March 23, 2006

Distinguishing gay marriage and polygamy -- part 2.

We were just talking at great length on this topic, but William Saletan has a new piece in Slate, so let's do it again. As you may remember, I said the solid basis for distinguishing gay marriage and polygamy is economic: those seeking gay marriage only want the same set of economic advantages that is available to heterosexual couples, but polygamous groups seek more than the traditional share. Saletan takes a different approach:
The number isn't two. It's one. You commit to one person, and that person commits wholly to you. Second, the number isn't arbitrary. It's based on human nature. Specifically, on jealousy.
An obvious problem with Saletan's idea is that it relies on nature, which has long been a favorite source of argument for opponents of gay marriage. What do you say to the people who claim not to share what is the predominate characteristic that appears in nature? Most people are heterosexual, and most people are jealous if their partner isn't monogamous. Gay marriage proponents need to be able to say that the minority condition deserves respect.

***

By the way, in the third episode of "Big Love," polygamy is compared to homosexuality more than once: We're like homosexuals. Why was I able to watch Episode 3? For some reason, it was on HBO on Demand -- by mistake, I assume.

Hey, Margene -- the youngest wife on the show -- has a blog!
Thumbs Down. Was "Pirates of the Caribbean" supposed to be funny or not? It wasn't. It was annoying.

Panda bears or Koala bears? Who's cuter? A debate for the ages...
And I know this is a device to get bloggers to link and give them publicity, but I'm constantly giving them publicity anyway, and I think it's nice that HBO is speaking to us bloggers in our own language.

417 comments:

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Joan said...

Edward, if you linked to hard data -- not anecodotes -- that supported your position, I would read it. If you have linked to such studies before and I missed them, I'm sorry. To date, however, all of the evidence points to changing definitions of marriage leading to declines in the number of children growing up in traditional families.

I do not think I'm close-minded. Rather, I think I'm a realist, and I'm extremely nervous about social engineering. Out of the sexual revolution have come some positives, including expanded horizons for women, but the unintended consequences of the "free love" era have been plentiful and very painful. At the time when people were agitating for widely available birth control (not just for married couples), the Catholic Church among others warned against the type of society this would lead to, and lo and behold, they were right. Having separated sex and procreation, we as a culture have also abandoned the ideas of personal responsibility and respect.

You could not possibly change my mind about gay people, because my feelings about gay people is that they are more or less the same as any other people. I've known, lived with, and worked with gays since the day I moved away from my parents' house to go to college. My husbands only business partner is gay. I don't view them as second class citizens (although I will never understand that particular type of lesbian who introduces herself thus, "Hi, I'm K. I'm lesbian." It's on par with the guy who stares at your breasts when he's talking to you.)

While I wish my gay friends and gay former colleagues the best, I am still opposed to gay marriage. Marriage, by its very definition, is instituted by society for the getting and raising of children, not for the personal satisfaction of the couple. (I won't even get into sacramental marriage, since the idea of a same-sex sacramental marriage is a complete non-starter.)

So, don't talk to me about how wonderful and affluent and loving gay couples are. I'm sure some are, just as I'm sure some aren't. Yes, some gay couples want children, but many don't. Where's the data, where are the surveys that show what percentage of the gay population actually wants to get married, which is a separate question from how many want to see gay marriage legalized? I would be interested to know.

I admit that I am less than persuaded that homosexuality has a genetic base. A genetic predisposition, that I'd buy. But I've seen too many college-age homosexuals grow up to marry to believe that everyone who participates in a homosexual relationship is destined to be homosexual forever. And it's that fungibility of orientation that makes legislating for gays as a group so tricky.

As for what's happening today with rising illegitimacy rates: Continued welfare reform will fix most of the problems you identify.

I don't think so. As balfegor said, welfare is one of the contributing factors -- the State as father/head of household, in lieu of an actual male -- it is not the only cause. While teenage pregnancy rates are dropping, we're now seeing a rise in women in their 20s and 30s opting for single motherhood. They've given up looking for a suitable mate, and have decided to go it alone. It's not just that men have been socialized into thinking they're superfluous as anything more than a sperm donor, it's young women who have bought into this as well. And this is happening among whites as well as blacks.

Last, I must address these ideas:There is nothing inherent to gay marriage that will teach irresponsibility and aversion to marriage to young heterosexuals.
On the contrary, gay marriage will will teach that family and personal responsibility are expected of everyone.


I must disagree with you, particular among the blustering macho young men of the inner cities: anything adopted by gays is immediately mocked by them. If you've been around teenagers at all, you'll know that a more harshly judgemental group does not exist. By far the majority of young straight men would find the phrase "That's gay," a pejorative. There is no way that legalizing gay marriage would make it more appealing to the young men who are already most likely to reject marriage.

It's a really sweet idea that gay marriage will teach that everyone needs to be responsible to future generations, but it's a non sequitor: gay marriages can't, by definition, produce a future generation. I know, you can adopt, but are you seriously arguing that every gay couple -- or even the majority -- wants to marry so they can raise children together? I don't believe that. The sentiments you've expressed display a level of naivete that is surprising given all that you've expounded here.

Marghlar said...

Balfegor: I'm all for neo-confucianism, but I don't buy the argument that gay marriage (or gay relationships) disrupt it. Confucianism tolerated female homosexuality quite comfortably (within polygynous family units). And notions that we have filial duties to our family needn't dictate who our family can be (gay/straight/numbers) unless we are slavish about such things. I think a neo-confucianist need not be.

As to the arguments above seeking to use poor black (or otherwise) communities as evidence that gay marriage will devalue heterosexual marriage and somehow lead to the decline of Western civilization: y'all need to consider, and refute, the notion that what destabilizes these families is poverty, not unconventional family relationships. Just as Pogo's above totalitarian examples had big causation/correlation problems, so does this one. In fact, it teases out just what we mean when we talk about the decline of a civilization.

Does it mean declining birthrates? Well, then it's provably false by this example. Poor communities have consistently higher birthrates than wealthier communities. I'm pretty sure that the birthrate among impoverished African-Americans is well above the replacement threshhold. (I don't have direct statistics on this, but I can infer it from the fact that the number of African Americans has been increasing, both per capita and in whole numbers, for the last seventy years.)

Is it higher rates of crime or lower rates of education? Here, it is very hard to say that this is more likely to be caused by family structures, and not by being born into grinding poverty. Indeed, poverty is probably the most likely force that is destabilizing these family structures in the first place. It is significantly correlated with violence (a major cause of family breakdowns), with substance abuse (ditto) and with incarceration (ditto). So this argument seems to me to put the cart (unstable families) before the horse (poverty).

What else does the decline of Western civilization mean? Is it just that it doesn't look like it did two hundred years ago? If so, then I'll say that this "decline" is really a victory for truth and justice. We abolished slavery, and we enfranchised women and racial minorities. We are much, much less poor than we used to be. We work less hard, and have a much higher standard of living. That seems like progress, not a decline. And it has taken place as we have given up on many traditional forms of social relations.

Progress is a good thing, people. As a previous commenter said, (edward I think), protecting the rights of homosexuals is intimately linked with protecting the rights of women. Both have been strikingly absent for hundreds of years. Both needed changing -- we're just farther along one road than the other.

Geoduck: thanks for providing some info to back up my reckless assertion.

Marghlar said...

Joan said:

To date, however, all of the evidence points to changing definitions of marriage leading to declines in the number of children growing up in traditional families.

Show your work, Joan. What evidence is this? How did it isolate causation from correlation?

I'd really like to know.

Balfegor said...

Balfegor: I'm all for neo-confucianism, but I don't buy the argument that gay marriage (or gay relationships) disrupt it. Confucianism tolerated female homosexuality quite comfortably (within polygynous family units). And notions that we have filial duties to our family needn't dictate who our family can be (gay/straight/numbers) unless we are slavish about such things. I think a neo-confucianist need not be.

Gay marriage doesn't disrupt relationships in a Confucian framework -- it's just pointless in a Confucian framework. Marriage is many things, but under Confucianism, it has mostly been about children, especially a son. What's the point of marrying another man (or another woman, if you're a woman)?

There's no uniform Confucian position on homosexual relationships themselves, though. That I know of.

Marghlar said...

By evidence from bride books, Confucianism tolerated female homosexuality quite comfortably. As to the child rearing: modern homosexual couples can have a son by adoption or by the assistance of a third party (whether donating sperm or an egg + gestational services, depenidng on the gender of the gay couple). What's anti-confucian about that?

The only thing I can see would be the lack of a male/female dichotomy in the relationship, but that's based in notions of gender relations that I find objectionable in confucianism. I think a real neo-confucianist could find gay marriages that involve procreation or adoption quite acceptable.

Aspasia M. said...

Balfegor,

I think I understand - The fatalism/romantic statement is a worldview and an belief in the afterlife and kinship?


Isn't this really just a uniform enforcement issue? Because my sense is that enforcement of any law was pretty uneven throughout the 19th century.

Yes, in the sense that the District Attorney doesn't show up in cities until (usually) after 1850.

However, there was a system of prosecution and it's notable that the lack of state enforcement didn't change behavior.

In contrast, for example, Virginia did prosecute white women who bore mixed-race children under their miscegenation law. And men were prosecuted for breech-of-promise in civil suits. (default of marriage)

The extent to which marriage was was regulated by the state in practice is up for debate. (According to Hartog's thesis.)

After the Civil War criminal prosecution picks up for things like bigamy, adultery and criminal seduction. However, in certain states after the courts ruled that wives could not testify against their husbands in bigamy & adultery suits - this depressed the number of suits. (for obvious reasons.)

The prosecution of prostitution is a good example of how enforcement was very uneven in the 19th century. In some areas women were arrested for working at a bar & serving beer. (They were called "beer-jerkers." It was criminal for women to serve liquor in Missouri unless their husband's owned the saloon. Even if the woman owned the saloon, she could be arrested.)

Alas, the beer-jerker statute did not keep women from both working in bars, taverns and concert saloons. And, quite frankly, it didn't keep women in St. Louis and Kansas City from working as prostitutes, too.

A lot of the popular culture in 19th century urban night life involved purchasing sexual services.

And - marriage still survived.

Aspasia M. said...

marghlar said...

Confucianism tolerated female homosexuality quite comfortably (within polygynous family units)

This is interesting. What are the bride books? I don't know anything about Confuscianism.

As to the arguments above seeking to use poor black (or otherwise) communities as evidence that gay marriage will devalue heterosexual marriage and somehow lead to the decline of Western civilization: y'all need to consider, and refute, the notion that what destabilizes these families is poverty, not unconventional family relationships.

Yes. I agree. My own opinion is that patterns of economic survival push young women to have children when their extended family can help care for it. Unwed motherhood can be a strategic economic choice caused by lack of family-wage jobs.

Progress is a good thing, people. As a previous commenter said, (edward I think), protecting the rights of homosexuals is intimately linked with protecting the rights of women.

(yea Marghlar! jumps up and down and claps!)

I would add that the citizenship rights of non-whites are also connected to a capacious view of Constitutional liberty.

Joan said...

I have read the most contributing factor to poverty is single motherhood. Are these families poor because they are unstable, or are they unstable because they're poor? Single parent families are poor and stay poor because they are single parent families. The most surefire way to avoid poverty is to avoid single parenthood.

This article at the Heritage Foundation has many links and footnotes to source data (including charts) that show the increase in out-of-wedlock births over the period from which same-sex marriages were legalized in the Netherlands.

I apologize for my sloppy wording earlier: there is no direct evidence that same-sex marriage is the only factor causing this phenomenon, and I did not mean to imply that it was. As discussed in the article, the legalization of same-sex marriage is yet another step in the disintegration of marriage overall; it's the continuation of a trend there. But while same-sex marriage is not the only causative factor, it is seen as a contributing factor. There are statistically significant changes that are observable over the period in which legalization was under discussion, and further changes after legalization took place.

AlaskaJack said...

Whoa, hold on Marghlar, drug dealers in poor black communities are extremely wealthy by middle class standards and they routinely father many children by many different women. Your "poverty" explanation doesn't wash.

Balfegor said...

As to the child rearing: modern homosexual couples can have a son by adoption or by the assistance of a third party (whether donating sperm or an egg + gestational services, depenidng on the gender of the gay couple). What's anti-confucian about that?

Am I being unclear here? -- What's the point of the marriage if you're just going to adopt, or get your heirs through a concubine or somesuch? If that was the way it worked, there would be no filial obligation to marry at all. Marriage would be an irrelevancy under Confucian thought.

Basically, the issue comes down to this: Why on Earth would the elders arrange a marriage with another man? It makes no sense.

Marghlar said...

AlaskaJack -- what's your source, hip-hop videos? In my experience, most drug dealers are pretty poor. I took a look at a few studies, and the highest estimates had drug dealers earning in the high twenties to low thirties/yr. See Fagan & Freeman, 25 Crime & Just. 225 (1999). That's hardly a middle class paradise (although it is doing substantially better than other members of their communities).

And besides, drug dealers aren't the majority of residents in poor black communities. So I fail to see how your limited example would explain the conditions of poor black communities as a whole.

Here's a more likely scenario: poverty leads to crime, including both drug dealing and drug abuse. Drug abuse leads towards dissolution of families as well as raising birth rates. Children are raised poorly by drug addicted parents. Repeat in a new generation.

This is not just speculation -- it's a summary of my experience working in a child welfare law office, in which the majority of our clients were children from poor black communities who were abused or neglected by their parents. I take good child rearing seriously, and think there are real problems there.

But I think that a serious search for the cause has to look beyond homosexuality. Based on my experiences, I'd list drug abuse and poverty as causes 1 and 2.

Marghlar said...

The Elders might arrange such a marriage in order to provide a home for a child that was made an orphan, or abused, or neglected, or placed for adoption by its parents. That would be good social planning -- finding two people who'd like to commit to each other and raise a child, and permitting them to do so.

I think that neo-confucianism can look to the essence of things, rather than being preoccupied with the external form.

Marghlar said...

Geoduck -- bride books were a pictorial instruction for girls about to be married. Specifically, the provided instructions on the forms and variations of coitus within confucian society. These included both techniques for copulation, female masturbation (male masturbation was prohibited because it wasted male ejaculate), and female-female eroticism. Eroticism between wives was explicitly encourage within the polygynous confucian family structure.

Marghlar said...

Joan,

Thanks for providing the link. I think there are two problems with the argument, set out by you and over at Heritage.

1. As you clearly know, there is a causation/correlation problem at work here. There are a lot of changes happening in Dutch society. The fact that gay marriages and out-of-wedlock births have both increased, does not imply a causative function. More likely, both are springing out of pre-existing changes in Dutch conceptions about the place of marriage in their society.

2. Even if you could show a causation, it would be an irrelevant one. Where is the evidence that Dutch culture is in "decline?" It's not in the article. The fact that the Dutch are choosing different family relationships doesn't necessarily mean their culture is falling apart. Rather, their culture is changing. It now involves fewer traditional marriages than it used to. I see no evidence that this is worsening the welfare of Dutch society.

Elizabeth said...

Joan, your protests over my the use of the word "lucid" would be more credible if you likewise were concerned about his patronizing reply to me, which ignores my argument and instead essentially calls me stupid.

Simple, declarative statements do not make an argument. For those statements to work as premises in the argument, they need to be explained, supported with evidence and reasoning. Your reasoning that romantic comedy plots prove that men marry out of social pressure only is not very persuasive. Can you offer evidence from some the real world, and not fiction? And how would you respond to the really good romantic comedies, the Shakespeare comedies, wherein men and women alike resist the pressure to marry?

It doesn't matter whether you or Pogo can prove that assertion; the other problem is that a series of simple, declarative statements fails as an argument on other terms. What is the connection from one premise to the next?

The key problem is the one you and Pogo try to toss off as minor. You state that gay marriage will devalue marriage such that heterosexual men will not want to marry. Prove it.

You instead want others to prove the negative. We are under no obligation to do so. You cannot assert a causal argument without proof and expect it to be persuasive. Your whole argument rests on that one point. Everything else is window dressing. Why will straight men decide there's no reason for them to marry, once gays can marry? What exactly will be lost in terms of motivations for marriage? If you can't explain that, you've got nothing to stand on.

You're right; simple, declarative statements are lucid. But without adding up to anything, they're vapid.

Elizabeth said...

Abraham, Joan's and Pogo's argument is no more than "Well, I think same-sex marriage will devalue the institution." No why, no how, just "it will." How does that somehow strike you as more persuasive than seeing no reason to believe it will? You're choosing to be persuaded by a weak argument based on a speculation that has no evidence in fact.

Aspasia M. said...

Balfegar,

Am I being unclear here? -- What's the point of the marriage if you're just going to adopt, or get your heirs through a concubine or somesuch? If that was the way it worked, there would be no filial obligation to marry at all. Marriage would be an irrelevancy under Confucian thought.

Wouldn't the point of marriage be to have two adults to raise the child? And the marriage would join two families and create a larger extended kinship network for the child.

Is the blood relationship critical to Confucian thought?

Couldn't one contract out a birth (with one's own genetic material) and then adopt the child?

I mean, in the case of a man who is inclined to pair bond with another man.

I suppose, eventually, future genetic techniques will be able to create genetic children with any two adults.

But many societies have adoption practices that allowed for heirs to be adopted into the family.

Native Americans regularly captured and adopted others into the tribe. Especially when warfare decreased the tribal members.
------------
Marghlar,

I've seen the movie _Raise the Red Lantern_. It's the only cultural material I've been exposed to that deals with Asian polygamy.

It was a rather depressing movie, although well made.

Thanks for the info on the bride books. Cultural documents about the history of sexuality are of interst to me.

Aspasia M. said...

Marghlar and Joan,

RE: The Dutch,

Dutch teenagers engage in sex later then American teenagers. I believe the average age for the first sexual experience for the Ductch is 17.5, whereas for American kids it is 15.5.

And The Dutch abortion rate is much lower then the American abortion rate. (Dutch women = 7/1000 female pregnancies) (American = 21/1000 female pregnancies)

And the Dutch have a lower rate of unintended pregnancy.

And the Dutch get 5 weeks of paid vacation & health care.

Oh - the Dutch child mortality rate is lower then the American child mortality rate.

(And Rome did last 1000 years. That's nothing to sneeze at.)

Joan said...

Elizabeth said:You instead want others to prove the negative. We are under no obligation to do so. You cannot assert a causal argument without proof and expect it to be persuasive. Your whole argument rests on that one point. Everything else is window dressing. Why will straight men decide there's no reason for them to marry, once gays can marry? What exactly will be lost in terms of motivations for marriage? If you can't explain that, you've got nothing to stand on.

It is not speculation that many (I would say the majority of) young heterosexual males, particular those from poor neighborhoods with few male role models, abhor anything having to do with gay culture. "What're you, queer?" is the kind of question teenage boys who are friendly toss around, but it's very close in meaning to "What're you, stupid?" These same young toughs are exactly the ones who will be (or have already begun) fathering children without marrying their children's mothers. These are the boys who need to learn that being a man means being an in-residence father. These are the boys who, if gays co-opt marriage, will have yet another reason to cite for not getting married.

Will the legalization of gay marriage deter older, more responsible, less homophobic males from marrying? No, but those are most likely the guys who grew up in intact families, who expect to get married. Do I have any proof of this? Of course not -- but I think that there is reason to believe that different segments of society would have a different reaction to the legalization of same-sex marriage, just as polling data now shows there are different attitudes about it among different communities. Blacks overall still haven't budged from their overwhelmingly negative view of gay marriage, whereas the population in general seems to be shifting more in favor of it.

Also, You cannot assert a causal argument without proof and expect it to be persuasive. Well, neither can you, then. You say there won't be any deleterious effects. I say, prove it.

Marghlar asked, Where is the evidence that Dutch culture is in "decline?" I don't know, I didn't go looking for that, and it's much too late to do it now. What I have seen, and I'm sure you have too, is the data that shows the impact of things such as out-of-wedlock births, here in America. We've seen the negative effects of the societal changes we're struggling with already; if the changes accelerate to the levels the Dutch are experiencing, what's to reverse those negative trends and flip them over to positives? Is it suddenly going to become a good thing, coming from a single parent home? I don't see any mechanism by which such a change could take place.

There may be structures in place in the Netherlands that allow such huge changes to be absorbed and the culture to continue as before, and to thrive. But we already know that the U.S. does not have any such structures, and more to the point, we have no intention of implementing them. We are not going to become a cradle-to-grave socialist state, at least not any time soon. We don't have to call back to Pogo's citations of those totalitarian states, we have ample recent historical data which demonstrates that the State can not adequately substitute for the male head of the house.

Marghlar said...

Joan:

Pogo's cite to totalitarian states was amply disposed of by my observation that repression and mass murder, and not family structure, was the most likely reason those socieites were unstable.

The fact is, you haven't shown that out-of-wedlock births cause any problems, even in America. You've shown that they are correlated with such problems. I think I've already offered a lucid account of why such problems might arise out of poverty itself, so that it is the poverty that causes the breakdown in family structures, not the other way around. I know some excellent single mothers by choice who do a great job of raising their kids. My wife was raised by a single mother, and she does just fine.

The point is, you write as if what we have is a binary choice between an idyllic two-parent family, and a wretchedly poor upbringing by a single parent. I think that it is probably better to be raised by a single parent than to have an abusive two-parent household. Poverty causes a lot of stress, and part of that stress tends to lead to domestic violence. I think that many children raised by a single parent are well-off for not having their fathers around (my wife is a great example of this -- her father was a monster).

It isn't surprising to me that black culture doesn't favor gay marriage -- black culture is currently intensely homophobic. Still, I don't think that gay marriage will make a big difference in the valuation of marriage within black culture. Or, for that matter, within our culture in general.

Seriously, does anyone know of a single person who has said, "I was going to get married before, but now that they are letting the gays do it, count me out?" I just don't buy it.

By the way -- your Dutch data don't exactly show an explosion of children being raised by a single parent. It went up from 5% to 8% of children -- that's hardly a meteoric rise. Furthermore, it doesn't say whether those children have a second parent who does regular visitation, pays child support, etc.

To summarize: I doubt that being raised by one or two parents outside of a marriage, independent of other factors (like family income, social status, etc) has anything to do with how well the kids turn out. It is not my personal experience that children raised in such circumstances inevitably turn out bad. Furthermore, I don't buy that gay marriage will significantly affect the rates at which straight people marry or procreate. Like Balfegor said, this just involves giving formal recognition to partnerships that already exist. It's not like there's this big population that's waiting for gay marriage to get legalized who are suddenly going to say, "oh great, I can be gay now."

Abraham said...

Abraham, Joan's and Pogo's argument is no more than "Well, I think same-sex marriage will devalue the institution." No why, no how, just "it will."

I believe we've gone over this again and again. The "how":

1. The traditional role of "marriage" in society has been to create a civil institution whose primary purpose is to promote familial child rearing.
2. Loosening up the definition of "marriage" causese the concept of "marriage" to become less and less relevant to the concept of "nuclear family" and specifically "rearing of offspring."
Therefore:
3. A lower proportion of marriages can result in offspring;
4. A lower number of married couples will feel social obligation to produce offspring;
5. Those who wish to produce offspring will not feel that marriage is as necessary a component of the process.

I think this makes sense. Feel free to disagree with some or all of the premises, but please stop saying that nobody has explained it.

As an aside, when this topic was first posted, I was was pretty much of the libertarian attitude that I don't care if people want to marry the same sex. But the complete unwillingness of proponents to even grant the legitimacy of these and other concerns has, I'll admit, made me rather more defensive. I'm not even against SMM per se; all I ask is assurance that my concerns will be given consideration by those who push the policy forward. But what I've seen here is name-calling, motive-questioning, and flat-out denial, and that bugs me.

Marghlar said...

Ok, abraham, I'll attempt to show why I find the argument unpersuasive:

3. A lower proportion of marriages can result in offspring;
4. A lower number of married couples will feel social obligation to produce offspring;
5. Those who wish to produce offspring will not feel that marriage is as necessary a component of the process.


3 is irrelevant -- it does not mean that fewer of the marriages that could have existed before would produce children. It just means that, because you have expanded the definition of marriage, some marriages are less likely to produce offspring. But this is not necessarily obvious -- most of the gay couples that seek to marry are also the kind interested in adopting or producing children of their own.

4: I don't think that 4 necessarily follows, or that straight people feel that much social compulsion to raise children right now anyway. I think that whether or not people have kids is largely a personal choice, and one that people tend to make because of biological drives and imperatives. I highly doubt that gay marriage will significantly affect the pressure that straight people feel (from their parents, etc) to have children.

5: also irrelevant. Why is marriage critical to child-rearing? This is the step that I and others feel your side has failed to address. Why can't a committed hetero couple raise kids just as effectively if unmarried, but faithful? Why can't a gay couple do the same? For that matter, why can't a polygamous couple do so?

What you've failed to adduce is why gay marriage will lead to either a decline in the birth rate, or a lessening of societal welfare. None of the above assertions proves either point. Number four comes closest, but it is the most problemmatic for you to prove, and even it is tenuous as a basis for the ultimate conclusion that fewer children will be born.

If those are your supporting rationales, then you still haven't given us a reason to think that gay marriage will produce problemmatic outcomes. In order to do so, you need to answer the question, why would a straight couple decide not to have children, or raise them worse, solely because existing gay relationships are recognized by the state? I don't think this would occur. I challenge you to propose a plausible example of this happening.

Elizabeth said...

Joan, so, by your own argument, the young men who right now don't get married, still won't if gays are allowed to, and the guys who do, still will. So gay marriage changes things how?

And appeasing the homophobia of the "that's so queer" guys isn't a reason to deprive gays of anything. That same argument is used to keep gays out of the military.

Abraham, all the arguments you offer have been refuted in this discussion. And the upshot still focuses on the belief that gay marriage will, more than any other host of factors, loosen the connection between producing children and marriage. You can't say why that will be the case. Allowing infertile people to marry doesn't do it. Allowing people past child-bearing years doesn't. I'm really aghast at this cyncial belief that people have to be socially pressured to form loving relationships and to have children. This magical transformation by which gay marriage will cause heterosexuals to abandon marriage, and reproduction, in sufficient numbers to doom civilization and the human race remains unexplained, and unconvincing.

Abraham said...

why would a straight couple decide not to have children, or raise them worse, solely because existing gay relationships are recognized by the state?

My answer would be because they have been socially conditioned not to consider the raising of children a worthwhile activity - caused partly by the total severance of the concepts of marrying and procreating. This is of course not exclusively caused by expansion of "marriage" to include SSM, but that is one element of several, and the one under discussion.

esk said...

Abraham,

Let’s get past the theoretical for a moment and answer me this honestly.

Would you choose not to have children if SSM was legal?

Joan said...

Marghlar:I doubt that being raised by one or two parents outside of a marriage, independent of other factors (like family income, social status, etc) has anything to do with how well the kids turn out.

You may very well doubt it, but some excellent research has been done on this topic, and controlling for all the other variables, it is true that children from single-parent households do not fare as well as those from two-parent households. See here, more recent data here; this paper shows that kids in blended families (stepkids) have similar outcomes to single-parented kids; this 5 page pdf from the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy gives a good overview of the current state of research into family structure, including a discussion of research on the outcomes for children raised by gay parents (summary: there is no good research on that topic).

Here is a translation of a Dutch article from 2004 (I think) talking about trends there and what they foresee in terms of marriage, divorce, single-parent homes, etc.

And especially for Elizabeth, here is a very long (39 pp, but tons of footnotes) discussion of how same-sex marriage will harm society. Maggie Gallagher brings up all the arguments we've been hashing through on this thread, and systematically addresses them. I found her discussion of the economic "benefit" of marriage to be very interesting.

Elizabeth, again: And the upshot still focuses on the belief that gay marriage will, more than any other host of factors, loosen the connection between producing children and marriage.
I'm sorry, but are you insane? Gay marriage doesn't just "loosen the connection between producing children and marriage", it severs it completely. A gay couple can not, without outside assistance, reproduce. The fact that some hetero couples can not or choose not to reproduce does not affect the underlying reality that, as Gallagher says, "when men and women have sex, they make babies." For specific individuals, it may not be true, but it holds for the group as a whole, and it will never be true for same-sex couples.

I don't believe it's an either-or situation, either we live in an idyllic world where every child is raised in a 2-parent home, or we're all going to hell in a handbasket. I do believe that our society is properly interested in fostering the most effective methods of procreation and child-raising. All of the data points to children being raised by their own biological parents as having the best outcomes. Even kids from loving blended families do no better than those from single-parent homes. If that's the case, why should we believe that children raised in loving same-sex households are going to do as well?

After reading through Gallagher's extensive discussion, I think I can answer the question "what harm will it do?" Widening the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples changes what marriage is. It's either about procreation and parenting, or it's not. Including same-sex couples means that it's not anymore. If "marriage" is just some way to say "I(heart)u4eva" well, why bother with it all? (Which is, by the way, what's been happening in the Netherlands.)

You know, there's a lot of data showing how beneficial being married is for men and women. Men live longer, they're healthier, they're happier. Personally, I have no problem believing this, because I think marriage solves the "Fight Club" problem. If you're not married, if you don't have kids, it's a lot harder to feel fulfilled. "It's not having stuff that makes us happy, it's being a part of things." I believe as humans we all need to feel useful, like we're making a contribution to something bigger than ourselves, to be truly happy. Becoming a parent makes being a part of something larger easy, but of course you can get that same sense of contribution and satisfaction from a job. I understand homosexuals wanting in on all the good things marriage provides, but changing the definition of marriage to include them isn't going to give it to them, because they are not and can never be the same as a heterosexual couple. Hetero marriage looks to the future. Same sex marriage is for the now.

Pogo said...

Re: "I believe as humans we all need to feel useful, like we're making a contribution to something bigger than ourselves, to be truly happy. Becoming a parent makes being a part of something larger easy..."

Joan has, I think, laid out the arguments against changing the definition of marriage quite beautifully. I am grateful for her point of view, not merely because I agree, but because they explain with grace what I had so clumsily attempted.

I do owe Elizabeth an apology, for I indeed inferred she was stupid, something clearly untrue, and I knew to be false. Elizabeth, I am sorry.

I would hope to be granted the same favor, that being dismissed as afraid, an aged crank, or a bigot are similarly unfair and untrue.

What I have learned from these last two Althouse posts on gay marriage is that there is a clear dichotomy of belief on what the basic definition of "marriage" is. If marriage is a fluid concept, one that can be expanded to accomodate the desires of individuals as they see fit, SSM is no big deal. If marriage remains primarily for raising children in the most ideal setting, SSM is anathema. All arguments flow from there.

