October 20, 2006

"The proposed constitutional amendment really has nothing to do with marriage..."

"... it is a thinly veiled attack on gays and lesbians, part of a pattern of discrimination and institutionalized hatred. It is a strategy of power practiced by would-be tyrants throughout history."

Quakers assail the anti-same-sex-marriage amendnemt.

78 comments:

Sloanasaurus said...

The proposed amendment in fact has everything to do with judicial activism. If people trusted the the courts, these amendments would not even be proposed.

Liberal activist judges are the ones to blame for these amendments, not the haters.

RaymondW said...

This seemed pretty hysterical to me.

I'm opposed to same-sex marriage mainly on aesthetic grounds. Based on the media coverage I saw of those gay weddings in mass...the gay guys look sharp, dress well, well groomed. The gay women need some help from the gay guys.

Simon said...

"We of Religious Society of Friends believe th[at] ... to impose in law one group’s religious beliefs on us all, is blatantly immoral and contrary to Jesus’ teachings."

The quakers presumably were just as spitting mad that conditioning Utah's entry into the union on the permanent imposition in law of one group's religious beliefs on another. They also, presumably, believe that muslim enclaves in Canada should be able to erect Sharia law and punish offenses against it in Sharia courts, regardless that Canadian law tends to think of cutting off someone's hand as excessive. After Employment Division v. Smith, Congress passed RFRA unanimously. I find it deeply disappointing that not a single member of Congress could find the foresight or the moral fortitude to foresee that one day, their logic would be defending not a handful of people smoking peyote, but a religious and cultural heritage which includes polygamy, domestic violence, rape and sexual assault in the home, female genital mutilation, honor killings, gender apartheid, mutilation as punishment for petty crimes and capital punishment for heresy and apostasy. Why don't these people think before they act? Are they so bound up in trendy causes that they honestly can't see the ends to which their reasoning will carry us?

Finn Kristiansen said...

Are these the same Quakers who have devolved from actually praying on their knees and quaking (rocking) back and forth in fervent prayer, to now sitting in a circle saying, in the quiet of their minds, "Uhm, you speak, no you speak, no you speak," as if trapped in a high school rap session with an invisible guidance counselor?

Dave Chokoian, from the Kickapoo Valley Society of Friends, states:

We can find nowhere that Jesus said anything about homosexuality.

Indeed in my red letter search of Christ's words on the topic, he says absolutely nothing. We can expect that if the Bible represents the core knowledge Christ wanted to impart to us, the basic map even of how to live, then the absence of such (gay)relationship talk is telling.

But alas, Christ does opt to speak on one type of relationship, and that is between a man and a woman.

So let's see here. In looking at Christ's words alone, he recommends men and women as a marital ideal. In looking at the wider New Testament, we see prohibitions against same sex relationships, and finally when we toss in the Old Testament (to get that pre-Jesus object lesson on the pureness of God and his unapproachability) we see even harsher recommendations against homosexuality.

At a certain point, those who wish to be CHRISTian, but wish to ignore the Bible, need to just come out and cut the farce and say, "Hey, ya know, we are just winging it, making it up as we go."

At least atheists will say it's all a crock of nonsense and not try to mold the message based upon the lives they want to lead. (Then again atheists are going to hell where they will hang with Satan and Britney Spears and Paris Hilton).

Icepick said...

Then again atheists are going to hell where they will hang with Satan and Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

For the first time in my adult life, I fell the need to get religion, and fast! I thought Hell was supposed to be full of interesting people....

Simon said...

"Dave Chokoian, from the Kickapoo Valley Society of Friends, states [that] 'We can find nowhere that Jesus said anything about homosexuality' ... [but] in my red letter search of Christ's words on the topic, he says absolutely nothing."

Well, actually, that isn't quite true. He doesn't say anything directly, but Jesus did say that "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." Matt.5:17-18. It is, at the very least, a sensible reading of that text to infer that Jesus meant that the new covenant amends, not replaces, the old covenant. And since Jesus didn't say anything about homosexual conduct, it stands to reason that the old covenant's views on those matters has not been amended. Which means that the new covenant's view on homosexual conduct -- not being a homosexual, mind you, but engaging in the conduct -- essentially turns on what the old covenant's view is. And I think we all know what that view is.

That the old covenenant is still, to some extent, in force is why Christian theologians study the old testament at all - if the new covenant entirely replaced the old covenant, the Christian bible wouldn't retain the old testament, and no christian scholars would study the old testament. They do, of course, because the big intellectual question at the heart of Christian scholarship is, what is the original meaning of the old covenant, and in what ways did the new one modify it.

