one might find at the headquarters of a political campaign.

"But because of our position, the legislators understand that this won't be the end of the discussion."

On that point, opponents of the measure, such as the Connecticut Catholic Conference, which handles political affairs for the church and is organizing a large rally here in the state capital this month, agree.

"If any Connecticut legislator thinks this is going to stop the issue, it won't. They will move forward to same-sex marriage with the official title," said the conference's legislative director, David W. Reynolds.

I agree that this situation is better than the Mass. situation, with the following caveat from the article:

"Not a single senator ran on this when they were being elected," Brown added. "Now they are the ones championing same-sex marriage. The people of this state will hold them responsible."

It still doesn't appear that the people of the state have been adequately consulted on this (the article says polls show even divisions on SSM, and majority support for civil unions), but in this case they have the opportunity to either push for some kind of referendum, or vote against the legislators who passed the bill. So the process followed is clearly preferable. However, as the extended quote above indicates, it is not likely to be a stable situation. This is the general problem I have with same-sex civil unions that are meant to mimic marriage: they aren't stable. Either SSM will be implemented (in fairly short order), or heterosexuals will demand access to civil unions, either of which kills the legal institution of marriage. Note that Ms. Stanback will not be satisfied until same-sex couples are called 'married' - as the essay by Watson says, she wants to change the definition of the word.

While I can imagine some kinds of civil unions being constructed that would be more stable, it doesn't appear that this case falls into that model.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 22, 2005 1:04 PM

Yes, infertility is "objectively disordered". I doubt many infertile people would deny that. the difference between them, and modern gays is that they KNOW that they are broken, and seek a cure.

Posted by: Marty at April 22, 2005 1:11 PM

Michael,

"But isn't infertility just as "objectively disordered"?"

Justin said, "their sexual attractions are...'objectively disordered'". See the difference between attractions and infertility?

"That denial of procreation is of course a requirement; but it is also the requirement of the infertile couple who cannot conceive. They are forced into an understanding of their sexuality outside of procreation and yet are not required to remain chaste and often adopt."

No, their sexual relationship is inherently procreative in nature - the plumbing just doesn't work properly. A same-sex sexual relationship is inherently not procreative. No matter how many ways you try to get around this basic difference in biology, you cannot do it.

"But whenever we talk about androgyny in marriage I have a really hard time figuring out what male/female roles I'm supposed to focus on as being immutable."

Male=dad, female=mom.

"But he doesn't need a father to teach him how to treat women properly."

Sure, he doesn't. That's why gang members are so respectful and courteous towards women.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 22, 2005 1:14 PM

Res Ipsa: “My point, Justin, is that if we want to have a theological discussion about homosexuality, than that's one conversation. If we want to have a discussion about whether a legal right should be extended, that's another conversation. Those conversations are, ultimately, unrelated unless we live in a theocracy.”

Res, what if we live in a democracy? Is there any distinction in your mind between theocracy and allowing religious believers to vote?

Religious people get to vote, too, Res. And they can base their votes on anything they like, including—gasp!—the Bible. (No! Say it isn’t so! Theocracy looms! Save us!)

I’m really starting to wonder about you, Res. In your perfect world, do religious believers have any voice in government whatsoever? Any political rights? For you, does 'freedom of religion' mean the freedom to shut up and stay away from the ballot box?

Posted by: Ben Bateman at April 22, 2005 1:14 PM

One more point about the Connecticut situation - how are other states supposed to deal with that? It's theoretically possible to have varying types of civil union laws in different states, with states not having to honor the laws in other states, but that doesn't seem very likely to me.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 22, 2005 1:18 PM

Res,

"I used fundamentalist/orthodox to encompass the entire spectrum of religious belief that focuses on absolutist, fundamentalist interpretations of religious beliefs and texts. It includes conservative Cathollics, Orthodox Jews, Southern Baptists and other Evangelicals, Mormons, various Muslim sects and groups, like those that control Iran and Iraq."

You are including wildly different groups in your "entire spectrum of religious belief", as Fitz tried to point out. The biggest laugher is the equation of those people currently ruling Iraq and Iran, but we'll let that pass. "Conservative Catholics" don't focus on "absolutist, fundamentalist interpretations". Neither do many of the other groups you referred to. (I'm a member of a Southern Baptist church, for example. There are Southern Baptists who are fundamentalists, but not all SB's are fundies.) You're just lumping everyone together who comes to a different conclusion than you do, if they base their conclusion in part on religious beliefs or text. That's hardly a fair intellectual argument.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 22, 2005 1:29 PM

On fundamentalism vs. orthodoxy, it's amazing how the people who hate religion the most seem to think that they know the most about it. Res, maybe you should leave theology to the believers. Maybe you should find out what they think, rather than telling them what they think.

Posted by: Ben Bateman at April 22, 2005 1:39 PM

Ben,

I am, in fact, a believer who has studied theology and went as far as applying to the seminary. I am a "go every Sunday" Protestant who is active in my church's social justice programs and having attended my church's national assembly and meetings.

I just don't think we can "leave the theology" to fundamentalists, the orhodox, and those who "proof text" religious doctrine and texts. I also believe in a sharp division between church and the state.

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 22, 2005 2:06 PM

Male=dad, female=mom.

Mike, you've just restated a definition. A father is a male parent, a mother is a female parent. What makes them substantially different as to not raise a child properly?

"But he doesn't need a father to teach him how to treat women properly."

Sure, he doesn't. That's why gang members are so respectful and courteous towards women.

You are erroneously equating a single-parent household with a double-parent same-sex household. At this stage in the game, that's an amateurish argument. The child of gay parents can learn respect for people by how they treat each other and the other members of their family (granparents, parents, siblings) and other friends. Trying to draw comparisons between a lesbian household and inner-city single motherhood is simply not valid.

As for Connecticut:
It still doesn't appear that the people of the state have been adequately consulted on this (the article says polls show even divisions on SSM, and majority support for civil unions), but in this case they have the opportunity to either push for some kind of referendum, or vote against the legislators who passed the bill.

The bill was presented as a marriage bill. It got downgraded in the senate to civil unions. Why? Because the people of Connecticut consistently poll as being in favor of civil unions but not SSM, as you quoted. And then it passed only with the added amendment that marriage be clarified as defined as a union between one man and one woman. Look, we are a representative democracy. We have to trust that our representatives are making the proper decisions. You have absolutely no idea what steps each representative took to making sure he or she were representing their constituates properly, so I have no idea how you can say (given the above facts) that the people haven't been adequately consulted. If the above facts were the same (ie a majority polled supporting civil unions) and they voted it down, would you still complain that the people hadn't been properly consulted?

One more point about the Connecticut situation - how are other states supposed to deal with that?

That is up to the states to decide. Marriage laws between cousins is different in differing states and that has never caused a federal crisis. The CT bill sets up rules for what civil unions would be accepted, and they have decided that civil unions performed in another state or foreign country would be valid if the couple would have fit the criteria for the CT civil union when they were unionized. Other states can do as they see fit. New York has decided to recognize other same-sex marriages. They have the right to do that.

Posted by: Michael at April 22, 2005 2:31 PM

Very impressive, Res. I never would have guessed.

Given this study of theology and regular church attendance, do you allow yourself to vote? It seems that with so much interest in religion, you're in grave danger of accidentally allowing your religious views to infect (your verb) your politics. Given your participation in your church's social justice programs, perhaps the damage is already done.

Quick! We must find a way to cure your politics of any trace of religion, because that's apparently what church-state separation means in your world.

Or maybe it means that religion can influence politics, as long as it's a good religion like yours. Is it only the bad religions--the fundamentalists, in your lexicon--who need to stay away from government to avoid infecting it?

And the list of bad religions is breathtaking in scope: "It includes conservative Catholics, Orthodox Jews, Southern Baptists and other Evangelicals, Mormons, various Muslim sects and groups, like those that control Iran and Iraq."

How about: When the bad religions have a voice in government, it's theocracy. But when the courts mandate what good people like you want, then it's democracy. Is that how it works?

I’m really not trying to put word in your mouth here, Res. But you’re throwing out some pretty wild statements. So far, you’ve said that applying a Holy Book to social policy creates theocracy. Also, religious belief (or at least certain religious beliefs) must not be allowed to “infect” social policy. These evil religions include conservative Catholics, Orthodox Jews, and Southern Baptists, which are apparently not worth distinguishing from the government of Iran.

So what I’m hearing is: Damn those Jews, Papists, and rednecks trying to corrupt our laws! We can’t stop them from voting, but thank Goddess that our friends on the court can ensure that those votes are worthless on the important stuff.

Perhaps I’ve misunderstood you. As they say in the Senate, perhaps the gentleman would like to revise and extend his remarks.

Posted by: Ben Bateman at April 22, 2005 2:53 PM

There is a rather long post over at "Alas a Blog"
concerning SSM.
At the end of this post, there is a reduction of Justin Katz arguments to - "if you get more SSM you will get more incest".
This is really unfair and slanted,
Justins work is some of the best on the web.
So heads up.
"Alas A Blog"

Posted by: Fitz at April 22, 2005 3:28 PM

Let me guess, Res. You're one of those revisionist Episcopalians who is currently tearing the worldwide anglican communion apart, because "you just know better than everyone else". Is that correct?

Posted by: Marty at April 22, 2005 3:47 PM

Not an Episcopalian, either as a "revisionist" or one who is so out of step with contemporary culture that I have to turn to Africa for guidance and acceptance of my beliefs.

Does my faith impact my citizenship and voting? Well, yes and no. Yes, my concern about social justice influences my voting behavior. OTOH, I am opposed to abortion based on my faith but also don't believe my moral decisions should interefere with a legal right for others to have an abortion.

Marriage, however, is separate from abortion and more dangerous religious area. Marriage is both a religious rite and legal right. Given that we allow religious people to perform the legal sanctification of marriage, there is an inherent conflict. I think it is essential not to allow the religious rite to be confused with the legal right.

While my church may not bless same-sex relationships, it would be improper for them to participate in opposing same-sex marriages since it would be an intrusion of theology and faith into a legal and political question.

Posted by: Res Ipsa at April 22, 2005 4:21 PM

"You have absolutely no idea what steps each representative took to making sure he or she were representing their constituates properly, so I have no idea how you can say (given the above facts) that the people haven't been adequately consulted. If the above facts were the same (ie a majority polled supporting civil unions) and they voted it down, would you still complain that the people hadn't been properly consulted?"

Sure, I don't know. I don't know the details of how the bill came about, what kind of publicity it got, or what politicians said about it. I was responding to the quote in the article that the legislators hadn't campaigned on it. Maybe the quote is inaccurate. It may very well be that the majority of the citizens of Connecticut want civil unions, but want to reserve the name (apparently, only the name) of marriage for heterosexual unions, and that the representatives are carrying out the wishes of this majority. In that case, I think the majority is misguided, but support the results on procedural grounds.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 22, 2005 4:31 PM

Michael said,

"But whenever we talk about androgyny in marriage I have a really hard time figuring out what male/female roles I'm supposed to focus on as being immutable."

To which I replied,
Male=dad, female=mom.

Michael:

Mike, you've just restated a definition. A father is a male parent, a mother is a female parent. What makes them substantially different as to not raise a child properly?

Michael:

But he doesn't need a father to teach him how to treat women properly.

Mike S.: Sure, he doesn't. That's why gang members are so respectful and courteous towards women.

Michael:

You are erroneously equating a single-parent household with a double-parent same-sex household. At this stage in the game, that's an amateurish argument. The child of gay parents can learn respect for people by how they treat each other and the other members of their family (granparents, parents, siblings) and other friends. Trying to draw comparisons between a lesbian household and inner-city single motherhood is simply not valid.

Each child has a biological mother and father. And children are wired to develop close relationships with their mother and father. But you want to turn this into "children are wired to develop close relationships with two arbitrary adults (who love the child)." That's not how it works. Note how you slipped in the extended family. First of all, extended families are based on biological ties, not on romantic ones. Second, by including the extended family you can produce a wider variety of inter-relationships. But the fact is that children imitate, and are most strongly influenced by, their parents. And the lesbian partner of a boy's mother cannot replace his father. You are focused on external behaviors: i.e., she can play catch with him, or teach him how to tie his tie. But she can't be his father. She can only imitate his father. Claiming there's no difference between the real thing and the imitation is, as Justin said, denying what can be perceived in what God has made.

You object when others deny the reality of evolution, but you are denying the reality of that which evolution has produced.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 22, 2005 4:46 PM

I actually agree with the content of much of Justin’s post – except that I think it should fall under the category of ‘Religion’ rather than the category of “Marriage & Family’.

Ben said: Quick! We must find a way to cure your politics of any trace of religion, because that's apparently what church-state separation means in your world.
------ I agree that the trend towards eliminating any trace of religion in public policy (or even public places) is disturbing and not an appropriate use of the separation of church and state clause. But it is also unfair to say that simply since evangelical/fundamentalism says homosexuality is immoral, then that is reason enough for the law to discourage or criminalize it. Religious belief should be allowed to be a factor in public policy. In fact, I emailed Justin a link about an overturned jury punishment in Colorado because some of the jurors used the Bible in their reasoning. The persecution of religious faith in this country is real and scary. Bottom line is that religious belief should be a part of the process. But not a required part. Yet, some of the people who comment here seem to believe that any logic that is not based on strict reading of scripture should not be allowed to be considered in public policy decisions. That is what a theocracy is. In other words, when Ben wrote “When the bad religions have a voice in government, its theocracy. But when the courts mandate what good people like you want, then it's democracy. Is that how it works?” – No, that’s not how it works. The issue is whether the government should be in the business of deciding what the good and bad religions are? My opinion is that they should not.

Mike S. :Each child has a biological mother and father. And children are wired to develop close relationships with their mother and father. But you want to turn this into "children are wired to develop close relationships with two arbitrary adults (who love the child)." That's not how it works.”
------- I agree. But I don’t think anyone is saying that non-biological parents have no different relationships to their dependants as biological ones do with their offspring. (or if they are, I'd disagree) It is different. But should law codify that difference ? How about a different name for non-biological parents ? Mom and dad should be reserved for biological parents, wouldn’t you say ? Or maybe the state should require that biological parents live with and take care of their kids. What a concept. You would never use what you wrote above to argue against adoption by opposite sex couples. It only applies to same sex couples with children. Or maybe you feel that the benefit of that 'relationship' (gay parent-biological child) is outweighed by the damage to society of legitimizing homosexuality. I don't agree but that is a fair argument. What is not fair is the use of the 'biological' argument against legitimizing of same sex couples. Gays can be biologically linked to children – gay men can be fathers and gay women can be mothers. But those biological links are less important to you.

Posted by: Mark Miller at April 22, 2005 5:45 PM

Mark Miller: "some of the people who comment here seem to believe that any logic that is not based on strict reading of scripture should not be allowed to be considered in public policy decisions. That is what a theocracy is."

Who? Who said it? Who implied it? Show me a quote. Any quote.

I'm sure that some people have said that they base their views on scripture. Maybe one or two have said something that could be construed as saying that they personally weren't interested in any non-Biblical arguments. But "should not be allowed to be considered in public policy decisions"? Maybe you were exaggerating there a bit.

Posted by: Ben Bateman at April 22, 2005 6:31 PM
But isn't infertility just as "objectively disordered"? And doesn't marriage help to bring order back to a disordered state? There is no sin or shame in sex, inside the marriage vows.