Second, asking for "proof" here is simply evidence of scientific ignorance. Human behavior is far too multifactorial to ever be able to dissect "proof" as to cause of any outcome, however defined. A few folks do know this, and ask for proof to cloud the issue. History is society's only proof of concept. Communism, for example, is an abject failure as an organizing principle. it was widely criticized for its risks prior to implementation, but lacking "proof", their warnings were ignored and mocked. 100 million died as a result. And yet bringing this subject of the folly of human social experimentation is considered illegitmate, and mocked itself. "Of course it was stupid. What's that got to do with SSM?"

Can the two definitions be reconciled? No. It's not unlike the abortion debate. Where you stand depends on where you sit, here on the definition of human life. Each side thinks the other is wrong, or even evil.

From my standpoint, I would likely become less combative should I gather the merest hint that the concerns laid out were paid some heed, rather than simply dismissed out of hand. And the proponents of a new social mechanism would also do well to recognize that for most people, those advocating a radical change bear the burden of proof in demonstrating its need, utility, safety, and efficacy to society as a whole (and not just the intended recipients), not the other way around.

Fitz said...

RE: Centering the Debate

Why Same-Sex “marriage” relates to Polygamy (“polyamory”)
Those of us who have been to law school… (or any serious time spent among intellectuals) realize that the driving force behind ss “m” is & has always been a cadre of like minded academics and their activist supporters.
Indeed, without their pressure from family law departments and groups like the American Law Institute ss “m” would be no more than a fanciful outlier in the marriage debate.
On the contrary, law review articles and the opinions of an elect few academics can persuade Judges like those in Massachusetts to catapult causes like ss “m” to impossible to ignore stature in the public/political debate.
To this end, why should they not (when they decide to) do the same with “polyamory”?


Who’s Afraid of Polygamous Marriage? Lessons for Same-Sex Marriage Advocacy from the History of Polygamy
By Cheshire Calhoun, Colby College

“Attention to polygamy can strengthen the case for same-sex marriage. Both the historical debate on polygamy and the current debate on same-sex marriage concentrate on finding the best social response for the failure of conventional marriage to serve its purpose. The argument for traditional marriage conflicts with the Judeo-Christian tradition and a liberal democracy. Contrary to traditionalist arguments, polygamy and pluralistic relationships are a part of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Additionally, a liberal democracy is designed to protect an individual’s right to pursue a pluralistic way of life. Under a liberal theory, the state should remain neutral and allow individuals to devise whatever marriage contract they wish. Instead, the state accepts or rejects different forms of marriage based on which relationships contribute to the social good. This article contends that the state should move toward a pluralistic conception of personal relationships and marriage that encompasses a definition of marriage that suits a liberal political society. Instead of supporting only one form of marriage, the state and advocates for polygamy and same-sex marriage should support pluralizing marital and family forms. Because the fear of polygamy, based in the idea of gender inequality, is unnecessary, the author concludes that polygamy offers same-sex marriage advocates a reason to reject the claim that there is a long tradition of defining marriage between one man and one woman. “


Thinking about Polygamy: Some Reflections
By Sanford Levinson

“The prohibition of same-sex marriage is no more defensible than the prohibition on other marital forms. This article enhances Professor Calhoun’s proposal for polygamy by offering another reason to advocate pluralistic conceptions of marriage. If marriage is an institution focused on child-rearing and taking care of ailing partners, then polygamy offers a strong argument for state advocated pluralistic marital forms. The author concludes that Calhoun provides a necessary broader concept of marriage by suggesting a pluralistic approach as to what should count as a legally recognized marriage.”

As I stated up thread in a series of comments, the movement to deconstruct marriage has many adherents and ideological benefactors on the cultural left. As a practical matter one should take them at their word concerning their designs on our society and its laws. Indeed 5 to 10 years ago the idea of ss “m” was laughable. Why would “polyamory” not be on a similar trajectory, given its enthusiasts?

Its amazing what a few well placed Judges can accomplish!

Abraham said...

Would you choose not to have children if SSM was legal?

My decision whether or not to have children is entirely dependent on finding a suitable mate, particularly one who is willing to subordinate her own desires to the well-being of the children. The more that the concept of marriage becomes about self-fulfillment rather than serving the needs of the family, the less probable I think I am to find such a person. The more that "marriage" is "for people in love," the less likely I am to trust that my partner would be willing to stay married, even when it isn't all sweetness and light, or even when she might decide that she loves somebody else more.

Joan said...

Fitz, I am compelled to comment on one line from Cheshire Calhoun: Contrary to traditionalist arguments, polygamy and pluralistic relationships are a part of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Calhoun needs to go back and study up. Of course there is polygamy in Jewish history, but in Christianity, sacramental marriage is between one man and one woman, only. Perhaps he was just being sloppy in the use of the common descriptor, "Judeo-Christian," but there's really no excuse for that.

Marghlar said...

abraham: you've implicitly conceded my point. By acknowledging that you yourself wouldn't change your mind, you've shown the implausibility of your position. You have to push your doubts into an unspecified other who will, for no apparent reason, act differently.

Who specifically do you imagine won't marry you because of this? A social conservative who opposes SSM? Someone like me who supports it (I'm married, btw)?

Or is it just that you want to control your partners ability to divorce you? It seems like, in that case, you should target your ire at liberalized divorce laws, not at extending the franchize of marriage farther.

Regan said...

Whew!
It took a long time for me to read this thread.
Marriage equality opponents:
stuck in a time warp somewhere in the 1940's.
That marriage hasn't changed much since then and shouldn't, at least to include gay couples.

Marriage equality proponents: intent on reiterating marriage as we know it now.

It's been quite a lively exchange.
Jeez, Fitz-you gave you game away referring to Jeffrey Satinover.
He's anti gay from go. His stance is religion based.

Stanley Kurtz's examinations of Scandinavian marriage trends, easily scapegoated gays and lesbians, but left out the real reason for the unpopularity or lack of necessity of marriage: the Swedish
government subsituting for it and other support that would otherwise be done by family.

We have to keep this discussion in the realm of reality.
Polygamy isn't in that realm. The group most interested in it is a specific religious group.
As I said before, gays and lesbians transcend all cultures and families.

This is a matter of acknowledging that reality.
Gays and lesbians are the ONLY pair group that cannot marry based on the specific characteristic of being gay.
This is a difference, but there is no need to exclude based on that difference.
We are talking about equal access under the law.
To continue to argue derisively that gays and lesbians CAN marry, but to the opposite sex, trivializes who and what they really are.
And trivializes the gravity of what it means to BE gay.

This entire argument is academic. We can look at the couples already married here in MA.
And also in the Netherlands, Spain and Canada.
The period has been short, but it bears respecting that nothing much else happened than couldn't be any different for hetero couples.

The polygamy argument was never appropriate to align with this one anyway.

We are talking about GAY people, not a religious order. Not people already related.
GAY folks.

And it's obvious that prejudice is a part of the opponent argument.
To say that homosexuality, or any recognition of it automatically is a release of bad things to come or disintegration is what prejudice is all about.

This is to say that homosexuals are automatically bad people, or inclusion in what heterosexuals do will stain, damage or destroy their established institutions.

We've heard this argument before about other groups.
There is a unreality in the opponent argument, they are speaking from speculation and 'this will happen' (conjecture) rather than from what is ALREADY happening in gay lives.

But it still is based on the firm belief of inferiority in gay people.
Or else you wouldn't couch your argument in PRESUMED negativity.

We proponents are arguing within the knowledge that our country and laws understand diversity and uniqueness in individuals.
The basic rules regarding marriage NOW for everyone wouldn't change with gay folks marrying.
It WOULD redefine what another non related, two consenting adult couple would be.

And calling us PC for recognizing what equality is defined by, is a slam.
This is about gay folks, and our understanding of their needs and obligations and functions in our society.
We're in no place any longer to pretend that gay couples are not involved with each other precisely the way two consenting non related hetero couples are involved.

If we are to assume that the government cannot intrude and legislate WHAT these couples are to do for and with each other, than we can't assume that for gay folks as a prerequisite to oppose or accept marriage for them.

We have to keep this argument where it belongs, to equal standards.
To flexible marriage laws that have included people with marginal abilities, such as the severely handicapped or mentally ill or those with genetic diseases that can be passed down, or people with criminal histories of violence, or poverty.

Our government doesn't assume anything for or about them, but recognizes that the government can and should be limited in this regard.
However, to place gays and lesbians ONLY, outside of the range of protection and access that marriage provides, also places them out of the range of basic HUMAN rights and options that the Constitution and Bill of Rights does.

There is no legislating the role of gender in marriage, period.
What can the law make a man and woman do within marriage?

Exactly.
It's a non issue.
As it should be for gay men and women.
We can have difference within the basics. This is what our country stands for.
Our notion of equal treatment under the law.
And polygamists are sacrificing nothing under that law, they still can marry at least ONE spouse or divorce and remarry again and again and have as many children as they like.
The laws don't ban them from at least that much.
It's only gays and lesbians, unique to every society globally, who, just because the marriage tradition hasn't always included them, we now know that didn't mean that it never should have or shouldn't now.

Marghlar said...

Most researchers who study family structure and its effects on child out-
comes use various forms of regression analyses. Though numerous
researchers construct comprehensive models that include many variables
related to family structure, such as income and education, these models with
controls are not sufficient to establish causality.


"Family Matters, at 7.

Joan, this is from the most recent literature review that you cited above. So, by the admission of your own cited research, causation has never been established in these circumstances. Sociologists have attempted to prove various causes (both family structure, income, etc) using regression analyses, but this paper feels they have been unable to do so.

As far as I can see (correct me if I'm wrong), none of these cited sources even claims causation for family structure. All they show is a correlation. And this correlation, as I've previously said, can be plausibly explained in other ways than the one you have offered.

Of course, the page you linked to, which purports to summarize this paper, nowhere notes that it crucially disclaims to be able to show causation. Rather, the summary you linked to asserts things like "Family structure clearly influences educational outcomes for U.S. children." This subtly implies causation, but the linked source doesn't support it.

In regards to Pogo's claim that asking for causation is disingenuous -- no it isn't, it's good social science. When considering what I consider to be an equal rights issue, I generally put the burden of proof on the status quo, when the status quo is unjust. And really, saying that there is an equivalency between extending basic marriage benefits to gay couples and murderous totalitarian states is just farcical.

All of this talk about the difference being child rearing overlooks the clear point: raising kids is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for marriage. Lots of straight married couples choose not to have kids -- and this won't change just because we continue to exclude gay people. Lots of gay people want to get married, in part, because they are raising children and want their partner to be a married co-parent. The key point is that you don't have to screw someone of the opposite sex in order to want to raise a child in a healthy, loving home.

So, imagine this: you are a lesbian couple. You'd like to have kids together. One of you gets impregnated by a sperm donor (just as a straight couple might if the male was infertile). You go through the birthing process together. You raise the child together. The child thinks of the couple as its two parents. But lo and behold, biological mommy dies, and the relatives swoop down to seize custody from partner who, as an unmarried cohabitor, doesn't get the presumptions that go with being married to the biological parent (even if the married partner ISN'T the biological parent).

This is only one of many scenarios where denying the benefits of marriage to gay couples ends up really screwing them over. And before I'm willing to consign myself to a continuation of this, I want to see some evidence, or even a chain of causation I find logically compelling, that it will actually be productive of problems.

So far, I'd boil down the anti- arguments as:

1. Gay marriage will increase the tendency of straight people deciding to have children outside of marriage.
2. It will be bad for children (or maybe decrease the number of children) if straight people shift to having children outside of formal, legal marriage.

I don't think 1 is that plausible, and I don't think 2 is necessarily going to happen. I'm sorry that people like Pogo think I am being rude by refusing to concede their points, but until the problems I've discussed above are addressed more concretely, I doubt it is going to happen.]

I just think it's really shitty to say to committed gay couples who are being screwed by the current system, "Sorry, guys, I know you'd like equal rights under the law, but we've got these hypothetical concerns about potential future harms that might occur, so we are going to keep you guys in a secondclass citizenship status for now."

Marghlar said...

To those who demand ex ante proof of lack of harm:

Please address how your concerns would have impacted the extension of equal civil rights to women. There was a first time for each of the following -- how could we prove that there would be no social harm from:

1. Extending the electoral franchise to women.
2. Allowing women equal property rights with men.
3. Permitting women to divorce their husbands on an equal footing with their husbands ability to divorce them.
4. Ending the practice whereby a husband could give binding legal consent for his wife, against her wishes, in legal matters.
5. Outlawing job discrimination against women.

None of these things had a historical precursor in Western civilization. But we did all of them. Why? Because we thought invidious discrimination was a bad thing.

Discuss.

Elizabeth said...

Joan, thanks for asking, but no, I'm not insane.

Gay marriage doesn't just "loosen the connection between producing children and marriage", it severs it completely. A gay couple can not, without outside assistance, reproduce.

This is ridiculous. The fact that two people of the same sex cannot reproduce does nothing to sever the reproduction of heterosexuals from marriage; you're trying to argue that because same-sex couples can't reproduce, straights won't or will without marrying. Again, you do this without explaining how or why straight people would change their behaviors--behaviors that are beneficial for them--based on same-sex couples' marrying. You come up empty; it''s just another assertion, with no support other than your fear.

I've read that Gallagher piece, along with other of her writings; there's nothing there that isn't already in this thread, and it's no more sensible than what you and Pogo keep repeating.

Abraham wonders why we SSM proponents don't at least acknowledge his worries; I think he's missing just how venal this argument is. What Joan and Pogo do is seek to blame SSM for the problems in heterosexual marriage. It's a nasty thing, a cheap argument. Too many straight marriages end in divorce now? Well, just wait till the gays can marry! No one will stay married then. Straight men abandon their children? Woah, buddy, once the gays can marry, what man in his right mind will want to be a father?

Once conservatism had something to say about personal responsibility. Lately, it's all about blaming someone else.

Elizabeth said...

Pogo, I appreciate your apology.

I also concur with your description of the dichotomy we face. I will join you in stepping back a notch from the tone at which this discussion has been pitched.

You have the high ground; SSM is not legal, and in our attempts to win that legality, we face arguments that we are destructive and selfish. That makes it hard to go for common ground. From my viewpoint, while I attack your arguments, you attack my essence. It's a situation where civility easily is lost.

Elizabeth said...

Abraham, I understand what you mean when you distrust marriage as a vehicle solely for romantic love, which is passing. Marriage is certainly more than that, even without children involved. Marriage offers a structure, a foundation, for two people to bolster one another through life, to be a reliable force in their communities, and to make it through those times when the romance isn't first and foremost. It's a bulwark against the vagaries of romantic love, a committment to do more than hang out together as long as things feel good. That's important for raising children, but it's also an expression of more than self-fulfillment. It's committing to the fulfillment of another.

Aspasia M. said...

Marghlar,

Please address how your concerns would have impacted the extension of equal civil rights to women. There was a first time for each of the following -- how could we prove that there would be no social harm from:

1. Extending the electoral franchise to women.
2. Allowing women equal property rights with men.
3. Permitting women to divorce their husbands on an equal footing with their husbands ability to divorce them.
4. Ending the practice whereby a husband could give binding legal consent for his wife, against her wishes, in legal matters.
5. Outlawing job discrimination against women.


I can't speak for those against Single Sex Marriage. But I would argue that any one of these things caused MUCH more "damage" to the "traditional" institution of marriage then single sex marriage.

I suppose I question why the people against single-sex marriage aren't more interested in changing divorce laws and married women's property laws. Or, for example, advocate excluding women from the paid work force.

In contrast, single-sex marriage is actually a conservative solution that promotes marriage as a site for extending kinship networks. It promotes a legal situation where two people can adopt or bear children through sperm banks.

Joan said...

Elizabeth:The fact that two people of the same sex cannot reproduce does nothing to sever the reproduction of heterosexuals from marriage; you're trying to argue that because same-sex couples can't reproduce, straights won't or will without marrying.

I'm not arguing that at all, and it's disingenuous of you to keep throwing up these strawmen points. My argument is that
marriage now is intended to foster reproduction in the most beneficial environment for future generations. If you change the definition of marriage to include homosexual couples, then the definition of marriage changes for everyone. Or are we at the point where you'll say, "It depends on what the definition of 'is' is"? Marriage is marriage is marriage. If homosexual marriages are allowed, the very definition of marriage is changed. You can't change it for some people and not for others. If it's meant to do one thing for one group of people, and another for a different group of people, you are talking about two different things and should be using two different words.

Proponents argue that because heterosexuals do not have to reproduce in marriage, that somehow disconnects the idea of reproduction from marriage. As I said above, just because the importance of reproduction is not applicable for individual cases does not mean it invalidates the importance for the entire institution. The overwhelming majority of marriages produce children. Men and women, in the aggregate, produce children when they have sex. Homosexual couples do not, and can not without outside assistance.


What Joan and Pogo do is seek to blame SSM for the problems in heterosexual marriage.

That is blatantly false. We recognize that marriage is already deteriorating, with many negative consequences for our society. We say that further redefinition of marriage will not strengthen it, it will instead weaken it even further.

Marghlar, you continue to harp on the causation/correlation issue, and I concede it is an important point. What you are not conceding, however, is that there are studies which show that, even when controlling for the factors you feel are more significant such as income, "involved" parents, etc, the correlation between "broken" families and poor outcomes for children still persists. IOW, you want to say, "all other things being equal, the kids outcomes will be the same," when the data clearly does not support that position. Is it possible that there is some other external factor, unaccounted for in the studies, that could explain the poorer outcomes? Yes, it's possible, but is it probable? Occam's Razor says no.

Abraham said...

Please address how your concerns would have impacted the extension of equal civil rights to women.

I will not, because that's nothing but a red herring. Instead, I will stay on topic and point out that even Elizabeth concedes that some of those changes definitely have caused the effects I am concerned about. Thus, it is not unreasonable to believe that further tinking will cause further damage. Why is it unreasonable to question whether this is necessary or prudent? Especially because mine is not a hypothetical concern! In this very country, not enough children are born to replace those who die. If not for strong immigration levels, our population would already be declining.

Edward said...

Joan: I want to address your comment about “the macho young men of the inner cities.”

You say they are, by and large, very homophobic. I agree with you about this.

Then you extrapolate from this fact to say that young heterosexual men are so homophobic that they will refuse to marry their girlfriends if they discover that gay couples are also legally allowed to marry.

I totally disagree with your extrapolation. First, you haven’t given any thought about why these young heterosexual men are so homophobic.

Young people -- and especially young males – pay keen attention to issues of status and respect. They care deeply about their own status within the hierarchy of their circle of friends. They also stay very well informed about which groups have status and which receive respect in the larger society.

Even though the status of gay people has steadily risen over the past twenty years, we all know that gay people are still routinely insulted by certain politicians, religious figures, and media commentators. The punishment for public displays of bigotry directed against gay people is still not equivalent to the penalties for insulting racial minorities, for example.

Thus, “macho young men” are homophobic and afraid of being associated with anything gay, because they are afraid of seeing their own status lowered through such an association.

These young men are NOT homophobic on account of there being anything inherently wrong with homosexuality. There is nothing inherently wrong or degrading about homosexuality. The longstanding cultural bigotry against people who are different only leads some to believe that homosexuality itself is wrong or degrading, but it is not.

What is the only civilized, humane, and logical solution to the homophobia of these young men? It’s simple: raise the status and protect the rights and interests of gay men and lesbians.

And what’s the best way to raise the status and protect the rights and interests of gay men and lesbians? By allowing them to marry legally. Allowing them to serve openly in the military would also go a long way toward changing attitudes about gay people for the better.

Let me tell you something: in certain European countries with a much longer tradition of protecting gay rights, their young people are far less homophobic than here in the United States. This high level of homophobia CAN and must be reduced. It’s not some eternal, unchanging social phenomenon.

Finally, it is extremely cruel and inhumane to use prejudice against a minority as an excuse to perpetuate discrimination against that minority. In effect, that is what you yourself are proposing. You are saying, “Well, young people hate gays, so let’s continue discriminating against gays, because any institution that we open up to gays (such as the institution of marriage), will only appear cheapened and degraded as a result.”

This kind of thinking is sick, twisted and almost Nazi-like. Of course, I’m not saying that you personally are “sick, twisted and almost Nazi-like.” Yet the implications of the argument that made really are “sick, twisted and almost Nazi-like.” But I’m sure you didn’t realize that at the time that you wrote those things.

Edward said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Edward said...

Joan: Oh, and there's one more thing that I have to say about your opinion of young people.

Since you seem so willing to let bigoted, barely socialized young people determine this nation’s marriage laws, I wonder when you are going to allow these same barely educated, barely socialized young people set our country’s tax code, our foreign policy toward the Soviet Union and China, and our Environmental laws?

Why don’t we just replace our current U.S. Supreme Court Justices with nine, randomly selected gang members plucked off the streets of Los Angeles?

Edward said...

Joan: Of course, you’re probably going to reply to my last post by saying that the only reason there are gangs in Los Angeles is because of the breakdown of the family in minority communities. And gay marriage will only accelerate the breakdown of the family in minority communities. Blah, blah, blah….

So let me understand you: young people are barely socialized, barely educated and anti-gay because of the breakdown of the family. But doing anything to improve the lives of gay people, such as by allowing them to marry, will only make the breakdown of the family worse, thereby making young people even more unsocialized, more uneducated and more anti-gay.

When will the opponents of gay marriage finally wake up and see that arguments like this are just circular nonsense that exploit current prejudices against gay people to perpetuate discrimination against gay people?

The only way out of the circular trap that you’ve set for yourself is to admit that gay marriage will NOT have the widespread negative social repercussions that you concoct out of your overheated nightmares.

Marghlar said...

Joan,

What I was pointing out is that the literature review you cited was self-contradictory. In its methodology section, it says that existing studies aren't strong enough to permit regression analysis (which is the only way to correct for income effects). It later says that income was controlled for in one study. These statements are self-contradictory.

Furthermore, I think this sort of meta-data has limited utility. You didn't cite to a direct study in a peer-reviewed journal, you cited to an advocacy groups summary of a literature review published by an advocacy group. It is very hard to know what subtle distortions creep in at each step. Just as you might not fully trust summaries of data prepared by gay advocacy groups on this issue, I'm not fully confident that this is an unbiased literature review. I'd like to see something in a less-partisan publication, and I'd like to see raw data.

I realize that in this sort of conversation such a hurdle is high, and I'm not trying to make you meet an impossible burden of proof. But I really do feel that all the data you've cited show is that family structure is a possible cause of these sort of problems; you haven't showed that they are the cause. Occam's razor points as easily at other factors which weren't controlled for, such as local cultural factors or drug abuse, as it does at family structure. A lot of these negative outcomes are also positively correlated with being black in America. Do you want to make the claim that this shows that having African American DNA is incompatible with socialization? If not, you need to distinguish why you feel so comfortable making an equally unprovable claim about family structure.

One of the reasons that I am skeptical of this sort of data is that it accords poorly with my own experiences. I've known plenty of straight married parents who screw up their kids, and plenty of single parents who do just fine (when they have adequate resources). Working in a child welfare law office, the two commonalities I saw among the families of our clients wasn't whether their parents were married or not (a fair number had married parents). The common threads were drug abuse and poverty.

I just want a bit more evidence before I'll discard the evidence of my own senses and experience. I want to see broad sample sizes and strong regression analyses. I want to see strong and significant provable effects. If you want to show me that in what you've cited, give me some page numbers, and I'll take another look. But I don't think you are there yet.

Geoduck: yeah, it seems like we have similar intuitions here. The history of marriage over the long term has been about many things -- the control of property and the subordination of women being key aspects. It is a very modern and localized perception that it is intrisically tied to child-rearing above all else.

Abraham: I don't feel that the argument is a red herring. Looking to tradition above all else as a guide to how to regulate gender and sex would have prevented women from gaining most of the rights we feel they are entitled to in the present day. Each of those changes was arguably much more dramatic for the institution of marriage. We have seen a HUGE change in the definition of marriage -- from a relationship of subordination to a relationship between equals. Surely that change was more fundamental than a tiny tinkering about who can get married (and affected straight couples in a much more direct way).

Regan said...

Edward was right about using long known prejudice and discrimination as an excuse to continue it.

Pretty much it's in agreement with my own posts that state just because a group of people (gay folks)was excluded before, doesn't mean it was right to do so then, and it isn't now.

All you opponents don't seem to be examining your statements as prejudice.
You just run right back to the very worn "it's about children" argument AGAIN.

The 'we built it, therefore we own, no we don't want to share' defense.
Oh....puhleeze!
Can't you get off that poor 'it's for children', horse?

Every time us proponents do a reality check, all you can remind us of is how many other people are as prejudiced as YOU are.

And obviously you're not ABOUT to want to alter your prejudice, but you want a means to justify and validate it.
And then you pull out the 'it's the way it's always been, it's the best way', claim.
It's just a claim, and not one that's irrefutable at that.
Sure, hold on to what makes you feel better about being such guardians of the family.

But I recently had a talk with one of the attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund. This a group that shows up in court to argue for the marriage tradition, while gay couples (half with children) try to argue why THEY should marry.

I brought up the question of how much money the ADF used in court, how much funding anti gay religious groups used for anti gay media and advertising and considering how many hetero marriages and parents fail, just WHAT families and marriages were in fact, protected?

Well, there's the PERCEPTION of protecting traditional marriage (it's who they are protecting it from that raises the spectre of prejudice) and there's the actual people who are married and what THEY have done or are doing to we're all supposed to think marriage is.

Well, it's somewhere in the multi millions, what it's required to tell people that gays and lesbians are unfit to marry, and unfit as parents.

Of course, it's the gay folks that are working hard to convince EVERYONE that marriage is important, not just to them.
So in a way, gays and lesbians are doing double duty.
For themselves and straight folks too.
And yet, regardless of how much time, energy and money gay folks are spending to actually try to BE married, other factions are pushing hard against them.

But in the end...ethically and compassionately, we have to think of gay couples and the children they do have.
And remember that the marriage/children connection, as I've said before, isn't there anyway for many married people (including myself).

One doesn't need children to qualify to marry.
And why make this a rule for gays and lesbians knowing PRECISELY because they don't.
And at the same time, refusing to acknowledge the importance of the children they DO have.

This is what I mean by contradictory, Catch 22, impossible standards for gays and lesbians, that are not at all part of the law for heteros.
This is but one example of usind difference in the person, to change the rules on them.
When all it takes is treating them with the same rules applied to all others.

Opponents, you come out contradictory, hypocritical or outright prejudiced every, single time.

And out of all this opposition, you have absolutely NO solutions.
Meaning that you really prefer that gay people be isolated and treated any way heteros care to treat them.
Because leaving gay lives in your hands means you don't think enough of them to care about them.
It's not about marriage and it's preservation, it's about the gay folks themselves.

That children thing really bothers me about you.
You are so illogical. By this same standard you describe for gay folks, you'd have sterile heteros, the elderly who are passed child bearing, or heteros who've never raised, nor intend to without the ability to marry, because they can't have children either.

Aspasia M. said...

Marghlar said...

We have seen a HUGE change in the definition of marriage -- from a relationship of subordination to a relationship between equals. Surely that change was more fundamental than a tiny tinkering about who can get married (and affected straight couples in a much more direct way).

This is THE key change in marriage. The legal change of "coverture" in which the wife was legally dead and the husband politically represented his wife to the state. (And the property inequalities and other citizenship disabilities that went along with marriage.)

-----------
Abraham,

It is completely understandable that you would be concerned that a partner would stay with through thick and thin. Because marriage is a institution between legal equals, the partners must rely on each other's sense of honor.

At the crux, you are relying on that person's honor to keep a promise.

I don't think that single-sex marriage affects the ability of people to make a promise and keep it.

I do think that gay people deserve the right to have that commitment in their own lives. And specific people I know that want that legal commitment, in part, because they would like to adopt and raise children together.

Elizabeth said...

Joan, your insistence is that marriage is defined by reproduction. Conveniently, that doesn't stop any heterosexuals who marry for other reasons, but because for you, it's about that single definition. And if a tiny, tiny percentage of individuals are permitted to marry who cannot reproduce with one another, then the whole definition changes.

The definition you insist on is by no means recognized by consensus. Many examples of how the concept of marriage has changed, is changing, and might continue to change have been offered. All the obvious exceptions among heterosexuals are dismissed, again conveniently, not by force of reason, by your definition.

Because your definition is in dispute, because of the weakness in your convenient allowance that it's fine for people who don't or can't reproduce to still marry so long as they look like people who could, your argument still fails. You insist that there will be a transformation of the value of marriage, but the reasons you offer aren't supported by the reality that marriage has faced any number of challenges to that very definition, and still survives. Marriage will continue because people like to be married for many reasons. The institution doesn't rest on one shaky pillar.

Elizabeth said...

Abraham, I concede change, not damage. I believe you equate the two, while I do not, and not just in the context of SSM. Most advances for women in the public sphere since the late 1700s have changed their status in the home as well. These changes have likewise changed marriage and family. And we survive; in fact we do more than endure, we live in a better, more equal society.

Edward said...

I'm worried that Joan and Abraham might feel like the five or six of us here who support gay marriage are ganging up on them. Pogo seems to have fallen silent for the time being...

I want to keep the discussion going. I hope Joan and Abraham reply. Mayne they'll tell us that we've convinced them to change their minds about same-sex marriage.

Joan said...

Edward:Since you seem so willing to let bigoted, barely socialized young people determine this nation’s marriage laws...

This is ridiculous! I gave the homophobic young men of the inner city as an example of how legalization of gay marriage could affect one group, and in the next paragraph I gave an example of a different group that would not likely be affected. From that, you extrapolate that I'm basing public policy decisions on the emotional responses of the one of the most irresponsible and lawless groups of society? It's tactics like this that make having any kind of discussion with you nearly impossible.

You think that the best way to improve overall society's opinion of homosexuals is to legalize gay marriage? Why, when gay marriage initiatives have been trounced at the polls, would you think that? As Mickey Kaus noted, Americans may or may not like gay marriage, but they really hate having gay marriage crammed down their throat by self-righteous, unelected liberal judges! What the poll shows is that the gay marriage cause is only now finally recovering from the damage done to it by Anthony Lewis' wife.

Americans, by and large, are live-and-let-live kind of people. As long as you're not being overtly obnoxious in your private behavior, whatever floats your boat. But if you start (and keep) getting up in our faces over these issues, you're not doing yourselves any good.

Regarding all those previous structural changes, I could probably draw a trend line starting with emancipation for women, leading straight through Prohibition on to the Great Society and the sexual revolution of the late 60's and early 70's. I've got other stuff to do shortly, so I don't have time to look up the dates on everything. Generally I'd say that bringing that stuff does more to prove the opponents' point than it does to bolster the proponents. Most of the doom and gloom predictions have panned out. I'm not saying we should go back to oppressive treatment of women, and I'm not saying there haven't been substantial benefits as well. But the strength of our social fabric has been damaged by all this experimentation. Looking at all the changes you cited, it's clear that it take two or three generations for those changes to start to bear fruit. So even if Abraham doesn't change his mind about marrying or procreating, chances are that his grandkids might, if the definition of marriage is now changed.