I don't think Jesus' message was "you're all sinful, so don't worry about it," it was "you're all sinfull, you need to work on that, and because I love you so much, and I have faith that you will work on it, I'm going to take a beating like you can't imagine to save your ass."

Freeman Hunt said...

At a certain point, those who wish to be CHRISTian, but wish to ignore the Bible, need to just come out and cut the farce and say, "Hey, ya know, we are just winging it, making it up as we go."

Could not agree with this more. I'm tired of religious leaders who use the word "Christianity" to mean secular humanism with some religious-sounding language pasted on for window dressing.

Paul Zrimsek said...

"Persecution and hatred" ain't what they used to be.

As for the Quakers, they have a long history of talking nonsense about politics.

Freder Frederson said...

Why don't these people think before they act? Are they so bound up in trendy causes that they honestly can't see the ends to which their reasoning will carry us?

Why don't you do the tiniest bit of research into the philosphy, tradition, and positions of the Quakers before you presume to speak for them or assume you know what their position on such issues would be?

Anonymous said...

"I thought Hell was supposed to be full of interesting people..."

That's what you get for listening to Billy Joel. I wouldn't trust Pat Benatar, either, but I think Sartre was close to the mark.

Anonymous said...

Before we get all ramped up, let's remember a few things:

Quakers have little formal organization, no creedal statements, and they disagree among themselves over issues related to human sexuality.

This was a statement from the Kickapoo Valley Friends Meeting. That's like saying St. Barnabas Episcopal in Delafield opposes the amendment.

They're speaking only for themselves, not for "Quakers" -- so it's worth exactly that much.

Anonymous said...

And I think this group invites criticism when they say, "We have no need ... to discriminate against any group for any reason."

That's a pretty broad statement which fairly suggests these folks may not have thought things through.

Murdoch said...

Yet again Quakers display that admirable good sense and tolerance which typically characterises them and makes such an excellent contrast to the hate-filled maunderings of those who naively chunter on about the Bible being something other than a disparate collection of miscellaneous stories rendered into 17th century English and who claim, with wild imagination and utter disregard for scholarship or human intelligence - not to mention relying on selective and ignorant quotation, that this or that inhumane, mean activity is so justified.

M

Alan said...

Wow...Goldwater Quakers. :)

If Rush commented on this he'd call them liberals... limited government for me but not for for thee.

Simon said...

Freder Frederson said...
"Why don't you do the tiniest bit of research into the philosphy, tradition, and positions of the Quakers before you presume to speak for them or assume you know what their position on such issues would be?"

If you want to research their positions, knock yourself out. And what you'll find is one of two things: either their positions on the matters I stated will be consistent with their position on this issue, in which case they're morons, or it'll be at odds with their position on this issue, in which case they're inconsistent. My point was just to demonstrate the absurdity of the position they were taking, but if you want to do research to demonstrate inconsistency too, then you're welcome to do so. You're inheriting Doyle's addiction to red herring, Freder.

Smilin' Jack said...

We can find nowhere that Jesus said anything about homosexuality.

Well, of course not...he didn't bother condemning bestiality either. He simply assumed that, thanks to the Old Testament, human morality had advanced to the point that such condemnation was no longer necessary--it was taken for granted that people who did such things would burn.

Then again atheists are going to hell where they will hang with Satan and Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

But Helen of Troy and Cleopatra will be there too. Meanwhile, all you goodie-goodies will be enjoying the charms of Mother Teresa.

Anonymous said...

...hate-filled maunderings of those who naively chunter on about the Bible being something other than a disparate collection of miscellaneous stories rendered into 17th century English and who claim, with wild imagination and utter disregard for scholarship or human intelligence - not to mention relying on selective and ignorant quotation, that this or that inhumane, mean activity is so justified.

I've been struggling to find one honest, fair, or intelligent thought in that long sentence, but I haven't had any success so far.

...

Nope, still not there.

Revenant said...

The proposed amendment in fact has everything to do with judicial activism. If people trusted the the courts, these amendments would not even be proposed.

That is not really true. *Part* of the concern is about activist courts, sure. But the major point of concern, to social conservatives, is that the population of the United States is rapidly shifting in a pro-gay direction. If current trends continue there will be majority support for gay marriage within ten years or so, perhaps less.

A constitutional amendment would lock things in place, such that even IF a pro-gay-marriage majority emerges in the near future, they will be denied the ability to enact it through either the legislature OR the courts. They will have to amend the Constitution, which takes much more than a simple majority.