Michael, can you think of a single infertile married couple that doesn't feel "disordered"? That doesn't feel as if they are missing out on something? Among the problems of the comparison between gays and infertile straight couples is that the former insist on being seen as in no way missing out on anything important. Another of the problems is that very, very few heterosexual couples prove to be sterile, and they can only know as much once they've made the decision to have children, visited a few doctors, and had lots and lots of sex. Since you note that sex is only not sinful within marriage, hopefully you'll see the multiple ways in which it would be ludicrous to expect them to go through the just-mentioned steps before marriage, so as to ensure that their marriage is procreative.

As for why children need a mother and a father, I have to admit that I think your examples are superficial. Men and women are different in ways that are often difficult to articulate. As Dennis Prager says, it takes a Master's degree not to see that.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 22, 2005 6:47 PM

Ben,

Re-reading my post and your response I see where my comment that you referred to is, let's say, exxagerated.

My point is that while the current trend towards the elimination of any religious view point from public is wrong, that the gist of Justin's original post seemed to (and not just to me) use a theological argument as a discussion ender for what public policy should be. And for him and many others, it is just that. But for others, it is not.

But your point is well taken, and I'll admit that the side that uses the theological argument is under more attack.

Posted by: Mark Miller at April 22, 2005 8:57 PM

I would argue that most homosexuals who try to bury their sexuality actually become more objectively disordered and develop unstable personalities and pathological behaviors. Their attempts to block out their sexual urges often become so all-encompassing that there is no time left for any spiritual or psychological growth or development and they may become mere shells of existence angry at the world and angry at themselves.

I am not speaking of people here who might be sexually confused, particularly in youth. I referring only to those whose homosexual orientation is fixed by almost any standard of measurement.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at April 22, 2005 10:41 PM

Well, hello, Dr. Freud! Good to see you...

Posted by: Mike S. at April 23, 2005 3:37 PM

Mike S:

Don't dismiss what Joel has said. He is exactly right.

Your response to Joel shows that when you guys through phrases like "objectively disordered" around, you are merely trying to insult, not to understand, or even to explain what you you think you understand.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 23, 2005 4:26 PM

Well, it's difficult to know how to respond to a comment like Joel's when it lacks a shred of evidence or qualification. Who are these people? How many are there? How do we differentiate between "fixed" and "confused"? And how do we quantify those in Joel's suggested group who've proceeded to live perfectly happy, well-adjusted lives?

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 23, 2005 4:32 PM

Justin,

On a day that I have more time, I could provide qualifying statements to what I wrote based on research and policy statements from the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatricians, the American Psychological Association, the National Academy of Social Workers and the American Psychiatric Association. However, none of that would make a difference to you anyway because in your mind gays and lesbians are disordered simply because your church says they are.

How do we know the difference between fixed and confused? Are you saying that you are uncertain as to whether or not you are straight? Certainly I would hope that you could tell the difference between youthful experimentation and years-long attraction to the same gender.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at April 23, 2005 8:16 PM

I read a story in the Advocate last week. About a young man, and several of his peers who had been demeaned and confused and eventually excommunicated by the Mormon church. He's part of a support group for gay mormons now. Toward the end of the story, we find out -- matter of factly -- that after coming to terms with his ordeal, the young man eventually convinced his mother to become a lesbian.

He turned his own mother gay, and the Advocate doesn't find that the least but suprising, or even worthy of further comment.

So much for "the difference between youthful experimentation and years-long attraction to the same gender" i guess.

Posted by: Marty at April 23, 2005 9:47 PM

Marty,

You didn't reference the Advocate article in context. The mother had in fact gone through therapy attempting to undo her homosexual orientation. The therapy simply made the woman unhappy. The son didn't talk his mother into being lesbian but into accepting her orientation.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at April 23, 2005 10:05 PM

It is my understanding that the church's meaning of objectively disordered is in the context of objectively meaning - perceptible to persons other than the affected individual. In other words, it is the objective of the disordered person to in fact be disordered in as much as they cannot admit or accept that they are disordered. That's the thing about being objectively disordered; it's so much easier to remain that way and convince others they are that way than to conform to acceptable standards. It's so much easier to believe you don't need to change, the rest of the world needs to change to be in line with you.

Posted by: NotSamIAm at April 24, 2005 12:30 AM

Joel, the article never mentioned any of that. What do you know that i don't?

Anyway, what are we left with -- a gay son, a gay mom, and no mention whatsoever of any father. From the little information we have, that family sounds "objectively disordered" to me. Indeed the son seems lucky to be alive at all, if his mother was _always_ a lesbian...

Posted by: Marty at April 24, 2005 6:55 AM

Marty,

The article did indeed mention therapy, so maybe you read a different article or a shortened version.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at April 24, 2005 9:05 AM

I'll doublecheck it at the library on monday. Email me if you have a link.

Posted by: Marty at April 24, 2005 9:07 AM

Maybe the family lived on one of the sham marriages your encourage, with a lesbian marrying a straight man in order to gain social acceptance. These are the kinds of families you seem to encourage. It's nice you can finally see the consequences of forcing people into sham marriages if they want to have rights and social acceptance. It creates, in your words, "objectively disordered" families.

Congratulations. These families are the products of faith-driven homophobia and intolerance.

Posted by: res ipsa at April 24, 2005 9:15 AM

Yeah, Res, and I'm sure the Advocate picked that family at random.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 24, 2005 10:55 AM

Res Ipsa, why would you automatically assume that a so-called mixed-orientation marriage was a "sham" even where a wife was not lesbian at the outset? What makes her marriage a sham, in your view? What is a sham, by your light of reason?

In this case, as so far revealed in this discussion thusfar, a mother and son had spoken of their sexuality without mention of the father. As in many discussions of so-called mixed-orientation marriages, an airbrush is silently applied to that part of the family photo that would reveal the presence of the person who has not identified himself or herself as homosexual. It is an incomplete picture.

There really isn't that much known about this sort of marriage -- except the scattering that is known about those which have already dissolved -- so it would be an over-reach to claim that all such marriages were, or are, dishonest or masquerades.

I think it would be very likely that the husbands and wives felt genuine love for one another. And that feeling of love is supposed to be the essence of SSM but you wouldn't claim that all SSM arrangements are presumptively just shams. Right? Including those that dissolve due to a lack of sexual interest?

If you say that Justin enocourages so-called mixed-orientation marriages (which I don't recall his having said), then, do you make the counter assertion that such arrangements be discouraged? On what basis would you make such a blanket policy in your SSM argument?

Posted by: Chairm at April 24, 2005 1:26 PM

I don't believe gay people should be forced to enter sham marriages in order to get the benefits and rights of marriages. In only rare situations are these marriages healthy or productive for the individuals involved.

Research shows that women are more likely to marry men and then come to grips with the repressed sexual orientation, like the mother in this situation. They marry believing that is what is expected of them and because they reatlize it is the only way to obtain the protection of marriage. As the marriage moves forward, they realize they have always been lesbians but have been repressing those feelings. The consequences for all involved can be pretty dramatic.

Posted by: res ipsa at April 24, 2005 5:22 PM

Res Ipsa, that's an interesting (if preictable) set of generalizations on your part.

Essentially you claim that a marriage in which one spouse came out as gay or lesbian would have been a sham all along.

You seem to rule out the possibility that even that arrangement might succeed as a bonafide marriage.

Perhaps you'd say that such a marriage would *become* a sham if the couple choses not to bust-up their family?

I'd be interested in reading the studies. Can you provide a URL or a reference for the research that has convinced you of your opinion? Thanks.

Posted by: Chairm at April 24, 2005 6:21 PM

Except for health reasons and short periods of mutually agreed abstinence, the Bible requires sexual relations for a marriage to be valid and not a sham.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at April 24, 2005 6:51 PM

Can somebody give me some examples of people whose sexual attractions and/or behavior are objectively disordered, besides homosexuals? For those who don't think homosexual attraction/behavior is objectively disordered, do you think such a situation exists? If so, what criteria do you use to distinguish ordered vs. disordered behavior?

Posted by: Mike S. at April 24, 2005 7:36 PM

I have always heard that if you lie with enough conviction even somebody who knows the truth will believe you. For a little while at least. But that doesn't really apply in this situation Joel. If you insist on making stuff up about the Bible without relying on body language to sound convincing, you might want to wait until the audience you are trying to convince doesn't know the Bible better than you.

Posted by: Not SamIAm at April 24, 2005 7:54 PM

Just to note a curious consequence of the following from Res:

I don't believe gay people should be forced to enter sham marriages in order to get the benefits and rights of marriages.

It appears that you're constructing the "benefits and rights of marriage" as something given to an individual upon marriage, not as an outgrowth of the pairing.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 24, 2005 8:46 PM

Not SamAmI,

My authority is I Corinthians 7:1-5, which calls for the fulfillment of marital duty and not to deprive each other "except by mutual consent and for a time." A marriage without sex is a sham unless the parties are physically unable to perform.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at April 24, 2005 9:35 PM

"It appears that you're constructing the "benefits and rights of marriage" as something given to an individual upon marriage, not as an outgrowth of the pairing."

It is both, actually. The second one gets married, they are bathed in a bundle of significant rights, even if they marry a complete stranger and they never intend to have a child.


Posted by: res ipsa at April 24, 2005 11:13 PM

>> Joel Thomas: "the Bible requires sexual relations for a marriage to be valid and not a sham [...] A marriage without sex is a sham unless the parties are physically unable to perform.'

Joel, from a Catholic perspective, it appears you've misconstrued Scripture and have misapplied human reasoning on sexuality and conjugal relations, as Not SamIAm and others might soon explain.

Also, you've shifted from the assertion of Res Ipsa to whom I posed my comment and questions. Res Ipsa referred to research on mixed-orientation marriages and I asked for references and/or URL addresses or other sources that helped to form his (or her) opinion.

>> Mike S: "Can somebody give me some examples of people whose sexual attractions and/or behavior are objectively disordered, besides homosexuals?"

Our culture exhibits the symptoms of disordered sexuality which is selfish rather than selfless -- i.e. giving of one's self to the other.

In a nutshell: the objectification of sexuality, fertility, and such, as things possessed rather than as aspects of the self; the separation of the person from his or her body.

>> Mike S: "For those who don't think homosexual attraction/behavior is objectively disordered, do you think such a situation exists? If so, what criteria do you use to distinguish ordered vs. disordered behavior?"

Two good questions that are very much on-topic given Justin's original post at the top of this thread. Perhaps terms will be defined, as well?

Posted by: Chairm at April 25, 2005 6:37 AM

Michael, can you think of a single infertile married couple that doesn't feel "disordered"? That doesn't feel as if they are missing out on something? Among the problems of the comparison between gays and infertile straight couples is that the former insist on being seen as in no way missing out on anything important.

But think about this from a psychological standpoint; of course an infertile couple feels disordered. Many of those couples have a very hard time dealing with their infertility, their lack of wholeness. To think that gays do not go through the same psychological issues is naive. The difference between infertile couples and gays is that, in the case of the former, society invokes compassion towards them, all the while encouraging them (sometimes through measures that the Catholic Church opposes) to find a way to be as whole as possible. They are encouraged to marry; they are encouraged to seek adoption; they are encouraged to go about their lives as close to fertile as possible. They are not being barred from society because of something they cannot help. Infertile couples, while they may admit that they are "incomplete", would not be so forthcoming with that admission if it meant that society would use that to forbid them access to important institutions such as marriage. Sure there's something different, something "wrong" with them; but we don't deny them full citizenship. We treat them equally not because they are equal in every way but because we believe in the equality of humanity. Homosexuals do not get that consideration.

Another of the problems is that very, very few heterosexual couples prove to be sterile, and they can only know as much once they've made the decision to have children, visited a few doctors, and had lots and lots of sex. Since you note that sex is only not sinful within marriage, hopefully you'll see the multiple ways in which it would be ludicrous to expect them to go through the just-mentioned steps before marriage, so as to ensure that their marriage is procreative.

This is incorrect. About one in ten couples show some degree of infertility. That's more than the number of homosexual couples in the country.

And while I do see that it is ludicrous to make heterosexual couples prove their infertility, there are more than a handful of women that have had hysterectomies early in life due to cysts or cancer or the like. It is pretty easy to prove that these women are infertile. And yet we let them marry just the same, not because they aren't "incomplete", but because marriage serves an important function outside of securing the continuation of the race. And we treat her the same as every citizen because we value her as a human being. (Cue Marty: Gays are being treated the same! They can marry someone of the opposite sex!)

Sure, homosexuals are "broken" in some way; but rather than forcing them to seek a "cure" for a condition that does not devalue their humanity (like infertility does not devalue humanity), we should encourage them into family raising monogamy. We don't force infertile couples into getting IVF, and those who choose against it we applaud for adopting. I think we, as a society, should be affording gay couples the same courtesy and dignity.

Posted by: Michael at April 25, 2005 1:16 PM

Oh, that's right, I forgot that your version of the Bible provides subtitles Joel; and chapter 7's first subtitle is "How to recognize sham marriages", closely followed by the "It's okay for lesbians to leave their male spouses and gays to leave their female spouses because their spouses are unbelievers or their marriage is a sham" subtitle. But we mustn't forget the Chapter 6 subtitles "Lesbians are incapable of having relations with their male/Gays are incapable of having relations with their female spouses" and "ignore the parts of the Bible that hint Gay and Lesbian behavior might be immoral".

Give up Joel, you can't compete on the religious knowledge playing field. Making it up as you go along doesn't cut the mustard.

Posted by: NotSamIAm at April 25, 2005 1:18 PM

Michael:

"To think that gays do not go through the same psychological issues is naive. The difference between infertile couples and gays is that, in the case of the former, society invokes compassion towards them,"

This is a diversion of context. The reason society displays compassion toward one and not the other is that with Gays and Lesbians they are infertile by choice. If you don't want to be infertile as half a married couple, find somebody to marry that you can be reasonably certain of being fertile with. In other words, get a wife!

Posted by: NotSamIAm at April 25, 2005 1:42 PM

Also, a woman who has had a hysterectomy is not denied the right to marry simply out of a sense of fairness. Although marriage is most certainly "about" procreation/family, it would be wrong to discriminate against someone simply because they are unable to procreate.

Gays CAN procreate however, and are allowed to marry. Under the same rules as everyone else, bey they man woman white black gay straight fertile or infertile.

Thanks for the cue, mike.

Posted by: Marty at April 25, 2005 2:38 PM

NotSamAmI,

It appears that you haven't studied anything in the Bible that relates to love, charity, grace or compassion or you wouldn't have written that shitty little personal response to me. Guess that's pretty easy to pull off when you are a totally anonymous commenter.

I've never claimed that same gender attracted people are incapable of sexual relations with the opposite gender.

One of the main claims that fundamentalists have made against same sex relationships is that homosexuals can't procreate. (When I was younger the claim against homosexuality was that it was unnatural. However, when scientists demonstrated that homosexuality exists in nature, that argument was pretty much abandoned.)Then a fundamentalist will turn around and claim that sexual relations (let alone fertility) aren't essential to a heterosexual relationship. That simply doesn't follow.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at April 25, 2005 2:40 PM

First the bad news:

I did indeed misread the Advocate article about the gay mormon and his mother. Apparently she IS a lesbian, and the son was trying to change her into a hetero while he was undergoing reparative therapy himself. I had read it backwards (but will gladly place 49% of the blame on the author of the article).