Elizabeth, again: You insist that there will be a transformation of the value of marriage, but the reasons you offer aren't supported by the reality that marriage has faced any number of challenges to that very definition, and still survives.

Marriage has faced challenges to its stability, not its definition. Making it easier to get a divorce doesn't change the fundamental nature of marriage (one man+one woman, as the best environment in which to raise children). And marriage has survived, in spite of these changes, and it's certainly not thriving.

You say there's no consensus on the definition of marriage. That's certainly true. By far the majority of opponents to gay marriage believe as I do, and those in support of gay marriage believe as you do. However, we have the weight of history behind us. You have wishful thinking and revisionist philosophies on yours.

Edward: Maybe they'll tell us that we've convinced them to change their minds about same-sex marriage.
Sorry, no. All of you proponents continue to dismiss our concerns as, as Elizabeth said, "venal" or worse ("sick, Nazi-like" etc.) I've been quoted out of context and had such ridiculous things attributed to me that I can't possibly answer them all. And when I do attempt to answer them, someone else come along and picks up another thing to twist, shred to ribbons, and discard.

An useful debate requires both honesty and respect. I haven't seen any of the proponents concede a single point -- that the social experimentation of the late 20th century has had many deleterious effects, for example, so that maybe we want to move cautiously before we do anything else to screw things up. This is complicated stuff, but that doesn't mean that it's completely unknowable, and to dismiss out of hand the difficulties that we are struggling with now as irrelevant just shows that it's bootless trying to advance this discussion by any meaningful measure.

AlaskaJack said...

I'm trying to understand an argument here. But it's not easy because there are so many ricochets and side issues (along with a few personal insults). While freely admitting to drawing some inferences from various posts , here's my best shot at what I think the two sides are arguing over:


The pro-traditional marriage side:

1) The proponents of traditional marriage take the position one's biological sex and one's gender are identical and that one's sex/gender is determined by nature. They also claim that there is a natural erotic attraction between males and females and that this erotic attraction is directly related to the continuation of the human race and, consequently, civilization.

2) Proponents of traditional marriage argue that a child is much more likely to develop healthy psychological traits and is much more likely to grow into a well-grounded adult if the child is raised in a traditional intact marriage unit consisting of a father and a mother.

3) Because of 2), proponents of traditional marriage see it as an institution that is, and ought to be, legally privileged and protected in any rational political community. It merits this priviledge precisely because of its critical importance in ensuring that the next generation can take their place in that political community as well-grounded citizens.


The same-sex marriage side:

4) The proponents of ssm appear to draw a distinction between one's biological sex and one's gender. They claim that, while one's biological sex is a fact like one's height, one's gender is a social construct. Consequently, erotic attraction should not be understood in terms of a male/female dichotomy but rather as an attraction between two autonomous selves who are either inclined towards one gender or the other or who freely adopt one gender or the other or, in some cases, both. Erotic attraction, therefore, is entirely independent from procreation.

4) Based on 4) above, the proponents of ssm see traditional marriage as a discriminatory institution that, by law, mandates that marriage consists only of one male-sex self who has adopted a male gender and one female-sex self who has adopted a female gender.

6) The proponents of ssm argue that marriage, as traditionally understood, is incompatible with modern (or more correctly, post-modern) notion of the autonomous self and should be disengaged from the idea that it is inextricably linked with child rearing. Because it involves two autonomous beings, it has nothing to do with potential third-parties, i.e. children. Given this understanding, it is obvious that the restriction of marriage to only one male-sex self who claims a male gender and one female-sex self who claims a female gender is unfair and arbitrary, just as it would be arbitrary to restrict marriage to selves only of a certain height.

It seems that for the proponents of ssm to successfully make their case, they ought to be able to demonstrate two things:a) that the post-modern notion of an "autonomous self" that stands outside of nature is a coherent philosophical concept and 2) that the distinction drawn between sex and gender is plausible. Until this is done, it is unlikely that their arguments will be accepted by the proponents of traditional marriage.

Aspasia M. said...

I would like us to re-examine the place of reproduction and fertility in marriage.


-------
Abraham:

Do you think it is permissible for a man to divorce a wife if she is not fertile?
-------

Part of the purpose of marriage is for the reproduction and raising of children.

But the definition or legitimacy of a marriage is NOT defined by one's own fertility or ability to reproduce. At least, not in the tradition of the Anglo world.

The Puritians who settled in Conneticut has a list of reasons that permitted divorce. The Conneticut Puritians beleived that these reasons were based on the bible. For example, if a man refused to consummate the marriage, the marriage could be dissolved.

If a man abandoned a woman or was lost at sea for 7 years, the woman could get a legal divorce and remarry.

However, the fertility of the couple was not a legal reason for divorce.

If fertility was a legal reason for divorce - Henry the Eighth would have had a much easier time attaining a separation from his many wives.

Again - I would just like us to re-examine the historic concept of marriage in light of commitment, honor, and promises, rather then fertility.

The anglo and British legal concept of marriage revolves around this concept of commitment. One's fertility, or lack of it, does not negate the commitment of the partners to each other.

Aspasia M. said...

Alaska Jack,

Wow - good job summarizing everything!

I agree with the summary except for #6.

I advocate SSM because I believe it would benefit the children of gay parents. I believe the inability to marry is not a nutral act but presents potential harms to the children of gay parents.


Many gay couples already are raising adopted or biological children & legal marriage would benefit their children.

I think the legal form of marriage is a good site in which to raise children for several reasons. Legal marriage would help in the establishment of an extended kinship network for the adopted/or biological child of gay parents. The legal forms of marriage establish the kinship of the adopted or biological child and that child's relationship to both of her/his parents.

In case of the death of one of the parents, it is clear who had custody of the child. Likewise, pension benefits, insurance or property, is automatically conferred on the other parent.

Marghlar said...

alaskajack: i think you've set up quite the strawman regarding the ssm position. I don't need to argue that gender is a social construct to say that ssm should be legalized. I need merely say that sexual orientation is not a constant, but varies from individual to individual (sexual orientation is a different issue then gender -- most gay males identify as men). That point is empirically obvious -- indeed, homosexual behavior occurs frequently in both humans and non-human animals.

If one accepts the premise that some people are innately much more attracted to members of the same gender then members of the opposite gender, it is a small step to say that it is discriminatory to exclude them from the legal benefits available to long-term pair-bonding straight couples, when they wish to engage in an identical practice.

Thus, all I depend on to make this showing is the empricial point that a significant minority in our culture would prefer to be married to members of the own gender.

Nor do I need to believe that procreation is irrelevant to marriage to believe this. I need merely think that it is only one aspect of marriage, and an aspect that homosexual partners can choose to participate in if they choose to do so (by adoption or by the assistance of third parties). I think that the raising of children is much more important than who conceives them. And this view comports well with our society's belief that if an infertile male and a fertile female have a child by sperm donor, that child belongs to the infertile male husband and not to the donor.

The issues of the marriage rights of transsexuals is a separate, but related, issue. I'd support marriage rights for transsexuals for similar reasons that I support gay marriage. But that is neither here nor there.

So, from here on out, please address my actual position, and not elaborate positions that you create for me. I never relied on any notion of a post-modern, autonomous self. I relied merely on the notion that there are a fair number of gay people in our society. And I think they deserve a shot at equality in the way the state treats their relationships.

This is why I keep bringing up the legal status of women. I view these situations as highly parallel. I think the history of our civilization is one of continued repression of women and gay people by heterosexual men. I don't think either aspect is worthy of preservation -- I think both should be firmly discarded. We are just doing better regarding gender right now than we are about sexual orientation.

Marghlar said...

Geoduck: Right on! Gay marriage is an excellent way to encourage those gay couples who want to raise children to do so. It's about matching willing parents with children in need of adoption, as well as encouraging gay couples to use alternative methods of procreation to raise their own children (to the extent feasible).

Marghlar said...

Alaskajack:

On reflection, I'll take some of it back. Your strawman argument was mainly that one needs to be postmodern to think these things. I'd agree that erotic attraction is about more than procreation. See: contraceptives, sex by infertile people, sex post menopause, homosexual sex, and non-fertile sex acts. And I'd agree that marriage as currently constituted is discriminatory. So it's mainly that third point I take issue with (#6).

The heart of my position is that the government ought not to discriminate against disfavored groups absent a good reason to do so. I don't see a good reason here, so I think the right of the gay minority to equal treatment trumps the state's desire to discriminate in passing out benefits. (And they do mean to discriminate -- the DOMA, e.g., is facially and obviously written to encourage discrimination against gay couples in receiving state benefits.)

Edward said...

Marghlar: VERY well said. I agree with virtually everything you said in your reply to Alaskajack. I’m genuinely impressed by your eloquence.

Alaskajack: I support same-sex marriage as much as Marghlar, and I never use terms like “post-modern,” “social construct,” and “autonomous self” when I make my arguments.

Those of us who support SSM here say that homosexuality is just as natural as heterosexuality.

Opponents of SSM say that homosexuality is “unnatural” and therefore SSM should not be legalized.

Yet supporters of SSM say that Nature is more diverse that opponents admit. There is more than just one sexual orientation in nature. Nature creates both heterosexuality and homosexuality, and our marriage laws should recognize both of them.

Joan said...

Opponents of SSM say that homosexuality is “unnatural” and therefore SSM should not be legalized.

Homosexuality is incompatible with the continuation of the species. As a matter of fact, homosexual couples can not reproduce without outside assistance.

Yet supporters of SSM say that Nature is more diverse that opponents admit. There is more than just one sexual orientation in nature. Nature creates both heterosexuality and homosexuality, and our marriage laws should recognize both of them.


You'd best not take this path. Really: "Nature" also creates pedophiles and necrophiliacs. Do we have to legally recognize them, too? Is adult-child marriage going to be the next hurdle to be legislatively cleared? Don't scoff, you know that the notion of de-classifying pedophilia as a psychological disorder has been bandied about in serious publications, just as the notion of murdering neo-nates has been discussed as being morally neutral. There are all kinds of horrifying ideas out there bolstered by the "what Nature intended" argument.

Left in our "natural" state, we are all pretty horrid, selfish, violent creatures (witness the average toddler). The "nature" argument fails because we are not dumb animals trapped and unable to do anything but follow an instinctual code handed down from generation to generation. We get to choose, in fact we must choose, what our destiny will be, as individuals and as a society.

I'm not advocating discrimination against gays. But there is a difference between accepting a behavior and encouraging it with legislative support.

Aspasia M. said...

alaskajack: i think you've set up quite the strawman regarding the ssm position. I don't need to argue that gender is a social construct to say that ssm should be legalized. I need merely say that sexual orientation is not a constant, but varies from individual to individual (sexual orientation is a different issue then gender -- most gay males identify as men).

Marghlar,

You're exactly right about the social construction of gender. It's not relevent to the support of SSM.

Like Edward I'm genuinely impressed by your eloquence.

Many people who support SSM believe that sexual attraction is entirely biological, and they do not believe in the social construction of either sex or gender.

The following, written by Marghlar, is the key point:

I think that the raising of children is much more important than who conceives them. And this view comports well with our society's belief that if an infertile male and a fertile female have a child by sperm donor, that child belongs to the infertile male husband and not to the donor.

Our definition of marriage that easily translates to SSM, as one can see by the above quote.

I understand that Joan has concerns about the large changes that have occured since the end of the Early Modern Era. Certainly they have been large and sweeping changes that include a wholesale change in the legal status of women.

However, legalizing SSM is very small (if at all) causal factor in the changes in U.S. heterosexual family structures.

Many, many posts ago I put up a history of women's fertility in the US. You can see that our 20th century baby boom was actually an change in the pattern of women's lower fertility.

Look at the US birth rates from the 1910-1930s. The 1950s & 1960s were an abnormal blip in the overal pattern of decreasing birth rates that began around 1800 in the U.S.

Marghlar said...

Joan said: You'd best not take this path. Really: "Nature" also creates pedophiles and necrophiliacs. Do we have to legally recognize them, too?

Joan, your argument here is easily answered. These practices cause affirmative harm to others -- pedophilia screws up kids (who can't really consent to it) and necrophilia wrongs the bereaved survivors of the recently dead. Homosexuality, by contrast, is a consensual practice between adults. It does not cause the sort of external harms that arise out of the practices you listed.

Marghlar said...

Joan:

The marriage of infertile persons is incompatible with continuation of the species to exactly the same extent as is homosexual marriage. If you were a legislator, would you vote for a law that prohibited infertile persons from marrying? That required fertility tests as a prerequisite of getting a marriage license? That post-menopausal women cannot legally marry?

These steps would clearly help you keep marriage closely associated with procreation. They'd be irrelevant to the point of having stable units that raise children, but they'd make sure that marriages are capable of producing children.

Why not take the extra step, if you are so confident that procreation is the central rationale of marriage?

Edward said...

Joan: I don’t believe there is any credible research -- or any research at all – that even claims to show that pedophilia is biologically determined. And even if such research existed, it wouldn’t have any relevance to this debate about gay marriage.

Anyway, tossing out pedophilia in a discussion about gay rights is quite inflammatory and insensitive. Joan, surely you know that the most extreme anti-gay bigots say that gay people are no better than pedophiles, which is a slander no reputable expert believes.

Honestly, are you now saying that legalized same-sex marriage will lead to legalized polygamy AND legalized pedophilia? Are there no limits to your feverish imagination?

There is absolutely no compelling reason why SSM will lead either to legalized polygamy or legalized pedophilia.

I recently read an article about SSM that said these slippery slope arguments are no more convincing than saying that a restaurant that decides to stop requiring its customers to wear coats and ties will soon stop requiring them wear any clothes at all. In other words, slippery slope arguments about polygamy are just as stupid as fears that abandoning a formal dress code will lead to legalized nudity.

Joan, do you care nothing about gay people, and don’t you at least agree that marriage would make the lives of many gay people much better and more comfortable? Don’t the happiness and well-being of actual gay people count for more than the ridiculous and far-fetched extrapolations that you keep fearfully imagining?

Joan, the real usefulness of the growing biological evidence about sexual orientation is that it shows how SSM cannot have the negative impact on regular, heterosexual marriage that you imagine.

If homosexuality is biologically determined, and if a distinct portion of the population is gay, then their marriages are not going to magically and mysteriously corrupt the marriages of heterosexuals from a distance. Each segment of the population – the heterosexual and the homosexual -- will simply marry in accord with its own biological imperative.

Joan said...

I can't possibly keep up with 4 or 5 people throwing stuff at me simultaneously. More to the point, I don't want to. Still, I'll take one last stab at it before I retire:

You're right, Edward, bringing up pedophilia was incendiary, but the "Nature makes all types, and we must recognize them" argument is specious: No, we do not have to recognize all types. We get to decide which behaviors we wish to encourage as beneficial to society.

Marghlar said: Homosexuality, by contrast, is a consensual practice between adults. It does not cause the sort of external harms that arise out of the practices you listed.

Homosexuality is emphatically not always a consensual practice between adults. I know at least four people who were drawn into same sex relationships with older, more experienced partners when they were in the early teens. They were gay for a while, but they grew out of it and later married and had kids. For some people, sexuality is more fungible than it is for others, but the "recruiting" phenomena definitely exists, especially on college campuses. You may think that kids who were "recruited" but later decide they are not gay haven't suffered any harm, but I do.

You all don't believe there's a slope, much less that it's slippery. I'm saying that, looking back, we can see where the nay-sayers were right about the impacts of societal change. We should be cautious about making further changes, because there are always unintended consequences. You want me to identify them and quantify them now, and because I can't back up my concerns with rock-solid data, you dismiss them out of hand.

If you had asked me 20 years ago about this question, I would have unquestionably agreed that same sex marriage should be legal. What happened between then and now? A lot, but it comes down, essentially, to this: I grew up.

Marghlar said...

Joan: I wouldn't call those sort of relationships homosexual -- I would call them pedophilic, or pederastic. I think its emphatically wrong for adults to have sex with children, because they can't give effective consent.

But this is a non-starter. Lots of pedophiles are straight, and lots of older men take advantage of teenage and preteen girls. That doesn't justify banning heterosexual adult marriage any more than it justifies denying marriage to homosexuals. One can regulate pedophilia without restricting the rights of consenting adults.

I certainly don't deny that abuse can screw up kid's sexuality. But you also need to acknowledge that there a fair number of people who are gay from the moment they become sexually aware, without any abuse. (This is the experience of nearly all the gay people I know whom I've spoken to about the subject.) For those people, their sexual preference feels no more like a choice than does my heterosexuality.

Thanks for the conversation, Joan. I've enjoyed this thread. I didn't mean to make you feel under siege, or anything. It's just that this is an issue I feel very passionately about, so I can get a little heated about it. Have a great weekend.

Regan said...

Joan's comment reminds me of the sort of people who allow a single remote incident, or at least a few to give them permission to acquire or retain prejudice.

It usually is only a matter of personal intimacy, the ability to know better than the few incidents would teach.

For her to believe so readily and easily the homosexual=pedophile prejudice, while ignoring completely, or at least mentioning how that compares with heterosexuals who sexually abuse youngsters, often their own children.

We are simply calling her on her selective prejudice and she cries uncle.
I remember when I was young and debates on interracial marriage.
Often, whites and sometimes blacks would cite "the children will suffer" as a defense against it.

This same defense comes from opponents of marriage between gay folks "the children will be deprived of either a mother OR father".

So let's forget the fact that non parents can marry for a moment.

When one brings up 'suffering' their comment is only half stated.
The other half of it is, 'but I'm not willing to be a part of reducing that suffering by changing the public's prejudices.'

The issue of the children isn't about the competence or love for the child, but standing back and participating in, or allowing others to ostracize the children.
Prejudice also is followed by fostering other's prejudice by inaction.

Joan's other defense regarding what other behaviors she'd feel forced to also accept, doesn't follow what we can separate.

Often homosexuality is grouped with adultery, theft, murder and child abuse or mental illness.

However, minority groups who have dealt with institutionalized bigotry in the past, have no empathy for the TREATMENT of gays and lesbians historically resembling their own.
And also fail to recognize that homosexuality doesn't bear any resemblance to the aforemention other behaviors.
Simply because no one is harmed by homosexual behavior alone.
All the other pathologies that plague humankind, do so universally and none of us is immune to that betrayal of one person of another.
And these pathologies are not exclusive to anyone gay or not.
So it comes down to being willing to distinguish universal pathology from being gay.
That is another bit of work a person generally averse to gay people would have to do, and they are unwilling and feel no personal attachment to it.

That feeling of 'being under seige' can't be ignored.
We know well that many people are offended just by a gay person walking down the street.
Attending school with other children.
And are averse to learning anything other than their comfort zone allows.

One doesn't want to be harsh with the Joan's of the world.
But as they are settled in THEIR comfort zone, there are more urgent issues that visit gay children every day.
The possibility of rejection by their parents, and being thrown into the streets with no home or church support.
There are those subtler instances of who and to what degree that gay person will unknowingly offend?
Gay folks can't live their entire lives walking on eggshells and straight folks shouldn't expect them to.
But when we're talking about marriage, and the children of gay parents, or children in general.

Our job also as a society is to understand and teach distinctions regarding pathology. To offer the responsibility of being more enabled to learn more.
And simply preparing youngsters who are gay themselves, or will likely be the parents of a gay child, what their duty is.

Mixed children have fared just fine, and get better all the time, now that generalized prejudice regarding interracial parents is concerned.

Mores the point, it's now a KNOWN FACT that DNA has confirmed that we are not different 'races', we are the SAME race and our difference in color is simply difference and nothing more.
None of us has greater talents or pathologies because of our color.

Now we know too, that DNA doesn't differentiate heterosexual or homosexual.
There are no anamolies or aberrations to show that homosexuality is a pathology.
We know too that gay folks function highly in absolutely everything that heteros do.

So the situation is this:
are we going to continue with the fiction that blacks are inferior, that gay folks are inferior?

Or are we going to accept the reality that treating someone AS inferior is very different from them actually being inferior?

And whatever traditions and institutions that excluded those of color, or who are gay-never had to, but just set them up that way due to irrational standards, not sound ones.

Unfortunately, black DNA being the same as white DNA, or hetero DNA being the same as homosexual DNA wasn't good news to some people.
Unfortunately too, many of them are in positions of great influence and power.
That some of the aforementioned pathologies indicated in higher numbers was induced by cultural prejudice, can also be REMEDIED by alleviating that prejudice isn't broadcast so that the Joans of the world feel they can safely participate in that change.

I want those children that opponents think they are keeping so safe with prejudice driving the agenda, don't seem to understand that keeping reality from them is dangerous too.
Those of us who do care about moral ethics and traditions, also have a duty to be more informed and certain of what we know.
Having one's prejudices validated and only seeking information and experience that will do that, serves nothing good.

I will not accept any more excuses from marriage equality opponents.
'the children' need a new focus and purpose of cooperation with each other.
No more excuses for prejudice rather than a solution to it.
The damage to gay lives and those who love them, gives ME permission to change things, to defy what's easy and simple and challenge prejudice.



I still never had my questions answered.

Oscar Patterson wrote an article for the NYTimes today about the continuing pathologies that plague young black men.
It's fine that someone still has an interest and curiosity about it.

One could also venture into the same study about cultural prejudice against gay men and women.
The pressure to live as or like straight people and the damage that has caused.
The wreckage of imploded marriages to straight spouses, the disconnect from biological children by cruel tactics and the poisoning of the young gay mind that no matter what their interests and goals and ability, they aren't welcome, not even in school.
And there is no hope of even defining themselves as a married person someday.
The spectre of violence is there too.

So I think it's fair to demand why poisoning the lives of gay people, looks like a good thing to do, when history and evidence have proven that clearly it isn't.

Yeah, I feel passionate about it, and with good reason as anyone should.

Gay folks blood is being shed at one extreme. Ordinary life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness guaranteed by two precious contracts with our government is another.

And the opponents? No such sacrifice, not even the tradition of marriage is being sacrificed or hurt by gay people's participation in it.

So why all the gay folks gotta give, and YOU don't Joan, Pogo...?

Joan said...

Marghlar, I appreciate your appreciation. However, I think it's too easy to dismiss the relationships I described as pedophilic or pederasty. Is it pedophilia when an 18-year-old picks up a 15- or 16-year-old? I don't think so, nor do I think it's pedophilia when a 20-year-old picks up a naive 17- or 18-year-old college freshman.

Regan: You're sliming me, and I wish you'd stop. I am compelled to defend myself against your slurs.
Joan's comment reminds me of the sort of people who allow a single remote incident, or at least a few to give them permission to acquire or retain prejudice.
You think that relaxation of divorce laws, the Great Society, and the Sexual Revolution are "single remote incidents" that have not had very negative effects on our society? Why do you equate recognizing that there have been negative consequences of these societal changes as "permission to acquire or retain prejudice"?

Perhaps that statement referred to my personal knowledge of some predatory homosexual relationships. I am fully aware of the gamut of relationships among both heterosexuals and homosexuals. I was not implying that all homosexual relationships are pedophilic. I was countering Marghlar's point that homosexuality was always between consenting adults and therefore never inflicted any harm on the participants.

For her to believe so readily and easily the homosexual=pedophile prejudice... For you to assert that I hold this prejudice is ridiculous and insulting.

We are simply calling her on her selective prejudice and she cries uncle. Statements like this, and those above, make me doubt your reading comprehension level. I said that it is impossible to answer every point from 4 or 5 opponents. It's not that I find your arguments particular hurtful, insightful, or compelling, it's that I can't keep 5 different conversational threads going here. The structure of the comments thread does not facilitate that kind of discussion.

I will not accept any more excuses from marriage equality opponents.

Thank you for saying that so directly. You've just validated my feeling that I've been wasting my time talking to you. The only thing that has been keeping me in this thread is the knowledge that there are other people reading it who want to hear both sides discussed. I've suspected from the outset that you are impervious to reason, and now you have confirmed it.

The damage to gay lives and those who love them, gives ME permission to change things, to defy what's easy and simple and challenge prejudice.
Here you demonstrate a basic misunderstanding of "the way things work" here. You have every right to speak up, demonstrate, agitate for new laws, whatever. But it's not up to you to write the laws, or to pass the laws, or to enforce the laws (unless you're an elected legislator, or someone in law enforcement, of course.)

I encourage you to continue agitating for change, but this idea you have that you, personally, can implement change by shoving it down the throats of everyone who disagrees with you, or even those who may not disagree but are saying, "Wait a minute, let's think about what we're talking about here,' is a non-starter.

This discussion is representative of the larger discussion of this issue in society. If you can't support your cause without resorting to attacking your opponents on a personal level by accusing them of being prejudiced, sick, and generally evil, you'll never be able to sway anyone to your side of the argument. Just keep on preaching to the choir, if that's what you want to do.

Fitz said...

Regan (wrote)

“Jeez, Fitz-you gave you game away referring to Jeffrey Satinover.
He's anti gay from go. His stance is religion based.”


I’m sorry ReganI don’t quite know what “anti gay from go” actually means?
{I suspect it means merely someone who disagrees with the breadth & depth of gay advocacy}
If you have any evidence of pronounced prejudice or inhumane treatment by the Doctor I think you should present it. He seems to me to be quite knowledgeable and well qualified. He also seems unafraid of modern shibboleths, and eminently trained to comment in this area.

But I suppose I’ll give readers (and yourself) the opportunity to reappraise his work.

JEFFREY B. SATINOVER, Ed.M., M.S., M.D., A.B.P.N.
Presently conducting research in complex physical and economic systems in the department of physics and the condensed matter physics laboratory at the University of Nice, France. The present work reports on research conducted while teaching constitutional law in the department of politics at Princeton University and physics at Yale University, and consulting to groups writing briefs in various state and federal Supreme Court cases.

S.B., Humanities & Science, M.I.T., 1971
Ed.M. Clinical Psychology & Public Practice, Harvard University, 1973
M.D., University of Texas, 1982
M.S., Physics, Yale University, 2003

http://www.narth.com/docs/TheTrojanCouchSatinover.pdf
(caution pdf file)

I also don’t know were you come up with “His stance is religion based”
Firstly it most certainly is not. In the article linked above there is not a single instance were the Doctor quotes any religious text or even employs religious nomenclature.
Secondly, If you are simply referring to the idea that he may (or may not-I’m not privy) practice this or that religion; well that would be quite unfair.
Could one not maintain that homosexual behavior disqualifies someone from commenting authoritatively on the subject? Does any religious affiliation make a person’s research and scholarship moot?
I would not think so myself.



Regan (also wrote)

“Stanley Kurtz's examinations of Scandinavian marriage trends, easily scapegoated gays and lesbians, but left out the real reason for the unpopularity or lack of necessity of marriage: the Swedish government subsituting for it and other support that would otherwise be done by family.”
I don’t believe the term “scapegoat” is appropriate given the breadth of Kurtz scholarship in this area. Nor do I find you qualified to state the “real” reason for marital decline in Scandinavia. You do as Edward did above…You are intentionally misrepresenting Kurtz thesis.

In an effort to correct this misrepresentation I will provide you with Kurtz thesis in his own words as well as a link to his work..


(I will Quote Mr. Kurt Directly – this is his thesis)
“More precisely, it has further undermined the institution. The separation of marriage from parenthood was increasing; gay marriage has widened the separation. Out-of-wedlock birthrates were rising; gay marriage has added to the factors pushing those rates higher. Instead of encouraging a society-wide return to marriage, Scandinavian gay marriage has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood, is acceptable.”

(That article & others can be found here..)
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/660zypwj.asp

The Netherlands has had legalized Registered Partnerships since 1997. Kurtz's reasoning is buttressed by other scholars including Jan Latten of the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics.

http://www.cbs.nl/NR/rdonlyres/D479F5BA-87B2-4C6E-BCCD-8306450AF908/0/2004k4b15p046art.pdf
(In Dutch & translation here)
http://www.marriagedebate.com/up/trends.php

All Concerned

The problem with the argument from analogy is it is merely that; an analogy.
Equating homosexuality to the struggle for black civil rights fails on multiple counts. One thinks it merely a crude attempt to co-opt the moral authority of a people who were ripped from their native culture, imprisoned and relocated, and forced into chattel slavery.
Race (is not) Sex (and neither is) whom one has sex with.

Of coarse the weakness of this argument from analogy is further buttressed by the sentiment of the descendents of those very slaves I mention above.

“Many black Americans are understandably offended when gay activists, who have never been relegated to the back of a bus, equate their agenda with racial discrimination. In a statement supporting traditional marriage, several black pastors wrote:”We find the gay community’s attempt to tie their pursuit of special rights based on their behavior to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s abhorrent.”14
A majority of Black Americans reject the facile comparison of sexual behavior with an immutable characteristic such as race, and disagree with the oft-heard contention by gay activists that homosexuals are “born that way.” A Pew Research poll found that by an overwhelming 61 to 26 percent margin, Black Protestants believe sexual orientation can be changed.15 The same poll reported that Black Americans oppose homosexual marriage by a 60 to 28 percent margin” .
22,23

14 Cheryl Wetzstein, “Blacks Angered by Gays’ Metaphors,” Washington Times (March 3, 2004): 3. 22 “The Gallup Poll: Homosexual Relations” The Gallup Organization (February 9-12, 2004). 23 “Gay Marriage a Voting Issue, but Mostly for Opponents,” The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press (February 27, 2004):

Marghlar said...

Joan:

I'd say that if you are old enough to consent to straight sex, you are old enough to consent to gay sex. So, if you think it's proper for a fifteen year old to have sex with adults, or for a seventeen year old to do so, then I have no legal problem with them having sex with older persons of the same gender. I probably wouldn't think such relationships were wise, but part of growing up is the ability to make bad choices.

If kids are too young to consent, it's pedophilia. If they are old enough to consent, it's experimentation. Which is a normal part of sexual maturation.

Marghlar said...

Fitz: Kurtz's credibility seems pretty thin. In the source you linked to, he is cherry-picking his demographic indicators to make a desired point, working very hard to explain away contrary data. He makes claims of causation that are nowhere buttressed by references to regression studies. His method of argument here wouldn't survive the way he criticizes other scholarship in his Trojan Couch article.

I'd be much more impressed by his arguments that scholarship on homosexuality needed more rigor, if there were any evidence that he has used such rigor in his own scholarship. From what you've cited, this guy is a hack.

And by the way -- showing that the black community is still awash in homophobia isn't exactly a dramatic revelation to anyone on this thread. I don't think it really helps you make your point. Lots of Irish and Polish immigrants who had suffered lots of discrimination when they came to America, were part and parcel of the oppression of African-Americans. It is a sad truth of history that a group's past experience with discrimination does not always lead it towards tolerance for the next disfavored group.

Marghlar said...

My goal: we must all shoot for 300 comments. Go people, go! Together, we can do it.

Fitz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fitz said...