Basically, without an amendment, the anti-gay-marriage folks are going to lose in another few years, activist courts or no. An amendment lets them delay the inevitable -- and, I should note, rebuke the coming majority -- for decades, if not centuries.

Icepick said...

That's what you get for listening to Billy Joel. I wouldn't trust Pat Benatar, either, but I think Sartre was close to the mark.

That Sartre crack will be the scariest thing I read this week. Sartre's conception makes the Lake of Fire look pleasant by comparison.

Dave said...

"Basically, without an amendment, the anti-gay-marriage folks are going to lose in another few years, activist courts or no. "

One can hope.

As for me, I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.

Anonymous said...

Icepick --

All joking aside, I do think that's no too far from the mark. It's perhaps one of the few things Sartre and C.S. Lewis agreed on.

Alan said...

IIRC, Reagan argued against the Equal Rights Amendment by saying it's already in there--only that society needs to catch up. Now instead of the left fighting for equal rights through an Amendment we see the right try to stem the tide of equal rights by Constitutional Amendment. Go figure.

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

But the major point of concern, to social conservatives, is that the population of the United States is rapidly shifting in a pro-gay direction. If current trends continue there will be majority support for gay marriage within ten years or so, perhaps less.

A constitutional amendment would lock things in place, such that even IF a pro-gay-marriage majority emerges in the near future, they will be denied the ability to enact it through either the legislature OR the courts. They will have to amend the Constitution, which takes much more than a simple majority.


That is just plain wrong. If the public wants gay marriage they will just pass another constitutional amendment deleting the old constitutional amendment.

The amendments are designed solely to keep the courts our of it.

Fitz said...

That’s right: Maintaining a standard that says children should be raised by their own natural Mothers & Fathers within the institution of marriage…..

Is the moral equivalent of the segregated south !!!!!

All those years (before they put gay “marriage “on the political radar) when the traditionalist talked about family values we really meant …we hate gay people.

We were not sure of what we meant by “family”, we really meant any combination one chooses.

Lawyapalooza said...

"The proposed amendment in fact has everything to do with judicial activism. If people trusted the the courts, these amendments would not even be proposed.Liberal activist judges are the ones to blame for these amendments, not the haters."

You're kidding, right? The drafters of the amendment specifically stated that the courts would have to decide the meaning of the second clause, which bans anything substantially similar to marriage. In other states, this has meant the demise of health insurance and now we have already seen the termination of pension benefits. These amendments are nothing but blatant attempts to manipulate the right wing nasties to vote in an election that wasn't looking too great for the righties. How these folks can sleep at night knowing their political goals have led them to hurt real families is beyond me. It is unconscionable.

Fitz said...

revenant

“But the major point of concern, to social conservatives, is that the population of the United States is rapidly shifting in a pro-gay direction. If current trends continue there will be majority support for gay marriage within ten years or so, perhaps less.”

One of the problems with this is its not true. (more like wishful thinking.)
The numbers are actually solidifying as they tend to do over social issues. People make up their minds about such issues and tend to stick to their initial instincts. Young people tend to grow up and see what’s important in life and reject the sexual libertinism of their youth. As it traditional marriage wins around the country people feel more emboldened to say what they feel on the subject.

Added to this are demographic realities like religious minded people having more children and immigration from Catholic countries that bring their beliefs with them.
Finally – Once a rough consensus has been generated through the amendment process- people tend to look down on those who repeatedly cry foul after an issue is seen to be settled.

OddD said...

Paul,

I'm not sure quoting Thomas Paine gives one the fairest idea of Quaker history.

Wasn't it the Quakers who came to Congress in its first term and tried to get them to abolish slavery? (So incensing the South that they demanded all discussion about slavery be tabled until it was far too late to head off the Civil War?)

Dave said...

" Maintaining a standard that says children should be raised by their own natural Mothers & Fathers within the institution of marriage"

So, no adoption? No foster parents? Wow, you sure are empathetic!

Fitz said...

Lawyapoloza

“You're kidding, right? The drafters of the amendment specifically stated that the courts would have to decide the meaning of the second clause, which bans anything substantially similar to marriage. In other states, this has meant the demise of health insurance and now we have already seen the termination of pension benefits.”

Only if they come under a rubric that’s substantially similar to marriage, usually in State Universities and so forth. When you want to protect marriage you just don’t define a word, you outline the parameters of what’s privileged.

“These amendments are nothing but blatant attempts to manipulate the right wing nasties to vote in an election that wasn't looking too great for the righties.”