The good news is, crow tastes just like chicken. Please disregard my previous statement concerning that article.

Posted by: Marty at April 25, 2005 2:42 PM

Michael,

"This is incorrect. About one in ten couples show some degree of infertility."

Care to provide any support for this claim? I suspect the "some degree" is a dodge to make the number larger - it is vague, and could encompass all sorts of problems. I've heard many stories of people who were distressed because they thought they couldn't get pregnant, after many doctor visits, etc. Right after they decided they were fertile, or after they adopted, they got pregnant! These could count in your "some degree" of infertility, but ultimately they are in the fertile category.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 25, 2005 2:42 PM

"It is pretty easy to prove that these women are infertile."

No it's not "pretty easy". How would a justice of the peace, or other authority granting a marriage license, go about determining whether any given woman applying for a license had had a hysterectomy?

Posted by: Mike S. at April 25, 2005 2:51 PM

Marty,

Unfortunately I misread part of the Advocate article, too, even though I had read it more recently than you had. I confused which one had been in therapy.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at April 25, 2005 2:52 PM

Michael:

There is nothing "broken" about homosexuality. Homosexuality exists for a reason, and that is to mitigate the destructive nature of the heterosexual male (to put it in modern terms, to teach the straight guy some manners). So as such, homosexuals are not "broken." And just like a fertile woman cannot be forced to bear children, homosexuals, also, should not be kept from seeking happiness for themselves, through marriage and parenting.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 25, 2005 2:55 PM

"Sure, homosexuals are "broken" in some way; but rather than forcing them to seek a "cure" for a condition that does not devalue their humanity (like infertility does not devalue humanity), we should encourage them into family raising monogamy."

You are, yet again, conflating issues of individual human dignity with public recognition of particular relationships. All human beings are broken in one way or another - the question is what behaviors and ideals do we, as a society, want to encourage people to strive for? Your narcissism leads you to insist that society should hold up your particular sexual and relationship preferences as part of the ideal. But how can homosexual relationships be the ideal, since everyone following that model would result in the extinction of the species? It's like saying that rather than allowing infertile individuals to marry (a member of the opposite sex), we should encourage them to marry.

I heard a talk that discussed an interesting situation in Turkish Cyprus. They have a situation there where there is a high prevalence of a gene that leads to children with a severe blood deficiency (I forget the details). The children can be cared for, but it is highly expensive. The people there decided that the government should pay for the treatment of these individuals. The problem is that if people mated randomly, so many children would be born with this condition that the government would quickly go bankrupt. So they've developed this system where people get genetically tested, and two people who are carriers are encouraged not to get married (but they aren't banned from marrying if that is what they want.) They also allow for government funding of an abortion for a fetus with the condition. The upshot is, though this is an unusual situation, the society in question had to figure out how to structure its marriage laws in order to keep itself viable. It couldn't just let anyone marry who felt like it, even if both individuals were fertile. The effects won't be as dramatic, and the end results will take longer to play out, but the same restrictions are in play for our society.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 25, 2005 3:09 PM

Homosexuality exists for a reason, and that is to mitigate the destructive nature of the heterosexual male (to put it in modern terms, to teach the straight guy some manners).

What the heck is that supposed to mean?

Posted by: Marty at April 25, 2005 4:05 PM

You know, I really like Art. Art Fennaddo or whatever. Its a hell of a perspective/ideology.
I think its whats called gay superiority.
Fascinating. Total B.S. but fascinating B.S.
I never know quite how to even respond.
its great- I love it.

Posted by: Fitz at April 25, 2005 4:06 PM

You know something Marty? In a backhand sort of way I think Art is reinforcing a typical argument made FOR marriage. It is that the female civilizes the male (i think so) and through marriage and fatherhood we get are rough edges rubbed off.
Except Art has put himself in the place of the female.
Women civilize the male, through marriage.
Thats one way it is dependant on the sexual complematariness.

Posted by: Fitz at April 25, 2005 4:11 PM

Michael,

I'm not sure why you responded to my use of the word "sterile" as if I had written "infertile." They're different things. This is by memory (tired memory, at that), but my recollection is that sterile couples make up 1% of infertile couples, or 0.1% of all straight couples. (If I'm wrong, it's most likely that it's just 1% for all straight couples.)

But even a knowingly sterile straight couple does nothing to change the underlying procreative design of marriage itself, as an institution. Looking at them, one would never know that they are sterile.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 25, 2005 4:23 PM

Arturo, I agree that homosexuality exists for a reason. It is found in all human cultures in about the same percentage of the population, so it must serve somehow to enhance a society's survival, otherwise it would have withered away long ago. Your specific explanation of homosexuality's function seems far-fetched to me, but who knows?

In any case, minorities such as we gays do not have to justify our existence in the eyes of "society" or its spokespeople. Those of you who oppose same-sex marriage should stick to the real issue, the welfare of children, instead of trying to justify anti-gay prejudice.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 25, 2005 4:52 PM

Your narcissism leads you to insist that society should hold up your particular sexual and relationship preferences as part of the ideal.

Why, in these discussions, is the pro-SSM side always considered narcissistic, while the anti-SSM is altruistic and concerned for society? Why is it not possible for me to be concerned with the negative aspects of not accepting and protecting and encouraging homosexual couples the same as we accept and protect and encourage heterosexual couples? Why is my opinion steeped in narcissism and your opinion not steeped in patriarchy or sexism? Why are my concerns for society more selfish and less valid than your concerns?

What leads you to insist that society hold your particular worldviews and preferences as an ideal? What leads you to insist that society only allow one man and one woman to be married when a not-so-insignificant world Muslim population would beg to differ? What leads you to insist that society hold your particular views ESC research when a majority of the country disagrees? Or any other position that you have? Is that narcissism, Mike? Is it? Or do you simply believe you are right?

I have never criticized anyone on this site for being sexist, patriarchal or homophobic (execpt for homophobic aspects of certain arguments) and I have never attacked the motives or validity of your opinions. My liberal counterparts would not be so generous. I could easily dismiss all your opinions as being narcissistically obsessed with with the preservation of an opressive, patriarchal system that keeps you in a position of power, actual or moral. But I believe you when you say you have something other than your own interests in mind.

If you can't believe that my motives are no less narcissistic than yours, then why we even bother to have this conversation?!?!?!

But how can homosexual relationships be the ideal, since everyone following that model would result in the extinction of the species? It's like saying that rather than allowing infertile individuals to marry (a member of the opposite sex), we should encourage them to marry.

Do you really believe this? Seriously, do you?

Marriage should be the ideal for a homosexual couple. If an infertile individual knew themselves to be infertile, we should encourage them to marry another infertile individual and not dilute the fertile population. MARRIAGE is the ideal, for everyone. If you are heterosexual, then find yourself a heterosexual marriage; if you are homosexual, find yourself a homosexual marriage.

Do you really think that by allowing gays to marry, everyone is going to become homosexual?

Posted by: Michael at April 25, 2005 4:54 PM

But even a knowingly sterile straight couple does nothing to change the underlying procreative design of marriage itself, as an institution. Looking at them, one would never know that they are sterile.

So it's ok to be anti-Semetic, as long as she doesn't look Jewish?

Anyone can look at a childless couple and see that they aren't fulfilling their procreative duties to society. And yet, more often than not, people go on procreating.

And you're right about the "sterile" thing. But even if only one couple in the world were sterile and only one couple were gay, it still wouldn't matter.

Posted by: Michael at April 25, 2005 5:00 PM

No religious group will be forced to marry same-sex couples and religious people will still be able to define their rite the way they choose based on their particular interpretation of the bible or religious text.

Res Ipsa - are you saying that a religious group would not be forced to recognize a state sponsored SSM? In that csae, what's the point of having SSM if no one needs to recognize it? Why not just have your own SSM ceremonies. The whole point of making the state recognize SSM is to force everyone else to recognize them as well. In that sense, SSM is not a private matter (otherwise, most people would not care).

Posted by: c matt at April 25, 2005 6:11 PM

In other words, while you don't want a "theocracy" forcing you not to recongize a SSM, you have no problem with an atheocracy forcing others to recognize SSM. Seems a bit hypocritical.

Posted by: c matt at April 25, 2005 6:14 PM

are you saying that a religious group would not be forced to recognize a state sponsored SSM?

What are you getting at? It already happens. If a Catholic organization knowingly hires a twice married Jew, and they provide their employees with health insurance which covers spouses, they have to recognize her marriage in the legal sense even though the Church doesn't recognize it as a legitimate Catholic marriage. And yet, the church still isn't forced to perform that marriage rite for her.

Posted by: Michael at April 25, 2005 6:25 PM

Matt,

Arturo, I agree that homosexuality exists for a reason. It is found in all human cultures in about the same percentage of the population, so it must serve somehow to enhance a society's survival, otherwise it would have withered away long ago. Your specific explanation of homosexuality's function seems far-fetched to me, but who knows?

You don't know what percentage of the population it is found in worldwide and historically. We only have rough estimates in our over-polled western societies.

The claim that it must enhance survival is specious, though. The appendix doesn't do anything to enhance our survival - in fact, it has a mildly deleterious effect on survival, but we haven't gotten rid of it. Since homosexual tendencies have varying degrees of 'nature' and 'nuture' components, it could easily be a by-product of other factors. Complex traits with a variety of interacting factors are difficult to select for or against, unless the beneficial or negative effects are rather strong. Homosexuality might have some kind of beneficial effect on human society, but you can't posit that simply by the fact that it exists.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 25, 2005 8:59 PM

c-matt: No religious group is going to be forced to perform marriage rites for same-sex couples if they don't want to. Whether they have to provide insurance or other benefits as an employer is something separate from having to compromise their religious beliefs by performing a ceremony.

Posted by: res ipsa at April 25, 2005 9:03 PM

Michael,

Why, in these discussions, is the pro-SSM side always considered narcissistic, while the anti-SSM is altruistic and concerned for society? Why is it not possible for me to be concerned with the negative aspects of not accepting and protecting and encouraging homosexual couples the same as we accept and protect and encourage heterosexual couples? Why is my opinion steeped in narcissism and your opinion not steeped in patriarchy or sexism? Why are my concerns for society more selfish and less valid than your concerns?

Pretty much by definition: as has been repeated multiple times by multiple commentators, I don't fear the effects of SSM on my own marriage. My objections always have to do with preserving or strengthening the institution of marriage, largely due to its importance for future generations. I don't doubt that you have genuine concerns for gay couples and their children, and the gay community as a whole. But that group is a small fraction of the society. So your concerns are by definition for yourself, and for the gay community (of which you are a member). The fact that you dismiss the likelihood that the exact same arguments that you make in favor of SSM can be used to support various other types of marriage is another example of your narcissim. It's narcissistic to only focus on the benefits to gay couples, while dismissing concerns about marriage in the larger society, and concerns about other groups using your arguments to expand the definition of marriage. I have recognized that SSM would benefit some gay couples, and some children of gay couples - I haven't dismissed your arguments. I've just pointed out numerous ways in which I think those positive effects would be swamped by negative effects.

What leads you to insist that society hold your particular worldviews and preferences as an ideal?

First of all, American society does, in fact, support the one-man, one-woman ideal of marriage. You could just as well say that my views are in line with the countries as vice-versa. This is another example of your narcissim: the vast majority of Americans reject your model of marriage, yet you have no problem with forcing your model on a society that doesn't want it. As c_matt pointed out, you're not fighting for your right to marry your partner, live with him, love him, or even raise children with him: you're fighting to have everyone else recognize your relationship as legitimate. That's narcissistic.

What leads you to insist that society only allow one man and one woman to be married when a not-so-insignificant world Muslim population would beg to differ?

Need I remind you how homosexuals are treated in most Muslim countries? Surely you're not going to claim moral equivalence between Muslim societies and Western ones?

What leads you to insist that society hold your particular views ESC research when a majority of the country disagrees?

They don't. When people are asked if they favor destroying embryos for research, majorities say no.

Or any other position that you have? Is that narcissism, Mike? Is it? Or do you simply believe you are right?

Sure, sometimes I'm sure I'm right - I'm probably too arrogant about it sometimes. Everybody is narcissistic to some degree. But I'm open to arguments. I used to think there was nothing morally problematic about homosexual behavior, and I was moderately supportive of SSM not that long ago. Like Justin, the more I've looked into it, and the more I've debated with people like you, the more convinced I've become that it will cause serious harm to our society. So it's not like my opinions don't change - they just changed in the wrong direction from your perspective on this issue.

I could easily dismiss all your opinions as being narcissistically obsessed with with the preservation of an opressive, patriarchal system that keeps you in a position of power, actual or moral. But I believe you when you say you have something other than your own interests in mind.

The alternative is throwing out ridiculous, unsupported assertions, or taking our arguments at face value? And we're supposed to be grateful that you're not hurling epithets at us? That's narcissistic.

If you can't believe that my motives are no less narcissistic than yours, then why we even bother to have this conversation?!?!?!

Sometimes I wonder that myself.

But how can homosexual relationships be the ideal, since everyone following that model would result in the extinction of the species? It's like saying that rather than allowing infertile individuals to marry (a member of the opposite sex), we should encourage them to marry.

Do you really believe this? Seriously, do you?

Marriage should be the ideal for a homosexual couple. If an infertile individual knew themselves to be infertile, we should encourage them to marry another infertile individual and not dilute the fertile population. MARRIAGE is the ideal, for everyone. If you are heterosexual, then find yourself a heterosexual marriage; if you are homosexual, find yourself a homosexual marriage.

Do you really think that by allowing gays to marry, everyone is going to become homosexual?

I was referring to the Kantian criteria - what happens if everyone enacted the behavior in question? If everyone followed the traditional model, there would be no STD's, no teenage pregnancies, very few children growing up without a mother or a father, and we'd have plenty of bodies to fill the next generation with (a problem that both contraception and abortion exacerbate, as the piece linked by Fitz in the post about the Alas a Blog situation showed). If everyone followed your model, even if they entered a heterosexual marriage, there would not be a next generation. You are relying on others to produce the next generation, which you will depend on to support you in your old age.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 25, 2005 9:36 PM

Ouch! ;)

Posted by: Marty at April 25, 2005 10:11 PM

>> Res Ipsa: "Research shows that ..."

Res Ipsa, sources please? Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Chairm at April 26, 2005 3:33 AM

Mike S: I was referring to the Kantian criteria - what happens if everyone enacted the behavior in question?

There must be some limits to the applicability of this Kantian criterion. By that logic, shoemaking is less than ideal because if everyone became a shoemaker, then the economy would produce nothing but shoes and we would all starve to death.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 26, 2005 5:57 AM

Joel:

"Guess that's pretty easy to pull off when you are a totally anonymous commenter."

If this means you would be spamming me with this stuff directly to my email inbox, then I'm obliged to remain totally anonymous.

"However, when scientists demonstrated that homosexuality exists in nature, that argument was pretty much abandoned."

Ah, you're using the we're no better than animals argument. Are you sure you want to stick with the 'monkey see, monkey do' defense?







I do not like green eggs and spam, Sam I am.

Posted by: NotSamIAm at April 26, 2005 8:11 AM

My objections always have to do with preserving or strengthening the institution of marriage, largely due to its importance for future generations. I don't doubt that you have genuine concerns for gay couples and their children, and the gay community as a whole. But that group is a small fraction of the society. So your concerns are by definition for yourself, and for the gay community (of which you are a member). The fact that you dismiss the likelihood that the exact same arguments that you make in favor of SSM can be used to support various other types of marriage is another example of your narcissim.