Marghlar

You seem to have flown past my post rather quickly in an attempt to rebut it. You managed to conflate the works of Stanley Kurtz with the work of Dr. Satinover. These are two different authors, writing about two different subjects, in two different publications. How are you abler to conflate them?
Kurtz work has been both criticized and applauded. It is also backed up by the Dutch demographer Jan Latten of the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics & others.
Just calling the man a "hack" seems to merely buttress you own prejudices and then you dont substantiate anything.
(Please read again more carefully)




As for your slur of African Americans as “homophobic” I must claim to be at a loss. I hope you understand that there is no such thing as “homophobia”. In the original Greek it would mean literally “fear of sameness”. It’s a made up word that I watched enter the lexicon during my lifetime. I believe activists hope to use it to the same effect one can use racist or to a lesser degree sexist.
Its an unfortunate term however. It seeks to brand those who disagree with aspects of the cultural lefts approach to homosexuality as mentally unstable or pathological. (I wonder if you can see the irony in that?) Never the less no credible psychiatrist or physiologists maintain that large swaths of the population suffer from some irrational fear of homosexuals. (ala, claustrophobia or arachnophobia)

I think a better term for what you are trying to say would be anti-homosexual bigotry. Why do you feel blacks in particular subscribe to this bigotry? I believe the numbers I posted (and polls I site) show merely an opposition to gay “marriage” & the belief that homosexuality is innate. I find it telling if you ipso facto see this as anti-homosexual bigotry. There are any number of explanations why African Americans would oppose such an agenda without being bigots. Large percentage’s of the population at large support these views, are they all bigots?
Am I a Bigot? (what about Kurtz or Dr, Satinover?)

Marghlar said...

You're right. I conflated Satinover and Kurtz. My apologies. I do stand by my earlier comment, however -- Kurtz's work wouldn't survive Satinover's critique of exisitng psychiatric scholarship on homosexuality. At least not the work you linked us to. If you have something better, feel free to cite to it.

I'll also say that there are deep logical flaws in Satinover's piece. In general, he seems to rely on a few studies showing correlation (but not causation) between homosexuality and depressive disorders and/or suicide, as a reason to criticize the failure to categorize homosexuality as a disorder in the DSM. I'd note that on that ground, both being an attorney and being a psychiatrist should be disorders in the DSM -- both are correlated with higher rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicide than are present in the general population. I'd want to see a lot more before I'd feel comfortable calling homosexuality a "disorder." We are not exactly talking about paranoid schizophrenia here. These are people who go to work, pay their taxes and are pleasant to have coffee with. Most people with real psychiatric disorders do not fit such a profile.

You need to deal with the fact that the lexicon changes. Homophobia is in the OED. Defined as "fear or hatred of homosexuals or homosexuality." Just because a word is new, and doesn't exactly conform to its greek roots, doesn't make it not a word. (It is worth noting that homosexuality is itself a bit of a bastardization, consisting of a conflation of greek and latin roots)

And homophobia, as defined above (not just as philiosophical objection to equal rights for homosexuals) is all too prevalent in the black community. How do I know this? By personal experience, in part, working in a job with a predominantly african-american workforce, where my colleagues routinely exhibited both fear and hatred of homosexuality and homosexuals. By the predominance of extremely negative stereotypes and frequent rhetorical targeting of homosexuals in black popular entertainment. And by the fact that gay african-americans are more likely to be closeted than almost any other gay americans.

Don't act as if homophobia (or "anti-homosexual bigotry", if you prefer) isn't a real issue in America. People get killed in our society just for being gay. Not too long ago, a guy was shot in the face not too far from where I live, probably because his attackers thought he was gay (he wasn't, but he was walking with a male friend in a gay neighborhood).

I certainly don't accuse anyone who opposes gay marriage of homophobia. But it is a real problem in our society, and part of the reason that I think it is important for the state to extend equal rights to homosexuals. Unequal treatment by the state legitimizes private discrmination and bigotry. And the end results of the bigotry can be pretty horrific.

AlaskaJack said...

Marghlar, as your blogosphere appointed attorney, I would advise you not to concede that the propositions in paragraph 6) are false. Were you to do so, you would run the risk of conceding that the propositions in paragraph 1) are true. And this would undercut your argument. With Fitz fine tuning his counter- arguments, I urge caution.

Edward said...

Fitz: I'm sorry to say this, but you are a bigot, at least on gay issues. To support depriving any minority group of its fundamental rights is a clear sign of bigotry.

The fact that many Americans agree with you – along with a few scholars and researchers who publish papers that support your prejudice – only shows how entrenched anti-gay bigotry is.

Your opposition to the word "homophobia" is mere semantics. I've probably studied far more ancient Greek and linguistics than you (I have a Ph.D. in a related field), and I see no problem with this term.

New words are coined all the time, often with Latin or Greek roots, and their fit with the modern-day phenomena that these new words describe is not always perfect.

"Homophobia" is an elegant, linguistically efficient term that describes dislike of gay people and/or opposition to gay equality.

As I'm sure you're well aware, many conservatives were horrified decades ago when "gay" began to be applied to homosexuals. Outraged conservatives claimed that homosexuals were "stealing" a perfectly fine and lovely word for their own sick social movement.

Well, you know what? "Gay" stuck, newspapers and other media sources finally agreed to use it, and now everyone uses it. "Gay" is a lot shorter and more efficient than having to say "homosexual" all the time.

The term "homophobia" is now almost as well established as "gay."

I don't want to hurt your feelings by calling you anti-gay or homophobic. I'm sure you're a really nice person in most other respects.

Nevertheless, the time will soon arrive in this world when opposing equal marriage rights for gay people will be recognized for what it is, bigotry (or a manifestation of bigotry).

Marghlar said...

Alaskajack:

It might have been helpful if you had responded to my reply to your post in enough detail that I could consider where you disagreed with me.

Regardless of whether we could consider any of Fitz's arguments to be finely-tuned, I think you are wrong. Feel free to lay your position out at greater length, but I believe I said quite clearly that I supported gay marriage in part because it encouraged communitarian virtues such as child-rearing and the stability of relationships. Your #6, as posited above, would contradict that belief. So, as I've said, I don't agree with it.

Maybe it would help if you explained what part of this you think I would concede, and I'll chat with you about it (I quote so as to avoid having to hunt up-thread each time):

1) The proponents of traditional marriage take the position one's biological sex and one's gender are identical and that one's sex/gender is determined by nature. They also claim that there is a natural erotic attraction between males and females and that this erotic attraction is directly related to the continuation of the human race and, consequently, civilization.

As I said above, I think that the sex/gender relationship is irrelevant to my views on this topic. I think that some of us are "naturally" attracted to members of the opposite sex, some are naturally attracted to members of either sex, and some are naturally attracted to members of the same sex. I'd say that procreation is one important function of human sexuality, but it isn't the be all and end all. Ergo, my wife and I still have sex, even though we are currently trying to conceive a child together.

Now, which point have I conceded?

Marghlar said...

Alaskajack:

p.s. since when do non-indigent, competent people get court-appointed counsel? I think I'm doing just fine on my own, thank you. If you'd like to send me your qualifications, I'll consider whether its in my interest to hire you. However, I currently have concerns that you might have a positional conflict of interest in exending representation to me.

Aspasia M. said...

My goal: we must all shoot for 300 comments. Go people, go! Together, we can do it.

Yes, indedee! We can do it if we all pull together!

I was helping a friend prep for her comprehensive exams tonight. We covered the antebellum period and Jacksonian Democracy. My somewhat out of the blue comment was in talking about urbanization: And thus Lesbianism!

My friend was rather non-plussed.

WARNING: History babble ahead:

It seems to me that the commenters that are concerned about legalizing Same Sex Marriage want to promote a particular type of gender & sexual relationships. This ideal relationship seems to be a father (head of household) and a mother who bears children.

Same Sex Marriage concerns people because people are worried that a large proportion of Americans will choose either to not marry or to marry someone of their same sex.

I would suggest that the changes in sexual and gender relationships are caused not by the existance of homosexuality but by other things that began to happen in the Antebellum period.

1830-1860

These are: falling birthrates, Industrialization, Urbaniztion and the Transportation Revolution.

These events are related to: divorce, birth control, abortion, women's wage work, woman's suffrage, woman's property laws, temperance activism, benevolence networks, AND

The ability of women to live without marriage. (And men too.)

My main point is --

To those who want to return to "traditional" family relationships that revolve around the production of children in a pre-modern way. The cow's out of the barn. Long, long out of the barn. Divorce and birth control is a WAY bigger threat to these "traditional relationship."


You'd need a Romanian style state to up the birthrate. And EVEN then it wouldn't work very well.

Advocating marriage for gays is actually a conservative compromise. Do you really want people to get rid of marriage altogether?

Alaska Jack said...

1) The proponents of traditional marriage take the position one's biological sex and one's gender are identical and that one's sex/gender is determined by nature. They also claim that there is a natural erotic attraction between males and females and that this erotic attraction is directly related to the continuation of the human race and, consequently, civilization.


Then Marghlar said...

As I said above, I think that the sex/gender relationship is irrelevant to my views on this topic. I think that some of us are "naturally" attracted to members of the opposite sex, some are naturally attracted to members of either sex, and some are naturally attracted to members of the same sex. I'd say that procreation is one important function of human sexuality, but it isn't the be all and end all. Ergo, my wife and I still have sex, even though we are currently trying to conceive a child together.

Yes - It is interesting to discuss what caused sexual attraction, but not important to agree on a cause as long as we all agree that some people are very attracted to their same sex.

For many people - it is not a choice. I personally think that it is a mix of the biological and social construction. However, social construction is just as hard, if not harder to change. What's important is that it's not very flexible.

Perhaps people against same-sex marriage do think sexuality is easily constructed? Perhaps they think that everyone is bi-sexual?

I find something ironic that those we might classify as advocates of "traditional marriage" may actually be more Post-Modern then those who support SSM.

I personally don't think the legalization of marraige will re-construct many people's sexuality. However, I get the impression that traditionalists think sexuality is very fluid. I find it ironic that our traditionalists are actually very PO MO.

Marghlar said...

geoduck: yeah, ironically the best support for this traditionalist position (that this will really change sexual orientation) is to cite to Kinsey, who claimed that sexual orientation was primarily bisexual (albeit on a sliding scale).

Of course, this would require them to face up to the fact that, long before the sexual revolution, a huge proportion of the population had been having same-sex sexual experiences, and around 7% were almost exclusively gay.

Your nineteenth century lesbian data only help to drive home the point. As does the wide-variety of homoerotic literature available at the time (Goblin Market, anyone?).

Marghlar said...

It wasn't until geoduck quoted me that I realized that I had said:

"Ergo, my wife and I still have sex, even though we are currently trying to conceive a child together."

Clearly, there is a "not" that disappeared somewhere between thinking and typing. My wife would have been astonished to know that I am waging a guerrilla campaign to impregnate her.

Although it might have been a freudian slip, given that I am the more pro-procreation member of our relationship.

Aspasia M. said...

It wasn't until geoduck quoted me that I realized that I had said:
"Ergo, my wife and I still have sex, even though we are currently trying to conceive a child together."

Clearly, there is a "not" that disappeared somewhere between thinking and typing. My wife would have been astonished to know that I am waging a guerrilla campaign to impregnate her.


I thought it was an interesting comment on how the construction of one's own sexuality can change when the goal becomes procreation.

I read it as an interesting comment of making impregnantion about more then "impregnantion." As my husband and I are going to try and begin the "gestation process" at the end of this semester -- I took the statement as a way to keep the romance in the relationship! Sex can still be fun although impregnantion is the goal!

On the creation of a homosexual identity

Later in the 19th century historians can say with certainty that there is not only a gay subculture, but a gay identity that has emerged.

Although the pre-conditions that allow people to survive without heterosexual marriage are set before the Civil War.

My poor friend was baffled when going over the antebellum period in preparation for her tests I said: "Urbanization, Industrializtion, the Transportation Revolution; thus, Homosexuality!"

"Where did that come from?" - And I had to explain about this blog conversation.

But it all happens real fast - from 1830-1890 - only a couple of years, really.

The New York Times article "Marriage is for White People" has an interesting last sentence that suggests the meaning of marriage has changed for heterosexuals in a way that sheds light on this discussion.

But human nature being what it is, if marriage is to flourish -- in black or white America -- it will have to offer an individual woman something more than a business alliance, a panacea for what ails the community, or an incubator for rearing children. As one woman said, "If it weren't for the intangibles, the allure of the lovey-dovey stuff, I wouldn't have gotten married. The benefits of marriage are his character and his caring. If not for that, why bother?"

The consequences of the Antebellum era come home to roost!

(article by Joy Jones, a Washington writer, is the author of "Between Black Women: Listening With the Third Ear" (African American Images). Published in New York Times, March 26, 2006.)

I love the 19th century.

Abraham said...

I have to try real hard not to take a contrary position just to spite people like Edward, who try to shut the debate down questioning the good faith of his opponents in a most despicable way. I suppose that makes me a bigot, too, huh?

Edward said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Edward said...

Abraham: I knew some people were going to be offended by my last post about Fitz being bigoted. Look, I was simply applying the term “bigot” in its basic meaning, which is to hold negative opinions about a group of people based mostly on ignorance about that group and prejudice toward them.

Bigotry is the default setting of the human mind when it comes to opinions concerning outsiders. Everyone is bigoted at some point of their lives; perhaps everyone harbors a certain amount of bigotry against the groups that are the most unfamiliar and most different from one’s own.

There are certain bigotries that are ancient within all branches of humanity. Each race has been bigoted against all other races at some point. Men have certainly been bigoted against women for eons. Throughout human history, religions have usually been highly bigoted toward each other.

Homophobia, the dislike/hatred/fear of gay people, is an ancient human bigotry. Its ancient pedigree doesn’t make it any more proper and correct than the other bigotries were.

Almost every adult in this country above a certain age – say thirty – was raised bigoted against gay people (homophobic) to some degree. There didn’t exist in this country a cultural climate where any sustained positive portrayal of gay people could be presented in the media or anywhere else. Almost the only messages that people received concerning gays were negative ones.

Usually, in fact, there was a conspiracy of silence about homosexuality, and bigotry towards gays can’t be overcome through silence and fear of discussion.

Ignorance as much fear and hatred is the root cause of homophobia. Bigotry leads people to reach highly negative conclusions based on very little or very selective evidence and often based on no first-hand knowledge of the group that is the target of that bigotry. Traditionally, the citizens of one country have often been highly bigoted toward the citizens of far-away countries, even though they may never in their lives have actually met any person from these distant lands.

Even if they did once have the chance to meet and talk with a member of the group they were bigoted towards, that one interaction may only have reinforced deeply entrenched bigotry. Reaching universal or near-universal conclusions about a group of people based on knowledge of only a few members of that group is a form of bigotry.

Every human group harbors lots of diversity. I may encounter in my daily life a Japanese person whom I find totally despicable. I don’t have the chance to meet many Japanese in my life. As a result of this one encounter, I may conclude that all Japanese are despicable, thus negating the fact that every large human group contains lots of diversity within it. The one Japanese person whom I met may really and truly have been despicable, but to conclude from that one experience that ALL Japanese are despicable would be bigotry.

Bigotry can also result from failing to acknowledge the potential for improvement that is inherent in the human condition. As a group, African-American slaves immediately after their emancipation in the Civil War were probably an unimpressive sight. In some ways, it’s understandable that many white Southerners believed that blacks were not fit to be full and equal citizens. The only blacks they ever knew were horribly educated, poorly socialized slaves.

But white Southerners were full of bigotry towards African-Americans, because they refused to acknowledge that blacks had great potential for intellectual and cultural growth following their emancipation. [Of course, Jim Crow greatly hindered this progress, but that’s another story].

Many gay people may now appear unfit, and even undeserving of equal marriage rights. Especially in the 1970s and 1980s, gays had a (somewhat accurate) reputation of being irresponsible, sex-obsessed, wild party animals. Yet even back then, that was largely a stereotype -- not all gay people were that way.

The gay community will grow into marriage as marriage becomes available to them. The gay community has great potential for contributing to mainstream American society -- even in terms of parenting and raising the next generation – if only the legal and social climate were made more hospitable. Legalizing gay marriage would be the best way to improve this climate.

Fitz seems very well-versed in a small, very limited set of published research that has reached highly negative conclusions about gay people. I wonder if he ever goes out of his way for balance and reads just as carefully the vast amount of scholarship that contradicts virtually every point of the studies that reach anti-gay conclusions.

Of course, for Fitz to take part in a discussion like this one shows that he is still open-minded to some degree on this subject. Therefore, he is clearly not completely bigoted on gay issues.

The only way to work one’s way out of bigotry is through education and a lot of difficult thinking. Having an open heart and mind also helps.

Joan said...

Do you people take the time to read the replies of your opponents? Do you ever read what you yourself have written?

Marghlar: It seems to me that the commenters that are concerned about legalizing Same Sex Marriage want to promote a particular type of gender & sexual relationships. This ideal relationship seems to be a father (head of household) and a mother who bears children. It seems? How many times have we said explicitly that marriage is promoted as the ideal relationship for the raising of children? There is no "seems" about it -- unless you are accusing us of obfuscation, of putting forth rationals that are false. I don't think that was your intention, but your use of "seems" -- twice! -- was irritating, whether it was intentional or not.

Edward: no one in this thread needs to read a 20-paragraph explanation of bigotry. The fact that you felt that we did is just more evidence of your own narrow-mindedness.

Historical ramblings: homosexuality has been with us as long as there have been people. People like having sex, and people are attracted to their own sex in varying degrees. But whether we're talking about Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, or 19th century America, the practitioners of homosexuality understood it was about their own personal pleasure, and nothing to do with marriage or the continuation of society. It cannot, by its very nature, be about those things, since homosexual relationships are closed off to the possibility of child-bearing.

I don't care who other people have sex with, but I do care what kind of relationships our society chooses to promote. I know, "the kids are all right," but there's a difference between surviving and thriving. Humans are amazingly resiliant and persistent, especially kids. But the idea here is not to promote "good enough" environments, but to promote the best environment.

There is a raft of data -- whether or not you want to believe it -- demonstrating the negative effects of single-parent homes on kids. Does that mean we're going to ban divorce and make everyone stick together? No, there's no putting that genie back in the bottle. But at least we're making the effort to get the word out there, that divorce isn't as consequence-free as we had been lead to believe.

Regarding the issue at hand here, we're supposed to blithely accept that single-sexed 2-parent households are going to be just as OK for kids as male-female 2-parent households. Anecdotally, everyone says the kids are all right, but there is no data at all to support this supposition. For male children raised in lesbian households, especially, I wonder why they shouldn't have exactly the same problems as boys raised exclusively by their moms, without a strong male role model in the house. Does the presence of two parents somehow magically negate the absence of a strong role model of the opposite sex? I can't see any mechanism by which that can happen.

The longer this thread goes on, the more revelations we see regarding the mind set of the proponents of gay marriage. There's a lot of pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking (Edward: The gay community will grow into marriage as marriage becomes available to them. The gay community has great potential for contributing to mainstream American society -- even in terms of parenting and raising the next generation – if only the legal and social climate were made more hospitable. Legalizing gay marriage would be the best way to improve this climate.) but no explanation of the mechanisms by which these great changes would take place, while remaining wilfully oblivious to the reality that the electorate has a very negative view of having the legalization of gay marriage forced upon us.

You accuse your opponents of bigotry and close-mindedness, while displaying your own version of those traits. The more you talk, the more we see. It's not pretty.

Edward said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Edward said...

Joan: I’m sorry, but it really seems like you’re denying the historical existence of homophobia (anti-gay bigotry) and the powerful effects of that bigotry.

Don’t you realize that many people throughout history have thought of gay people as devils in league with Satan? For goodness sake, some religious extremists still believe that to this day.

Many other people have believed that the very existence of gay people undermines all civilization and threatens to destroy all humanity. It’s not simply gay people who want the right to marry that are viewed this way. I’m saying that the MERE EXISTENCE of homosexuals has been viewed by many people as an enormous threat to all society.

Such a deeply prejudiced view of gay people is bound to result in oppressive laws and social policies, and this oppression itself produces all kinds of harm and bad behavior, which may appear inherent to homosexuality but really isn’t at all.

Is there any stale old stereotype or prejudice about homosexuality that you’re not willing to drag up, directly or indirectly, to justify you opposition to same-sex marriage?

Can you say one nice, positive thing about gay people at all, other than the insultingly neutral comment, “Well, they can have whatever kinds of sex they want in the privacy of their homes, as long as they don’t push their “lifestyle” in my face.”

I have another question for you: since you pay so little regard to the harms of anti-gay bigotry (almost to the point to where you seem to deny the existence or relevance of such bigotry to this debate), why don’t you tell all of us what you were told about homosexuals by your parents, friends and family when you were growing up? I will be extremely surprised if you say that you were given anything even approaching a fair and balanced view of gay people when you were growing up.

In fact, to the extent that you were told anything about gay people growing up, you were probably told extremely negative things.

If you don’t think that this kind of bigoted cultural conditioning has an enormous impact on how a minority group is perceived (and even on how the group perceives itself and behaves), then I strongly suggest that you think again.

Marghlar said...

Do you people take the time to read the replies of your opponents? Do you ever read what you yourself have written?

Marghlar: It seems to me that the commenters that are concerned about legalizing Same Sex Marriage want to promote a particular type of gender & sexual relationships. This ideal relationship seems to be a father (head of household) and a mother who bears children. It seems?


Sorry for the long quote Joan, but I'm pointing out that while accusing us of zipping through your replies, you attributed geoduck's quotes to me. And I don't think she meant "seems" in any perjorative sense -- she was just trying to restate you position, and didn't want to do so overconfidently, as the task necessarily involved putting words in your mouth.

Fitz said...

Edward & Marghlar

Edward (wrote)
“Fitz: I'm sorry to say this, but you are a bigot, at least on gay issues. To support depriving any minority group of its fundamental rights is a clear sign of bigotry.”

Your premise (that I am a bigot) rest on presumption you make in the second half of this sentence. That is, any one who support depriving a minority group of its fundamental rights = Bigotry (clearly no less)
I’m afraid you beg the question with this construction.
The argument is whether or not gay “marriage” is a “fundamental right.”
That’s what we are arguing, is it not?
What you are now saying is anyone who disagrees is ipso facto a bigot.
How convenient for your side.

Edward (wrote)
“The fact that many Americans agree with you – along with a few scholars and researchers who publish papers that support your prejudice – only shows how entrenched anti-gay bigotry is.”

Once again, your circular reasoning consistently brings you back to your desired conclusion. (the following is a Merriam Webster definition)

Main Entry: big•ot
Pronunciation: 'bi-g&t
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French, hypocrite, bigot
: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices
- big•ot•ed /-g&-t&d/ adjective
- big•ot•ed•ly adverb

Note the wording, obstinately or intolerantly. This wording is quite strong. I don’t believe I, nor Dr. Kurtz or any of the other links I have provided can be demonstrated as bigots. One could just as easily level the charge at you Edward, Mythogo, and other pro-ss “m” proponents that you are the bigoted parties. That you are obstinately & intolerantly devoted to you own opinions. Note also, no mention is made of minority group status, one can be a bigot of both groups and groupings of opinion.

Edward (wrote)
“The only way to work one’s way out of bigotry is through education and a lot of difficult thinking. Having an open heart and mind also helps.”

I’m afraid I am (all too) versed in both the arguments and counter arguments to everything same-sex “marriage”. I make it a point of personal & professional pride to always weigh all the evidence and both sides of an argument. As a lawyer one is required by the code of ethics to always weigh arguments even when presenting a claim or brief on behalf of a client. This professional training has instilled this habit into my thinking and research techniques. Indeed, one presents a better argument if one fully familiarizes oneself to an opponents argument.

Along these lines I have thoroughly read and digested the work of William N. Eskridge, Andrew Sullivan, Boswell, Darren R. Spedale, Stepheny Coontz, M.V. Lee Badgett and many others. (I could go further and talk about the deep personal relationships I share with practicing homosexuals but that would be rather emotive & anecdotal to this discussion)
In order to prove my balance let me link to the best work I have found that undercuts Kurtz’s thesis. {this scholar questions the statistics themselves and therefore undercuts Kurtz main pillar for his thesis}
http://www.contemporaryfamilies.org/media/same%20sex%20marriage%20briefing%20paper.htm
I must also link to this article by Dr. Kurtz, that begins with a explanation of his qualifications in this field. {I must again defend this man as NOT a bigot = “obstinately or intolerantly devoted” }
http://www.apa.org/releases/gaymarriage.html

Geoduck2, I appreciate the historical perspective that you bring to this subject. Most of your analysis I agree with. However, I’m afraid we are talking past each other. You seem to be arguing what is called a “fate accompli” . That the argument is essentially useless, because historical forces are driving the separation of the traditional family and we must bend to the weight of history. This smacks of “historicism” to my ears. There is nothing foreordained about changing the definition of marriage. There is also nothing keeping from lowering divorce rates, illegitimacy rates, and increasing birth rates and securing a more natalist culture.

geoduck2 {wrote}

“However, legalizing SSM is very small (if at all) causal factor in the changes in U.S. heterosexual family structures.”

I agree, Indeed how can it be causal in this culture when it has yet to arrive/manifest itself as a causal factor. It is not however very small in the all important philosophical sense. By attacking the very definitional foundation same sex “marriage” necessarily (a) androgyniezes marriage (b) separates it from a necessary connection with childbearing.
This is in no way a very small change.

Yor main point was --

"To those who want to return to "traditional" family relationships that revolve around the production of children in a pre-modern way. The cow's out of the barn. Long, long out of the barn. Divorce and birth control is a WAY bigger threat to these "traditional relationship."

Yes they are, and have been. Many of us want to ameliorate these phenomena in order to build a stronger marriage culture. Especially concerning the underclass and illegitimacy’s dire consequences. Toward this end we appose ss “m” as a larger step toward separating Marriage from procreation.
While history, technology, urbanization ect have all had both positive and negative effects on family structure. Only gay marriage goes the length of actually changing the definition, basic meaning of the institution. This is precisely what concerns us. While many work diligently to bring down divorce rates and illegitimacy rates and restore our culture of marriage. The Massachusets supreme court and activists have thrust this battle into our unwilling hands. (and those of the American people)

Marghlar said...

Joan,

Let me try and parse out our disagreements.

1. You want there to be a role-model of either sex available to children. But how much do you want this? Do you want it so much that you'd have children raised by 2-parent households who don't want them, and thus treat them shabbilly? Do you want it so much that you think a loving M/F household in extreme poverty will prepare kids better for life than will an economically successful M/M or F/F household?

The reason I ask, is that a lot of the children adopted by loving gay couples are being rescued out of the child welfare system. Having worked in that system, I can emphatically tell you that their outcomes, outside of adoption, normally suck. They are often shunted from foster home to foster home (usually heterosexual poor women who take a large number of kids as a way to earn subsidies from the state). They lack continuity and stability, and often end up criminals.

So: here's the choice I offer you. A child is being abused by his parents. To take a typical example, the kid lives in a crack house, is undernourished, sometimes locked in a closet for long periods of time, and so little attention is paid that that she has severe emotional disabilities and she is very developmentally retarded.

Option A: Have the kid remain with its parent (often single, btw).

Option B: Put the kid in foster care.

Option C: Get the kid adopted, even if in a non-traditional household.

I place the caveat on option C because it is often very hard to find married straight couples to take the kids. Don't you think that, given the options, whatever concerns you have about the kid growing up with two moms are less pressing than getting the kid into a safe, nuturative, home? Someone we know is a single mom by choice, raising an adopted daughter who was born to a drug addict with heroin in her system. Male role model or not, my experience is that she is getting an excellent deal. Her mother actually loves her and cares about her, and is in an excellent economic position to raise her well. The kid is doing vastly better than when my friend brought her home.

(As an aside -- if you know many gay couples, you might know that a fair number have at least one partner who sits pretty far outside of traditional gender norms...that is, some gay women I know would probably be better "male" role models than my dad was...)

So, to review:

Gay marriage is probably not going to make a lot of straight people gay. What it will do is facilitate stability and adoption in gay relationships.

The children who will be raised by gay couples are either conceived for the purpose (and thus wouldn't have existed except for the gay relationship -- higher birthrate, people!) or are adopted.

If adopted, they came from mothers who were usually single, and either didn't want them, or abused or neglected them.

So, I give you the choice: what should be done with these kids, if not have them raised in gay households? Should they be left with their original abusive parents? Left in the foster care system? Because those are your other options.

Do you see now why I say that gay marriage is pro-procreation and child rearing? It creates a stable home for children who otherwise would not have one.

Joan, I'd appreciate if you'd respond to the above point. Is your concern about the two-gender household strong enough that you'd prefer kids get left in foster homes, rather than get adopted by a gay couple? Would you rather the child not be born than be adopted by a gay couple (as would sometimes be the case)?

Edward said...

Fitz: I believe that you participated in Ann Althouse's first thread on gay marriage and polygamy.

I made an important post in the first thread that you I believe you never fully responded to.

I suggested that same-sex marriage opponents have their own slippery slope problem, which they are unwilling to face.

It boils down to this: if same-sex marriage is so dangerous to the future of humanity, why don't we take away other rights and protections from gay people, rights and protections that were won in the past three decades?

All your arguments really amount to to claim that homosexuality ITSELF is dangerous, not merely same-sex marriage. On what logical grounds do you allow gay people any rights at all, such as the right merely to say they are gay in a public forum?

I'm going to re-post my ideas from the first thread in the next two posts.

I sincerely and honestly would like your reply to the SUBSTANCE of my ideas, instead of merely quibbling over semantics, as you seem so much to like doing.

Edward said...

Most opponents of gay marriage seem to draw the line precisely at marriage. Gay people can be full and equal participants in American society, they usually say, except when it comes to marriage.

Drawing the line precisely at marriage is supposed to show, I believe, how tolerant and modern opponents of gay marriage really are.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that the case against gay marriage depends almost entirely on very speculative, almost mysterious consequences that opponents fear will ensue from gay marriage’s SYMBOLIC power. Basing your gay-marriage opinion on mere symbolism opens up a huge slippery slope problem that completely contradicts the claims of tolerance and modernism that opponents insist upon so loudly and defensively.

Let me explain what I mean.

Legalized same-sex marriage will clearly have no direct impact on heterosexual marriage. Allowing gays to marry does not in any real way prevent heterosexuals from marrying. Nor does it automatically prevent heterosexual couples from having just as many babies as they always have.

Opponents of gay marriage instead conjure up a whole host of disasters that they say will ensue from gay marriage’s symbolic power.

Gay marriage will never literally prevent heterosexuals from marrying, and so opponents instead say that the sight of gay people marrying will symbolically cheapen, degrade and render meaningless the concept of marriage. Gay marriage will supposedly undermine the institution of marriage symbolically. Young heterosexuals will therefore become confused and demoralized, and they will increasingly decide not to get married at all.