Gosh.. we must be clairvoyant with the depth of that foresight; and are working in conjunction with the Massachusetts Supreme Court.
Every State in the Country have peopled working on Amendments like this (including at the Federal Level) They come on the ballots as soon as we can get them there.

“How these folks can sleep at night knowing their political goals have led them to hurt real families is beyond me. It is unconscionable.”

I think it’s unconscionable to redefine a foundational social institution as a vehicle for a sexual minority’s sense of inclusion. Especially when there’s a 70% illegitimacy rate among the African-Americans, 1/3 of children are born out of wedlock, and the divorce rate is 50%.

If you want to sympathize with “real families” … your going to have to define “family” first.

Fitz said...

“So, no adoption? No foster parents? Wow, you sure are empathetic!

Yes, I’m very empathetic, children end up offered for adoption or foster care because their own Mother & Fathers cant support them or are not in a position to give them adequate care. (abandon, neglected, abused ect..)

In cases like this we have a responsibility to the children to offer them the next best option. That is a married household were they can have A Mother & Father.

Dave said...

"I think it’s unconscionable to redefine a foundational social institution as a vehicle for a sexual minority’s sense of inclusion."

I think it's unconscionable to redefine a foundational social institution as a vehicle for a racial minority's sense of inclusion. If blacks want to vote, they can go to Canada.

Now, how is that statement any different than the one you offer? The problem I have with the "no gay marriage" argument is that its proponents raise a hue and cry about how their position is not discriminatory, and, yet, it seems little different than anti-suffragists' arguments.

Edward said...

Fitz is clearly out of touch with reality in terms of the direction that Americans are evolving on the question of gay marriage.

The younger generations are far more supportive of gay equality than any previous cohort of Americans has ever been. All the opinion polling shows this. Young people, who in a decade or two will be a majority of voters, support gay marriage because they understand that mature and stable gay relationships strengthen American society.

A good indication of this appeared on television just two nights ago. John McCain was appearing on Chris Matthews’ Hardball show on MSNBC. The show was taped in front of a huge student audience at Iowa State University. Iowa is not a super liberal state, and I’m sure the huge number of students in attendance represents a broad cross-section of today’s Middle-American young adults.

Well, when McCain stated that he opposes government recognition of same-sex marriage, the booing from the students was loud and widespread. I saw it on TV myself. A clear majority of those students support same-sex marriage, and they heartily disapproved when McCain stated his opposition.

The students’ opinion in support of fairness and equality is not going to suddenly change when these students get older and get jobs.

Fitz is deluding himself if he thinks that’s the way this story is going to end. Of course, it shouldn’t be such a surprise, because Fitz is out of touch with reality on plenty of issues.

Freeman Hunt said...

Now, how is that statement any different than the one you offer?

It's only the same if you equate sexual orientation with race. Many don't.

Revenant said...

That is just plain wrong. If the public wants gay marriage they will just pass another constitutional amendment deleting the old constitutional amendment.

I see you've completely missed the point, which is that there is no "just" -- passing a constitutional amendment is HARD. I already explained this, but I'll be a little more specific:

Passing a law granting marriage benefits to homosexuals would require a majority vote in the house, a majority vote in the senate, and the President's signature.

Passing a law granting marriage benefits to homsexuals if the Marriage Amendment is in place requires a two-thirds vote of both the Senate and the House, followed by ratification by 38 states, followed by a majority vote in the senate and the house, followed by the Presiden'ts signature.

So sorry, but your "they can just pass another amendment" theory doesn't hold water. Amendments are much, much harder to change than laws are. That's why so many gay marriage opponents want to force through the amendment now, long before any "judicial activism" has happened, before the population of the United States has a chance to turn against them.

If gay marriage opponents were honestly concerned with judicial activism, the amendment they would support wouldn't be one dictating the definition of marriage, but one stating that the definition of marriage must be restricted only to that enacted by Congressional or state law, without further expansion by the courts.

Edward said...

Freeman Hunt: No one “equates” sexual orientation with race. Every supporter of marriage equality knows that the history of African-Americans differs substantially from the history of gay Americans.

Nevertheless, all bigotry and prejudice share certain ugly characteristics. All forms of discrimination bear a certain ugly resemblance.

Thus, the historic prohibition against interracial marriage resembles in many ways the current prohibition against government recognition of same-sex marriage.

There are other historic similarities that I won’t go into here.

The similarities are even stronger between homophobia and the historic prejudice against women.

Lawyapalooza said...

Fitz said, "Gosh.. we must be clairvoyant with the depth of that foresight; and are working in conjunction with the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Every State in the Country have peopled working on Amendments like this (including at the Federal Level) They come on the ballots as soon as we can get them there."