Mike,

Please. I have said it, Jonathan Rauch has said it, many others have too. I believe that allowing gay marriage is not only good for gays, but for straights, the country and marriage as a whole. And yet you still claim that it is a narcissistic position. I believe SSM benefits EVERYONE. You believe it only benefits gays and does damage to straights.

As c_matt pointed out, you're not fighting for your right to marry your partner, live with him, love him, or even raise children with him: you're fighting to have everyone else recognize your relationship as legitimate. That's narcissistic.

But no more narcisistic than fighting to recognize your definition of life, when talking about abortion. Yet you also feel it benefits society as a whole not to abort babies. A society where homosexual relationships are recognized as legitimate is a better society. And I have not dismissed your concerns about the negatives to society. I have *rebutted* them. There is a difference. It seems to me that because I haven't come to the same conclusions that you have, that you say that I'm not addressing them. We've had this discussion before.

The alternative is throwing out ridiculous, unsupported assertions, or taking our arguments at face value? And we're supposed to be grateful that you're not hurling epithets at us? That's narcissistic.

Way to read into that one. You're not supposed to be grateful, you're supposed to be respectful. I address your concerns; you insist I'm a narcisistic queer because I don't agree with them. All I did was point out I am actually looking at the substance of your argument and not assuming underlying ulterior motives; you do not seem to be doing the same.

If everyone followed your model, even if they entered a heterosexual marriage, there would not be a next generation. You are relying on others to produce the next generation, which you will depend on to support you in your old age.

My model? Do you even know what my model is? It is a tighting up of divorce laws while at the same time allowing gays to marry. I want waiting periods for marriage licenses. I am opposed to abortion. I support certain marriage and procreation incentives. But I also support adoption. I want gays to be allowed and be encouraged to marry and adopt, like any sterile or infertile straight couple. So don't compare me to bunch of polyamorous liberals over at Alas, many of whom want to tear down marriage because of some perceived oppressive patriarchy. Does my model sound like the human race is going to still die out???

Posted by: Michael at April 26, 2005 10:54 AM

"My model? Do you even know what my model is? It is a tighting up of divorce laws while at the same time allowing gays to marry."

You aren't willing to enact the former before pursuing the latter, though, are you? In my opinion a truly conservative position that favored SSM would argue that we should shore up the institution of marriage before attempting to change it's definition significantly. Matt Taylor holds something like this position - why don't you?

Posted by: Mike S. at April 26, 2005 11:15 AM

a truly conservative position that favored SSM would argue that we should shore up the institution of marriage before attempting to change it's definition significantly. Matt Taylor holds something like this position...

That's close to my position, but not exactly the same. I believe SSM should wait until our culture has adapted itself to the idea, which in political terms means waiting until it has popular support. If SSM is imposed from the top down, such as through judicial rulings, then we are trying to artificially push the culture in one direction. Culture is a complex, organic thing that may move in an entirely different direction than it was pushed.

As for divorce ... we should work to reduce divorce, regardless of the SSM question.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 26, 2005 11:48 AM

Michael said:

"I want waiting periods for marriage licenses."

What would be the purpose of this?

"I support certain marriage and procreation incentives."

What incentives would that be?

"I want gays to be allowed and be encouraged to marry and adopt, like any sterile or infertile straight couple."

Paraphrase Rauch for me since I don't have the time to read it, how would this be a benefit to society that would outweigh the costs? What is the actual benefit, and why is SSM the only way to receive the benefit?

"So don't compare me to bunch of polyamorous liberals over at Alas, many of whom want to tear down marriage because of some perceived oppressive patriarchy."

When comparing the stated goal of enabling SSM, between you and them, what is the difference?

"Does my model sound like the human race is going to still die out?"

I've always thought the end of civilization/humanity/human race result was a bit overstated, but I don't recall that you've ever responded to my suggestions that it will harm the viability of and lead to the replacement of the U.S. society with a less friendly society.

Posted by: smmtheory at April 26, 2005 12:41 PM

You aren't willing to enact the former before pursuing the latter, though, are you? In my opinion a truly conservative position that favored SSM would argue that we should shore up the institution of marriage before attempting to change it's definition significantly. Matt Taylor holds something like this position - why don't you?

I don't hold that position because I believe that shoring up marriage cannot happen until SSM is legalized. Gays are the last of the minorities with any real politcal power (which is much weaker than you think it is). All of the legal futzing with marriage has been for the granting of equality for a disadvantaged group: divorce and contraception were for women, anti-miscegination for blacks, and domestic partnerships for gays. We need to allow gays to marry to keep legislatures from getting too creative. I find this analogous to what happened eith Roe v. Wade; at the time, it was needed to help break some of the cultural hold that society had on women. But it got out of hand. It never should have become a religion. And now it's almost impossible to stop. The same thing is going to happen with civil unions. In order to grant gays equality we are creating a bigger problem than we already have.

I truly believe that gays deserve to have their relationships recognized. It's not narcissism; I may be personally invested, but I don't believe that I should be living a sub-standard life and making huge personal sacrifices when I see an alternative. If I were convinced that society would collapse if gays could marry, I'd be narcisistic to say "let it happen so I can marry!" But to ask me to throw myself to the wolves when I can see a clear path around them, then why should I?

But once there is a single option for everyone, marriage, then we can get about the real business of fixing what's wrong with it.

Posted by: Michael at April 26, 2005 12:59 PM

But once there is a single option for everyone, marriage, then we can get about the real business of fixing what's wrong with it.

But there IS a single option for everyone (not special options for special people, as you hope for). NOW can we get on with fixing it?

Posted by: Marty at April 26, 2005 2:04 PM

Matt,

There must be some limits to the applicability of this Kantian criterion. By that logic, shoemaking is less than ideal because if everyone became a shoemaker, then the economy would produce nothing but shoes and we would all starve to death.

Yes, and there are limits to my understanding of it ;) I haven't read Kant since college - maybe Ben will jump in here with a more sophisticated description of Kant's argument.

Obviously, if you are too particular about the details, the argument becomes a reductio ad absurdum, but this is true of many arguments. I think there is supposed to be a minimal level of moral weight under consideration - it doesn't apply when choosing which socks to put on in the morning. The point is not that if everyone made shoes for a living, it's if everyone performed a service needed by others for a living, or something along those lines.

This, of course, is the tricky part about applying this to marriage: what is the criteria we are applying? Michael says that it is 'everyone pick one and only one person to commit to for life, who is not already married, who is not a close relative, and who is not under the age of 18.' But to me, the important criteria here is that the genders of the marrying individuals are irrelevant, which means that the production of children is irrelevant, to the definition of marriage. If everyone took the view that the production (and subsequent raising) of children is irrelevant to the definition of marriage, then we would have what we social conservatives fear, and what Kurtz argues is happening in Scandanavia: the complete dissassociation of marriage and procreation. But Michael and other SSM proponents want to have it both ways: they want other people to keep the importance of procreation tightly coupled to marriage (because they don't want a bunch of children born out of wedlock), but at the same to recognize their inherently non-procreative coupling as just as deserving of public recognition (in fact, to have the same public meaning) as the procreative couplings.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 26, 2005 3:31 PM

Marty and Fitz:

It is fascinating to me that when I point to the “destructive nature of the heterosexual male,” you think I’m peddling some “gay superiority” ideology, when (you well know) a big part of your whole religious enterprise is designed for the sole purpose of controlling the worst of the heterosexual male (to what degree it does this, and to what degree it does the opposite, is a good question). So there should really be no controversy over this. Your (Fitz) labeling it “gay superiority” merely exposes your desperate need to see gays as inferior.

Gays, on their own, would not have come up with the idea of marriage if they had not seen that it works to make heterosexuals’ lives better (better than it would have been without it). So, in this way, straights have “helped” gays. We are here on this earth to learn from each other. There is nothing chauvinistic about that.

There are things that I can say about how gays help straights, but I think it would upset you too much. Twice (that I know of) on this website, Justin, after grudgingly accepting that gays do a great deal to advance society, has made the comment that...well...homosexuals should continue to be oppressed, because it’s how heterosexuals get their great art.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 26, 2005 4:20 PM

The point [of the Kantian criteria for morality] is not that if everyone made shoes for a living, it's if everyone performed a service needed by others for a living, or something along those lines.

You have removed the absurdity from my shoemaking argument by framing the moral imperative more generally. One could do the same to your argument against homosexuality -- insist only that everyone contribute to the well-being of the society and its future generations, in one way or another.

Procreation is certainly a necessary ingredient to a society's future success, but there are other ingredients just as essential -- industry, education, civil service, defense of the state, religion, science and the arts, just to name a few. Maybe it is not so bad to have a small number of people opt out of procreation and devote themselves more fully to these other endeavors.


Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 26, 2005 4:26 PM

But Michael and other SSM proponents want to have it both ways: they want other people to keep the importance of procreation tightly coupled to marriage (because they don't want a bunch of children born out of wedlock), but at the same to recognize their inherently non-procreative coupling as just as deserving of public recognition (in fact, to have the same public meaning) as the procreative couplings.

You're still making a huge leap from allowing non-procreative couples to marry and saying that procreation is irrelevent. It's as if we let gays marry people will all of a sudden not WANT to have kids anymore. I'm gay and even I still want to have kids. Maybe we won't produce as many as we should, but that's ultimately an economic issue. Look, birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. And eventually it leads to babies. It always has and it always will, because whether you are an underclass teenager or a forty-year old executive, chances are you want that little bundle of joy. And don't give me any BS about people wanted to further the race; most people don't have kids out of some great altruistic sense of duty. They have kids because that's what we're wired to want.

We let non-procreative couples marry all the time. We let infertile couples marry because, why? Because they could procreate if they weren't sterile? We let old people marry because, why? Because they could procreate if they weren't so old? Well my partner and I could procreate if one of us were a woman. And that's just about as likely to become true as my grandparents youthening.

Marriage is not a MANDATE to procreate. Procreation flows from marriage, not the other way around. You need a license to drive a car; that doesn't mean you actually have to. A non-procreative marriage may be less valid in the eyes of God (or at least your perception of God) but it isn't in the eyes of the law. We don't punish couples who don't procreate because they can't and we don't punish couples who don't procreate because they don't want to. So why are we punishing homosexuals?

Posted by: Michael at April 26, 2005 4:46 PM
Twice (that I know of) on this website, Justin, after grudgingly accepting that gays do a great deal to advance society, has made the comment that...well...homosexuals should continue to be oppressed, because it’s how heterosexuals get their great art.

Unbelievable, Arturo. This is now the third time that you've attributed something to me that I've never said and don't believe. Just to be clear, when you wildly misread something, or wildly read something else into it, that does not mean that you've discovered the essence and can then proceed to paraphrase what was said so as to mean what you imposed upon it.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 26, 2005 7:03 PM

Even more unbelievable! Then Matt Taylor (gay male) goes on to make exactly the argument that Arturo attributes to me, with which I do not agree:

Procreation is certainly a necessary ingredient to a society's future success, but there are other ingredients just as essential -- industry, education, civil service, defense of the state, religion, science and the arts, just to name a few. Maybe it is not so bad to have a small number of people opt out of procreation and devote themselves more fully to these other endeavors.

(Yes, we'll pass laws restricting gays to certain careers forthwith. Actually, Kant comes back in for an interesting exercise. Imagine ways in which society would be hurt if it emphasized that those endeavors were alternatives to procreation and encouraged those who pursue them to "opt out of procreation.")

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 26, 2005 7:08 PM
Procreation flows from marriage, not the other way around.

Oh? So if we had no marriage, we wouldn't procreate? Or the other way: if two people marry, they'll be sure to want to procreate? I think you need to give the nature of this link some more thought.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 26, 2005 7:25 PM

Art: when I point to the “destructive nature of the heterosexual male,” you think I’m peddling some “gay superiority” ideology

Those were your words friend, not mine. Try not to put words into my mouth.

a big part of your whole religious enterprise is designed for the sole purpose of controlling the worst of the heterosexual male

You haven't spent much time in church, have you Art? Or maybe you just weren't listening.

There are things that I can say about how gays help straights, but I think it would upset you too much.

Please, hurt me -- I am nothing if not tolerant of ideas! In fact, i'm dying to hear this and have been hoping you'd get to the point for some days now. How does the barren life of homosexuality "help" the regenerative life of heterosexuality?

--

MT: Procreation is certainly a necessary ... but there are other ingredients just as essential -- industry, education, civil service, defense of the state, religion, science and the arts, just to name a few.

I can't beleive i'm hearing this tripe. Just where the heck do you think industrialists, educators, civil servants, warriors, pastors, scientists and artists come from???.

Maybe it is not so bad to have a small number of people opt out of procreation and devote themselves more fully to these other endeavors.

Opt out? Opt out? Hey man, if you don't want to have kids that's your business. These days, we'll even let you kill the little bastard (versus 18 years of child-support, duh) if you slip up. You can "devote yourself more fully" to anything you want to, with or without kids. You obviously have issues with children and parents. Forgive your folks and seek ye a therapist young man.

--

Michael: I'm gay and even I still want to have kids... They have kids because that's what we're wired to want.

I know you must struggle with this dichotomy. I will pray for you, and encourage others to do so as well. We are left with a certain conclusion that "orientation" is irrelevant to questions of life and death.

So why are we punishing homosexuals?

Who is punishing homosexuals? My daughter wants a pony, and MTV. I said no. Was that a punishment? It's not like i sold her pet or unplugged her television -- she never had them, nor had any realistic hope of ever getting them. But once she's got her little mind made up, she's very hard to dissuade (much like her mother ;) Your perspective is badly tainted here. Did someone say the N word earlier?

Forgive me, friend. All hope is not lost for you. For others, it is too late. Godspeed.

Posted by: Marty at April 26, 2005 7:46 PM

It seems significant that this conversation is taking place most among men, since we do not bear any of the burdens of procreation. All this talk of marriage as a giant procreation production system demonstrates why the more educated and indpendent women become, the more procreation declines. It is women who are subjected to the procreation production system of men with few choices who have the most babies.

There is no procreation crisis in America. Americans are having plenty of babies. The fact that they aren't white babies is what is probably the most concerning to the procreation sky is falling crowd, but we are not facing a country or world where there is going to be a baby shortage, regardless of the status of marriage.

The reality is people are going to get married regardless of whether Joe and Steve or Amanda and Mary get to partake in the privileged state. As a religious country, people are still going to want to blessings that come from marriage and are not suddenly going to stop having children, regardless of what Stanley Kurtz believes.

Yes, we may need to imagine an economy where women aren't having four children in a lifetime. That's the price of allowing women to become educated and independent.

Posted by: res ipsa at April 26, 2005 8:06 PM

... men, since we do not bear any of the burdens of procreation.

This is a lie, sold by radical feminism over the past 40 years, and you've bought it hook line and sinker.

Just because many men shirk their duty does not mean that it doesn't exist. And giving women more opportunity to shirk theirs (RU486?) does not make them "equal".

I've said it before, and will say it again. Radical feminism (the godmother of gay liberation) has been openly undermining the Family for decades. Gays are being used as pawns in this battle over marriage. Pity too, because many of them are sincere enough to fall for it.

Posted by: Marty at April 26, 2005 8:16 PM

Marty: I can't beleive i'm hearing this tripe. Just where the heck do you think industrialists, educators, civil servants, warriors, pastors, scientists and artists come from???.