The same argument is made in terms of procreation. No person in his right mind would ever claim that gay marriage will literally (or actually) prevent heterosexuals from procreating. I don’t care how conservative you are; you would have to be insane to make this argument. Married gay couples are not going to sneak into the bedrooms of straight couples and somehow prevent sperm from meeting up with eggs to produce pregnancy. Gay marriage is not going to literally force any woman to have an abortion who would not otherwise have one.

Therefore, the opponents of same-sex marriage use a lot of hocus-pocus and references to symbolism to suggest that the mere image of married gay couples will somehow discourage heterosexuals from having children. In fact, this danger is supposed to be so great -- and the noxious symbolism of gay marriage is supposed to be so powerful -- that the survival of all humanity depends on keeping gay people excluded from marriage.

This is basically the line of reasoning that Stanley Kurtz and Maggie Gallagher have employed in article after article against gay marriage over several years.

Edward said...

Yet this reliance on symbolism creates its own slippery slope problem, which is very easy to see.

If the minds of heterosexuals are so fragile – and if their decisions about whether to marry and have children can be so easily influenced – then why stop at outlawing gay marriage? What logical reason can be given for drawing the line where gay equality stops at marriage? If the survival of all humanity is at stake, for goodness stake, why not take away a whole host of other rights that gay people have won over the past century?

Why not re-impose sodomy laws? Why not start enforcing sodomy laws vigorously and start throwing gay people in prison? Why not outlaw all mention of homosexuality in books, magazines, newspapers -- and even on the internet?

After all, a young, impressionable heterosexual child might decide never to get married and never to have children simply after seeing a discussion of homosexuality in print. Even a 25 year old heterosexual in the prime of life might decide to swear off marriage and parenthood just from being forced to think about homosexuality for a moment.

All of this may sound absurd. But the slippery slope argument concerning polygamy that opponents of gay marriage like to use is just as absurd. If they want to tie the supporters of gay marriage into logical knots with their slippery slope argument, I propose tying them into logical knots with this other slippery slope problem.

And their slippery slope problem is much greater than ours, because while virtually no supporter of gay marriage also supports polygamy, opponents of same-sex marriage usually claim to be very accepting of gay people. Yet their hocus-pocus, symbolic arguments against gay marriage actually lead down the path of stripping all rights and equality from gay people.

Marghlar said...

Fitz: your reply to me was in fact a reply only to Edward. I never said you were a bigot, I said that homophobia remains a problem in America. I defined it by the dictionary, and didn't include philosophical opposition within the term.

You also avoided discussing my critiques of Satinover and Kurtz's scholarship, on which you seem to rely so heavily.

If you don't feel like conversing, that's fine, but I'd prefer you don't put my name as a salutation when you aren't actually responding to anything I said.

Abraham said...

Edward: your ridiculous characterization of our argument (that altering the definition of a social institution will affect how members of that society perceive and use the institution, with possible negative consequences) demonstrates to me that you have no intention of taking this debate seriously.

I will reitirate. I likely would have sided with the proponents of SSM because I think it is the principled thing to do. But their total denial of the very possibility that there might be any harmful effects whatsoever causes me not to trust their judgement or their concern for anyone but themselves. All I ask is that we proceed with some awareness of the stakes of that with which we tinker, but I am denied even that. Why should I grant all of your arguments about the positive affects of SSM, when you will not acknowledge even the possibility of a single negative effect? Policy made with this kind of zealous, moralizing myopia is seldom wise.

Joan said...

Marghlar, I'm sorry I attributed geoduck's words to you; it just so happened that when I was scrolling up, your brief post just before geoduck's was at the top of the page. I didn't notice the separation between the replies -- I was careless.

Nevertheless, the use of the word "seems" was borderline inflammatory, given that there was no need to "put words in our mouths"; geoduck could've quoted any one of us from several different replies.

Edward: devolving into the personal for a moment, but what the hell: Can you say one nice, positive thing about gay people at all[?] I've known some delightful gay people, in fact, as I said before, my husband's only business partner is gay. I've also known some really irritating gay people, like the lesbian I worked with who insisted on bringing up the fact that she was lesbian in all kinds of inappropriate situations. When I was in college, I lived off-campus in a co-ed fraternity and several of my housemates were gay, both male and female. They are all extraordinary people and I'm glad I know them. All but one of them has gone on to marry and have kids. Overall, I'd say my personal experiences with gays has been more positive than negative.

Growing up, I can't remember anyone saying anything to me about homosexuality one way or another. I was quite sheltered, in fact, and didn't know anything about it until I picked up a copy of "Our Bodies, Our Selves." Later I was exposed to all sorts of sexualities through reading science fiction, particularly Heinlein. The stuff I read portrayed homosexuality as an alternative, and while acknowledging that homosexual prejudice exists, these sources themselves did not portray homosexuality in a pejorative light.

I realize the futility of trying to portray myself as not a bigot to someone who has convinced himself that I already am. You don't want to acknowledge that legalizing same sex marriage is not going to be the solution to ending eons of prejudice. If gay marriage is legalized by fiat, instead of through the legislative process, you'll have to endure decades more turmoil over the issue. Reference Roe v Wade and the abortion debate for an inkling of what I'm talking about.

Marghlar: Is your concern about the two-gender household strong enough that you'd prefer kids get left in foster homes, rather than get adopted by a gay couple? Would you rather the child not be born than be adopted by a gay couple (as would sometimes be the case)?
If I get to spin hypotheticals, I'd prefer that no child was born unwanted. I can say that yes, I would prefer a child to stay in a m/f (natural biological parents) household, provided the parents are loving and supportive, no matter what the economic situation of the family is.

Gay adoption is an entirely separate issue from gay marriage. I do favor such "lost" children being brought into loving households. I do not recognize a same-sex couple, regardless of income, as an ideal situation for raising a child, but I do see that it is better than being shunted from foster home to foster home. Surprise: I don't have a problem with gay couples adopting such children.

Surprise, again: I do have a problem with gay couples conceiving their own children. But then again, I also have a problem with single mothers using sperm donors to get pregnant (notwithstanding my own sister's attempts to get pregnant via this route -- believe me, I've been through the mill on that one). Children are not accessories, and should not be pursued just because someone wants a pet.

I have three children of my own, and while they are all healthy, I've had a more than typical share of behaviorial issues to deal with. I know a couple who adopted a brother and sister from a drug-addict mom, and both kids suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome. Those children, through no fault of their own, were complete sociopaths. No matter what the couple did to try and help the kids understand things like "actions have consequences" and the Golden Rule, nothing worked. Their marriage was destroyed, and the kids both ended up in the custody of the state. All this is to illustrate that I know having your own children is enough of a gamble -- you don't know what you'll end up with -- and my admiration and respect for people who adopt any child knows no limits. It's a huge sacrifice, and I honestly can't imagine doing it myself, especially after what I'm going through with my own kids. So I would not stand in the way of letting gay couples adopt -- but I still am opposed to same-sex marriage.

Edward said...

Marghlar: You’re being polite to Fitz. I’m trying to be polite to Fitz, too, but I think you’re being excessively polite.

You admit that there is still a widespread problem of homophobia in this country, so that means you must consider certain actual, living-and-breathing Americans to be homophobic.

Who are they? Are you averse to naming names? Are you simply reluctant to call anyone homophobic to their face?

In my opinion, many of Fitz’s and Joan’s arguments skate very close to homophobia. In fact, I think they cross that line repeatedly.

I’m still perfectly willing to debate them and be polite to them in my own way, but I’m going to call a spade a spade.

Edward said...

Abraham: If you’re honestly at least open to the possibility of supporting same-sex marriage, you will support it in spite of one or two (or three or four) things that I say that you may find offensive.

SSM will be an important social policy change that will stand or fall on its own merits, not on whether one supporter of it might make a few intemperate remarks.

You keep asking me why I won’t admit that there might be SOME negative impacts from legalized same-sex marriage.

Fine, I’ll admit that there might be a few negative impacts from the legalization of same-sex marriage.

BUT: 1) I don’t think the harms will outweigh the benefits, 2) I believe that most of the harms that opponents identify will actually come about one way or another in our rapidly changing world, regardless of whether same-sex marriage is legalized, and 3) most of the harms that occur will not really be inherent to same-sex marriage itself.

Aspasia M. said...

We're almost at 300 comments! Wow!

Joan wrote:

Marghlar: It seems to me that the commenters that are concerned about legalizing Same Sex Marriage want to promote a particular type of gender & sexual relationships. This ideal relationship seems to be a father (head of household) and a mother who bears children. It seems? How many times have we said explicitly that marriage is promoted as the ideal relationship for the raising of children? There is no "seems" about it -- unless you are accusing us of obfuscation, of putting forth rationals that are false. I don't think that was your intention, but your use of "seems" -- twice! -- was irritating, whether it was intentional or not.

That was me - there was no accusation involved. I tend to qualify my thesis statements before I run them through edits. I also didn't want to put words in other people's mouths, and such.

Marghlar is a much better writer then I am. I over-use prepositions before edits.

Historical ramblings: homosexuality has been with us as long as there have been people. People like having sex, and people are attracted to their own sex in varying degrees. But whether we're talking about Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, or 19th century America, the practitioners of homosexuality understood it was about their own personal pleasure, and nothing to do with marriage or the continuation of society. It cannot, by its very nature, be about those things, since homosexual relationships are closed off to the possibility of child-bearing.

No. My point is that what happened after the Industrial Revolution in the US is very different from the practice of same-sex relations in Ancient Athens. A homosexual identity and subculture arose for structural associated with the Modern Era. There are many homosexual couples who are interested in forming families and rasing children. In fact, they are presently raising children as familial units.

But the idea here is not to promote "good enough" environments, but to promote the best environment.

Where we differ is in our understanding of the power of the state and legal system to control familiy strctures.

I do not believe that the state is able to exert that type of control. Gay people will have commitment ceremonies and "marry" whether or not the state legalizes Gay marriage.

Even if the state criminalizes and actively prosecuted gay relationships -- it would not significantly change the occurance of same-sex families, a gay subculture, and gay relationships.

Does that mean we're going to ban divorce and make everyone stick together? No, there's no putting that genie back in the bottle. But at least we're making the effort to get the word out there, that divorce isn't as consequence-free as we had been lead to believe.

Yes, we both agree the genie is out of the bottle. I'm all for telling people about the harms of divorce & children. However, the structural circumstances are very powerful.

Romania is a good example of how a state tried to control marriage and birthrates. Although Romania used criminal measures and active survelliance -- Romanian women still limited their procreation by whatever means necessary. Romania still has one of the highest abortion rates in the world.

I believe we have two different views on the power of the state to control family and sexual behavior.

The state is weak and little able to control sexual and familial practices. Even totalitarian states have a lot of problems trying to control the reproduction of children and family structures.

A democratic, non-totalitarian state cannot control familial practices because of its very nature of state power and practice.

The state can either legalize gay marriage or not.

But gay people will and are forming families and raising children as we speak. The non-legalization of marraige will not affect these much more powerful social and economic structures.

Regan said...

FITZ: I never said that Jeffery Satinover was inhumane. I never accused him of not having compassionate motives.
But his intial work during the beginning of the AIDS crisis, placed him in a position to look at AIDS as exclusivie to gay men.

And his response was for gay men to NOT BE GAY, and correlated the disease rates with their orientation, rather than promiscuity among their numbers.
Satinover, as do many Christians, readily believed in an inherent disfunction in gay men in particular, and believed as a Christian would, that the best response to their problem was simply to not live the way he stereotypical thought they did.

Men like him do think themselves helpful, compassionate and understanding with what they thought was a solution.

And Joan, literally begs the question by saying that although she might not accept a certain behavior, she doesn't believe there should be legislation involved with it.

Gays and lesbians are demonstrating that the preference is to engage in monogamy and commitment through marriage.
Arranging one's life around that model, once given a reason to invest in it (as gay men never have been encouraged to do in our society), behavior (promiscuity) WILL change, and already has in many ways.
That you don't want to recognize that or have THAT encouraged, goes back to what us proponents are telling you.

Satinover, Gallagher, Kurtz, you all are referencing people notorious for anti marriage stances.
Their references to various studies were also funded by OTHER well known fully anti gay organizations that don't believe in support of gay people, period.

Your bias comes from others with the same bias as your own.

And Joan, I am well informed of them.

But, you did it again, and did exactly what I say you do.
You contradict yourself. You reveal your prejudice, however unconscious and subtle.

You keep talking about child rearing.
You keep talking about having a gay acquaintance and their relationship with you.

But bringing up whatever statistical information regarding divorce and child care problems that single parents, or other family arragement situations that aren't ideal, the point is
THESE HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH GAY PEOPLE'S INFLUENCE ON THEM.

These are issues that plague STRAIGHT couples and their families.
And you said you know of no data on the outcomes of gay parental influence.

Well, you're not looking for any and if you did, it would follow you'd only want to get the info that the Family Research Council or Maggie Gallagher would tell you.

The interest in gay parenting is recent, but broad and longterm enough to show that gay parent's, concerns, goals and abilities are the same and have the same potential as hetero parents.

But you also have to include how outer SOCIETY treats those parents, supports them and their children.
Which wouldn't be about the care and competence of the parents themselves, now WOULD it?

And considering that there are gay parents, who are NOT doing so much damage as you'd LIKE to believe.
With or without YOUR approval, the job is getting done.
With or without, the legal constrains that marriage brings, they are doing their job as parent or significant other.

THAT is completely admirable.

Of course, the public will do at the ballot box, what they wouldn't do or say to their so called gay friends and colleagues faces.
And that sounds like you're just that person Joan.

Your last line is contradictory, and can't make any sense.

Married parents are better than non married parents.
So what's your problem with GAY married parents, doing as competent and fruitful a job as your hetero neighbors?
And certainly if being marriage HELPS and facilitates this, than WHY NOT encourage it?

And if marriage reduces promiscuity, promotes maturity, sense of responsibility and the gravity of what marriage requires, than WHY NOT encourage it in young gay people and offer them the alternative to isolation, immaturity, instability and promiscuity?

You and Fitz keep telling us why they haven't and can't and who else agrees with YOU.

But you've NEVER answered the question of why, given the alternative that doesn't help heteros either and given equal potential for success with equal support....why then, why they SHOULDN'T?

Aspasia M. said...

Sorry for my bad editing. The following should read:

A homosexual identity and subculture arose for structural reasons associated with the Modern Era. There are many homosexual couples who are interested in forming families and rasing children. In fact, they are presently raising children as familial units.

I would add - these same structual historical causes created the conditions that radically changed the practices of American family life.

To put it more simply:

The industrial revolution caused the high divorce rates.

The state did legalize and make divorce easier.

However, prior to these legislative changes - people were leaving their wives & husbands and re-marrying. They simply did this without the benefit of legal divorce.

The legalization of divorce was the STATE FOLLOWING & RATIFYING the social practices of the American people. People did not leave their husbands and wives because it was LEGAL.

Americans left their spouses because once marriage is a CHOICE, not a economic necessity, unhappy marriages tend to fall apart.

The most famous example of this is President Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachael. Rachael was not legally divorced from her husband before she married Jackson.

See Hendrik Hartog, _Man and Wife in America_, p.20; OR Norma Basch, "Marriage, Morals, and Politics in the Election of 1828" _Journal of American History_, December 1993.

Marghlar said...

Joan: If you support gay couples adopting, I wish you'd think more carefully about what it means to deny them the ability to marry. It seriously complicates issues of parental rights, in the event that one of them dies. It complicates hospitial visitation and school participation. Furthermore, one of the essential functions of marriage in child-rearing is to promote stability in the parents' relationship (not a very effective one, given the prevalence of divorce, I'll grant).

Thus, gay marriage would work to make a gay adoption work and behave much more like straight parenthood. I'd say that real and practical benefits of this outweigh any definitional harm that would be done to "marriage as an insitution."

As I said before, I don't think any straight people are going to decide not to get married on the basis of gay marriage. I also don't think gay marriage will turn straight people gay. Do you?

Like geoduck said, the state has a pretty limited ability to control how we form our socio-sexual relationships. What it has great power to do is make groups feel excluded by either direct persecution or by relegating them to a second-class citizenship status. Right now, we tell prospective gay parents that we will make it very hard for them to adopt, and then make their lives difficult in terms of their ability to act as parents in crisis situations. In the meantime, there are a lot of children growing up in terrible foster homes.

Gay adoption is good for children and good for gay relationships. Why shouldn't the state promote those values by giving equal marriage rights to gay couples? To me, it seems like a win-win.

Marghlar said...

303 Comments...you all have risen to my challenge and surpassed my expectations! I think this may be the longest Althouse thread I've ever seen.

Good work all.

Fitz said...

Marghlar (wrote)
“I'll also say that there are deep logical flaws in Satinover's piece. In general, he seems to rely on a few studies showing correlation (but not causation) between homosexuality and depressive disorders and/or suicide, as a reason to criticize the failure to categorize homosexuality as a disorder in the DSM.”

Satinovers piece does not primarily concern with the mater you refer. Rather it is a critique of historical scholarship that led to the de-listing of homosexuality as a disorder. Further more he critiques the current work being done that presents strong evidence that homosexuality is not innate. Rather its flexible with the majority of practioners reverting to heterosexuality over time. He also discuusses the pervasive efects of enviroment on shaping gay identity and encouraging both identity and behavior.


“Kurtz's work wouldn't survive Satinover's critique of exisitng psychiatric scholarship on homosexuality. At least not the work you linked us to.”

I don’t know what you mean by this; if you read satinovers piece thoroughly you will notice the two scholars work dovetail it certain repects. But ulltamently Santinover makes no specific referance to gay “marriage” nor the Netherlands. I don’t think you can draw the parallel you are drawing. I meant no parallel other than scholorship generally disagreeing with gay activists.


“You need to deal with the fact that the lexicon changes. Homophobia is in the OED. Defined as "fear or hatred of homosexuals or homosexuality." Just because a word is new, and doesn't exactly conform to its greek roots, doesn't make it not a word.”

I believe my strongeest critique was the quasi medical nature of this term. Phobia’s are real and debilitating illnesses. I still maintain (and will defend) that this termis meant more to stigmatize than to inform. No one maintains that those who disagree with certain aspects of the the culktural lefts agenda are phycologically imbalanced or suffer from and diagnosed phobia. Yet this is what the term refers to. Yes it has entered popular usage. But this I believe was an expresss political act, rather than a natural linguistic accurance.


Edward
I must concur with many of the posters on this thread. Your worldview is not unique. Indeed, it prevades many departments of the modern academy. Furthermore (and due to the former) it prevades the worldview of most gay activists. I submit for your consideration, that this worldview is deeply rooted in dialectical materialism. Your consistant use of words like homophobia, bigotry, patriarchy, the talk of race, class, sex, and sexual preferance based rights are part and parcal in the nomeclature of this ethos. Now dialectical materalism is hard to break out of. But it would help if you took your opponents arguments at their face value. Try not to attribute domenering or oppresive motivations to peoples concious or unconcious reasoning.

INMA30 said...

"When I was in college, I lived off-campus in a co-ed fraternity and several of my housemates were gay, both male and female. They are all extraordinary people and I'm glad I know them. All but one of them has gone on to marry and have kids."

Unless you are using "marry" very broadly, which I assume you are not given your very conservative views on the subject, your housemates: 1)were not gay (bi perhaps); or 2)potentially doing far more damage to the people around them by living a lie; or 3) have some sort of open relationship/understanding, which again I can't see as a positive under a strict, conservative view of marriage.

I wanted to clarify two other things. Are you saying that you only support adoption by gay families of hard to place, "lost" children? The relaxation of your concern about artificial insemination was due to the fact that your sister is married? Or that it was a last resort? Or that it was your sister? I am not trying to get personal, just trying to understand what changed your view.

I've enjoyed reading all of this. At the end of the day, I agree with geo and have said it before, legalizing ssm either judicially or legislatively will change nothing, except make the process a little less costly for gay families. The train has left the station and there is a market for both gay coupling and gay family-making. Unless gay rights and visibility are dealt some sort of overwhelming external blow, both markets will continue to grow and become more and more readily available and affordable.

Regan said...

Fitz,Joan, Pogo...

Margher,Elizabeth, Edward and I are the voices of change yes...and you recognize that.
The difference is, we see that change as reasonable, expected and inevitable as gays and lesbians become the people we never cared to acknowledge before as symbiotic to human existence....and equal to heterosexuals.

When I bring up say, black American history, the impact on black lives.
We know that the traditional prejudices and institutional isolation affects the black family TO THIS DAY.

I bring it up because the issue of Jim Crow laws, their implementation and enforcement was actually around BLACK SEXUALITY, not color as many people believe.
White anxiety, paranoia and exploitation of black sexuality is clearly documented. Lynchings were a method of keeping blacks from protest.
You think the murders of gay young people, or exceptional brutality of violence towards gays isn't a part of similar mentality?
Think again.

The political structure that Jim Crow was framed around, was the continued instruction that blacks were sexually irresponsible, aggressive and rejective of the moral structures of marriage.
The segregationists used the data from out of wedlock births and low marriage rates as proof that blacks had no interest in marriage.
So the segregationists moved to ban marriage for blacks who'd ever lived in common law arrangements, or had children out of wedlock.
The bans were voted on in Lousiana and Mississippi legislatures.
Or course, the blacks had no say in this issue, they couldn't vote.
And also as a minority, it's doubtful their vote would have made a dent in the law.
Similar to the way Proposition 22 was put up to public vote in Calif. in 2000.
Make no mistake, the gay struggle for equality, the political isolation and threats to simple and basic rights, is VERY similar and legitimate.

And true, although gays and lesbians (except black ones) don't share the slave history.
Black nuclear families could pull together in support of each other.
However, a gay youngster often didn't and doesn't have the support of family, church or community, and therefore is more isolated than their black peers.

The history differs, but not all that profoundly.

The idea of gays and lesbians being included in support of marriage and parenting is powerful and it's time has come.
We can try and pretend that gays and lesbians don't measure up, aren't interested or shouldn't be because historically and traditionally they haven't been INVITED to join.
But the lives of gay men and women aren't static.
There are needs and obligations to be met.
There ARE children to be raised and not just by straight couples.
But by uncles and aunts, grandparents and siblings.

Joan brings up the model of a couple whose marriage was destroyed by alcohol damaged kids.
So...? That's not about gay parents.

Who usually tend to be the 'adoptive parents of last resort', given the most difficult child or children to raise, which can only be seen for the cynical thing it is: setting up gay adoptive parents to fail just like the couple Joan mentioned just so gay parents can be pointed at as failures.

They save the 'ideal' children for the ideal couples, right?

We know it happens.

But gay parents tend to prevail IN SPITE of all of this, in spite of every thing.

This is why I told Pogo that respect MUST be paid to this.
And most of all REWARDED.
How can you Joan, Pogo...call yourselves compassionate while at the same time look at this reality and STILL say..."we can't support it, it's not right".

Well, it's absolutely right to enable good people to do good things.
It's right to enable talent.
Good parenting isn't just from the couple, but the network of support all people need to succeed.
Parenting isn't a talent automatically bestowed on GROUPS.
Heterosexuals don't automatically make good parents because they are fertile.
Give us a friggin' break!
And gays and lesbians aren't automatically BAD for the same reason.
Their orientation.

I look at our relationship with gays and lesbians this way....
We have two hands.
On each hand we have fingers and thumbs and one isn't expected to act as or like the other.
The thumb is less than and in opposition, but the function of the thumb isn't taken for granted.
Without it, our hands are less strong and skilled.

As I've said, the question of successful, committed gay couples and parents is academic.
The question of successful gay and lesbian citizens is academic.

Now we can foster success or foster the failure of gay citizens.


And why would we want to do that?

Aspasia M. said...

Fitz (and Joan)

I'm enjoying this discussion. Thanks for engaging! And we're past 300 comments!

Fitz,

There is nothing foreordained about changing the definition of marriage. There is also nothing keeping from lowering divorce rates, illegitimacy rates, and increasing birth rates and securing a more natalist culture.

I think, again, it's a difference in our perception of state power and what the state is able to affect. I find criminal statutes and "legalization" to be an ineffective way to control family life and reproductive rates.

I agree that there is nothing foreordained in family structures. However, I find the legal status of relationships to be a weak way of enforcing or changing behavior.

(Especially when that behavior had changed due to powerful and structural shifts in our economy, like the Industrial Revolution.)

It is not however very small in the all important philosophical sense... By attacking the very definitional foundation same sex “marriage” necessarily (a) androgyniezes marriage (b) separates it from a necessary connection with childbearing.
This is in no way a very small change.


I agree. Philosophically this is not a small change.

But think that the meaning of marriage has already changed radically in American society.
----------
Furthermore - as an example of how family life has changed - consider the meaning of children:

The meaning of children has changed radically in their signficance and purpose in the American family. Children are no longer a source of labor, but an economic choice that drains family resources.

This is just one example of how the meaning of family has radically changed since 1790.

But I agree - there is cultural meaning that is assocated with legalization of SSM. Quite frankly, I see the legalization of SSM as affirming marriage as an institution. Consider the altermative: People may dispense with marriage as an institution and raise families without marriage?

Already I have heard heterosexual young people say that they do not want to get married (or make a big fuss out of their wedding) because they feel bad that their gay friends cannot marry.
-----------

The Massachusets supreme court and activists have thrust this battle into our unwilling hands. (and those of the American people)

Consider, however, the relatively low divorce rates of Massachusetts, when compared to, say Mississippi. SSM will not raise the divorce rate in MA, precisely because people divorce for other reasons. (economic stress; the lack of companionate relationships, ect. I would guess that Mississippi has more of those structural problems then Massachusetts.)

Marriage is no longer a site of procreation as it was in 1790. Marriage is no longer necessary to women's economic survival. Women will not stay in unhappy marriages if it's a choice.

Abraham said...

1) I don’t think the harms will outweigh the benefits, 2) I believe that most of the harms that opponents identify will actually come about one way or another in our rapidly changing world, regardless of whether same-sex marriage is legalized, and 3) most of the harms that occur will not really be inherent to same-sex marriage itself.

Thank you! That is an argument I can support, and is plausible. It also is cognizant of the concerns of your opposition, so it is reasonable. If only someone had said this 300 comments ago!

Regan said...

Oh yes, another example that Joan brought up: gays or lesbians she knew that married opposite sex and their arrangement resembled the straight model SHE prefers to support.

Well, SO WHAT?
She has NO IDEA how friggin' exhasting it is to measure up to impossible standards you look around that nobody else has to live up who isn't gay.

If a gay person finally gives into that cultural standard, that's of no surprise.
That's a resignation in a way.
Trying to BEG to be heard. Wondering how and in what way you might unitentionally give offense is a hard way to live.
And those invested in exhausting you don't consider mitigating circumstances when JUDGING you.

You think YOU got set upon on this blog Joan?

Imagine you're a gay kid, unable to articulate who you are, the reality of your concerns and needs without fear of reprisals?
Not only from your peers, but the school authorities as well.
It can run anywhere from isolation to physical threat.
You could go home to a beating from your father or brother for being gay.
YOU think you KNOW, but you have NO IDEA.

And you don't even want to listen to the witnesses, you just want to counter their testimony with YOUR limited experience.

What you bring is a rumor your heard from OTHER heteros invested in seeing that gay kid right where he is.

When that gay friend of yours is where he is, NOT able to marry, having no choice of his own to participate, but YOU wanting to make that decision for HIM instead.
And your privilege only bought because there are people clearly invested in keeping YOU where you are too.
Comfortable, unaware of the gravity of YOUR actions and confident that you know every thing you need to, to say no.

I posted earlier that I didn't want to be too hard on you, and only because you personally don't feel any outright hostility or anger towards gay people and have a professional or social relationship with gay people.

Well, that's easy Joan.
YOU have what you need to be a spouse and parent.
You have gay folks where you can control the situation that way.

But the only way you can control the marriage issue, is at the ballot box.
But do you say what you feel here to your gay friends, especially the ones who really want to get married?
Who NEED to marry? Do you give them a chance to express THEIR concerns, or do you keep bringing up what another straight scare mongerer brought up to deny them?

I'm not afraid of what gay people will do in marriage and I can't appreciate you WANTING me to be as afraid as you.
I'm a married woman. I can appreciate marriage and why it's an institution at all.
I know history better than you give me credit for.
Joan tried to call me stupid.
Nice try, you still didn't answer MY question, but just went on and on and on about what you think you know about gay people. Which isn't much, but what other straight people tell you, regarding the important stuff anyway.

But I also see the same people try to convince me that marriage is rigid, never subject for evolving ONLY where gay people are concerned.
And every single argument you make is inevitably hypocritical or contradictory as I've already stated.
If not unreasonable.

You can't defend marriage under the terms appropriate to the people being discussed, because then you bring up stats that have nothing to do with gay people, but how straight people treat their OWN situation or how straight people have traditionally treated gay people.

I hope I trouble you some Joan, Pogo and other opponents.
I am a black woman, I see enough similarity in what gay people struggle with to have empathy for that struggle.
I'm not angry at this group for at least TRYING to articulate SOMETHING to give us the gravity of what they live with.
It is extremely difficult to just have a conversation about struggle without being shut down. Any struggle and convey that to people who refuse to believe you know what you're talking about.

I am also a black woman of age enough to understand long held privilege and the comfort it's brought to the majority traditionally in power and how destructive they've been to whoever they want to isolate and demonize.
Rationalizing your feelings and position can only be expected.
But tell me how it can be right, to be told how the damage comes in to a group of people like gay folks, and yet you can't see a solution to that damage except MORE of the same treatment and treatment you Should KNOW no other human being has to live with.

I believe you THINK you mean well, and have no animosity.
But that's very different from being a help to a situation.

Pogo, Joan...et al-
Say all this you say here to your gay friends who really want to marry.
And get back to me.

I would love to know if they would also be so brutally honest as to tell YOU exactly what they think of you too.

Edward said...

Fitz: You did it again! I begged and pleaded with you to reply to the SUBSTANCE of my last post addressed to you, and once again, you focused on semantics.

You complained about my use of words like “homophobia, bigotry, patriarchy, [and] the talk of race, class, sex, and sexual preference based rights.”

May I ask you -- one more time and extremely politely -- not to play word games here.

I sometimes love word games myself, but if you keep doing that, I’m never going to get a direct reply to the most important question that I have for you (and Joan).

Here it is: You list a set of negative consequences that you believe will ensue from legalized SSM. Yet it seems to me that many other forms of gay rights – and a great deal of the social acceptance that gay people have won over the past thirty years – should also cause the negative consequences that you identify.

After all, it’s the idea and message that two gay people can love each other as much as a heterosexual couple, and can commit to each other as if they were married (regardless of whether they are actually allowed to marry) that seems to initiate the downward spiral of social pathology that you worry about.

Yet the message about the reality gay love can (and is) being propagated now already, long before SSM has been legalized in most of the country.