You are obviously ignorant of the political machinations behind these amendments. In fact, the Wisconsin legislature specifically tabled the vote on the amendment for a year to coincide with the governor's race here in an attempt to defeat a Democratic governor. There is a letter from the amendment author to the family research institute specifically stating that the vote would be delayed to maximize voters for other issues. Some rush to get the law in place, eh? Also, the federal amendment was specifically dropped when the Republicans realized that the issue has now reversed course, and is turning people away from Republicans rather than towards them.


"I think it’s unconscionable to redefine a foundational social institution as a vehicle for a sexual minority’s sense of inclusion. Especially when there’s a 70% illegitimacy rate among the African-Americans, 1/3 of children are born out of wedlock, and the divorce rate is 50%."

Are you seriously defending an amendment designed to limit citizen's ability to enter a commitment to lifelong partnerships and raising of children by quoting statistics about heterosexuals who don't take advantage of their opportunity to marry? I don't mean to be harsh, but WOW is that a dumb argument. I would love my daughter to have the protections that come with marriage. Why do you really want to keep that from her?

Freeman Hunt said...

Every supporter of marriage equality knows that the history of African-Americans differs substantially from the history of gay Americans.

Edward, I'm not referring to historic similarities. I mean that not everyone believes that sexual orientation is an inborn trait. Many people believe that it is a choice of lifestyle. To those people, comparisons of sexual orientation to race will not work.

chickenlittle said...

Edward said
"The younger generations are far more supportive of gay equality than any previous cohort of Americans has ever been."

Yes but young people grow up and change their minds. A generation ago more young people were in favor of abortion, and opposed war in general. I believe this may have changed.
You also need to concern yourself with demographic make-up. The young people of the future in this country will be ruddier (Red-state) or predominantly immigrant. That makes your crystal ball not so crystal.

Edward said...

Freeman Hunt: I understand your point better now, but I don’t think it makes a lot of difference.

The number of people who think that being gay is nothing more than a casual “lifestyle choice” is shrinking every day.

Even many people who oppose same-sex marriage agree that sexual orientation, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is innate.

More and more people agree that sexual orientation is either innate or fixed so early in life that it is beyond a person’s control.

If you are heterosexual (as I imagine you are), do you really believe that you “chose” to be attracted to the opposite sex? Do you really believe that you could wake up tomorrow and “choose” instead to be seriously attracted to a person of your own sex?

I don’t believe very many even halfway intelligent, halfway educated people think that way anymore.

Sure, some do, but not many, and their numbers are falling all the time.

Revenant said...

The young people of the future in this country will be ruddier (Red-state) or predominantly immigrant

A majority of younger red-staters *also* support gay rights, though. Gay rights is pretty much just about waiting for the old homophobes of the WW2 and early Baby Boom generations to die. Ostracizing homosexuals just isn't a priority with people who grew up during the 70s, 80s, and 90s and saw that acceptance of homosexuality didn't do any harm to society -- indeed, things have gotten *better*, in terms of crime, drug abuse, social discord, et al, during that same time period.

Immigration could be a problem, since Mexicans tend to be homophobes. Given that gay marriage opponents also tend to hate Mexican immigrants, though, I'm not sure how that will play out.

chickenlittle said...

freeman hunt said:

"Many people believe that it is a choice of lifestyle. To those people, comparisons of sexual orientation to race will not work."

Someone here went throught the logical fallacy a couple days ago:

Black men were prohibited from doing something which white men were allowed, i.e., to marry white women and the discrimination was based on race.

If gay men were prohibited from marrying men but straight men were allowed to marry men, then the discrimination would be based on sexual orientation.

Similarly, if gay men were forbidden to marry women, you'd have a similar argument.

Bringing up race and gay marriage is only done to garner sympathy- I'm only a lowly scientist so please tell me more about its legal and logical basis.

Revenant said...

If you are heterosexual (as I imagine you are), do you really believe that you “chose” to be attracted to the opposite sex?

I'm overweight. I didn't *choose* to be overweight -- it is just a consequence of how I live my life. But obviously I didn't wake up one morning and say "well shit, I'm tired of being skinny, I think I'll put on the pounds". I do suspect that my biology predisposes me to like food more than normal people, so keeping my weight down is a struggle.

Now, personally I think that sexual orientation is deeply ingrained and innate. But a person who doesn't think that doesn't necessarily think that homosexuals are just men who said "hey, I think I'll go have sex with some men". They may think that it, like my weight, is a mix of lifestyle choices, lack of willpower, environment, and biology.