Justin: Imagine ways in which society would be hurt if it emphasized that those endeavors were alternatives to procreation and encouraged those who pursue them to "opt out of procreation."

Raising children is absolutely necessary, and is the most important thing people do. I never disputed that. The point is that you don't need every last adult procreating for society to thrive, and that procreation isn't the ONLY thing people do that matters. It takes more than warm bodies to make a civilization.

Marty: Hey man, if you don't want to have kids that's your business. ... You obviously have issues with children and parents. Forgive your folks and seek ye a therapist young man.

Actually, I do want to have kids, but am not currently in a position to give them the environment they need. As I have said, I don't personally believe gays and lesbians should conceive children unless they can guarantee that the kids will be under one roof with both their mother and father. I cannot currently meet that requirement, therefore I choose not to have children right now. Some day the situation may be different.

How nice for you that you are married and already have children. Must you gloat?

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 26, 2005 8:48 PM

As I have said, I don't personally believe gays and lesbians should conceive children unless they can guarantee that the kids will be under one roof with both their mother and father. I cannot currently meet that requirement, therefore I choose not to have children right now. Some day the situation may be different.

I'd like to hear how you envision that happening. Not so i can gloat, but because i simply cannot conceive of such a family arrangement, outside of a polygamous one. Surely you have something different in mind. Enlighten me.

Posted by: Marty at April 26, 2005 9:42 PM

Marty beat me to it: that's one of the routes toward polygamy... and wasn't it Matt who was recently arguing in favor of polygamy? Curious.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 26, 2005 10:05 PM

res,

"It is women who are subjected to the procreation production system of men with few choices who have the most babies."

Well, there's not much I find admirable about most Muslim societies, not least the way they treat women, but there is a reason people are projecting that Europe will be Islamified by 2050 or so.

It's not that men subject women to some particular system that is favorable to men - it's that we're all subject to the laws of nature, including the moral law.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 26, 2005 10:13 PM

As Mark Steyn put it in a recent column (referring to Europe), "What's the point of creating a secular utopia if it only lasts for one generation?"

res,

"There is no procreation crisis in America. Americans are having plenty of babies. The fact that they aren't white babies is what is probably the most concerning to the procreation sky is falling crowd, but we are not facing a country or world where there is going to be a baby shortage, regardless of the status of marriage.

Yes, we may need to imagine an economy where women aren't having four children in a lifetime. That's the price of allowing women to become educated and independent."

There isn't a crisis in America (yet), but we're at or below replacement levels. One reason this isn't a problem for us is our high rates of immigration. But Europe is in crisis. Tell me res, how good are you at math? You're a lawyer, right? Maybe you can tell me what an exponential is. Europe's demographic problem will get exponentially worse, because you can't suddenly replace children you didn't have 5, 10, 20, or 30 years ago. And you can't replace the children those children would have had.

The number isn't 4, it's 2.1. The average woman has to have 2.1 children. Every woman that has zero or one means someone else has to have 3 or more.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 26, 2005 10:20 PM

I keep waiting for John Howard aka Johnny Moral to show up... this one is right up his alley...

But he gets a little ... intense... at times, so i've never invited him.
;)

Posted by: Marty at April 26, 2005 10:26 PM

I'd like to hear how you envision that happening [having children]. Not so i can gloat, but because i simply cannot conceive of such a family arrangement, outside of a polygamous one.

The kind of polygamy I was arguing for earlier (one man, many wives) wouldn't work for me. For my partner and I to marry the same wife is too contrived ... I don't think it would work. We could have some kind of communal arrangement with a lesbian couple, if we knew them well enough to be sure they wouldn't up and leave once the kids are born. Right now we don't know any women who fit that description, or are interested in such a thing.

Maybe if I outlive my partner and am not ridiculously old, I would marry a woman and start a family with her. That's probably the only option you guys would approve of ... or maybe not, since she would be much younger than me.

None of these options really seem satisfactory from the kids point of view, though. So in all likelihood I will just not have kids.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 26, 2005 10:40 PM

None of these options really seem satisfactory from the kids point of view, though. So in all likelihood I will just not have kids.

Yes, choosing a woman to be the mother of your children is a far more serious undertaking than choosing someone to live and love with. Sadly, this problem bothers straights couples far too much these days too. Marriage or not, your kids will hold onto you til "death do you part".

Posted by: Marty at April 26, 2005 11:21 PM

>> Res Ipsa: "Research shows...."

Three times you've been asked to provide your source(s) for your assertions and yet you have not supplied even one citation of any sort. You have strongly suggested that you possess quantitative data that would support your broad statements: "many", "only rare", "more likely".

It seems that you have hyper-extrapolated from a convenient news article.

Your assertions [April 24, 2005 05:22 PM] vary in plausibility:

1. Married women repress their sexuality until they declare their lesbianism.

2. Marriage is unhealthy and unproductive for almost all of these women and other "individuals involved."

3. Lesbians marry men because lesbians want to be protected by men and by marriage.

4. It can be "pretty dramatic" when a woman declares herself homosexual late in life.

---

Presumably, Res Ipsa, your SSM argument includes a blanket policy to discourage women from marrying men until the women have determined their "fixed" sexual preference.

How do you propose that women be thus discouraged prior to their "realization" that they possess "feelings" repressed? How to un-repress those "feelings" before and during their marriages?

---

Res Ipsa please provide the source(s) for your claim that "research shows..."

Posted by: Chairm at April 27, 2005 8:29 AM

Mike S: The number isn't 4, it's 2.1. The average woman has to have 2.1 children. Every woman that has zero or one means someone else has to have 3 or more.

The age at which women have children also affects the population growth rate. A population where women have kids at 20 has a growth exponent about 50% greater than one where women have kids at 30, for example. This might explain population decline in industrialized countries more than anything else.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 27, 2005 10:44 AM

Oh? So if we had no marriage, we wouldn't procreate? Or the other way: if two people marry, they'll be sure to want to procreate? I think you need to give the nature of this link some more thought.

Actually, I think you need to give this more thought. Procreation =/ marriage and marriage =/ procreation. Procreation is rather a subset of marriage. It is healthiest when it is done within marriage. Marriage provides the framework in which we are best equipt to procreate.

And most people, even gays, who get married intend to procreate (or adopt, which was, up until this debate, a perfectly suitable substitute for procreation). Having two sterile couples marry does not, and never has, broken the link between marriage and procreation. Industry has weakened the *need* to link marriage and procreation in a formal sense; wives are no longer property and children are no longer heirs or later-life care-providers. In fact, in some ways it is too difficult to raise too many children if you want to provide the best possible environment for them (big house, good schools, etc). This much is true.

Since we seem to be going in circles with this topic, I have a question that I'm not sure how you'll answer: Should a gay couple be allowed to adopt (not artificially create or commission) a child? And as a corollary, should a gay parent who divorced from a heterosexual marriage, who otherwise is not unfit to raise children, be allowed to raise that child? With their new partner?

Posted by: Michael at April 27, 2005 10:51 AM

children are no longer heirs or later-life care-providers.

What planet are YOU on?

Posted by: Marty at April 27, 2005 11:23 AM

Michael,

Perhaps you mean to use a word other than "subset," because obviously procreation can happen outside of marriage. Given your circumstances, it's understandable that you would think in terms of love->marriage->children. (I would have been cute with the children's lyric, but I didn't want to insert unintended condescention.) The reality that I'm trying to drive home is that society needs marriage, as a cultural institution, because we want to ensure children->marriage in non-ideal situations.

Regarding adoption, I've always supported same-sex couples' ability to adopt children, although I believe that married opposite-sex couples ought to receive preferential treatment. To be honest with you, though, I have to admit that the same-sex marriage debate — mostly by the arguments that its supporters make — has put a few more items on the "negative" side of my adoption assessment.

And regarding divorce, with the caveate that I believe divorces ought to be much more difficult to obtain, I think custody needs to be a case-by-case decision. I do think, however, that the preference for married opposite-sex households ought to carry over.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 27, 2005 11:33 AM

Michael:

"or adopt, which was, up until this debate, a perfectly suitable substitute for procreation"

What Marty said... what planet are you on? adoption has never been a substitute for procreation. Adoption is a method for providing a home for parentless children, not creating more children.

Posted by: NotSamIAm at April 27, 2005 12:12 PM

I'll amplify the points made by Martin, Justin, and NoSamIAm.

>> Michael: "Procreation is rather a subset of marriage. It is healthiest when it is done within marriage. Marriage provides the framework in which we are best equipt to procreate."

The common meaning of the terms used would indicate that we have no disagreement: SSM is not a form of marriage and could not provide a healthy framework for procreaton.

But since your remark was meant to support SSM as a framework for healthy procreation, the terms used (procreation, marriage, healthiest, framework, and equipt) must signify major innovations that you have not identified.

I don't mean to be overly nitpicky, however, I think you need to define your terms and, if you ascribe an uncommon meaning, to demarcate your innovation.

An case in point:

>> Michael: "And most people, even gays, who get married intend to procreate (or adopt, which was, up until this debate, a perfectly suitable substitute for procreation)."

Adoption is not a substitute. It is an imitation of the procreative model. As such it is a response to the shortfall experienced where a child is both motherless and fatherless. The deliberate creation of a home that is either motherless or fatherless, and closed to marriage, would be a substitute for the procreative model.

SSM is an alternative to marriage and its enactment as "marriage" would replace state recognitoin of marriage with something else. As such it would be an actual *substitute*.


>> Michael: "Having two sterile couples marry does not, and never has, broken the link between marriage and procreation."

[I gather you meant "two sterile individuals".]

Sterility due to misfortune or due to ageing is part and parcel of the humankind's duality and as such is intrinsic to the social institution of marriage (i.e. in sickness and in health) which in principle and in practice has always included persons who'd become ill or who'd become old. Marriage naturally includes cases in which both or one person is incapable of producing sperm or eggs. Sterility is the loss of a capability, not its substitution.

I doubt that the SSM argument includes the claim that the same-sex couple is sterile due to their ill-health, an incapacitating disease, medically-necessary surgery, or the natural progress of diminishing capabilties. Rather the same-sex couple is sterile due to basic human physiology which their "one-times-one" combination concedes without exception both in principle and in practice.

Thus the procreative model (i.e. male and female mating together within traditions and customs that support their bonding with each other and their children) excludes the sterile form of the single-sexed combination even where both persons in a same-sex twosome could prove fertile with someone of their opposite sex.

Posted by: Chairm at April 27, 2005 12:16 PM

Justin:

Again, I have fairly interpreted what you’ve said. This is what you said:

“We also can't discount the possibility that something in the repression and outsiderhood has had more to do with driving homosexuals to the order of such fields as the military, the compassion of care-related fields, and the self-expression of the arts. If that is a factor, then Trey's examples undermine his conclusion; homosexuals already fill those roles, and changing their relationship with society can shift their focus.” (Chutes Down the Slippery Slope, July 14, 2004; July 17 9:20)

It’s interesting that you critizicing Matt for saying something much less damning. And Matt had previously said, “In any case, minorities such as we gays do not have to justify our existence in the eyes of ‘society’ or its spokespeople.” So while I agree with you, and seem to disagree with Matt, that there has to be a reason for why we’re here, it is of you whom I am afraid of. As you have also said, and I’ll paraphrase, that if the homosexuals try to step out of their repression and outsiderhood, if the heterosexuals don’t like it, whatever the homosexuals get…they asked for it.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 28, 2005 2:21 PM

Arturo,

It’s interesting that you critizicing Matt for saying something much less damning. And Matt had previously said, “In any case, minorities such as we gays do not have to justify our existence in the eyes of ‘society’ or its spokespeople.” So while I agree with you, and seem to disagree with Matt, that there has to be a reason for why we’re here, it is of you whom I am afraid of. As you have also said, and I’ll paraphrase, that if the homosexuals try to step out of their repression and outsiderhood, if the heterosexuals don’t like it, whatever the homosexuals get…they asked for it.

Justin can deal with this himself, obviously, but I wanted to make some comments, since you've conflated various arguments inappropriately. In the "Chutes" post, the question was about making moral judgements about sexual behavior. This is related to the "justification" that Matt is referring to. But your next sentence refers to "a reason" why homosexuality exists - namely, that homosexual individuals provide value to society as a result of their homosexuality. But these are two distinct issues: 1) whether the existence of homosexual individuals provides societal benefits (and is the reason homosexuality persists), and 2) whether engaging in homosexual acts is morally acceptable. The first can be true and the second false, or vice-versa - they are not logically coupled. In fact, part of the thread of the "Chutes" post was whether the supposed benefit to society from (actually non-procreating individuals, but we'll let that pass for now) gays required abstinence or not.

Another point I'd like to make is that you regularly substitute "heterosexuals" when others have referred to "society". Society refers to gays and straights - everyone benefits from, e.g., Michelangelo's art.

Regarding your last preposterous "paraphrase", the point that Justin was making, I think, was that the putative benefits to society they produce might be a result of their outsider status. Thus if you use the supposed benefits produced by homosexuals as an argument for making them insiders, you might end up losing the benefits.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 28, 2005 3:44 PM

The reality that I'm trying to drive home is that society needs marriage, as a cultural institution, because we want to ensure children->marriage in non-ideal situations.

I don't disagree with you (I think; this last sentence is a little fuzzy). What I am having a really hard time wrapping my head around is exactly how SSM->children without marriage.

Regarding adoption, I've always supported same-sex couples' ability to adopt children, although I believe that married opposite-sex couples ought to receive preferential treatment. To be honest with you, though, I have to admit that the same-sex marriage debate — mostly by the arguments that its supporters make — has put a few more items on the "negative" side of my adoption assessment.

I find your answer intriguing, mainly because I had presumed you'd be against gay adoption. That's a position I could understand. If gays aren't fit to be parents, then they obviously aren't fit to be married. But if they can raise children, then why deny them marriage, which stabilizes families? Is it only because they couldn't have those children naturally? I'm a little squishy on commissioning children by IVF with or without surrogates and flat out against reproductive cloning, but gays are great for adoption; they are the highest adoptors of minority children because no one else wants them.

As for married opposite-sex couples receiving preferential treatment, while I agree with you to an extent, it's a practical non-issue. Private adoption companies work by their own standards and I wouldn't advocate imposing rules on them anyway; public adoption is so rare that as soon as a suitable couple shows up, they can adopt. If there were scores of opposite-sex married couples lined up to adopt minority children then I'd be the first person to step aside.

Posted by: Michael at April 28, 2005 4:41 PM

"children are no longer heirs or later-life care-providers.

What planet are YOU on?"

Marty,

How many people these days have children in order to pass on businesses, titles, or estates, or to join specific families together for political gain?

And who's paying your parent's medical bills, you or Medicare?

adoption has never been a substitute for procreation. Adoption is a method for providing a home for parentless children, not creating more children.

NotSamIAm,

From a societal standpoint maybe, but not from the point of view of the adoptive parents. Most people to not adopt to supplement their natural born children or out of the sheer goodness of their hearts (although I'm sure this plays a role). Most people adopt to fix their individual procreative issues. Which is why adoption rates plummetted when IVF became more widely used.

Posted by: Michael at April 28, 2005 4:48 PM

Mike S: ... these are two distinct issues: 1) whether the existence of homosexual individuals provides societal benefits (and is the reason homosexuality persists), and 2) whether engaging in homosexual acts is morally acceptable.