In summary: According to your rationale, almost any social acceptance of homosexuality (well short of marriage) should harm the image of the family, decrease the marriage rate and the birthrate, and cause other kinds of social dysfunction.

Why doesn’t your logic suggest this? Finally, what logical reason can you give for not turning the clock back on all social acceptance of gay people to the way things were thirty, forty, or fifty years ago?

Joan said...

INMA30: let me clarify for you.

My former college housemates who were homosexual then and married with kids now, are in heterosexual marriages. This fact, however anecdotal, shows that for some people, at least, homosexuality is a phase. I would not call stable, multi-year relationships "experimentation." While in gay relationships, these people professed that they were gay. It was only when they were out of college for several years that they drifted away from their same-sex partners. By various routes they all found opposite sex partners and married. I am not privy to their private lives, nor do I wish to be, it's none of my business. So I don't know if they have same-sex relationships on the side or whatever. But from what is visible to all, each of these people sought and found normal married life, even after being in homosexual relationships -- some for as long as 10 years.

I am opposed to single mothers using sperm donors to get pregnant, in spite of the fact that my sister embarked on that road. My reason for opposing artificial insemination for single mothers is the same reason I oppose gay couples using artificial means to produce children: children deserve both a mother and a father.

I support gay couples adopting children out of foster care.

Oh, if I bring up issues and problems that we're seeing with child-raising in single-parent households, it's because structurally there are similarities to same-sex married households. If there is no father at home because there's a single mom or two lesbian moms, it doesn't change the fact that there's still no dad at home.

Regan: back off, will ya? Do I discuss gay marriage with my gay friends? No, because they're liberal and we're conservative and we agree to disagree on all things political. We have a lot of fun when we get together, all the same.

I'm not sure who brought this up, but this is an important point I want to address: I do NOT think the State can control human relationships. I don't think it should try, other than to prevent harm from occurring to those who can't protect themselves. At the same time, though, I think the State should decide which relationships it wishes to encourage. For raising children, the stable 2-parent m/f household is the ideal that the State encourages, and I think this is right and proper.

It is not necessary to legislate against the less-than-ideal. It isn't, in fact, necessary to legislate our encouragement of the ideal. But we've done it for time immemorial and I don't see us discontinuing it any time soon. The point is not to legitimize every possible choice, or to de-legitimize every choice besides the ideal. The point is to support what we hold up as the ideal.

Edward, you keep asking why we don't want to go back to the attitudes towards homosexuality frommm decades ago, and I've been ignoring you because frankly, I've felt it isn't worthy of a reply. The fact that you're asking the question shows that you really do believe the worst of us. We do not wish you harm. We've just already seen so many negative effects on our society because of the breakdown of the family that we are understandably hesistant to undermine it even more.

INMA30 said...

Thanks Joan. I appreciate the clarifications.

I still don't buy that your friend's were gay and now are not, but I do understand that there are any number of permutations of how people self-identify and how they actually live their lives. As long as no one is getting hurt, I agree, it is no one else's business.

Edward said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Edward said...

Joan: There’s actually another question that I posed to you long ago that you never answered.

It’s this: Don’t you at least agree that same-sex marriage will make the lives of gays and lesbians much safer and more comfortable in many different ways?

If you answer yes, then you must face up to the fact that you are imposing a great burden on gay people (depriving them of something – marriage – which would make their own lives much better) in order to make the rest of society better (by preventing the rest of society from suffering certain harms).

Once again, this brings us back to the question of how much of a burden you are willing to impose on gays and lesbians for the good of the rest of society. ...and what logical standard you use to determine the appropriate burden that gay people must bear.

Why stop at marriage? Why not reverse other gains that gay people have made in the past few decades?

You accuse me of thinking the worst of you by asking this question. NO!

Please remember that this thread was started by a law professor who wanted a clear legal distinction between SSM and polygamy – if such a distinction can be found.

You, Joan, have repeatedly said that no distinction that has any legal merit can ever be found between SSM and polygamy.

If that is true, why is it not also true that reversing and undoing other rights that gay people have won through the courts would serve as an even better barrier against the legalization of polygamy?

After all, reversing other kinds of gay rights would send an even clearer message to society that homosexuality is inferior to heterosexuality, and that the there exists a strongly enforced norm of heterosexual married monogamy and procreation.

Don’t you realize that sodomy laws were defended legally in precisely this way?

I’m asking this question very objectively, and I’m looking for a legal answer that applies the standard that you and Fitz use to oppose SSM.

From a strictly objective, logical point of view, your standard offers no protection whatsoever for the kinds of gay rights that courts have already recognized, and which fall far short of marriage.

All you have done so far is complain that I’m thinking the worst of you. Joan, you’re an adult, and this is an honest debate. Stop worrying about what I think of you, and please answer the question.

Fitz said...

Joan (wrote)

“This fact, however anecdotal, shows that for some people, at least, homosexuality is a phase. I would not call stable, multi-year relationships "experimentation." While in gay relationships, these people professed that they were gay. It was only when they were out of college for several years that they drifted away from their same-sex partners. By various routes they all found opposite sex partners and married.”

I don’t know if you had an opportunity to read the link to the report by Dr Santinover, Ed.M., M.S., M.D., A.B.P.N.

http://www.narth.com/docs/TheTrojanCouchSatinover.pdf

The Dr. claims in this article that the most current scientific research to date; buttresses the phenomena that you have experienced anecdotally. (I qoute)

“But the reality is that since 1994—for ten years—there has existed solid epidemiologic evidence, now extensively confirmed and reconfirmed, that the most common natural course for a young person who develops a “homosexual identity” is for it to spontaneously disappear unless that process is discouraged or interfered with by extraneous factors” p 25

It is also the claim of Dr. Santinover that the perception that this is not the case has been papered over by politicized elements of the Medical establishment. The effects of this conclusion has obvious ramifications for the inclusion of homosexuality as a suspect class for civil rights purposes. It is on this basis that briefs submitted by the APA & other organizations sought to obscure this consensus or obviate it with older, less reliable studies.



Edward (wrote)

“In summary: According to your rationale, almost any social acceptance of homosexuality (well short of marriage) should harm the image of the family, decrease the marriage rate and the birthrate, and cause other kinds of social dysfunction.
Why doesn’t your logic suggest this? Finally, what logical reason can you give for not turning the clock back on all social acceptance of gay people to the way things were thirty, forty, or fifty years ago?”


Yes Edward, according to my rational, and if you followed my logic to conclusions you seek – I could very well support public stoning of homosexuals. (and justify it as a public good)
But as a matter of fact, I have never advocated any such position. On the contrary, all I am seeking is to not recognize homosexual marriages as on par with traditional marriage. You know the arguments I marshal on behalf of this argument. You have no reason to believe (or even suspect) I would go beyond such means to this end. As a matter of degree I think anti-sodomy laws are unnecessarily evasive means of public policy (but do not find them unconstitutional) Perhaps that is helpful in discerning my stance, perhaps not, but try not and assume to much. I agree with Joan when she states…

“The fact that you're asking the question shows that you really do believe the worst of us. We do not wish you harm. We've just already seen so many negative effects on our society because of the breakdown of the family that we are understandably hesitant to undermine it even more.”

Allow me to demonstrate what you have done. According to your logic Edward, and following your rational,….
…. current marriage law is the moral equivalent of the segregated south. Were will this logic end? Must all adoption agencies treat homosexuals, single or partnered the same as married couples with a Mother & Father?
Are academics and scholars who find “reparative therapy” for homosexuals to be practicable and successful; engaging in unethical medicine? Should they have their licenses revoked?
Are religious and other organizations that appose homosexual acts as sinful, the equivalent of the Klu-Klux-Klan? Should they have their tax exempt status removed? Should they be treated as social pariahs? Is their speech hate speech? Would you prosecute them as such?
Should public schools be required to teach homosexual practice as a normal human derivation? At what grade level should young people be taught to resist the dictates of a “homophobic” society? Should those who refuse such inculcation (& their parents) be treated the same as racists would be today?

Edward, I could demand you answer all these question (and am vary curious to know the answers). Until you answer I suppose I will assume the worst of your intentions.

Regan said...

Wow, Joan...you want me to back off from what?!
Edward, Elizabeth, Margher, have pretty much reiterated my statement and in different ways.

If you don't discuss this issue with your gay friends, even if just to keep the peace between you, then maybe that reveals exactly what I"m saying.

Maybe I'm feeling a stronger urgency here than you will because I know the rawness of cynicism pointed at gay couples and their efforts.
I know how uncomfortable people will get when confronted with deeper honesty and not polite pablum.
Maybe I'm onto this issue like a tiger on meat, because I'm seeing the same rationalization here, coming from the opponents, that I heard from segregationists.
Their cause just in their minds because of traditions, and who best were qualified to be the custodians of custom because they'd CREATED the custom to begin with.

If you don't like being aligned with THAT political structure and process, then don't align gay love, parenting, sexual self determination and equality with societal damage, chaos, destruction, deprivation and malignment.

And Edward brings it up again in another way:
but the question remains unaswered.
We know that gay couples are enduring, competent and successful, not only as couples but also as parents and citizens, despite discrimination.

So why continue a discrimination, but instead enable MORE couples and parents to do what's necessary, expected and helpful to themselves.

You don't want the worst to be thought of you, Joan.
But you're not giving much benefit to the doubts YOU have.
I don't think the worst of you.
But now that you've taken the time to be here and engage this conversation, I have to wonder at the weightless relationships you DO have with gay people.

Fitz said...

To Regan
and Edward

I find it disturbing that you seek to box Joan into a corner regarding her (perceived) beliefs toward those who engage in homosexuality. You all may have fully adopted a Hegelian master/slave dialectic stance visa-vie Homosexuality vs. Heterosexuality. Joan and many, many others reject this simple minded, politicized approach to the subject.

I have gay friends and do bring up the subject quite often. (I’m rather famous for it actually) That fact that Joan does not merely reflects her sense of decorum & social tolerance. Nothing more.

Abraham said...

If you don't like being aligned with THAT political structure and process, then don't align gay love, parenting, sexual self determination and equality with societal damage, chaos, destruction, deprivation and malignment.

That's VERY unfair. One should be able to talk about empirical consequences without being forced to defend a normative point of view. For example, I should not be forced to defend the proposition that blacks are inherently more criminal than whites for stating the fact that blacks commit a disproportionate number of crimes. Whether or not SSM actually does result in net social good or harm is a factual question to which none of us can know the answer. It is entirely possible to be completely supportive of gays and still believe the consequences will in fact be harmful. (I do not strongly hold this point of view, but I believe it is possible.)

Edward said...

EVERYONE’S ATTENTION, PLEASE: Fitz has finally answered my most important question, and here is his reply:

“Yes Edward, according to my rationale, and if you followed my logic to conclusions you seek – I could very well support public stoning of homosexuals. (and justify it as a public good) But as a matter of fact, I have never advocated any such position.”

I take Fitz at his word, of course, when he says that he would never advocate stoning homosexuals in public. (Let’s hope no one here advocates that!)

Yet Fitz – who says that he’s a lawyer, to boot – has just provided law professor Ann Althouse with very powerful legal ammunition against the slippery slope argument.

Of course, Ann and I and many other people firmly believe that there will be no slippery slope to polygamy.

Opponents of SSM reply, however, that we are setting an arbitrary limit to the radical transformations that SSM will inflict on traditional marriage. These opponents jump and down insisting that we provide some irrefutable, clear-cut distinction between SSM and polygamy, and they insist that our whole case falls apart if we don’t provide one (to THEIR satisfaction, of course).

Yet now I have cornered Fitz (ever so politely) into admitting, honestly and forthrightly, that there is no irrefutable, clear-cut distinction between opposing same-sex marriage and publicly stoning homosexuals!

I think all of you should make me an honorary attorney for having finally extracted this major concession from Fitz, the arch-enemy of SSM!

Why, oh why, I ask, does Joan and Fitz’s entire case against SSM not fall into pieces if its rationale could plausibly be used to approve the public stoning of gay people?

I’ll leave this point (and this debate) for the time being, because I have other work to do.

But I would like everyone here (and especially other supporters of SSM) to contemplate and elaborate on the consequences of Fitz’s amazing concession. The legal consequences of this concession alone are surely enormous, to say nothing of the cultural and social consequences.

Joan said...

Regan, I asked you to back off because you are making this discussion personal, as in, attacking me as a person. At least Edward (mostly) attacks all opponents as a class. For the record, no, you don't "have to wonder at the weightless relationships [I] have with gay people." I spend my days ferrying my kids around to and from their schools. You don't run into a lot -- any, actually -- militant gay rights activists at the typical pre-school or elementary.

Edward: I'm not a lawyer, so your insistence on a "legal answer" is baffling to me. I have said before, it is not necessary to legislate against the ideal. We, as a society, tolerate all sorts of less-than-ideal situations. We're not going to start ripping kids away from their single moms, for example, even though we know it's not an ideal situation for them. When I accuse you of thinking the worst of us (not me, specifically, us, the opponents of same sex marriage), it's because you keep coming back to this point, you wonder why we don't want to shove you all back in the closet, with strict laws and enforcement to make sure you never come out.

Would such a regime be consistent with promoting traditional marriages and families? Sure. But, assuming such legislation would even pass, which is a huge assumption, it would fail. As we discussed before, the State can not control human relationships. Heck, the State couldn't even keep us from drinking alcohol back in the days of Prohibition.

Last: your most recent reply to Fitz demonstrates how completely you missed his point. You failed to answer any of his questions. I, too, am interested to hear how you think religious organizations who preach against homosexual behavior should be handled. Do you propose outlawing Catholicism? Or do you intend to force Catholic priests to perform homosexual marriages, should they be legalized?

Fitz said...

Edward
(and all concerned)

I’m afraid you have overextended yourself.

First of all, if you review my comments on this and the previous blog you will have noted that I say implicitly (concede in your words) that ss “m” does not necessarily lead to polygamy.***

Secondly, I have yet to make any substantive legal case for anything on this blog. A legal argument is very specific, requiring statutes, case history, text, precedent and so forth. No, I’m afraid we are just engaged in a social-political argument here. (sometimes bringing forth medical & sociological opinion)

Thirdly, Just as gay “marriage” will not necessarily lead to polygamy. Not adopting ss “m” does not lead to public stoning of homosexuals. In fact (I would argue) there are many more lines, moral and legal- like battery, human rights, proportional response, bodily integrity that separate inhumane treatment of homosexuals from advocating traditional marriage. (This seems obvious)



***{the argument for the slippery slope from ss “m” to polygamy is that the rational for preserving traditional marriage vs same-sex “marriage” is an infinitely more defensible line than the rationales for defending a regime of same-sex marriage against the argument for polygamy}
Indeed our host Ann Althouse agrees, saying they are mostly mere economic rationales. (Rather than constitutional, genetic, familial, social justice, or sociologically based)

Joan said...

Missed one from earlier.
Edward: Don’t you at least agree that same-sex marriage will make the lives of gays and lesbians much safer and more comfortable in many different ways?

No. I think those pursuing same-sex marriage are chasing an idea that sounds good on paper, and the reality would be something else entirely. For couples in which both are working, getting married will mean they get hit with the marriage penalty. I had seen an article recently, unfortunately I can't find it now, that discussed how gay couples were deciding not to get married, when they thought it through and realized what the fine print would mean.

You still cling to this idea, that legalization of same sex marriage will mean a bright new world for everyone. Just as getting married doesn't fix the problems of hetero relationships, I don't see getting married as solving all gay couples' problems, either.

Aspasia M. said...

The Supreme Court case Bowers v. Hardwick re-affirmed the right of states to criminalize and punish sodomy in 1986.

Many people who were very concerned about SSM were quite upset when this case was recently overturned by Lawrence v. Texas.

I think that social conservatives were upset at the de-criminalization of sodomy because they felt it was a good idea for the state to encourage certain types of sexual behavior.

Regan said...

Alright, Joan-you feel personally attacked. Pardon me, I addressed something YOU said, so I was addressing you.

But, I do not mean to attack you personally.
But you still aren't consistent, and you are very contradictory.

You made an assessment of what you think looks good to gay people on paper, but may not, as heterosexuals have found out, doesn't fit the general reality.

Well, who are you to judge?
You can't know something unless you try or are informed by a wider range of people.
And that was an unnecessary statement to mention who you don't encounter militant activists at middle schools or grade schools with your children.

And that's just it.
There might well be a gay single or coupled parent dropping off THEIR children, and you're none the wiser about the quality time they spend with their children or each other.
You speak with more of a certainty that all hell will break loose, or that gay couples have SO much power over what structures are in place, you and Pogo and Fitz speak as if the way gay committed couples will do that much damage?

If you don't know what could really happen, and don't want to know...even though gay folks do pretty much what every one else does who'll admit it.

How can you know so much about what you don't want to know?
And what you DO know...isn't from gay folks in a large proportion?

Abraham, perhaps you think what I stated was unfair.
But, Joan and Pogo and Fitz have assessed gay men and women in terms that are unfair, and definitely unflattering when it comes to the outcome of marriage between gay people will be.

Their low assessment is to be accepted as okay because they believe it strongly.

But so far, what gay couples that do marry, here legally in one state, or through commitment ceremony, or legally elsewhere, hasn't borne out their fears...or assessment.
I'd like to see what such American couples outcome would be, if certain organizations and anti gay activists weren't so busy trying to have the state divorce and dissolve these relationships as well.


Kinda of takes the air out of what gay people get to choose, don't you think?

Regan said...

Ya know gang....since gays and lesbians CAN'T have children without serious thought and planning, and certainly can't adopt without the same and with thorough evaluation and investigation before being taking children in....

It's better if ALL parents got that same treatment is why children would be better off.
But then, that would be about equal treatment under the law, wouldn't it?

And although the situations in which most gay parents become parents is BETTER than the way most straight people do, it defies logic again, why gay parents would be given such a hard time at all.

Edward said...

Regan: You shouldn't be surprised that the "old-guard" puts up so much resistance to gay marriage and gay parenthood.

You know, there's another altogether different reason that people oppose SSM, and it's psychological.

Deep-down psychologically, many heterosexuals get a secret (or not so secret) thrill out of feeling superior to gays.

The (wrong) belief that homosexuality might have a voluntary component means that, from the standpoint of many religions, heterosexuals can pass themselves off as paragons of virtue and self-restraint by not succumbing to the "temptation" of gay sex.

Of course, this secret psychological pleasure is fundamentally sick, and it's based on a large misconception, namely that sexual orientation is chosen.

For the vast majority of people (gay and straight) sexual orientation is not chosen, and so there is not virtue in a heterosexual person abstaining from gay sex.

For heterosexuals who base their sense of self-worth on a belief in their superiority to gay people, marriage is viewed as an exclusive club that the hoi polloi (gays) must be excluded from at all costs.

This psychological dynamic is rarely discussed, and, of course, few people who suffer from it will ever admit to being in its grips. Nevertheless, this psychological dynamic is very real, and it is a major reason why there is fierce resistance to SSM in many quarters.

Regan said...

Well, yeah Edward...I did bring it up.
That equating gay participation in traditionally heterosexual institutions, would automatically ruin it, IS a statement that's prejudiced.
It's also prejudiced to equate heterosexuality as 'the best model' for marriage and parenthood, when clearly evidence says the contrary.

That's why I said it reminds me of segregationists.
Segregationists held fast to what they considered 'their' traditions, 'their' laws, and 'their' sense of morals and civilized society.

This resistance is based on belief, or what those outside of the group being discussed would say, but the actual group and creating laws based on what 'might' happen, is considered fair and understandable.

No, it's NOT understandable, just predictable.

I love the natural integration of gays and lesbians in ALL human life.
Unlike rejecting someone based on color, one's own flesh and blood, integrated among one's children doesn't allow for easy dismissal.
Gays and lesbians come from the same homes and parents and cultural situations as their siblings.
They are fused with the family, yet...it's amazing that a parent will presume that ALL their children are straight.
And the goals and standards for relationships and marriage changes with the revelation that one or more of their children is gay.
Changes, not for the better sometimes because of INSTRUCTIONS from outsiders.
Maybe Joan and Fitz and all can keep the gay youngster in their family at a distance from their heart, but that kid will feel it, and wonder why they couldn't defend their gay child, grandchild or nephew equal to the defense they'd undertake for the other kids in the family.
No family is immune from having a gay member. It's natural and inevitable.
But I don't have to explain to the gay relatives I DO have, that I didn't think they were WORTHY of marriage, regardless of the failures of straight marriages and child care all over the rest of the family.

Low expectations, my breed low outcomes.
Our opponents, although saying they are not prejudiced people per se, have a low opinion of gay people and what they'll do to marriage if legally recongized as couples and parents.
It's that low assessment that gays and lesbians are incapable of investing in the same standards or having equal concerns and talent for childcare...despite the actual gay couples and parents who refute that.

How sad, never answered the question: given this reality, why NOT support and enable gay parents to do their job well?
To enable gay couples to support each other with the efficiency ONLY marriage provides.

The downside hasn't arrived despite those couples being a part of human history forever, just IMAGINED downside.

How sad, that the imagination begs the rejection, but not the reality that clearly informs us.
We KNOW what kind of society racism and misogyny and anti gay and anti Semitism builds.
Why not work from there?

That institutionalized bigotry and IT'S outcome informs us also to reject THAT.
And not allow a human being, to be kept out of the protections and access the Bill of Rights and Constitution intended too.

I see a better future without homophobia. Just as a better world arrived with less racism and misogyny.
But if these institutions founded on bigotry persist, that's the predictable damage we could have avoided.

I asked, what gay family member might still be alive, or a family whole, but not for anti gay institutions.
The answer is there...one need only believe it.

Edward said...

Regan: I apologize. You're right, you had stated many of the same ideas in different words.

Had you commented before on the deep-seated nature of this psychological craving for a (false) sense of superiority?

Regan said...

I need to say this...I know a LOT of gay parents.

Most of them are adoptive parents and have adopted children of different colors from themselves, or cultural heritage.
Sometimes the couple is mixed as well.
Some of the parents are single.

I have noticed that their social network is also very diversified. There are plenty of other adults within those parent's religious and communal network to give them optimal support for those children.

OFten, those children are very accepting of other people with profound differences.
They have less rigid ideas regarding what girls do and what boys do.

They don't define the adults around them with gender based presumptions, nor are they all that concerned with who is gay and who is not.
Unless they are trying to play matchmaker for their single parent.

It's so REFRESHING to be able to be MYSELF too.
No awkward questions from the kids.
The children can be remarkably affectionate.

I know how it feels to work overtime to prove yourself in a world that has little time or inclination to consider who you REALLY are.
I know that parents like the gay ones I know, work overtime to help assure their children that their differences won't hurt them, while working like hell to make that true.

And you opponents can't even entertain the notion of meeting them halfway.
Or the successful couple, without children who don't want either of them to be a state ward in a crisis, and shouldn't HAVE to be.

If you believed in the sacredness of our SHARED citizenship and our understanding that things change, and require us to look again and our duty to help each other reach their full potential, than I don't think you really believe in love and children and giving equal measure to those who previously didn't have it.

Well, those parents will go on. Their children will grow up and do good things, and some already have. I've seen it with my own eyes.
And this is a generation without the same old prejudices and assumptions of the former generation

But as they do their best, without YOUR help and support for marriage...it's sad you don't even see this competence of gay folks and their tenacity to marry and compassion to not take VIOLENTLY to those who discriminate against THEM...you don't even see THAT as good enough.

And good enough...should be just that.

Edward said...

Joan and Fitz: I don’t think I’m going to be able to participate much longer in this discussion, because I have other work to do, and posting like this can be quite time consuming.

I’m simply flabbergasted by all your inconsistencies on gay marriage. Time and again, you keep contradicting yourselves, although I don’t think either of you sees it. Regan sees it, and she recently commented on it.

For example, Joan wrote a short while ago that marriage isn’t so great, after all. It’s much more of a hassle than people realize.

Puhleeze .... I know as well as anyone that marriage isn’t easy, but its advantages far outweigh its burdens. And if you pretend for a moment that the reverse is true, then your thinking is hopelessly confused. Your entire position is based on the great benefits of marriage.

And your discussion about the tax code discouraging young people from marrying is simply cruel, although I’m sure unintentionally so. First, you don’t see how it’s cruel to dash the hopes of a large segment of the human population by denying them the basic right of marriage. Second, you don’t see how it’s even more cruel to then turn around and imply that a glitch of the tax code and the denial of marriage to gay people matter just the same to you. They matter only insofar as they encourage or discourage heterosexuals from marrying.

In your eyes, gay people don’t matter in themselves, and their happiness doesn’t matter as a priority in its own right. The happiness and well-being of gay people count for nothing in this debate, as you see it.

You even presume to tell gay people what will make them happy. Tens of thousands of gay people are calling out for the right to marry, explaining ever so patiently how marriage would improve their lives. And yet in a few casual, ill-considered lines, you dismiss all that, and say that they are simply deluding themselves and wasting their time. According to you, gay people aren’t even smart enough to know what’s good for them, but you sure do.

Here’s what I basically believe about the two of you, but especially about Joan. I think your concern about gay marriage is much less than your concern about how you (and people like you) will fit into the new, more tolerant and accepting society that is in the process of emerging. You find it very hard to let go of old prejudices. And you’re certainly not alone in this.

Yet the new society will surely emerge, and people like you will either change after a great deal of soul-searching, or you will continue resisting until your final days. No matter what, you will be replaced by younger generations for whom tolerance of all kinds, including tolerance of gay people, will simply be second nature.

And society will be stronger, healthier, and more dynamic for all that tolerance.

Marghlar said...

Fitz:

I'll try and take this step by step...it's a lot to get through on a comment thread:

Satinovers piece does not primarily concern with the mater you refer. Rather it is a critique of historical scholarship that led to the de-listing of homosexuality as a disorder. Further more he critiques the current work being done that presents strong evidence that homosexuality is not innate. Rather its flexible with the majority of practioners reverting to heterosexuality over time. He also discuusses the pervasive efects of enviroment on shaping gay identity and encouraging both identity and behavior.

First, one big problem I have in responding to these sort of claims (and it is present in Satinover's work to a significant degree) is that you make claims such as "the majority of homosexuals 'revert' to heterosexuality" without even a pincite to Satinover's piece. I looked through it, and wasn't able to find that claim. He does claim a "tendency" in that direction, but he does so without a direct cite to a source, so the claim is hard to verify.

Certainly, this claim doesn't accord with my own experience -- I've known many, many self-identified homosexuals, and very few of them have "reverted" to heterosexuality. In my experience, the majority of people who self-id as gay stay that way.

Furthermore, we need to parse out what "reversion" might mean. It might mean that such persons were bisexuals (more common than true homosexuals according to some literature) who change their identification as they move through different groups. OR it might mean that they were truly gay, but became closeted in order to reduce social pressure. When that is the case, I hardly imagine that they will make very good spouses or parents.

As to Satinover's larger claim that homosexuality isn't "innate," it is A: hard to know exactly what that means, and B: impossible to verify without access to the literature he is reviewing. But I will note that he himself disparages sources he disagrees with by making such comments as: "On its own, of course, the Kinsey associates’ support of sexual deviance is not evidence of the
falsity of their research on homosexuality. Yet the fact that they are activists, promoting such
causes as pedophilia and incest, at least undermines their independence and credibility,
weakening the basis for their inclusion in the Romer brief. "


Satinover is clearly quite partisan himself about this issue, and thus susceptible to the same critique. His article is published, not in a peer-reviewed journal, but on an advocacy website. He is clearly engaging in argument, not an unbiased lit review. For instance, if he was undertaking an unbiased review, he would surely discuss the Bailey twin studies showing higher rates of shared homosexuality among monozygotic twins than among dizygotic twins, which were again more commonly both gay than adoptive brothers. (Bailey and Pillard, 1992). This clearly complicates his attempt to claim that homosexuality isn't innate -- to the extent that it involves a genetic prediliction (as the Bailey study would tend to indicate), it's harder to call it unstable.

I'm not saying that a good lit review might not point out problems in the Bailey study -- it might or might not. But he fails to deal convincingly with any but the most extreme or easily targeted contrary data. And then he claims that "there is no evidence whatsoever for its being innate." P. 12 This is demonstrably false. He might disagree with the strength of the evidence, but evidence exists. He cites that evidence nowhere in his piece. Unscholarly and unpersuasive.

Finally, regarding my initial claim about Satinover and the DSM. He claims that existing studies didn't show at the time that homosexuality wasn't pathological, and objects to its being removed from the DSM on that ground. However, this isn't really any kind of important critique, unless you believe that there is a good reason to label homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder. Correlations with higher rates of some maladaptive behaviors are relevant to this claim, but hardly dispositive. As I said above, if being correlated with mood disorders or substance abuse is enough to label a condition a disorder, than being an attorney or a psychiatrist ought to be listed in the DSM. Clearly, more needs to be factored into the decision than such correlations. In general, my experience of homosexual people does not correspond to my experience of people with disorders diagnoseable under the DSM. So, I'm sorry, but I think Satinover is full of crap in this article. He lacks both evidence and logic to support his claim that homosexuality ought to be considered a disorder, but he is too partisan on the issue to acknowledge this defect in his argument. See p. 9-10.

That's it for now on Satinover. I'll try to post something on what I find wrong with Kurtz later on -- right now I need to get some work done.

It's been a pleasure chatting with you.

Marghlar said...

You even presume to tell gay people what will make them happy. Tens of thousands of gay people are calling out for the right to marry, explaining ever so patiently how marriage would improve their lives. And yet in a few casual, ill-considered lines, you dismiss all that, and say that they are simply deluding themselves and wasting their time. According to you, gay people aren’t even smart enough to know what’s good for them, but you sure do.

Edward, well said. Thanks for taking part in this conversation. I think you are absolutely right on the future history of this -- demographics will ultimately usher in equal gay rights, as a younger generation more comfortable with homosexuality comes of age. That doesn't make this any less unpleasant for gay couples who'd like to get equal treatment now -- but at least it provides a reason not to pull our hair out.

Marghlar said...

Regan:

Thanks for taking the time to make the case for why gay parents can be great for kids. I really think you are right about this, and it's important to say. Too often in these sort of conversations I spend a lot of time assuming the beliefs of the other side for the sake of the argument -- but I really do feel that there is a nasty prejudice underlying the assumption that gay parents are necessarily worse for children than are straight parents.

Marghlar said...

Fitz:

I've decided to keep this one on Kurtz pretty short. My criticism of Kurtz is primarily that he makes immodest claims of causation, backed up by no citations to regression analysis.

Also, based on the other article you linked us to, it seems that his factual assertions seem to be in some dispute.

I'll leave it there for now.

esk said...

Joan said: No. I think those pursuing same-sex marriage are chasing an idea that sounds good on paper, and the reality would be something else entirely. For couples in which both are working, getting married will mean they get hit with the marriage penalty. I had seen an article recently, unfortunately I can't find it now, that discussed how gay couples were deciding not to get married, when they thought it through and realized what the fine print would mean.