Lawyapalooza said...

Chickenlittle,

Your argument about race and sexual orientation ignores a crucial point: marriage grants special protections and privileges to those who can be married. If we were talking only about the religious aspect of marriage, there would be less gutwrenching results for families. I don't give a hoot if the Catholic Church calls me a sinner and won;t marry me. Plenty of churches will. But what you are doing by prohibitng certain families from receiving the protections and obligations of marriage is government-based discrimination against a group with what I would say are immutable characteristics. Trust me, gay men do not choose to have the crap kicked out of them throughout middle school.

Race is similarly an immutable characteristic. You could just as easily reverse your argument on itself by stating that black men weren't prohibited from marrying women; they were just prohibited from marrying WHITE women. And back in the day, they used Biblical passages to support that argument. Sound familiar?

I contend that this will be the embarrassment of our time. When we say "younger" people are much more supportive of gays and lesbians, we are talking people under 50, not people under 20. I truly believe these amendments will be considered as shameful as the miscegenation and segregation laws are now considered. Which side of history will you be on?

chickenlittle said...

If gayness were genetic, then there's likely a gay gene. Somebody will find it. If gayness is learned, then as some have pointed out here, it must be done so early and almost subconsciously.
Another possibility is that "straightness" is just a learned behaviour mechanism evolved to propogate the human species. Certainly gayness has no reproductive value. And until the relatively recent availablity of latex condoms, promiscuous practitioners of anal sodomy (gay and straight)were always at higher risk of disease and death. Aids only hammered this ancient truth home. Sadly, the risk will never diappear.

Edward said...

Chickenlittle: The greater support for gay equality among young people today is directly the result of much more information (and much more accurate information) concerning sexual orientation being widely available.

I think it’s impossible to deny that many middle-aged and older Americans grew up in a near vacuum of information concerning gay people. It’s not surprising that many of them eventually developed anxieties about the influence of gays on society. It’s no surprise that many of them now oppose same-sex marriage.

The internet, more open discussion of homosexuality on TV, and the large number of respected gay people coming out of the closet means that today’s youth can form a much more realistic and accurate opinion of gay rights. They know, often from first hand experience of their openly gay friends, that gay marriage will strengthen society rather than endanger it.

This abundance of accurate information is not going to suddenly dry up. That’s why the trend line in American society is clearly in the direction of greater support for gay marriage.

Even kids growing up in conservative Red America are far more knowledgeable about and more comfortable with homosexuality than their predecessors were.

To the extent that support for abortion is decreasing, that is often due to new and greater information about the capabilities of the fetus in the earliest stages of pregnancy.

I don’t have a crystal ball to predict the trend line for American support of abortion rights, but to the extent that greater information is responsible for a change in public opinion on a major social issue, such a change is likely to be permanent in this new information age.

Edward said...

Revenant: The comparison to being overweight is deeply flawed. Any overweight person, no matter how obese, can lose weight by going on a starvation diet. Yes, such a diet would be painful and difficult, but it’s a real option available to anyone who’s overweight.

Actually, today, obese people have lots of other options as well, such as bariatric surgery.

Just as with racial identity, however, there is usually nothing at all that anyone can do to change one’s sexual orientation.

Also just like with race, people shouldn’t even try to change their sexual orientation. Diversity within the human population is good for individuals and good for society.

Ultimately, that’s the biggest difference between being gay and being overweight: there’s absolutely nothing wrong or unhealthy about simply being gay. The same cannot be said about obesity.

chickenlittle said...

lawyapalooza said:

You could just as easily reverse your argument on itself by stating that black men weren't prohibited from marrying women...

No, perhaps the logic can better seen as such:

black man + white woman = ?
white man + white woman = ?

We use adjectives to describe or discriminate nouns. Notice that race answers the logical question of why the equations above are not equal. Because black = white in the eyes of the law, the race laws had to go.

Now consider
gay man + gay man = ?
straight man + straight woman = ?

There's an apples and oranges problem here because of the nouns which can only be squared if man = woman. Now of course this is not biologically true, but in the eyes of the law, discrimination based on gender is prohibited. The problem is that one can prove that there is no discrimination based on sex because gay marriage is equally unavailable for both sexes and for people of any sexual orientation.

Mortimer Brezny said...

The Quakers said this right before they shot up an Amish school.

Fenrisulven said...

there’s absolutely nothing wrong or unhealthy about simply being gay.

For starters, STDs are more easily transmitted through anal walls than vaginal. If anal intercourse was "right" then nature would have provided better defenses against disease and infection.