Let's say you hold (1) and/or (2) to be false. That is reason enough to believe that positive policies toward gays are unjustified. By "positive" I mean policies where the state proactively supports and honors the gay community. SSM falls into this category, in my opinion, as would, say, a Gay Pride commemorative postage stamp.

However, even if you believe (1) and (2) are both false, i.e. homosexuals provide no inherent social benefit and their sexual acts are immoral, it is still reasonable to oppose negative government policies toward gays. By "negative" I mean those that proactively punish homosexuals, such as the recently overturned Texas sodomy statute or a ban on gay schoolteachers. The military's anti-gay policy could also be considered "negative", though not as obviously.

I maintain that if we are to "agree to disagree" on Mike's two questions, the rules of engagement in a democracy require the approach outlined above:

a) positive, proactively pro-gay policies should only be adopted when they have majority support.

b) negative, proactively anti-gay policies cannot be justified regardless of their popularity.

Of course, I am convinced that both of Mike's propositions are true, so I'm starting on a design for that postage stamp!

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 28, 2005 5:21 PM

Matt,

"I maintain that if we are to "agree to disagree" on Mike's two questions, the rules of engagement in a democracy require the approach outlined above:

a) positive, proactively pro-gay policies should only be adopted when they have majority support.

b) negative, proactively anti-gay policies cannot be justified regardless of their popularity."

I see shades of John Rawls here - you want to define the rules so that only your views are valid in the debate. a) should be true regardless of the truth of 1) or 2), because that is how our system of government works. b) depends first of all on what the statute is. You yourself indicated this by distinguishing between schoolteachers and the military. But more importantly, b) relies on whether or not 2) is true or not. You are saying that the answer to 2) is irrelevant to any public policy, which is effectively deciding 2) in favor of homosexual behavior. It's like the drug wars: people differ on the morality of recreational drug use, and they differ on the right legal regime for them. You can't just say, "let's agree to disagree about the morality of drug use, but rule out any punitive laws regarding their use". The law is not some entity independent of morality - it conforms to and/or supports a particular moral view. If the question at hand is "how serious a moral violation is recreational drug use", you can't rule out laws against it a priori. Likewise with policies that discriminate against homosexuals.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 28, 2005 5:37 PM

The law is not some entity independent of morality - it conforms to and/or supports a particular moral view.

Be careful what you ask for ... your view of morality and the law sounds to me like "winner take all". If someday most of the public has a favorable view of gays, that could put you and like-minded conservatives on the receiving end of "negative" government policies. I for one would oppose such policies, but there are plenty of overzealous, anti-Christian left wingers who would relish the opportunity.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 28, 2005 5:53 PM
Be careful what you ask for ... your view of morality and the law sounds to me like "winner take all".

You're absolutely right. Next thing you know, prayers will be banned from football games, Ten Commandments monuments will be banned from public land, and people will be able to kill their unborn children on the theory that they aren't really "persons." We religious folks ought to watch what sort of precedent we set!

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 28, 2005 6:11 PM

...prayers will be banned from football games, Ten Commandments monuments will be banned from public land, and people will be able to kill their unborn children on the theory that they aren't really "persons."

All these are policies which I oppose, by the way. Exclusion of all religious statements from government property is itself a religious statement, and is therefore unconstitutional -- not that the Supreme Court cares what I think.

The point isn't that there's a quid pro quo on the specific issue of religion and homosexuality, but that, in general, a purely majoritarian approach to government erodes civil society. If the winner takes all, then the only thing that matters is winning -- to say "I'm right because I beat you" is a particularly destructive form of moral relativism.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 28, 2005 6:46 PM

Michael, since i quoted you on another blog today, it's only fair that i respond with that post:

There is an undercurrent of Marxism behind so much of this talk. On another blog this week, someone commented that “children are no longer heirs or later-life caregivers”. Besides being mostly incorrect, the observation itself points to the fact that more and more adults are unable able to rely on their children and grandchildren later in life – instead relying on social security and other government entitlements to cover the responsibilities that extended families typically take for granted.

I think there is a complimentary mechanism at work here – by undermining the strong support network of the unbroken and extended family, more and more citizens become reliant on government to meet their needs as they age. Because your step-children and estranged grandchildren just won’t display the sense of loyalty and duty that your own kids would/should.

It's all part of the plan. Hook line and sinker. Why do you think liberals and democrats and socialists are all so gung behind divorce, abortion, gay liberation, and welfare? Because they ALL work to undermine the very Family that is at the heart of the self-reliant spirit that made America great. We'll need a nanny state, when mothers are fathers and fathers are irrelevant. They're counting on it.

Posted by: Marty at April 28, 2005 8:33 PM

Matt,

"Be careful what you ask for ... your view of morality and the law sounds to me like "winner take all"."

I'm not sure how you came to this interpretation of what I said. All I was saying was that the law, whatever it is, is not morally neutral. The law makes a moral statement about a particular action. Also, there is a preexisting moral law that the law should conform to. You see positive results when it does, and negative results when it doesn't.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 29, 2005 9:34 AM

Because they ALL work to undermine the very Family that is at the heart of the self-reliant spirit that made America great.

Gay liberation does not "undermine the Family", whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. All I know is that our current laws are undermining my family.

Gay rights is a good thing. It is the right thing. It's like nuclear energy. It's bad only in the wrong hands. Whether you like it or not, gay rights is a necessity for a free society. Now the question is, are you going to let the conservatives model how it's going to go or are you going to leave it in the hands of the liberals, which is like letting Iran be allowed to enrich their own uranium...

Posted by: Michael at April 29, 2005 10:05 AM

Michael, that's a fair question. I like the conservative option when it comes to conserving and strengthening marriage. If it will take amendments to constitutions, so be it. The more I hear how civil union is being portrayed as a stepping stone to the replacement of marriage, the less inclined I am to expect society to support it. The truth will out.

Some bundle of governmental incidents and benefits for nonsexual domestic partnerships would help millions of homes. In particular grandparents raising grandchildren; and adult children caring for elderly relatives and friends.

Instead, it looks more and more like the SSM kerfuffle is going to derail such advancement and undermine those millions of families. Is that the option you suggest we embrace rather than the conservative defence of marriage? It is too much like blackmail or like wreckless driving, in my view.

--

Michael, earlier you made a few quantitative claims about adoption. Could you please provide your source(s)? I ask because according to the Census Bureau and other reliable and authoritative sources, and my own firsthand experience, your assertions appear to be incorrect by large margins.


>> Michael: "[Gays] are the highest adoptors of minority children because no one else wants them."

I'm very skeptical of both parts of that assertion. Do you have reliable data on the adoption rate of homosexual adoptors?


>> Michael: "Most people [do] not adopt to supplement their natural born children..."

In my exprience, at least one-half of adoptive parents want to provide an additional sibling for children already in their home. This is not the main reason, but it is highly prevalent especially among couples who experience secondary infertility late in their reproductive years. This idea of "supplementing" is also very common where remarriage has occured (my experience is more with widows and widowers than with divorcees) and where step-parenting or "second-parenting" is an option.

According to Census data, of all the households that include adopted children just 1.8% include ONLY adopted children. In other words, about 98% have some mix of adopted children, stepchildren, and so-called "biological" children.

Said another way, about 95% of all the population of adopted children (both formally and informally adopted) in our country reside in homes that include other children born to their parents. Note that more than half of all adoptions are by step-parents and many such blended families have children borne of second marriages.


>> Michael: "Most people [do] not adopt ... out of the sheer goodness of their hearts (although I'm sure this plays a role)."

That's difficult to understand. What do you mean?


>> Michael: "Most people adopt to fix their individual procreative issues. Which is why adoption rates plummetted when IVF became more widely used."

Adoption rates have fallen due to the increased likelihood that live-born children will be kept by their unwed mothers (as lone parents or in cohabitation). The increased prevalence of contraceptive use and, tragically, the increased abortion rates have also reduced the availability of young children for adoption.

These are much more significant trends than IVF use which has helped to concieve less than 1/3rd of 1% of all children in the country.

Did you mean to say that IVF has caused a fall in the adoption rate for the homosexual segment of the population?

---------

Sources generally available; can post here or send by email on request.

Posted by: Chairm Ohn at April 29, 2005 10:47 AM

Mike S: I'm not sure how you came to this interpretation of what I said. All I was saying was that the law, whatever it is, is not morally neutral.

OK, I agree on that much (that the law is not morally neutral). It is a question of justifying the hardships imposed on citizens who are out of step with the majority moral view. That is why I separated "positive" measures from "negative" measures.

If the government enacts a positive measure, some citizens may be annoyed, but they will not be harmed in any tangible way. Negative measures, on the other hand, reach out and deprive citizens of their property or liberty. This cannot be justified on the basis of moral disapproval alone -- there must be an issue of demonstrable harm to the public.

In the case of addictive narcotics, criminal penalties are justified because drug addiction is a clear danger to the health and safety of the addict and those around him.

In contrast, consider the problem of overeating. It is acceptable for the law to take a moral position against overating by promoting a healthy diet, encouraging exercise and other "positive" measures. However, it is not justifiable to criminally prosecute overweight people, because they do not pose an imminent threat to the public.

If you believe that homosexual acts are immoral, they are more parallel to the overeating example than to drug addiction. These acts, as long as they are between consenting adults, do not threaten public safety. So the government could make some kind of disapproving statement about homosexual acts (though I sure wouldn't vote for it!) but criminal prosecution of homosexuals goes too far.

Even in the case of HIV/AIDS, the harshest action that could be justified would be closing down establishments where anonymous, unsafe sex takes place. This would apply to heterosexual venues, such as a house of prostitution, as well as homosexual venues.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 29, 2005 11:06 AM

Heads-up -- a correction.

>> Michael had said: "Most people [do] not adopt to supplement their natural born children..."

In my reply I described how in my experience about half of adoptive parents have other children. I also confused a key statistic and misstated that 1.8% of adopted children live in families that have only adopted children; that 1.8% is of ALL children, not just adopted children. My error was due in part to my haste with copy-and-paste from notes and with muddling-up the 18% stat that is mentioned below.

My apologies for the confusion in my previous comment. Clearly, I contradicted my own firsthand experience and overstated the proportions attributed the the Census data..

The estimate I described from my own experience is much closer to the statistics reported by the Census Bureau which also notes that there is overlap between official and unofficial adoption and step-parenting. All of these are types of adoptive relationships that are captured in the Census estimates.

Correction:

According to Census 2000, 4,878,000 children were being raised by householders who were adoptive parents or step-parents. This represents about 7.5% of all children of householders. Of these children, about 83% lived in homes that included some configuration of adopted children, stepchildren, and the "biological" children of the householders.

About 816,700 children (17%) lived in families that reported ONLY adopted children. Another 870,400 (18%) lived with parents who had other children at home. Put another way: more than half of the children who were reported as adopted also had non-adopted siblings.

So a significant minority (17%) of children with adoptive families (formally or informally) have parents with no stepchildren and no "biological" children.

It is possible that some portion of this smaller group of parents may NOT have added to their own children through adoption, as Michael described it, but most adoptive parents have either stepchildren or adopted children with other nonadopted children.

---

In the end, Michael's assertion is also very likely incorrect when it comes to homosexual adults who have adopted, given that most same-sex households already have children from previously procreative relationships with persons of their opposite sex. And the availability of "second-parent" adoptions (i.e. step-like relationships) in some states would contribute significantly to estimates of adoptions among homosexual adults.

Posted by: Chairm at April 30, 2005 8:55 AM

Earlier, c_matt said, "The whole point of making the state recognize SSM is to force everyone else to recognize them as well. In that sense, SSM is not a private matter (otherwise, most people would not care)."

Yep.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 30, 2005 7:15 PM

Matt,

"It is a question of justifying the hardships imposed on citizens who are out of step with the majority moral view. That is why I separated "positive" measures from "negative" measures."

"b) negative, proactively anti-gay policies cannot be justified regardless of their popularity."

"If the government enacts a positive measure, some citizens may be annoyed, but they will not be harmed in any tangible way. Negative measures, on the other hand, reach out and deprive citizens of their property or liberty. This cannot be justified on the basis of moral disapproval alone -- there must be an issue of demonstrable harm to the public."

Punishment for breaking laws always balances the severity of the act and the harm to society with the hardship imposed upon the perpetrator. You are making the familiar libertarian "no-harm" argument for laws. The problem is that you define "harm" too narrowly, I think.

"In contrast, consider the problem of overeating. It is acceptable for the law to take a moral position against overating by promoting a healthy diet, encouraging exercise and other "positive" measures. However, it is not justifiable to criminally prosecute overweight people, because they do not pose an imminent threat to the public.

If you believe that homosexual acts are immoral, they are more parallel to the overeating example than to drug addiction. These acts, as long as they are between consenting adults, do not threaten public safety. So the government could make some kind of disapproving statement about homosexual acts (though I sure wouldn't vote for it!) but criminal prosecution of homosexuals goes too far."

I agree that it is interesting to compare and contrast drug use, overeating, and homosexual activity (you could throw in alcohol use as well). In the case of alcohol, we found out that banning it wasn't worth the cost of enforcing it. There was actually enough support for banning it that we could pass a Constitutional amendment, yet it wasn't a workable ban. Some people make similar arguments with regard to recreational drugs nowadays. One of the key differences with overeating is the immediateness of the harm: getting drunk or high can cause immediate problems, whereas overeating only causes problems over time.

Another interesting aspect of these types of discussions is that our society defines 'harm' in a very medical, physical way. We tend to not consider moral or spiritual harm in the way we used to. This is most prevalent in the debates over sex ed. We also tend to think of things very individualistically - "if he wants to do that, we shouldn't stop him." But we don't consider the larger social messages that laws send - laws against public drunkenness, for example, discourage people from getting drunk in public because we don't want people to do this on a regular basis. This results in individuals occasionally suffering hardship even though they haven't physically harmed themselves or anyone else. I think in the case of homosexual sex, there used to be more consensus that there was spiritual and moral harm associated with it, and that it was important to discourage it publicly. Now such consensus doesn't exist, so I tend to agree that anti-sodomy laws (especially ones targeted solely at homosexuals) are not feasible, even if I generally agree with the moral sentiment behind them.

"Even in the case of HIV/AIDS, the harshest action that could be justified would be closing down establishments where anonymous, unsafe sex takes place. This would apply to heterosexual venues, such as a house of prostitution, as well as homosexual venues."

Here's a thought experiement: if we could go back in time to 1980, and enact and/or rigorously enforce anti-sodomy laws, including closing down bath houses (and brothels), would it have reduced the AIDS epidemic significantly? Would the hardships faced by gays under this regime have been balanced out by the lives saved (including, obviously, many of the same people inconvenienced by said laws)?

Just to be clear, I'm not one of those people who think that AIDS is God's plague on gays for their immoral behavior. But I do think that STDs in general are an example of how following the moral law results in healthy individuals and societies, while violating the moral law has consequences.

Posted by: Mike S. at April 30, 2005 7:48 PM

if we could go back in time to 1980, and enact and/or rigorously enforce anti-sodomy laws, including closing down bath houses (and brothels), would it have reduced the AIDS epidemic significantly?

Many cities took a similar approach to that you suggest, and it was the gay community themselves who advocated shutting down those establishments. The issue at hand was not the morality of homosexual vs. heterosexual acts, but protecting public health.

These efforts did not find anti-sodomy laws useful, since they are too crude an instrument. Such laws criminalize all gay sex, monogamous and promiscuous alike, so they offer no incentive to the homosexual to avoid multiple partners.