But, it should be a choice for them to make, yes?

AlaskaJack said...

In an earlier post, I argued that two critical premises for the proponents of SSM are that gender is a social construct and that free (autonomous) selves pick and choose between genders. Marghlar disagrees and takes issue with the truth of these two premises. He thinks they are unnecessary to his argument. In taking this position, he breaks with Queer Theory and one of its most important theorists, Judith Butler. (See J. Butler, Gender Trouble.) He also undercuts his own argument. Here's why:

By denying the truth of these two premises, he necessarily commits himself to the view that there is no difference between one's sex and one's gender and that one's gender is given by nature. Given that one's gender is given by nature, it is also true that the overwhelming majority of males and females, by nature, have an erotic attraction towards each other. This mutual attraction, again by nature, is inextricably linked to the reproduction of the human species.

Since the great majority of males and females have a psychological erotic attraction towards each other, and since this attraction, as a general matter, is a necessary condition for reproduction to take place, this psychological trait is deemed "normal" for the species. On the other hand, an erotic attraction towards a member of the same sex, since it cannot possibly facilitate reproduction, is deemed "abnormal" for the species.

This mode of argumentation derails any equal protection argument for SSM because the two classes (heterosexual and homosexual) are not similarly situated.

There are two ways to deal with this kind of argument. One is to deny the distinction between "normal" and "abnormal". But this leads to nihilism. The other is to follow the lead of Queer Theory and reject the identification of sex with gender. This is why Butler's theory is able to sidestep the normal/abnormal argument.

If Marghlar's argument is to be persuasive (assuming he rejects nihilism), he must adopt Butler's theory of gender and its related notion, that of a completely free (autonomous) self. And then, of course, the argument moves to the next level: whether Butler's theory is plausible and whether the notion of an autonomous self makes sense.

Joan said...

So many wilful misinterpretations, so little time!

Since you all so staunchly believe you're right, let's pretend that you are for now, and move on to the immediate consequences:

Assuming that same sex marriage is made legal, what happens to religious organizations that are opposed to homosexual relationships? Are Catholic priests going to be forced to preside over same sex "marriages"?

In Canada, speaking out against homosexuality is now a crime. Do you think we should have a law like that in the US?

Edward asked several times how far conservatives wanted to go in their opposition to gay marriage. I would like to know how far you proponents would like to go with your agenda.

Esk: no.

AlaskaJack: Better you than me, re-initiating that particular discussion.

INMA30 said...

Joan said: "Assuming that same sex marriage is made legal, what happens to religious organizations that are opposed to homosexual relationships? Are Catholic priests going to be forced to preside over same sex "marriages"?"

I am sure you realize that this is a fallacious argument. Catholic priests are not bound by the state to marry anyone, for example divorced couples, that fall outside of church doctrine. The converse is also true churches all over the country are marrying same-sex couples and the state's position has no bearing on them

Joan said...

INMA30: It's not a fallacious argument, it's a question. I'm sure you know the difference. It is a serious issue. Will priests who refuse to perform same sex marriages be stripped of their legal authority to perform m/f marriages? I'm not saying that would be good or bad, just wondering what the proponents think should happen.

I know in many European countries, you have to have a civil ceremony to be legally married. Couples who want a religious service do that in addition to the civil ceremony, but as far as the government is concerned, the religious ceremony is superfluous. Do you think we'll move in that direction? Just curious.

(For those wondering, there is zero chance the Catholic Church will ever administer a same sex sacramental marriage.)

INMA30 said...

Joan:
I think it would be best to separate the legal and the religious, but, as has been mentioned before on this or another thread, I think that is the harder battle to win. Nevertheless your "question" is not at all a serious issue. No religion is currently forced to marry anyone and I can't see the state ever stepping in to force a priest to marry a divorced couple, much less in the context of the ssm discussion. This argument is really just more fearmongering from opponents and it is truly a red herring.

The real problem is that any religious ceremony is given any legal authority, but, again, I think in this country, at this time, that is the more difficult battle.

Marghlar said...

Joan:

1. I would never support having the state punish a religion for refusing to marry anyone. I may find it personally offensive if the religion decides to make that choice, but it is theirs to make. Free exercise clause and whatnot. For me, the issue of state-recognized marriage is an entirely different one from the issue of which religions choose to sanction gay marriage. As long as there is a justice of the peace willing to do the deed, my equal protection concerns are satisfied.

2. I would never support a law punishing anyone for expressing an ideological viewpoint, however distasteful I find it. Period.

Joan said...

Marghlar: thanks. I wonder if Edward and Regan agree with you, though.

INMA30:This argument is really just more fearmongering from opponents and it is truly a red herring.
As Europe goes, so goes the US... eventually. And there are plenty of hate-crime statutes limiting free speech in Europe and especially in Canada. Those countries don't have First Amendment protections, but we've already seen attempted erosions of those freedoms in the "speech codes" that have been successfully implemented on college campuses, and in the "politically correct" "tolerance" movement, which is in reality just code for intolerance towards ideas that some people don't agree with.

This is something that I worry about. I hope the Constitutional protections we have hold fast, but I see them being attacked constantly. FWIW, I don't think that religious officials have the "right" to perform official legal marriages, but it is a convenience and a convention that we've held in this country for seeming ever (I'm not sure of the details and don't want to make an assumption there). Splitting civil marriage from religious marriage would seem inevitable to me if same sex marriage is legalized. I imagine there would be some resistence to this idea, but it doesn't have to be that big a deal.

Marghlar said...

Alaskajack: you have a talent for setting up false dilemnas. Stop trying to pigeonhole my viewpoint into previous scholarship.

Since the great majority of males and females have a psychological erotic attraction towards each other, and since this attraction, as a general matter, is a necessary condition for reproduction to take place, this psychological trait is deemed "normal" for the species. On the other hand, an erotic attraction towards a member of the same sex, since it cannot possibly facilitate reproduction, is deemed "abnormal" for the species.

Bollocks. You can say this, but it doesn't make it true. What is "normal" for a species is precisely whatever behavior it tends to engage in. The fact that there is a majority practice doesn't make that practice natural...it makes it a majority practice, one that doesn't distribute across a species.

So: gay people exist. I presume we do not dispute that? Ergo, it is "natural" for a segment of the human population to be gay. Not all traits that are natural should be encouraged, I would grant. Those that affirmatively harm others (like murder or pedophilia) can properly be discouraged by the state. Those that involve consenting adults, the state has no business restricting.

First, I support gay marriage because I think it is a better policy choice than the alternatives. I think it promotes committment and stability in gay relationships, and encourages gay partnerships to do their part in child rearing. This is good for society, in my view.

Second, I think it is an equal rights issue. Since a segment of the population is "normally" or "naturally" attracted to their own gender, and has no or very little attraction towards the opposite gender, it denies those persons the very real benefits afforded by the marriage franchise to arbitrarily exclude them from it. And I don't think that doing so is rationally related to any legitimate state interest (I think that discrimination on the basis of homosexuality should ultimately be subject to higher scrutiny than that, but that is a discussion for a different day).

Again, the sex/gender distinction is irrelevant. I know plenty of people who are both sexed male and gendered male, and are also gay -- they wish to copulate with other people who are sexed and gendered male. The fact that they don't self-identify as women is irrelevant -- the point is that they are attracted to their own gender.

Note that I never "take issue with the truth of Butler's premise" that sex and gender are less than a 1:1 isomorphism. I don't deny it, or accept it. I said it was irrelevant to my argument.

Your assertion that believing that homosexuality is a natural variation within the human species necessarily makes me a "nihilist" is laughable, and hardly worth comment. If I believed, like a good, silly nihilist, that the external world did not exist, I would have no reason to argue over the rights of others, as I wouldn't believe in their existence external from my own mind.

I assure you, I think that gay people are real, and my position stems from a concern for their real welfare. Calling me a nihilist shows that you are either childish, or don't understand what the term means. It certainly doesn't mean solely that I reject the sort of faux-intellectual platonic idealism that you are pushing on me.

Next time, please try to respond to my argument on its own terms, addressing its actual points, if you want to show that it is illogical or somehow concedes one of your points. It hasn't, it doesn't, and it needn't.

Edward said...

Joan and Marghlar:

Yes, of course I agree with what Marghlar wrote about freedom of belief.

Joan quotes some Canadian case that supposedly shows that homophobia has been “outlawed” there. Nothing I have read about recent developments in Canada suggests for an instant that dislike or disapproval of gay people has been outlawed there.

Look, when new anti-discrimination laws take effect anywhere, there is inevitably a period of adjustment as the limits and implications of that new law are figured out, both in the legal and cultural spheres. If anyone in Canada was punished simply for disapproving of homosexuality out of religious convictions, then that was a travesty of justice and will be fixed through appeals, etc.

Liberal democracies aren’t perfect, but they have the best self-correcting mechanisms of any socio-political system ever devised by humankind.

Joan, I would refer you to the case of the Swedish minister named Ake Green, who was temporality convicted by the Swedish government of a kind of hate crime for preaching fundamentalist religious doctrine against homosexuality. Conservatives here in the U.S. went berserk when this fellow was tried and convicted.

You know what happened? In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you actually do already know what happened, because you and Fitz seem well-informed about these issues.

Minister Green won his case on appeal. This is a perfect case of liberal democracy’s self-correcting process, a process that ensures everyone the maximum of freedom to pursue their own personal happiness without infringing on the rights of their neighbors.

Here’s one link among many that I could provide you with concerning the outcome of Green’s case.

http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=35255

There most definitely is a live-and-let live solution to this controversy over gay rights, but it starts with legalizing same-sex marriage. Religions will still be able to believe whatever they want and practice their faith however they want. But the compromise still requires legalizing same-sex marriage.

Edward said...

Alaskajack:

Please get your obsession with nihilism/Judith Butler/gender studies radicalism out of your head.

The practical case for gay marriage, the case that is winning hearts and minds every day, and the case that is winning votes in state legislatures and in courthouses, has absolutely nothing to do with the bizarre ideas of the extreme gender-studies radicals that teach in a few American universities.

I don’t agree with Judith Butler about anything -- or hardly anything.

In fact, I try to think about her as little as possible. In my opinion, her influence has been much more negative than positive, because all it’s done is needlessly give enemies of gay equality ammunition to claim that same-sex marriage is a plot to destroy all Western civilization, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

Judith Butler’s ideas (and the ideas of the minuscule number of people who worship her) are utterly detached from reality, and they will never have the ridiculous amount of influence on mainstream American politics that people like you like to imagine she has.

Speaking for myself, just because I occasionally (but very rarely) use a term or two that Judith Butler also uses – say, a term like patriarchy – I use such terms in very different, much more limited sense than she does.

Just because our vocabulary overlaps in a few rare places doesn’t mean that I agree with Judith Butler. I don’t.

By the way, did you know that Judith Butler actually opposes same-sex marriage? It’s true. Do a Google search on her, and you’ll eventually find the article that she wrote opposing SSM.

Edward said...

Perhaps I should have written that “constitutional democracy” is the best socio-political system ever devised by humanity.

Instead, I wrote that “liberal democracy” is the best socio-political system ever devised. Yet, as we all know, in the United States today, the word “liberal” carries a lot of baggage.

Anyway, constitutional democracies such as ours have always protected freedom of religion, and that’s not going to change.

Increasing numbers of educated, thoughtful people are reaching the conclusion that the equal rights of gay citizens must also be protected in a constitutional democracy.

Both religious freedom and same-sex marriage can be accommodated in a constitutional democracy.

In fact, these two kinds of freedom reinforce each other, because genuine freedom gains strength when previous injustices are corrected. And the denial of marriage rights to gay people is an injustice, plain and simple.

Abraham said...

You know, there's another altogether different reason that people oppose SSM, and it's psychological.

Deep-down psychologically, many heterosexuals get a secret (or not so secret) thrill out of feeling superior to gays.


Please don't do this. Even if you ARE a psychiatric or psychological expert, it is extremely rude, and frankly, rather insulting, for you to engage in speculative psychonalsis of your debate opponents. Especially so because it bears no relevance to this debate. You may have the stronger argument, but these kinds of rhetorical tactics are extremely offputting, and will cause people to side against you purely out of spite.

Joan said...

Edward:If anyone in Canada was punished simply for disapproving of homosexuality out of religious convictions, then that was a travesty of justice and will be fixed through appeals, etc.

Sounds reasonable, but unfortunately, in Canada, that's not happening. (scroll down to the section subtitled "Canada" for specifics there.)

Joan said...

Edward, while I'm at it, could you please be more careful in your writing? In your reply to me, you said, Joan quotes some Canadian case that supposedly shows that homophobia has been “outlawed” there.

I did not, in fact quote any Canadian cases, nor did I say that 'homophobia had been "outlawed" there'. Here's what I said: [T]here are plenty of hate-crime statutes limiting free speech in Europe and especially in Canada.

Can you see the difference? I mentioned hate-crime statutes limiting free speech. I did not cite a specific law or case, and I did not say that homophobia had been outlawed. Your use of the word "quote" is particularly troubling. It's one thing to do this kind of rhetorical smoke-and-mirrors with the ideas that I've expressed (it's obnoxious, but as ideas are open to interpretation, not completely inexcusable), but to say that I quoted a case when all I did was mention a law is a stretch. I know this is a minor point, but this kind of sloppy debating provides even more incentive to your opponents to just ignore you. (I know I haven't ignored you, but I've had a bit of time on my hands these past few days. If I hadn't that extra time, I certainly wouldn't have been here.)

INMA30 said...

Joan--

I think you hit on the key difference, our strong history of taking free speech seriously. I know the Constitution is under attack daily, but I think that liberty, at least in this context, will be one of the last the politicians are able to dissolve.

re: Canada. I didn't have time to go through Canadian press on the issue (and I do recognize that your source seems to quote the actual statute) so I will have to take the article at face value. I do think it would bolster the credibility of your argument, or use of Canada of a data point, if you citted someone more reputable than Bev LaHaye and an editorial whose main source is WorldNetDaily.com. I will try to do more reading on it, but it is easy to find extremists raising alarm bells about any number of issues.

Edward said...

Joan:

I suppose I have been a bit sloppy here and there in some of my posts.

Regarding your last comment: Yes, I’m well aware that Canada and Europe don’t have the same free speech protections that we have here in the U.S. But I’m convinced that will change.

I mean, of course, that on the issue of free speech, Canada and Europe will move in the direction of U.S. law.

You and I have been posting comments since Ann Althouse’s first discussion thread on gay marriage and polygamy.

In one of my earliest posts, I said that Europe and the U.S. have a lot to learn from each other and that one thing the U.S. needs to learn from Europe is that now is the time to grant legal equality to gay and lesbian citizens.

What I didn’t say back then was what Europe needs to learn from the U.S. One thing Europe needs to learn is to open up its economies more in the direction of free-market capitalism as practiced here in the U.S.

But Europe also needs to learn a constitutional lesson or two from the U.S., most specifically on the issue of free speech. This is bound to happen for a whole host of reasons, not least because rapid advances in information technology (computer science, etc) will make almost all restrictions on speech meaningless.

With the internet, totally free speech on any subject can originate anywhere and be received anywhere. [That’s even true to a large extent for China, despite the Communists’ efforts to censor the internet] It’s becoming increasingly impossible and absurd for governments to try to control speech as they did in the past.

But the internet is just one reason why European free speech protections will one day have to become identical to U.S. free speech protections.

The best reason is that it’s the right thing to do in a constitutional democracy. I know that may sound Pollyannaish, but it’s true. Europeans and Canadians will finally see that it’s wrong to criminalize certain kinds of speech and ideas in the way they’ve been doing.

The good news here in the U.S. is that we don’t have to worry about that, because free speech (and religious freedom, which is very closely related) are already extremely well protected here.

Concerns about free speech really should not be used as an excuse to continue opposing same-sex marriage. It is entirely possible to have both of these rights. Since we live in a democracy, it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to work to make both of these rights a reality simultaneously.

Actually, one of them is already a reality, so what we need to do is work to make the second one a reality, while working to keep the protections for the first one just as strong as they’ve always been.

It’s just not honest or fair to use free-speech concerns as a reason to oppose same-sex marriage, because restrictions on speech do not follow logically or necessarily from the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Such restrictions might happen somehow somewhere, but since we live in a participatory democracy, each and every one of us has an affirmative obligation to ensure that they don’t.

That won’t be difficult to do, particularly here in the U.S., with our strong constitutional tradition.

Joan said...

Edward: Concerns about free speech really should not be used as an excuse to continue opposing same-sex marriage.

I view the push for same-sex marriage as only part of an agenda that includes the degradation of free speech protections among other troubling goals. Incidents like this contribute to that view.

I could psychoanalyze your non-apology, but I won't. I will say it does rather make you look like a jerk:I suppose I have been a bit sloppy here and there in some of my posts. Left unsaid, but implied: You don't like it? Too bad! Not a great way to win friends and influence people, and just one part of the reason I continue to find your arguments unpersuasive.

Edward said...

Joan,

Although you weren't happy with my admission of sloppiness, perhaps you'll like better my expression of gratitude.

Thank you -- and I mean this sincerely -- for the link to the editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle. I completely agree with the opinion expressed in editorial.

The politics of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors are far to the left of my own, regardless of whether you consider me a jerk or not.

There's a rough-and-tumble quality to public debate in a democracy, and no one should be extremely thin skinned. [I'm not saying you are thin-skinned, but I'm saying, in the abstract, no one should be that way in a democracy.]

Ultimately, however, the case in San Francisco only proves my point about the self-correcting mechanisms in a constitutional democracy. Nothing - and I mean absolutely nothing - was going to stop the Christian youth group from meeting without harm in San Francisco, if that was where they wanted to meet.

As the editorial makes clear, the head of the SF Board of Supervisors had to back down from his most extreme rhetoric.

I'm sure you're aware that I could cite back to you hundreds -- I mean literally hundreds -- of politicians in conservative locales around this country that have said absolutely atrocious things about gay people. Things like "gay people practice pedophilia and bestiality."

I could even fire back citations of politicians who have said publicly that they don't want gay people in their towns, not as tourists and not as residents. Their rhetoric sounds exactly the same as the extreme left-leaning rhetoric from the SF city council.

This only goes to show that, in a democracy, the extremes on both sides are almost never correct.

As I said in my last post, the compromise and the moderate position for the issue we are discussing is to legalize gay marriage, while working to make sure that free speech and religious rights are protected as vigorously as they ever been in our country's history.

This compromise is workable; it's intellectually consistent; it's morally right; and it's going to happen, regardless of what we say in this thread.

It's also going to happen regardless of what you think of me as a person, although I do wish you wouldn't consider me a "jerk."

I don't consider you a jerk.

paul a'barge said...

I'm pretty relaxed about the whole "gay marriage" thing. I just want an opportunity to vote up or down on it.

And, if you take a look at every referendum on the issue in American states, the results of these votes have been resounding and homogeneous.

Given that, once all 50 states have put this up for vote in their state constitutions, the issue will no longer be cogent, nor will it be necessary to amend the US Constitution.

Gay marriage will simply be against the law.

Marghlar said...

I view the push for same-sex marriage as only part of an agenda that includes the degradation of free speech protections among other troubling goals

Joan, please keep in mind that there a lot of serious people who support both free speech and equal marriage rights. Most of the people I now who would support gay marriage who strongly condemn the behavior of the public officials you linked to.

Please don't judge a movement by the least responsible of its members. It would have been a shame if, for instance, the 60s civil rights movement had been judged on the basis of those of its members who engaged in violent or foolish behavior. Some people did that; it didn't alter the justice of the cause.

Joseph Hovsep said...

paul a'barge,

You say you're relaxed about the same sex marriage issue, but you "just want an opportunity to vote up or down on it" and then there will be no more gay marriage.

Two points. First, even if we took a vote today and the majority of the voters in, say, 47 states rejected same sex marriage, it would still be an issue because there would still be millions of gay couples living as "married" couples and there would still be millions of kids living with gay "married" parents. It doesn't go away just because people say they don't like it.

Second, a referendum in one sense is the ultimate democratic forum, but if you put every issue up for a popular vote, I bet you'd find some issues with popular opinion. For one, strict gun control laws and liberal abortion laws would pass by very wide margins. You'd also find people eager to apply the death penalty to all kinds of offenses, willing to use the volunteer military to invade whatever country you ask them to invade, wipe out all affirmative action programs, especially those sacred rules giving preference to (rich white) legacy college admissions, and health care for all Americans would become the law. In some ways leaving everything to a popular vote is fair, but there are pretty good reasons to let legislators and courts intervene to decide what is really best for the country.

Joseph Hovsep said...

i agree with marghlar's criticism of joan in that its unfair to conflate all people political views that in some ways overlap. For example, I assume you don't want to have Pastor Fred Phelps be automatically associated with everyone who opposes same sex marriage: http://www.godhatesgays.com

Marghlar said...

Joe: actually the link is godhatesfags.com -- but I wouldn't go there unless you have a strong stomach. That guy is a horror.

esk said...

Joan wrote: Edward:If anyone in Canada was punished simply for disapproving of homosexuality out of religious convictions, then that was a travesty of justice and will be fixed through appeals, etc.

Sounds reasonable, but unfortunately, in Canada, that's not happening. (scroll down to the section subtitled "Canada" for specifics there.)


The link you provided neglected to mention that Bill C-250, which was passed in Canada, just added ‘sexual orientation’ to the current hate propaganda laws that already protect identifiable groups – those being: colour, race, religion, ethnic origin (I believe gender & disability are also covered here but, I don’t see it in this text http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/2004/14/1086.html.

I don’t really think this impedes free speech. And, if free speech is such a big issue to you wouldn’t you be more concerned about the recent FCC rulings?

Joan said...

Esk: [1]I don’t really think this impedes free speech.[2] And, if free speech is such a big issue to you wouldn’t you be more concerned about the recent FCC rulings?

1: You don't think that statute limits free speech!? [speechless]

2: Recent FCC rulings? I consider myself fairly well-read, and at least familiar with hot topics as they appear, but I haven't heard anything about the FCC recently. My most recent free speech concerns have had to do with so-called campaign finance reform laws seeking to control political content on the internet, but it looks like for now that has been averted. (Did you mean the FEC?)

Marghlar: Please don't judge a movement by the least responsible of its members.
Unfortunately, the people who get the most publicity are the ones that folks will remember. The gay community has a problem in that the people who represent it are extremists, and there are no moderate gays who stand up and tell them to shut up and sit down when they're making fools of themselves. (Should I count the editors of the SF Chronicle as part of the gay community? I don't think so.) Consequently, people who have little or no contact with gays in their day-to-day lives will form their opinions of gays, and the gay agenda, based on things like that protest of a group of Christian teenagers.

When some right-wing nutjob like Pat Buchanan gets up and makes a major fool of himself, you'll see hundreds of conservatives piling on his case and demonstrating how much of an idiot he is, and how he hurts conservatives in general. It's a free country and Pat can say whatever he wants, but that doesn't mean that everyone else has to just sit back and take it -- we're going to get out and do damage control as best we can. I don't see anyone from the gay community doing damage control when incidents like the one in the Chronicle happen. Yes, the assemblyman did take back some of his more fiery rhetoric, but what about all those counter-protesters? What were protesting against, anyway? Christianity? Teenagers? Christian rock?

Didn't anyone have the sense to tell them how idiotic they were being? Did they know how stupid it was? Would they care if someone pointed it out to them? Apparently not.

Like it or not, Marghlar, those counter-protester types in San Francisco represent the gay rights movement and the gay agenda, to me and to millions of other Americans like me.

Edward: Now I'm doubting your reading comprehension (again). I didn't say I think you're a jerk, I said your non-apology made you appear jerk-like. Was I too subtle? Here, I'll spell it out for you: when you misrepresent what someone says, the appropriate response is an apology, usually in the form of the words, "I'm sorry," or at the very least, "I'll be sure not to do it again." Using both phrases is very good form indeed.

Another point:...the compromise and the moderate position for the issue we are discussing is to legalize gay marriage...

Since when is complete and utter capitulation considered a "compromise"? You think by using some rhetorical sleight-of-hand, bringing in that emphasis on retaining religious freedom and free speech rights, that suddenly we'll blink and hand the issue over to you? Not a chance.

esk said...

Joan: 1: You don't think that statute limits free speech!? [speechless]

Does it limit it anymore than before this bill?

You do understand we're talking about hate crimes, correct? They were already in place well before the 'gay agenda' you mentioned. Bill C-250 added 'sexual orientation' as another protected group - nothing else. This may give you a better understanding of what the issue is.

And, for the record, no - I don't believe it limits free speech.

2: Recent FCC rulings? I consider myself fairly well-read, and at least familiar with hot topics as they appear, but I haven't heard anything about the FCC recently. My most recent free speech concerns have had to do with so-called campaign finance reform laws seeking to control political content on the internet, but it looks like for now that has been averted. (Did you mean the FEC?)

No, I meant the FCC. This guy seems to think it is an issue.

Joan, all I'm trying to say is don't play the alarmist card that free speech will be taken away because of this 'elusive gay agenda'. People get offended over pretty much anything these days and try to shut others down. I would hope you don't really equate free speech to gay marriage. I could be wrong though.

paul a'barge said...

Joe said: "... if we took a vote today and the majority of the voters in, say, 47 states rejected same sex marriage, it would still be an issue because there would still be millions of gay couples living as "married" couples and there would still be millions of kids living with gay "married" parents."

A couple of responses: first, certainly some people out there would still have their issues. They didn't get what they wanted in the democratic arena. In every case where the society democratically chooses, there are winners and losers. In this case, gay marriage is a clear and historical loser. It simply is going to be voted into illegality consistently. Second, regarding children of gay "marriages", I assume you are talking about gay adoption. If my assumption is correct, my point then is that once elections in virtually all American states outlaw gay marriage, there are going to be elections to outlaw gay adoption. And, my predition is that the result will be just as homogeneous and resounding. These adoptions will be outlawed.

Skipping over the middle portion of your statements, most of which make very little sense (strict gun control: flies in the face of the relentless success of concealed-carry permits; the volunteer military invading whatever country "someone" wants invaded: please), I come to this:

"there are pretty good reasons to let legislators and courts intervene to decide what is really best for the country"

Leaving legislators aside for the moment, you're making our points for us. Nothing is less democratic than taking decisions about fundamental, central and important issues such as "what is marriage" out of the hands of the people who must be governed by their own laws and putting responsibility for those laws into the hands of a small, unaccountable and in many cases unelected officials (judges).

Obviously, you want this issue left to judges. It's the only chance you have of getting your way. And getting your way in this manner is the very definition of unfairness.

Let's go back to those legislators, and note that in most of the states where gay marriage has failed, and has had prohibitions against it encoded in the constitutions of American states, those constitutional changes began with votes by legislatures to put the constitutional changes before the people.

Look. The American people do not want gay marriage. By an incredible margin, they are willing to change their state (and federal, I predict) constitutions to make gay marriage impossible.

Carrying on about this isn't changing anyone's minds. The movement to outlaw gay marriage is not stoppable and it is relentless. And every state with an unelected judge willing to make up laws in support of gay marriage is just the next state that is going to queue up a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

It's just a matter of time.

Joan said...

Esk: I hadn't seen the Jarvis piece -- none of my regular reads in the blogosphere picked up on the issue. Frankly, I'm much more concerned that some idiots in Congress will try to get extra "patriotism points" by banning flag burning (which is truly protected political speech) than the FCC deciding it needs to fine anyone who says "bullsh!t" on public airwaves. As many commenters over there noted "sh!t" has been on the FCC's sh!tlist (heh) for time immemorial, so I don't really see the difference. One downside: Comedy Central will probably never run that hilarious "curse words" episode of South Park again.

Regarding the hate crimes laws, you really should go back and read what I wrote. Here, I'll help: As Europe goes, so goes the US... eventually. And there are plenty of hate-crime statutes limiting free speech in Europe and especially in Canada. It is irrelevent that sexual orientation was only recently added to the Canadian law; the point is, the law exists and is being used against people who express negative opinions about homosexuality. Laws in Austria have landed Holocaust denier David Irving in jail. If I had to peg someone as evil, it would be David Irving, but even his speech should be protected if he is not encouraging violence. The recent uproar over the Mohammed cartoons has led to consideration of laws banning discussions of Islam in the press.

Here in the States, there's no mainstream movement towards actual laws that curtail speech, but there is a large and vocal movement that would like to see such laws passed. It includes those gay anti-Christian protesters, and everyone who stands behind campus speech codes.

I would hope you don't really equate free speech to gay marriage. Again, what I said was: I view the push for same-sex marriage as only part of an agenda that includes the degradation of free speech protections among other troubling goals.

Not everyone who supports gay marriage has bought into the whole gay agenda, as Marghlar and others participating here have shown. But I think I have good reason to believe as I do that there really is such an agenda, and legalizing gay marriage is only part of it.

I think it's interesting that Paul a'barge thinks it's only a matter of time before gay marriage is completely outlawed, and Edward thinks it's only a matter of time before gay marriage is legalized. I can see it going either way. If courts keep trying to impose gay marriage, I think that Paul is right and there will be more resistence to the idea. But I think that in a generation or so, if the moderates in the gay community can wrest control from the radicals, and they can demonstrate that their desire for marriage rites is not part of an agenda that seeks to destroy religion and tradition in the US, then it could very well become legal. Recent poll numbers have shown shifts in the general population in favor of gay marriage. Is that because there haven't been any high-profile cases of judicial activism? I'd say yes -- it has fallen off most people's radars, and they don't bother to get upset or even be negative about it. On the other hand, when no one is agitating for gay marriage, there's no one actively agitating against it, either -- so maybe we should just enjoy this lull.

Aspasia M. said...

On voting vs. the courts:

Do you believe that marriage is a fundamental right?

This is a critical question.

Fundamental rights are protected by the courts, and cannot be over-ruled by popular majorities.


Joan said...

Unfortunately, the people who get the most publicity are the ones that folks will remember. The gay community has a problem in that the people who represent it are extremists, and there are no moderate gays who stand up and tell them to shut up and sit down when they're making fools of themselves...When some right-wing nutjob like Pat Buchanan gets up and makes a major fool of himself, you'll see hundreds of conservatives piling on his case and demonstrating how much of an idiot he is, and how he hurts conservatives in general.

A comment: In the midwestern college town where I live, a local gay high school student won an academic award. The award was related to grades and academic achievement.

For some bizzarre reason, a anti-gay group came and protested outside the high school with very hateful signs. I was stunned that they would target minors with this behavior.
--------------

One other incident. A few years ago my husband and I were walking around in our town after a football game. I stopped in a store.

My husband was walking to another store when two (probably out-of-town) drunk youths began to harass him and calling him a faggot.

We had not done laundry recently, and he wasn't wearing socks. So he was sockless with dock shoes. He was also wearing khaki pants and a purple shirt. The purple shirt was from a rock magazine he worked for part-time as a layout editor while an undergrad.