BTW, isn't the comment "gays and lesbians" redundant?

chickenlittle said...

Before someone beats me to it, why not consider the simple equation:

straight marriage = gay marriage

factoring out marriage from the equation, we're left with

gay = straight

Now of course this isn't literally true, but is it true in the eyes of the law? Certainly we can't discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation. How do we test this? We have to insert people back into the equation and test
gay man = straight man. As I tried to sho in a previous post, same sex marriage is equally unavailable for all.

Revenant said...

Any overweight person, no matter how obese, can lose weight by going on a starvation diet. Yes, such a diet would be painful and difficult, but it’s a real option available to anyone who’s overweight

And any gay person can have sex with members of the opposite sex, marry members of the opposite sex, and generally live a heterosexual lifestyle.

You'll just be miserable. Kind of like a person on a starvation diet.

there’s absolutely nothing wrong or unhealthy about simply being gay. The same cannot be said about obesity.

There's nothing wrong with obesity, either. It *is* unhealthy -- but, given current medical realities, so is male homosexual sex.

Edward said...

Chickenlittle: You touched upon an important legal argument in support of same-sex marriage, but you messed it up at the very end.

One of the best legal arguments for gay marriage is that prohibiting it amounts to illegal gender discrimination.

If the law is going to treat men and women equally (if the law is going to be blind to unnecessary gender distinctions), then the law should make no difference between couples composed of two men, two women, or a man and a woman.

All three types of couples should be allowed to marry. To allow one couple type to marry but not the others is gender/sex discrimination.

Except in rare circumstances, the law is completely blind to race differences. The law should also be completely blind to gender/sex differences when it comes to marriage. All couples should be allowed to marry.

Of course, laws pertaining to incest and age of consent would still be enforced.

Edward said...

There’s nothing inherently harmful or unhealthy about gay sex, if it’s practiced responsibly.

In fact, the best and healthiest way to practice gay sex is in a stable, committed and exclusive long-term (perhaps even lifelong) relationship.

In other words, marriage is the best and safest context in which to practice gay sex.

It’s no different from heterosexual sex in this respect.

Edward said...

Revenant: That was really cute and funny, your little comment about how all gay people can marry and have sex with someone of the opposite sex. They may be miserable the entire time, but at least they’re capable of doing it.

I’m laughing so hard that I’m having trouble writing this post.

[If you didn’t detect the sarcasm in what I just said, I feel sorry for you.]

chickenlittle said...

edward said

"Chickenlittle: You touched upon an important legal argument in support of same-sex marriage, but you messed it up at the very end."

No I don't believe the question hinges on gender discrimination. It hinges on the
gay = straight equation

I would appreciate other's comments

chickenlittle said...

"If the law is going to treat men and women equally (if the law is going to be blind to unnecessary gender distinctions), then the law should make no difference between couples composed of two men, two women, or a man and a woman"

Sorry to be stuck on math today, but what you're saying is that all the nouns commute in the following equations:

man + woman = marriage

man + man = marriage

woman + woman = marriage

it's trivial to show that this reduces to

woman = man
but now we're right back to one of my previous posts:
"The problem is that one can prove that there is no discrimination based on sex because gay marriage is equally unavailable for both sexes and for people of any sexual orientation."

chickenlittle said...

One more thing before I have to go away for a couple hours.

I certainly am not versed in the constitutional aspects of sex orientation discrimination vs gender discrimination. I've heard more than once that unlike other protected classes, gays are not one. Is it just that sex discrimination laws are more advanced than sexual orientation?
Maybe on of the conlaw types here could enlighten?
Thanks in advance.

Revenant said...

If you didn’t detect the sarcasm in what I just said, I feel sorry for you

I got it, thanks.

What I don't get is why you think "obese people can just starve themselves thin" is any more reasonable a suggestion than "gay people can just have heterosexual sex".

What people desire to eat is no more under their conscious control than who people desire to have sex with is. In both cases you're just telling people to deny themselves what they want because you know better. The fact that there exist people so fat that their chances of sex are drastically diminished demonstrates that, for some people at least, the desire for food is vastly stronger than the desire for sexual companionship. Yet you sneer at the idea of reigning in your sexual desire and dismissively assume that reigning in hunger is no big deal.