Mike S: You are making the familiar libertarian "no-harm" argument for laws. The problem is that you define "harm" too narrowly, I think. ... our society defines 'harm' in a very medical, physical way. We tend to not consider moral or spiritual harm in the way we used to.

Moral or spiritual harm is very difficult to objectively measure. Judgements of conscience are involved that vary widely, so that it would be nearly impossible to reach a decisive "finding of fact" for moral or spiritual harm. In contrast, harm to physical health or property can be determined very clearly.

It is the uncertainty of non-tangible harms that makes them insufficient for criminal penalties. There is no uncertainty that jail time, fines, confiscation of property, etc. do harm to the convicted offender. In such cases, the punishment does not fit the crime -- the certain harm of criminal punishment is disproportionate to the uncertain harm of intangible crimes.

One further note on the issue of spiritual harm ... it could well be that a scornful social attitude toward gays is spiritually harmful to ALL people. It reinforces the false belief that evil is something outside of ones self, to be defeated through conflict.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at April 30, 2005 9:59 PM
It is the uncertainty of non-tangible harms that makes them insufficient for criminal penalties.

So what about well-intentioned sexual behavior with minors? Where's the tangible harm? I don't use the example lightly; from where I stand, society appears to me to be in an extended project of justifying each step with further steps — redefining harm so as to deny that it has been done. From the other direction, what evidence do you have, or what argument can you make, that "moral or spiritual harm is very difficult to objectively measure"? I'd wager that I could come up with at least as valid an argument that "jail time, fines, confiscation of property" are not so clearly objective harms.

it could well be that a scornful social attitude toward gays is spiritually harmful to ALL people

Why does disapproval have to be "scornful"?

It reinforces the false belief that evil is something outside of ones self, to be defeated through conflict.

How is evil to be defeated, then? Through acquiescence?

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 30, 2005 11:04 PM

So what about well-intentioned sexual behavior with minors? Where's the tangible harm?

The tangible harm is in the violation of the child's physical person. A child is not able to meaningfully consent to sex, so an adult who molests a child is practicing a form of rape.

what evidence do you have, or what argument can you make, that "moral or spiritual harm is very difficult to objectively measure"?

Spiritual harm as it pertains to the afterlife is a matter of faith, since we have no other route to understand what happens after death. I think you will agree it is difficult to arrive at objective conclusions in this area through worldly evidence alone, or at least that reasonable people arrive at many different conclusions.

Spiritual or moral harm in the here and now is more accessible, but still hard to quantify. We can recognize gross spiritual harm, such as would be observed in a child who is regularly abused. However, the spiritual effects that some would ascribe to homosexual behavior are more subtle. For example, here is such a description from your original post:

In one swoop, the meaning of sex has not only engulfed the significance of gender, but also installed the individual as the definer of roles in a relativist process of blending what one wishes to do and be with a self-assessment of what one is "good" at doing and being.

This is a complex analysis that would be very difficult to demonstrate with empirical evidence. Even if the philisophical shift you suggest were seen in a homosexual person, how would you go about proving that it was commission of homosexual acts that led to the shift? That kind of proof is needed to eliminate "reasonable doubt", as a criminal conviction requires in our justice system.

Why does disapproval have to be "scornful"?

Disapproval does not have to be scornful. For all the acrimony that gays hurl at President Bush, I think he is very much in that category -- he always seems to avoid scornful language, even while expressing disapproval of homosexuality.

How is evil to be defeated, then? Through acquiescence?

There is "external" evil that has to be combatted, but it's human nature to let that distract us from our own flaws. Like the Kantian argument that was made earlier -- if everyone tended to their own moral perfection, there would be no external evil out there to fight. Also we see that the worst evils are always committed when the attacker convinces himself that the victim is the evil one.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at May 1, 2005 12:23 AM

Mike S.:"if we could go back in time to 1980, and enact and/or rigorously enforce anti-sodomy laws, including closing down bath houses (and brothels), would it have reduced the AIDS epidemic significantly?"

Matt's response:"Many cities took a similar approach to that you suggest, and it was the gay community themselves who advocated shutting down those establishments. The issue at hand was not the morality of homosexual vs. heterosexual acts, but protecting public health."

But not in 1980, which was before we all even heard about AIDS. So had it been done in 1980, as in Mike's "thought experiment", it would have been before we knew the deadly consequences of unrestricted bathhouse sex. Hence the reason for closing bathhouses, at this time, could not have been sold as one of public health, or at least the public health link would not have been proven to an extent that would have satisfied those opposed to the closings. They would have decried the idea as being motivated primarily by anti-gay animus. But it would have saved many lives nevertheless (and had such action been taken even earlier it would have saved even more, as some who developed AIDS probably became exposed already in the 1970s).

But anyone proposing closing bathhouses in 1980 could not have known this for certain. They would have been met with cries of "Prove it before restricting our rights". Sound familiar?

I realize that there is a limit to the extent that we can restrict what people do on the grounds of possible disaster in the future. But in the case of SSM, it is not about restricting a right already recognized, but about not changing an institution to recognize something which has never been recognized before.

If SSM is enacted, and the cultural disaster many predict does occur, will those who advocated for SSM be willing to do anything to undo the damage?

Posted by: R.K. at May 1, 2005 1:35 AM

R.K.: I realize that there is a limit to the extent that we can restrict what people do on the grounds of possible disaster in the future. But in the case of SSM, it is not about restricting a right already recognized...

I am not talking about SSM, R.K. The policy in question is criminal prosecution of homosexuals who have sex, whether in a bathhouse or in their bedrooms.

[bath houses were not closed] in 1980, which was before we all even heard about AIDS. So had it been done in 1980, as in Mike's "thought experiment", it would have been before we knew the deadly consequences of unrestricted bathhouse sex.

If venues for unrestricted sex had been closed, as Mike's thought experiment suggests, lives would have been saved, obviously. And you wouldn't have to be a psychic to suggest that policy before 1980 -- plenty of other dangerous STDs were known long before then.

This is still not an argument in favor of anti-sodomy laws, since the benefits achieved would be fortuitous. Those laws criminalize all homosexual relations, not just those with high risk of STD transmission, and they do NOT criminalize risky heterosexual behavior.

One could argue the saving of lives in the thought experiment is not fortuitous, since STDs are only one manifestation of violating the natural moral law. In this view, the natural law can be enforced without knowing the specific ill effects it prevents, because we know that it will almost certainly prevent SOMETHING bad from happening.

But you must then posit not only that an absolute natural law exists (with which I agree) but also that we know right where to find it and how to interpret it (with which I disagree). Even if you believe both these suppositions, you must sort out which among the various natural law frameworks held among the people is the one to be reflected in the law of the state. To select the one framework which the majority supports, and to construct the law on the assumption that it is complete and true, results in the "winner take all" outcome that I alluded to earlier in this thread.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at May 1, 2005 6:15 AM

>> Michael: "Moral or spiritual harm is very difficult to objectively measure."

Perhaps.

However in this discussion both you and Res Ipsa have voiced measurable assertions that do not appear to be factually accurate.

Niether of you have responded to requests for the sources of evidence that led to your stated opinions on those topics.

The propaganda of gay activists has a distinguished history of bald assertions and wild exagerations.

Res Ipsa and Michael, if you are not propagandizing but would apply objective standards, please provide sources as per previous requests in this discussion.

Posted by: Chairm at May 1, 2005 6:22 AM

It is my understanding that the bathhouses were NOT closed until the AIDs crisis was well underway, and even then they were closed against the wishes of the gay community who were more afraid of anti-gay stigma than death.

Correct me if i'm wrong.

Posted by: Marty at May 1, 2005 8:34 AM

I know I digressed a bit there, Matt. For the record, I am against prosecution of gays for having sex. At least, I am against enforcement of anti-sodomy laws as that requires invasion of privacy. As for the way that such laws are removed, I would much rather they had just quietly been dropped from the books (as they were in many states before Lawrence) than ruled unconstitutional in the way they were in Lawrence, which is going to be used to set precedents, "penumbras", and "emanations" far beyond the original issue.

However, having raised the issue of the bathhouses, I felt that they provided a general example of how the possibility of negative unforeseen consequences cannot be dismissed so easily. By the time we say "If only we had known", it is usually too late. So I guess the question I'd ask of SSM proponents (I don't mean you in particular, Matt; I appreciate that you are taking a middle-road position on this) is: would they have supported shutting down the bathhouses in 1980, not yet knowing what was going to come?

Posted by: R.K. at May 1, 2005 9:20 AM


Chairm said: >> Michael: "Moral or spiritual harm is very difficult to objectively measure."

Michael did not offer the quote you referenced, I (Matt) did.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at May 1, 2005 12:05 PM

Marty: It is my understanding that the bathhouses were NOT closed until the AIDs crisis was well underway,

That's my understanding too.

...and even then they were closed against the wishes of the gay community who were more afraid of anti-gay stigma than death.

Not so. Take the city of Minneapolis, for example. An ordinance was passed allowing police to close any establishment where the risk of AIDS transmission is high, with the blessing of (most of) the gay community.

Most gays agreed with this, but there are differences of opinion within the gay community on whether such places should be allowed to operate legally. At the extreme libertine end of the spectrum are the "Sex Panic!" people, who pretty much fit Marty's description, but they are a small minority.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at May 1, 2005 12:15 PM

The Heart follows the Hand.

Posted by: Fitz at May 1, 2005 1:34 PM

Matt,

But you must then posit not only that an absolute natural law exists (with which I agree) but also that we know right where to find it and how to interpret it (with which I disagree). Even if you believe both these suppositions, you must sort out which among the various natural law frameworks held among the people is the one to be reflected in the law of the state. To select the one framework which the majority supports, and to construct the law on the assumption that it is complete and true, results in the "winner take all" outcome that I alluded to earlier in this thread.

I don't quite understand what exactly you mean by "winner take all". I inferred earlier that you meant essentially the "tyranny of the majority", where 51% of the population gets to determine right and wrong. I just don't see this as a serious problem. Or more accurately, it's always been a problem, and we have figured out ways of dealing with it - and despite the existence of this problem we've been highly successfull as a country. You have to keep in mind that the vast majority of political systems have been and are less representative than ours: the typical problem is the tyranny (often literal) of the minority. The fact is there is no such thing as a human society where a minority can behave in ways that are too divergent from what the majority is willing to sanction. That's just reality.

If the natural law exists, then we must be able to discern it, at least in part. It is nonsensical to posit that a rational natural law exists, but it is inscrutable to human beings. So, for any given issue, we debate what the law should be, based upon natural law arguments, as well as other considerations, and we vote (or have our designated representatives vote). What, exactly, is the problem you see with this procedure?

Also, do you think the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are based on natural law principles, and do you think the authors agreed on what those principles were?

Posted by: Mike S. at May 1, 2005 9:12 PM

I don't quite understand what exactly you mean by "winner take all". I inferred earlier that you meant essentially the "tyranny of the majority", where 51% of the population gets to determine right and wrong.

Yes, tyranny of the majority is more or less what I meant by "winner take all".

Certainly, we must be able to make decisions about right and wrong or be morally paralyzed. The will of the majority is as good a means for making moral judgments (politically speaking) as we know of; it is certainly better than the whims of a dictatorial minority, as you pointed out.

In accepting majority rule, however, we risk the polar opposite of moral paralysis ... call it "moral hubris". That is where we become so overconfident in our collective moral judgement that we hold literally any law permissible when enough of the population supports it.*

I just don't see this as a serious problem. Or more accurately, it's always been a problem, and we have figured out ways of dealing with it - and despite the existence of this problem we've been highly successfull as a country.

America is very successful, but we have also made many tragic mistakes, many of them with popular support. It is human nature to be corrupted by absolute power, whether it is a single person, an elite minority, or a majority group within the population.

If the natural law exists, then we must be able to discern it, at least in part.

There are elements of the natural law in which almost everyone has strong confidence -- the immorality of murder, for example. The question is whether you believe our understanding of natural law is mostly complete, or is just the tip of the iceberg. I hold the latter.

--------------------------------------------
*I am NOT arguing for giving more power to the courts. Judges are human, and are just as susceptible to the temptation of power as anyone else.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at May 1, 2005 10:32 PM

Mike S: Also, do you think the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are based on natural law principles, and do you think the authors agreed on what those principles were?

These documents are very strongly tied to the concept of natural law, especially "all men are endowed with their Creator by certain inalienable rights". No, I don't think everyone agreed what those principles really meant, because some of them hoped it would mean emancipation of the slaves, and that's not what we got until some 80 years later.

Posted by: Matt Taylor at May 1, 2005 10:37 PM

Some bundle of governmental incidents and benefits for nonsexual domestic partnerships would help millions of homes. In particular grandparents raising grandchildren; and adult children caring for elderly relatives and friends.

Instead, it looks more and more like the SSM kerfuffle is going to derail such advancement and undermine those millions of families. Is that the option you suggest we embrace rather than the conservative defence of marriage? It is too much like blackmail or like wreckless driving, in my view.

Those examples you cite above are independent of the marriage issue. If you want to have protections for non-related and non-romantic individuals, then I'm in favor of that. My relationship with my partner does not fall under that category of relationship. If you feel the need to backlash against gays with a constitutional amendment, any problem that comes stems from that is not the fault of the minority population seeking equal treatment under the law.

About 816,700 children (17%) lived in families that reported ONLY adopted children. Another 870,400 (18%) lived with parents who had other children at home. Put another way: more than half of the children who were reported as adopted also had non-adopted siblings.

This is completely irrelevent to the point that I was making. According to adoptioninstitute.org fact sheet, "In one study, more than 80% of those adopting independently or through a private agency responded that the inability to have a biological child was the reason they chose to adopt. By contrast, only half of those adopting from foster care cited infertility as the reason for their decision."

Just because a couple has both adopted children and biological children does not mean that the underlying motivation for adopting was not infertility. I have a friend who is adopted, but his older sister is natural child of his parents; after hjs sister was born his mother was unable to conceive. To say that the other 83% of adopted children who live with parents who have biological children were adopted purely without any motivation to substitute procreation desires is misleading.

So I stand by my statements that adoption is primarily entered into by couples or individuals wishing to replace normal procreation. The upshot, of course, is that orphaned children get to have parents.

Posted by: Michael at May 2, 2005 10:46 AM

So I guess the question I'd ask of SSM proponents (I don't mean you in particular, Matt; I appreciate that you are taking a middle-road position on this) is: would they have supported shutting down the bathhouses in 1980, not yet knowing what was going to come?

I'll bite: no, I wouldn't have supported it because I believe that people should take responsibility for their actions. Closing bathhouses would not alleviate the problem of anonymous, promiscuous sex. Only education can do that. The AIDS epidemic could have been curtailed if both the gay community and the government had been more forthcoming with information on what was going on.

Asking that question, R.K., is a set-up. The real question is one of whether or not anonymous, consenting sex is immoral (I believe it is) and whether or not the government should be allowed to tell a private institution what it can and cannot allow on its property (I believe that they don't). This is not to say that we shouldn't *encourage* them to be shut down.

Posted by: Michael at May 2, 2005 11:03 AM

Michael, how can you on one hand say that "people should take responsibility for their actions" while on the other hand maintain that "gays are seeking equal treatment under the law"?

As far as marriage is concerned, gays ARE treated equally under the law. That is precisely the problem, isn't it! If you took responsibility for your own actions you would note that you and your partner are disqualified from marrying each other, and go on your merry way.