For some reason, these drunk young men thought my husband was gay because he wasn't wearing socks and was wearing a purple shirt.

It was a bit of a scary situation - luckily police were around and my husband walked up to some officers.

But it's an example of how we shouldn't dismiss safety concerns. And it also shows how this type of prejudice affects all Americans.

Edward said...

Thank you geoduck2 for your last comment concerning anti-gay violence and harassment!

Your comment made me remember a question that I’ve been wanting to ask for a long time.

I’ll pose this question to anyone who opposes same-sex marriage out of a belief that there’s an orchestrated effort in this country to discriminate against Christians and that same-sex marriage will only make bigotry against Christians worse.

Joan, I most specifically have you in mind when I ask this question.

Here’s my question:

Would you feel safer living for a week as an openly gay (or lesbian) person with a partner in one of this country’s most conservative towns (such as in Utah/Texas/Alabama), or instead living for a week as a vocal, openly Christian married heterosexual in San Francisco, Provincetown, or some other locality with a high concentration of gay folk?

I’ll make the question even simpler: Would you feel physically safer walking around alone in almost any section of any city in America with a big sign that says “I’m Gay” or another sign that says “I’m a Christian”?

Please be completely honest in answering these questions. I think most people would answer them in the same way, and I think that fact reveals that one side in the same-sex marriage debate really faces far more significant hatred, discrimination, and fear of physical violence.

As for geoduck2’s story about the terrible incident that happened to her husband: It shows that heterosexuals themselves pay a far larger price than they realize for homophobia and discrimination against gay people.

Edward said...

In fact, now that I think about it, some TV newsmagazine or reality show could do a series where the same person lived for a week in each of the different scenarios that I described in my last post.

They could secretly record all the experiences that this person has, first living as an openly gay person in an extremely conservative part of America and then living as a vocally conservative Christian in one of America's most liberal, gay-friendly cities.

This experiment would show who faces more discrimination and threats of violence.

paul a'barge said...

"Would you feel safer living for a week as an openly gay (or lesbian) person with a partner in one of this country’s most conservative towns (such as in Utah/Texas..."

Let's compare, say Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA. I've lived in both, so I can at least speak from experience. Unless only the most hypothetical examples will make you happy.

I'm sorry to rain on your parade, but it would be Austin, TX in a heartbeat.

The recent anti-Christian bigotry displayed recently in the San Francisco incident is nothing compared to the bitter, vile hatred of anyone not leftist/liberal in San Francisco. It's even worse in Be[z]erkeley, CA.

On the other hand, picking Austin, TX (or even Houston and San Antonio, other communities in Texas _WITH WHICH I HAVE EXPERIENCE_), to be gay and to be out is a big yawn.

Now, what this has to do with the right of a majority of Americans to legally and fairly invalidate gay marriage is another fish of a different odor. But I suspect we all realize that by now.

By the way, the original thread challenged us to compare and contrast polygamy and gay marriage and the agenda-connection between the two.

Can we do that now?

Edward said...

Paul a'barge:

You cheated! You picked Austin, the most liberal city in all of Texas.

I said to pick a super-conservative town in a highly conservative state. That's probably going to mean a SMALL, isolated town in Texas.

Or, alternatively, a super-conservative suburb of a big city -- say Sugarland, which is Tom Delay's district and a suburb of Houston, I believe.

Or pick a real ghetto area of a big city. Christian or gay, which would be safer?

Marghlar said...

I had written a response to Paul, and then saw that Edward mostly wrote it. I'd refer to rough areas of Chicago (definitely very scary to most gay folks I know -- scarier than I would find them), or to small Southern towns (or really a lot of rural communities...Laramie, anyone?). That's the comparison that should be drawn.

And I think it's pretty easy to reach a result here...I've heard of almost no anti-Christian violence in America. Sure, some people called them names here and there, but then again some Christian fundamentalists are picketing soldiers funerals with signs claiming that IED's are God's punishment for America's tolerance for homosexuality. And pistolwhipping gay people to death. Etcetera.

The Christian group in San Fran took some flack, and then got to do its thing. I think it was wrong for the government officials to do what they did, but it came out alright in the end. And I also fully support the right of gay groups to protest groups they feel are exclusionary or preach intolerant messages. Free speech is a principle I support for both sides of this debate.

But Edward's question is apt...physical fear of bigoted violence is a reality for gay people in a way that it probably isn't for a conservative Christian.

But feel free to cite to reliable sources showing gay-on-straight violence to prove me wrong.

Marghlar said...

Paul:

The thread moved on from polygamy about two hundred comments ago. We've been having a discussion about issues surrounding gay marriage in and of itself, to the profit of all.

If you'd like to rehash the earlier stuff, than say something interesting about it and maybe it will start a discussion. Otherwise, I think few of us feel a need to rehash that earlier stuff.

So, the ball is in your court.

Marghlar said...

Edward: I'd frame your hypothetical even more simply:

Who is more likely to get beat down -- the gay person hitting on a rural conservative in a small Southern town, or the conservative Christian preaching to a gay neighborhood?

I think neither neighborhood would be very tolerant, but I think the risk of violence is highly assymetrical.

Marghlar said...

On voting vs. the courts: Do you believe that marriage is a fundamental right? This is a critical question. Fundamental rights are protected by the courts, and cannot be over-ruled by popular majorities.

Right on, Geoduck. The point Paul needs to realize is that America isn't, and never has been, a pure winner-takes-all democracy. Madison was deeply concerned about the problem of majority tyranny, and thought that concern for minority rights was intrisically bound up with a conception of a legitimate democratic government.

ca said...

I think I'd rather be a gay person in a rural community in Utah, or a rural community in eastern North Carolina, than a Republican in San Francisco. In neither of those places do I think violence would be particularly a problem, and I think that those communities would try to accept a gay person (even if they failed a lot of the time) in a way that San Francisco wouldn't even *try* to accept a Republican. Even though neither Utah nor eastern NC are at *all* liberal.

HOWEVER, I'd much, much rather be Republican in San Francisco than gay in a rural community in western North Carolina. (NC is where I grew up, so that's where my hypotheticals are coming from.) Brr. Point taken.

Marghlar said...

Here in the States, there's no mainstream movement towards actual laws that curtail speech, but there is a large and vocal movement that would like to see such laws passed. It includes those gay anti-Christian protesters, and everyone who stands behind campus speech codes.

Joan, do you have a quote to back this up (about the SF counter-protesters)? After all, counter-protest is actually an exercise of free speech! You need to distinguish between publicly and vocally opposing a viewpoint, and seeking to get government involved in punishing or banning speech.

Clearly, some SF authorities got perilously close to infringing on speech in these cases...but the private protesters have no obligation not to protest speech they disagree with. You may question whether their actions were wise, or likely to persuade people they disagree with, but the tactical merits of their speech doesn't make it opposed to free speech. Rather, it was an exercise of free speech.

Campus speech codes are a different story, as they are enforced by universities which may be properly seen as an arm of the state. On that subject, I think we probably agree that universities should get out of the business of restricting expression.

Edward said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Edward said...

Paul a'barge:

Here’s the reason my hypothetical (about being gay in a super-conservative area or conservative Christian in a super-liberal area) is relevant to Ann Althouse’s original question about polygamy:

Conservatives oppose gay marriage and warn about slippery slopes (such as polygamy) not so much because they oppose gay marriage per se. They oppose gay marriage, because they fear it will create a cultural and political climate more hostile to their conservative Christian beliefs.

They fear that if gay marriage is legalized, one way or another, they will no longer be able to practice their faith the same way they always have.

I believe that these fears are vastly exaggerated. In fact, I think they’re totally wrong.

Protecting religious freedom is an important, but separate issue from gay marriage. I also believe that gay marriage can be legalized in such a way as to protect religious freedoms fully, perhaps even so as to strengthen them.

Nevertheless, some conservative Christians are so convinced that there is a plot to make life difficult for them (and that gay marriage is a major part of that plot), I’m doing my best to show that these fears are exaggerated and to show that there remains a very strong case to be made for same-sex marriage.

Therefore, I came up with my thought experiment about who would probably experience more violence and harassment: an openly gay person in an extremely conservative town, or a vocal Christian conservative in a very liberal big city.

I don’t think the comparison is even close.

AND, I fully approve of Marghlar’s refinement of my experiment:

Who more likely would be physically attacked: a gay guy sexually propositioning a straight guy in a rural Southern town, or conservative Christian trying to convert gays to his form of religion on the streets of San Francisco?

Answer honestly, and answer by actually imagining yourself in each of these situations.

paul a'barge said...

"America isn't, and never has been, a pure winner-takes-all democracy."

Show me a codicil in the federal Constitution that enumerates the right to get married.

Now then. There are enumerated rights and there are "I want 'em" rights. The right to gay marriage is not enumerated, nor can it be argued in any sense of the term as deriving from G-d (as in "We hold these truths to be self-evident...").

Not one amendment to one state constitution outlawing gay marriage has been found unconstitutional. And, it won't be. And, if it were, there would be forthwith an unresistable rush to amend the US Constitution.

In other words, it's against the law (in many states), it will be against the law in virtually all states, and it will never happen in America.

I just don't see how you argue against the inevitability of that.

Joan said...

This will probably be my last comment here today -- too much going on in the real world.

Edward: I agree that threat of physical violence is greater for gays than it is for Christians. It's deplorable, and illegal. Already. As for your refinement of this "thought experiment", I laughed, because any gay man in his right mind would know better than to proposition a straight guy in a straight bar. No doubt there are some conservative Christians trying to bring the word to the gay community in SF, and they have a hard road ahead of them. There's a big difference, though, in trying to persuade someone to engage in behavior they find personally repulsive (first scenario) and trying to persuade someone not to engage in behavior another person finds immoral. The first is likely to provoke a violent reaction, the second is most likely to provoke no reaction at all, or mocking laughter.


Marghlar: No, I don't have a specific quote regarding the aims of the protesters in SF. But I did look at several sites around the web trying to find out what happened before and after the event, and I ran across alot of rhetoric that was warning against the impending theocracy, and repeatedly stated things like "these people don't belong in SF, they shouldn't be here."

I saw similar statements made by protesters to the West Coast Walk for Life, which was particularly amusing since that walk was organized by a 4th-generation SF native. If the protesters had their way, neither the Christian teen concert nor the West Coast Walk for Life events would have taken place. That's ample demonstration to me that they are trying to infringe on others' free speech.

Marghlar said...

Paul A'Barge:

1. The enumerated right is the right to equal protection under the laws. This provision prohibits the states from facially discriminating on the basis of class without a strong reason to do so -- which I believe it does not have in the case of gay marriage.

2. The federal constitution trumps the state constitutions -- it's called the Supremacy Clause. Ergo, if the federal constitution prohibits discrimination in the marriage franchise on the basis of sexual orientation, the state constitutions have no power to change the content of the federal constitution, and are trumped by it.

3. Rights "derived from G-d" are irrelevant in constitutional argument -- or at least are no more than persuasive authority. The constitution formally prohibits the government from excessively entangling itself with religion. Furthermore, the passage you quoted is from the Declaration of Independence, which has no binding legal force. The Constitution does not invoke a deity as authority.

4. I think you are a less-than-disinterested counter of the hypothetical votes on gay marriage. There are liberal states that I seriously doubt would ever amend their constitutions as you suggest (like my own, Illinois, or neighboring Wisconsin, where I think the measure will lose). A federal marriage amendment has so far been a political non-starter. And demographics probably run against your inclinations -- younger people tend to be more liberal on gay rights, so succeeding generations are likely to roll back these sorts of restrictions, if you succeed in establishing them as law.

Almost every time the Supreme Court makes an unpopular decision, there is talk of rolling it back by constitutional amendment. And it almost never happens (notable exception being the 11th Amendment, a heck of a long time ago). That doesn't mean that you might not be right -- it's certainly possible for the American people to decide that they'd rather have discrimination than equal rights in their constitutions. We did it for most of our history, vis a vis women's suffrage. But I think it's a terrible idea, and I don't think it is nearly as foreordained as you make out.

Marghlar said...

Joan:

Decrying the speech of people you don't like isn't anti-speech, it's more speech. You can disagree with the message, but it's not against free speech. For instance, I can say quite positively that I wouldn't want the KKK to hold a rally on my block. Does that make me against free speech? No, it doesn't. I would oppose the government's ability to prevent them from coming to my block, and I would also protect my ability to hold a sign telling them to go home.

In other words: free speech fully protects my right to tell someone else to shut up (at least the constitutional law kind). It merely keeps the state out of the game. I see no reason why people who provoke others strong disagreement should be shielded from those people's strongly divergent views, absent threats of violence or intimidation.]

Finally, I'm glad that your amused by the hypothetical. But consider this -- isn't the reaction likely to be similar if two guys kiss in a straight bar in a conservative town? This doesn't involve making any "repulsive" propositions (I find it a little disturbing that a polite request to fool around is so repulsive, by the by). Rather, it just amounts to engaging in an activity that straight people feel free to engage in in bars all the time.

So: do you think such people would be in more danger than your Christian evangelists in SF? If so, don't you think that is a cause of concern?

Edward said...

Joan: The short answer to your last post is that religious discrimination is also ALREADY illegal.

Yet many forms of discrimination against gay people have NOT been made illegal. The chief form of anti-gay discrimination that is still legal is marriage discrimination.

Why don't you just agree to make ALL these forms of discrimination illegal, and then to enforce these laws against discrimination actively ?

Aspasia M. said...

"Would you feel safer living for a week as an openly gay (or lesbian) person with a partner in one of this country’s most conservative towns (such as in Utah/Texas..."

Let's compare, say Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA.

AUSTIN!!! Austin is supposed to be a bastian of liberalism filled with hipsters! And good music! (I think the Old 97s are there - I love them!)

How about if we compare Austin, TX(safe!) to Lincoln, Nebraska? Or to Boise, Idaho? or to Tulsa? or to Des Moines, Iowa.

Now, are we safer wearing a cross, or wearing a sign that says - I'm Gay!

Let's not kid ourselves people. It freaked me out when my husband was threatened. And those drunk cornutos have a hot place in hell waiting for them.

Aspasia M. said...

SCOTUS has already determined that marriage is a fundamental right.

It was decided in the 1920s and then picked up again for Griswold.

If we keep talking about this, I'll go look up the cases. There are two cases from the 1920s called Pierce and Meyers or something like that.
----------
I just want to quickly add that my University town is usually very safe and tolerant. It has a liberal to moderate political atmosphere.

Weekends bring in out-of-towners who may drink. The verbal threatening of my husband took place after a football game. The out-of-towners were 1)drunk and 2) they had lost the game. I think they were looking for an easy scapegoat.

That they choose to scapegoat a man who "looked gay" to them is interesting. They wouldn't have scapegoated a Christian. They went after my husband because he was walking alone and wearing a purple shirt & no socks.

I mean, my husband dresses relatively conservatively - a short haircut, no earings - he looks very mid-western.

But the incident made me realize how easily a Matthew Shepard incident could happen. Even in my safe little town.

Marghlar said...

Geoduck: in my not-so-little town, a similar thing occurred a few years back not far from where I live. Some guys nobody recognized came into a neighborhood with a sizeable gay population. They approach two guys who were walking together, and shot one of them in the face without a word or any provocation.

They still haven't found the killers. The irony is that, like your husband, the guy wasn't actually gay. He was a straight guy with a girlfriend who was walking with a male friend.

Scared the crap out of people around here, I can tell you. This is normally a pretty safe place to live.

Edward said...

I will repeat something that I said in Ann Althouse’s first thread on gay marriage and polygamy:

Violence is at the root of all homophobia. It is a violent impulse that would like to be able to eliminate homosexuality completely from the world, which of course would mean eliminating gay people.

These days, that violence is usually only potential, and it is usually suppressed psychologically. Unfortunately, as we all know, this violence is all too often not merely potential, but expressed in various kinds of hate crimes.

The violent impulse that is at the root of all homophobia is the surest sign that the drive for gay equality – including marriage equality – is just and proper.

Any social and legal phenomenon that rests on a foundation of violence – historical and/or contemporary, potential and/or expressed – is wrong and is bound to be overturned.

Marghlar said...

Geoduck:

Usually, I think of the key case on marriage being a fundamental right as Loving v. Virginia, in which the court stated:

These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.


Another key recent case is Zablocki, which applied strict scrutiny to restrictions on marriage under the due process clause.

I think that one of the cases you are refering to is Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923), which technically dealt with whether the state could outlaw teaching in languages other than English. The dicta:

While this Court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty thus guaranteed, the term has received much consideration and some of the included things have been definitely stated. Without doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. [Wonking big string cite omitted.] The established doctrine is that this liberty may not be interfered with, under the guise of protecting the public interest, by legislative action which is arbitrary or without reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the State to effect. Determination by the legislature of what constitutes proper exercise of police power is not final or conclusive but is subject to supervision by the courts.

Hope this helps...

Aspasia M. said...

Legal History: Substantive Due Process and the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

1) Marriage has been determined to be a fundamental right under the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment. See Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 US 97,105 on fundamental liberties and Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 US 390, 399 referring to the Fourteenth Amendment, stated:

"While this Court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty thus guaranteed, the term has received much consideration and some of the included things have been definitely stated. Without doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restrain but also the right...to marry, establish a home and bring up children..."

This quote from Meyer v. Nebraska is cited in Griswold by Goldberg, the Chief Justice, and Brennan. They joined the majority opinon written by Douglas.

Why hasn't the approach been used much? The Meyer case supports the substantive due process approach for unwritten rights. But it came down in the early 1920s when economic substantive due process was big, but later discredited.

But Meyer is there - in our case law - and Balfegor pointed to a later case where marriage as a substantive right has been used.

AND

2) So if marriage is a fundamental right - we look at prohabitions with stricter scrutiny.

3) Consider the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment

For equal protection: Interracial marriage was discriminating on the basis of race. Discrimination on the basis of race must meet the strict scrutiny test.

4) But discrimination on the basis of GENDER must meet the semi-strict scrutiny or the "More Rigid Scrutiny" test.

It is quite obvious to me that our marriage laws discriminate on the basis of Gender. If this discrimination meets the more rigid scrutiny test, then the fundamental right of marriage under the Due Process clause is not even necessary for SCOTUS to rule on SSM.


---------------
There's a big difference, though, in trying to persuade someone to engage in behavior they find personally repulsive (first scenario) and trying to persuade someone not to engage in behavior another person finds immoral. The first is likely to provoke a violent reaction, the second is most likely to provoke no reaction at all, or mocking laughter.

I'll stop taking up too much space after this -- but my husband was not in a bar or "comming on" to anybody! He was walking down a street shopping in our little downtown while I was getting an eye-exam. He was minding his own buisness when he was verbally assulted for "looking gay."

I really think this is important to understand. Someone minding their own buisness can get physically attacked by homophobic pinche cabrones.

Aspasia M. said...

Marghlar,

Hah! We cross posted again! I didn't need to go searching for this book.

I haven't read Loving in a while; that's great that Loving was decided on a Due Process basis. I thought it was only decided on a equal protection basis.
-------

Well, the legal logic is already in place for SSM at SCOTUS. The question is how closely will the justices follow the legal logic?

Aspasia M. said...

Some guys nobody recognized came into a neighborhood with a sizeable gay population. They approach two guys who were walking together, and shot one of them in the face without a word or any provocation.

That's really scary.

My brother-in-law's ex-girlfriend knew one of the women in Oregon who was killed (along with her partner)in the 1990s.

Marghlar said...

Geoduck: Loving was decided on alternate grounds -- both that the conduct violated equal protection (discrimination on the basis of race) and that it violated Due Process (irrational deprivation of a fundamental liberty).

So both avenues would theoretically be open to litigants. Of course, as a practical matter the court may be hestitant to go down this road, but the groundwork is there.

(As an aside: I'd argue that sexual orientation should receive higher scrutiny than gender under equal protection doctrine. A lot of the theory underlying equal protection looks to the need to protect vulnerable minorites from oppressive actions by majorities. The central problem is that such minorities often can't protect themselves throught he political process, so they depend on the courts. Women, of course, are a numerical majority in the US. Thus, the doctrine could quite comfortably support giving strict scutiny to discrimination against gays and bisexuals, without having to change the treatment of gender under current law.)

Aspasia M. said...

(As an aside: I'd argue that sexual orientation should receive higher scrutiny than gender under equal protection doctrine.

Hm. Interesting - I didn't think of classifying sexual orientation as a reason for strict scrutiny.

Women, of course, are a numerical majority in the US. Thus, the doctrine could quite comfortably support giving strict scutiny to discrimination against gays and bisexuals, without having to change the treatment of gender under current law.)

In an ideal world the IRA would have passed, and gender would already be subject to strict scrutiny.

Regan said...

I've been reading and rereading this thread. And thinking about what the dissenting judge said when the first decision was made to deny the Lovings residence in Virginia or be subject to arrest.

His first, most famous sentence was 'God made the races...'
His explanation was that we were born different colors from different continents, so therefore not dictated by natural ("God's intent") law to mix.

There are just certain logical, and I thought, simple realities that one could look at and see a brother, an equal these days.
Are there people STILL so distant from gay people, their compassion for inclusion is as cold as I'm reading?

I know we have gay and lesbians soldiers, in a VOLUNTEER army, who get discharged because of their orientation, not incompetence, not courage.
How can anyone sit back and be secured by a gay person risking life and limb overseas, and yet feel no obligation to help THEM secure equal treatment here in the US?

Joan said that she had gay friends, and doesn't support marriage for them because of her tradition bound principles.

But I know that if my mixed marriage were still banned, and to my face she didn't hold any hostility, never really engaged in a political conversation so that she'd know my deepest thoughts and feelings...and and still believe I shouldn't marry my white husband because 'the children will be harmed' or because of bucking tradition-she's not really a friend then.

I thought about those opposed, and Edward, you asked me about commenting on the inferiority factor.
And yes, I did comment that it IS that conceit, that feeling of superior consciousness for marriage from which our opponents speak.
At one point, I must have struck a nerve when Joan told me to back off.

But I have, as a black woman with a white husband, been confronted with a phony social tolerance of my presence among my white in laws.
She might argue that I shouldn't have been married into a situation where it would be difficult, as she argued before on marriage being tough in general.

Or as some people truly think, blacks are not good enough to be married to.
Or they can't understand what the white person sees in us.
They are under some spell or 'going through a phase" as Joan did describe the temporary gay relationship situation she knew some gays to be involved in.

I've been looking at the threads and feel a serious solidarity with my gay and lesbian fellow citizens, because I've worn their shoes in a way.
I've gotten the hate stares.
I've seen the lengths someone will go to to be hurtful, or at the very least....grotesquely insensitive.
As if to tell me or gay people that their 'feelings' are valid, simply because they have them and they are rarely challenged if they ever were before.

I speak from having been treated as barely tolerated. And Joan said she was exhausted, just from explaining herself in this thread.
I pointed out to her to think about how a gay youngster must feel over a lifetime.

Maybe not every day do I feel the sting of someone else's judgement of me. There are little things...but there have been other things that thoroughly destroyed my situation and sense of belonging.
I didn't even get credit for a least, if I don't know what it's like to be gay, or understand what a gay person must go through personally...I do BELIEVE what gay people have told me and I am in NO place to deny what they know and who they are.

The opponents to marriage for gay people, and maybe military service too...aren't speaking from experience, just traditional priviledge.
Priviledged people can easily judge someone, and try and turn the burden of proving worth on the other.

And regardless of what I've said or Edward has said or any of us who at least see the humanity of gay folks before us, can still sit in judgement of gay people and say 'we're better at marriage, we invented it, you didn't so no you can't have it'.

What I do know about this situation, and just as white people before, straight people who don't see this situation for what it is, CAN'T tolerate being confronted with brutal honesty, nor the truth of what gay people who can't marry go through.
This isn't casual, this isn't to mess up anything straight people do. This isn't a selfish pursuit on the part of gay folks.

This is about human beings not different from each other at all, and also with the SAME needs as society accepts and enables.

I want to be bigger than the status quo, I want to see what would happen if gay people who HAVE earned the privilege of marriage can do.

I owe my marriage to the Lovings, and I can do no less for my gay fellow citizens in speaking out for their inclusion in marriage as well.

The opponents haven't spoken FOR marriage, so much as AGAINST GAY PEOPLE.
Big difference and very telling.
I was watching a program about people on death row who got married or are engaged to be and what that means to them.
The prison personnel say it's good for keeping hope and order in the lives of the prisoners.

I know that one of the Charles Manson tribe who personally slashed three people to death, is now married with four children, and he's still behind bars.

Our laws find redemptive power in marriage for people like THAT and the state has no issue with it.

HOw, HOW is it possible that someone of that status can marry, but perfectly productive, or those with potential to be can marry.
And lets not forget this isn't just about the security of the gay couple alone.
A married couple could better care for aging parents, or someone else in the family where needed.
So...once again, I ask our opponents, given all these realities and situations:

tell me why gay people SHOULD'NT marry.

Marghlar said...

Geoduck: yeah, I'd like to see the ERA too (although the IRA is scary...they have guns). Despite what I said above, I think there are good reasons to scrutinize sex-based classifications as well, given the continuing wage-gap and the bothersome lack of women in positions of political power. Those factors suggest to me that, despite historical gains, something is still amiss vis-a-vis women's participation in the political marketplace. And the prevalence of women living in virtual slavery outside of first-world urban areas suggests that heightened scrutiny, accompanied by a will for enforcement, could do a lot of good in the world.

Still, I think the case can be made that given their small population, homosexuals are uniquely vulnerable to the whims of minorities.

Edward said...

geoduck2: I didn't know that IRAs hadn't already passed. I'm going to be opening one up myself before this April 17.

Of course, you meant ERA, the Equal Rights Amendment.

Since you brought up the ERA, I'm convinced that fears about its possible use to further gay equality played a big role in the ERA's defeat.

I know gay rights figured much less prominently in the socio-political landscape of the 70's than they do today. Nevertheless, the intellectual leadership of the anti-ERA forces (people such as Phyllis Schlafly), were well aware that ERA could usher in full rights for homosexuals. I'm convinced that's a big reason people like her fought it tooth and nail.

The really ironic thing is that, as you and Marghlar demonstrate so eloquently, all the necessary jurisprudence is already in place for same-sex marriage and other forms of equality for gays.

Edward said...

Regan: It’s great to see you back!

Your quote from the beginning of Loving’s dissent ( 'God made the races...') sounds JUST like people who base their entire opposition to same-sex marriage on a cramped reading of the Bible.

I suspect you saw that already, but I wanted to place that idea directly in the thread.

I was wondering, among the other couples in mixed marriages that you know, is the sense of the parallel to the struggle for same-sex marriage as keenly and personally felt as with you?

Aspasia M. said...

I didn't know that IRAs hadn't already passed. I'm going to be opening one up myself before this April 17.

Ha! I wish that someone had opened up an IRA for me when I was a baby! Yes - in an ideal world a Roth Ira would begin to grow years before we were adults.

Since you brought up the ERA, I'm convinced that fears about its possible use to further gay equality played a big role in the ERA's defeat.

And strange racial stuff too. The North Carolina anti-campaign had all sorts of propaganda about black men in women's restrooms.

Many of these anti-campaigns use a fear of hyper-sexuality (or non-"normative" sexuality) in their campaigns. The tactics, I think, are very similar. Many of these tactics circulate around fears about changes in woman's role in the house and shifts in the role of sexuality, reproduction and the American family. Racial and ethnic differences are often used in these campaigns to create out-groups.

The really ironic thing is that, as you and Marghlar demonstrate so eloquently, all the necessary jurisprudence is already in place for same-sex marriage and other forms of equality for gays.

The overturning of Bowers was, I think, a turning point.

Regan said...

In answer to your question Edward...the mixed couples sometimes do, but it's mostly child free couples that feel more empathy.
After all, the opponents keep procreation and child care at the forefront of their argument.
As if those who don't reproduce are of no service or merit to the human race as a whole.
As if not having children reduces another person to outside the 'norm' of what most people's goal is.

There is a great deal of stereotyping and prejudice against those who CHOOSE not to have children.
Strangely though, there is sympathy for those who are sterile and had no choice.
Gay folks, are more in THAT category: would have children if they physically could, but the gay folks who are serious and competent nurturers aren't considered as such in character.
Which is ridiculous.
Plenty of heterosexuals aren't natural or competent nurturers either, but hetero orientation is seen as a natural virtue to that goal, rather than the fact that being fertile and fecund is a physical situation, not one of character.

Non parent heteros feel a sting of that prejudice similar to that gay people tend to deal with. Especially those in child supportive professions or as neighbors, friends and family with more time and resources to help where needed.

Non parent hetero couples have robust sex lives. Especially those who opted for sterilization.
There is no fear of unplanned pregnancies and perhaps it's this class of heteros who are promiscuous as well.
It's just that it doesn't carry the stigma that a promiscuous gay person would have.

Another statistic that isn't often spoken of is that non parent married couples are the happiest, most materially wealthy and healthy.
This is kept fairly quiet, I suspect because the opponents of gay marriage also see gay couples as more in common with this class of married couples as well.
This would refute their claims that gay couples couldn't possibly be happy, healthy, wealthier or enduring.

I belonged to a group called NoKidding. And we certainly know the stigmas and presumptions that have prevailed about us child free folks.

I appreciate your question.
When it's all said and done, prejudice against talented and compassionate people will hurt us all in the long run.
Our opponents don't want to admit to that prejudice or perhaps it's somewhat unconscious in most people.

But it IS there. And, unlike our opponents, perhaps because having experienced prejudice myself, is why I know it when I see it and know when it's hurtful to a group like gay folks and why.

Joan said...

Regan said:After all, the opponents keep procreation and child care at the forefront of their argument.
As if those who don't reproduce are of no service or merit to the human race as a whole.
As if not having children reduces another person to outside the 'norm' of what most people's goal is.


Not only is this is a gross over-simplification of the arguments against changing marriage laws, it demonstrates that you lack the most basic requirement for honest debate: accepting that your opponents are arguing in good faith, and not out of irrational fear and hatred.

You consistently fail to recognize that our concern is for future generations and the ongoing transmission of our culture. I could say more, giving examples of recent changes that have had catastrophic unintended consequences -- but I've already done that, and you've already dismissed those concerns as fear-based, without once acknowledging that social engineering is risky business. What it comes down to, I think, is our divergent views of American culture.

I think that America's unique culture of freedom relies heavily on its citizens to be mature and responsible, and I think our culture is worth perserving. I think you and others like you regard our culture as a creaky old relic of antiquated ideas that needs to be ditched asap, with no thought as to what is going to replace it -- or what is already displacing "old fashioned" ideas like hard work and responsibility. Maximizing individual personal happiness may be the most important thing to you, but there are a lot more important things IMO than making sure everyone's "happy."

Edward said...
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