Posted by: Marty at May 2, 2005 6:50 PM

Michael, thanks for the additional info and clarification.

>> Michael: "Just because a couple has both adopted children and biological children does not mean that the underlying motivation for adopting was not infertility."

Earlier you said that most adoptive parents did not "supplement their natural-born children". That does not apply to step-parents and it does not apply to most of the subfertile couples who have adopted.

But we can agree that couples who experience secondary subfertility (i.e. they already have one or more children) are likely to have an "underlying motivation" that has something to do with their inability to produce more offspring. Likewise, childless man-woman couples who experience subfertility and sterility. We might also agree that single individuals acting alone may be partly motivated in this way. As perhaps are many same-sex twosomes who'd adopt children.

However, it seems you want to go further and claim something about the primary motivation of *most* adoptive parents.


>> Michael: "I stand by my statements that adoption is primarily entered into by couples or individuals wishing to replace normal procreation."

Millions of step-parents and millions of grandparents (raising their grandchildren) account for two-thirds of the adoptive homes in our country. Don't tell me that you reject the proposition that most of these people are altruistically motivated? Don't tell me that you think they are primarily motivated by a wish to replace normal procreation.


>> Michael: According to adoptioninstitute.org fact sheet, "In one study, more than 80% of those adopting independently or through a private agency responded that the inability to have a biological child was the reason they chose to adopt. By contrast, only half of those adopting from foster care cited infertility as the reason for their decision."

Note: "adopting independently or through a private agency".

The survey was done in California where the vast majority of adoptions were public, and not independent and not private. The share of public adoptions has steadily increased since 1996 when the survey was conducted.

The distinction is relevant because the demand for infants and toddlers is greater than the supply in the public system. Thus, couples who choose out-of-country adoptions will utilize independent sources. Many private agencies specialize in such adoptions. Domestically, private agencies associated with churches, for example, will favor married subfertile couples. So the 80% figure you quoted was drawn from a pool of adoptors more likely to be dominated by those unable to produce their own offspring.

And although that survey's sample under-represented step-parents and grandparents and other unofficial kinship adoptors, it still found that half of public adoptors had some primary reason to adopt other than infertility.

If you downgrade your assertion from "primary motivation" for most to an "underlying motivation" for a signficant minority, you'd be closer to the truth.

Still, a broader point can be made here. Adoption mimics procreation in formation of a family. Most subfertile couples favor attempts with ARTs over adoption. And most adoptive parents favor adoption of young children over older children. This reflects a general societal preference for the procreative model.

Where the adoptors are married the imitation of procreation is closer. Less so where the couple is beyond childbearing age or where they are unmarried. And less so again where the adoptors are single individuals -- and less so yet again if such individuals are not open to marriage with their opposite sex.

A single individual who is closed to marriage, like a same-sex twosome, would be further yet -- and outside of the procreative model which provides a child with both a mom and a dad.

Michael, you made other quantitative assertions about the adoption of minorities.

Posted by: Chairm at May 2, 2005 10:36 PM

Michael: "I'll bite: no, I wouldn't have supported it because I believe that people should take responsibility for their actions. Closing bathhouses would not alleviate the problem of anonymous, promiscuous sex. Only education can do that. The AIDS epidemic could have been curtailed if both the gay community and the government had been more forthcoming with information on what was going on."

What? Are you saying that the bathhouses did not fan the flames of the AIDS crisis at all? Does anyone really believe that?

I'm sorry to put it like this, Michael, but are you in denial or are you dancing around the question and its implications?

"Asking that question, R.K., is a set-up. The real question is one of whether or not anonymous, consenting sex is immoral (I believe it is) and whether or not the government should be allowed to tell a private institution what it can and cannot allow on its property (I believe that they don't). This is not to say that we shouldn't *encourage* them to be shut down."

OK, but why do you think anonymous, promiscuous sex is immoral? Just because of tradition? Or could it be that it has highly undesirable effects, as the spread of AIDS demonstrated?

What I'm getting at, of course, is that many things which may seem like just silly traditions to us in the modern age may, in fact, have very real practical reasons for their existence, even though such reasons may not become obvious until a while after the tradition is abandoned. I'm sure many who participated in, or advocated, anonymous bathhouse sex before 1980 thought that moral opposition to it was just based on outmoded tradition and superstition.

Now, there is a separate question about who should have had the responsibility of closing them. I'm not saying it should have been the responsibility of the federal government; this role certainly should have fell on municipalities (and ideally, of course, on the establishments themselves), not on Washington. But this is a question of politics, not of consequences. Somebody should have closed the bathhouses before they became a conduit in the spread of AIDS. If tradition and morality were the only reasons apparent at the time, people should have asked if perhaps the basis of these just may have been a practical one, related to ancient observations of cobnsequences.

And they should ask the same questions about same-sex marriage, an idea which is not at all new, but for some reason has never taken root in any successful culture.

Posted by: R.K. at May 2, 2005 11:10 PM

cobnsequences=consequences, of course; sorry.

Posted by: R.K. at May 2, 2005 11:14 PM

>> Michael: "If you want to have protections for non-related and non-romantic individuals, then I'm in favor of that. My relationship with my partner does not fall under that category of relationship."

The same-sex twosome may well share some secondary aspects with the married relationship.

However, domestic partnership between unrelated people would be a form of adoptive kinship between adults; and since the arrangement can also be useful for related but unmarriagable combinations, such as a son and his elderly mother, or a grandmother and her young daughter and grandchildren. There are millions more in these scenarios who'd benefit from a legal arrangement that would distinguish marriage from some form of domestic partnership that excludes the presumption of sexual relations. That is necessary because, in part, society will want to maintain the line against unlawful incestuous relationships -- as interconnected with marriagability but applied both inside and outside of marriage; marriagable couples would be prohibited from the domestic partnership arrangement.


>> Michael: "If you feel the need to backlash against gays with a constitutional amendment, any problem that comes stems from that is not the fault of the minority population seeking equal treatment under the law."

That you immediately assume that "backlash" (i.e. support for marriage) is anti-gay a reflection of the SSM argument's main plank: to defend marriage vigorously against enactment of SSM is not a legitimate response to the demands of radical reformers.

What would be a legitimate response, in your view? Amendment of constitutions seems to be the least that society can do to defend marriage against the tyranny of the minority.

Someone in the comments section of familyscholars.org said this clearly: marriage is a special relationship that gets preferential treatment in our society; this is reflected in our laws. The argument for SSM is not really about expanding marriage, but about expanding homosexual relations (and all same-sex arrangements regardless of orientation).

Thought experiment: take marriage off the table altogether. Does the relationship of the same-sex twosome -- independent of so-called equality claims -- justify preferred legal status? For that matter, what is the justification for laws that establish any adult relationship as preferred? Is it romance that would prompt the state's hand?

It seems to me that the SSM argument really amounts to a call for some form of domestic partnership that is distinguishable from marriage. And that arrangement need not be modelled on the homosexual relationship.

Posted by: Chairm at May 3, 2005 7:04 AM
Mike S: Also, do you think the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are based on natural law principles, and do you think the authors agreed on what those principles were?

Matt: These documents are very strongly tied to the concept of natural law, especially "all men are endowed with their Creator by certain inalienable rights". No, I don't think everyone agreed what those principles really meant, because some of them hoped it would mean emancipation of the slaves, and that's not what we got until some 80 years later.

This is my point: we don't have to discern the totality of the natural law, and we don't have to have unanimity on what it is, in order to fashion laws that are in accord with what we do know and can agree on. I do not think arguing that the truth is too opaque for us to discover, or too contentious for us to agree on, is reasonable or in accord with our political history.

Posted by: Mike S. at May 3, 2005 11:28 AM

"Closing bathhouses would not alleviate the problem of anonymous, promiscuous sex. Only education can do that."

Oh, please. People's drives and desires overcome their rationality all the time. Education can help sometimes, but it's not a panacea. This perspective highlights the situation I was discussing with Matt: our society equates education with technical knowledge. If people know what HIV is, how it is spread, and various methods of reducing the risk of catching it, then they will adopt those methods, is how the thinking goes. But nobody thinks that education can include moral education - education about abstinence, education about the spiritual harm caused by promiscuous sexual activity, education about virtue.

Posted by: Mike S. at May 3, 2005 12:05 PM

I do not think arguing that the truth is too opaque for us to discover, or too contentious for us to agree on, is reasonable or in accord with our political history.

That's not really what I'm saying, just that the effort to discover the truth is nontrivial, and a work in progress.

That said, I am having serious doubts about doubtfulness after reading Justin's latest post ("Both-And, a Balance of Powers").

** opinions under construction **

Posted by: Matt Taylor at May 3, 2005 12:34 PM

"** opinions under construction **"

Hey, aren't they all (I mean all opinions, not just yours)? That's why they call them opinions, not facts... ;)

Posted by: Mike S. at May 3, 2005 4:08 PM

I'm educated enough to know that cigarettes will likely kill me in the end. Still...

(oops, i probably just ruined any chance of my heirs suing Philip Morris for millions, what with google-cache & all...)

Posted by: Marty at May 3, 2005 7:47 PM

Here's one to file in the "there go the Europeans" file...

I'm sure Matt, Michael, et al. will say they disagree with this prosecution, and that we have no cause to worry about such things happening here, but perhaps they can understand our (those opposed to SSM) apprehensions a little when we keep seeing stories like this out of Canada and Europe.

Posted by: Mike S. at May 3, 2005 10:07 PM

>> Michael: "[Gays] are the highest adoptors of minority children because no one else wants them."

There are two parts to this assertion.

1. That more adoptions of minority children are made by gays than by non-gays.

2. That no one else wants minority children.

Michael, can you back-up these quantitative claims?

We may again be dealing with significant differences in the meaning of common terms. Could you clarify your meaning of the following?

A. "highest adoptors"
B. "minority children"

>> Michael: "If there were scores of opposite-sex married couples lined up to adopt minority children then I'd be the first person to step aside."

We agree that married couples ought to be given higher priority in adoption. Why do you think there is a shortage of such couples?

>> Res Ipsa: "Research shows...."

Could you please provide the source(s) for the four quantitative claims you have made earlier in the discussion? If not, please concede the degree to which you have misrepresented speculation as fact.

Posted by: Chairm at May 4, 2005 1:58 PM

I think you are tilting at windmills, Chairm.

Posted by: Mike S. at May 4, 2005 3:55 PM

There are two parts to this assertion.

1. That more adoptions of minority children are made by gays than by non-gays.

2. That no one else wants minority children.

Michael, can you back-up these quantitative claims?

Your interpetations of my assertions are incorrect. I meant that, as a group, gays adopt a higher percentage of minorty and special needs children than any other group, specifically white married heterosexuals, who often use private agencies.

There are no good statistics on gay adoption because often there has been a don't ask/don't tell policy about the sexual orientation of the adopting parents. Therefore I made certain assumptions. One, there is a disproportionate number of blacks and hispanics in foster care who aren't being adopted, compared to white children. Many private adoption agencies, especially those run by religious organizations, will not allow gays to adopt. According to a recent Rutgers study, public agencies and agencies specializing in placing older minority children and children with special needs are much more open to gays adopting than their private counterparts. Consequently, gays are ideal candidates for minority adoption.

Posted by: Michael at May 4, 2005 4:57 PM

Michael, thanks for the clarifications. Can you provide a citation for the Rutgers study?

Correct me if I'm mistaken: you are asserting that --

1. Some agencies specialize in placement of minority children and special needs children; and these specialist agencies tend to be more open to gay adoptors than are the agencies which do not specialize in placement of this subset of foster children.

And from this you infer that --

2. Of the population of foster children adopted by gays, a larger share are minority and special needs children than is found in the population of children adopted by non-gays.

The way you sketched out your reasoning leads me to believe you are misinformed about adoption of foster children in our country. For instance, I suspect you may be confusing domestic minorities with foreign adoptions in your estimations.

Most foster children are adopted by married couples (and the share of married adoptors of other children is even higher). Most black and hispanic adoptors were related to the children prior to adoption; this accounts for a large portion of single women who adopt minorities. Adoption attitude surveys clearly show that for prospective white adoptors, race and age are the least important factors. Also there are almost as many foreign adoptions (of all kinds of children) as there are adoptions of domestic foster children - which indicates that there are other larger problems in our system than potential bias against minorities and special needs children.

It is unclear what you meant by "gays are ideal candidates for minority adoption"; and no on else wants minority children.

Posted by: Chairm at May 5, 2005 12:11 AM

"One, there is a disproportionate number of blacks and hispanics in foster care who aren't being adopted, compared to white children."

That is driven at least in part (perhaps by a lot) by the ideological biases of the public adoption system - they favor placing children with parents of the same race. They think it's more important to place a black child with a black parent, even if they are single, than it is to put them with a married couple, if they are white.

Posted by: Mike S. at May 5, 2005 4:50 PM

Fair point, Mike S.

Here are a few snippets from the Adoption Institute's "National Adoption Attitudes Survey"

http://www.davethomasfoundationforadoption.org/
html/resource/study.asp

>> Overview: "Through the National Adoption Attitudes Survey we learned that nearly 40 percent of Americans have at some point considered adoption. That translates into more than 80 million adults. If we can inform, educate and support only a small percentage of these 80 million adults to move from thought to action, no child will grow up without a forever family."

>> Inter-racial adoption (1): "[S]ome Whites may decide not to adopt an African-American child because they are concerned about how that child (and they as the child’s parents) might be perceived by the African-American community. The same logic would also apply to African-Americans considering adopting a White child."

>> Inter-racial adoption (2): "Respondents, whether African-American or White, who think that inter-racial adoption is disapproved of by either African-Americans or Whites are less likely to be willing to adopt a child of a different race than themselves. Changing what people perceive as the climate of opinion about inter-racial adoption therefore would likely lead to an increase in inter-racial adoption."

---

Here's a graphic that illustrates some of the barriers to adoption in our system:

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/
images/bg1080c6.gif


>> According to Patrick F. Fagan (1): "In a 1980 study of black parents, sociology professor Robert Hill of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University estimated that three million black households are interested in adopting children. This translates into one hundred black families for every black child in foster care waiting for adoption. Given this potential, a pool of prescreened adoptive parents big enough to take care of the needs of black children represents an achievable goal."

>> Patrick F. Fagan (2): "Although the emphasis should be on making it easier for black families to adopt, blocking transracial adoptions just because the children are black and the parents are white discriminates against many needy black children because of race. Moreover, it does not increase the rate of in-race adoption."

>> Patrick F. Fagan (3): "Race matching can be achieved easily if there are enough prescreened adoptive parents. The difficulty lies not in the lack of parents but in the poor track record of public agencies in building a pool of black adoptive parents."

>> Patrick F. Fagan: "(1): "As well-run private agencies demonstrate, large pools of adoptive parents can be developed over time. Even pools of parents for "harder to place children" can be developed when the effort is made by a committed organization. For instance, Down's syndrome children are adopted quite quickly because there is a network of screened parents in place and ready to adopt. Similarly, a pool of parents ready to adopt HIV-positive babies has been developed by the National Council for Adoption."


Source: William H. G. FitzGerald Research Fellow in Family and Cultural Issues, The Heritage Foundation.

Backgrounder No. 1045, "Why Serious Welfare Reform Must Include Serious Adoption Reform," July 27, 1995.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/BG1080.cfm

Posted by: Chairm at May 10, 2005 5:40 PM