Also, your claim that gay sex is no riskier than heterosexual sex is categorically false, until such time as artificial STD barriers such as condoms are (a) ubiquitous, (b) cost-free, and (c) 100% effective. That will never happen, so the point is moot. And as I often point out to social conservatives -- the idea that monogamy makes you safe is a myth, since you can never be certain that your partner won't cheat on you, and in the majority of marriages at least one partner cheats on the other at some point. Monogamy makes you *safer*. But (for example) a married gay man is still running a vastly higher risk of contracting HIV than a married heterosexual man is, especially since female-to-male transmission is almost unheard-of.

Edward said...

Chickenlittle: You’re right, the law concerning discrimination based on sexual orientation is much less developed than the law concerning gender discrimination.

But that’s going to change, as more laws protecting the rights of gay people are passed by legislatures, and as more gay rights cases are brought before courts at all levels.

Nevertheless, the legal case for same-sex marriage can usually be made already, with the law in its present state, as the law in these areas is currently constituted.

Edward said...

Revenant: Lesbian sex is the safest of all, safer even than heterosexual sex.

These crude arguments about “safety” are really pointless, and they’re almost always based either on myth or deeply flawed “research.”

Cultural conservatives obsess over this subject, which is really irrelevant to the case for same-sex marriage.

Townleybomb said...

Also, your claim that gay sex is no riskier than heterosexual sex is categorically false, until such time as artificial STD barriers such as condoms are (a) ubiquitous, (b) cost-free, and (c) 100% effective. That will never happen, so the point is moot.

Why are you assuming that all sex between males is anal? The odds of transmission during oral sex are much lower than during vaginal sex. Moreover, I'm not sure where you live, but everywhere I've been, condoms are ubiquitous, easily available for free within the gay community (extremely inexpensive otherwise) and quite close to 100% effective when used properly. Not to mention the fact that condoms are used far more regularly by gay men than straight men.

Additionally, any attempt to inject this issue into the debate has to take into account the fact that HIV transmission between women is vanishingly rare.

John Kindley said...

Having been a student of Ann Althouse at the University of Wisconsin, I've been reading this blog just about every day for well over a year now, and just now am getting around to registering with Blogger so I can comment (and create a blog, though we'll see whether my new blog goes any further than the one post I've put up). As someone who's been attending my local Quaker meeting (our name for church service, held mostly in silence)for about a year now, I wanted to echo and confirm what Pastor Jeff said above, that this one clerk from this one meeting hardly represents and speaks for "Quakers." The Religious Society of Friends has no central authority and is structured from the bottom up, but there are three large umbrella organizations which individual meetings associate themselves with. One of these organizations is quite evangelical, fundamentalist, and conservative. The meeting I attend is associated with Friends General Conference, the most liberal of the three organizations. I assume that many in our meeting (but certainly not all) would share the view of the meeting quoted in the newspaper article. In fact, before I began attending it was collectively determined that the meeting would consider an application for marriage from a gay couple should the meeting receive such an application in the future. (Note that the meeting itself, not the large umbrella organization, made this important decision. The method of Quaker decision-making, by which decisions are arrived at -- often after a lengthy period of time, as in this case -- by consensus and not by majority vote, is a unique and longstanding tradition.)

All that said, there is a refreshing freedom and diversity of thought and spirit in our meeting. I can't imagine our meeting issuing a statement like the one quoted in the article. While a decision regarding potential gay applicants for marriage had to be made for practical reasons, there would be no similar necessity for attempting to bind the consciences of all members into a group statement that is essentially dogmatic and political. There's a fine line of course, because group activism in the cause of good has been a mainstay of Quaker history and belief (women's suffrage, slavery, opposition to war). But the individual conscience, hopefully illuminated with the Light of God and helped by the community, has been and is respected. Many Quakers disagreed about WWII, for example, but ultimately the decision of those Quakers who fought or supported that War was generally respected. During one meeting that I attended, an elderly and long-term member of the meeting felt inspired by God to stand up and deliver a long political tirade directed specifically at the Bush administration. My understanding is that gentleman was "eldered" (gently admonished to refrain from such speeches in the future), probably by folks who likely felt the same way he did about politics. I have a generally conservative attitude about many things and other people in the meeting recognize that, but I feel respected and welcomed (I'm a member of the Faith and Outreach Committee), and I likewise respect others who I know may disagree with me about many things. What I really love about the meeting is that I think we are able to focus on and help each other with the essentials, and don't get unnecessarily tangled up in people's belief systems. I would also echo what a previous commenter said and urge people who are interested to look up the copious information available on the internet about Quaker beliefs, history and practice.

Simon said...

Edward said...
"[T]he best and healthiest way to practice gay sex is in a stable, committed and exclusive long-term (perhaps even lifelong) relationship. In other words, marriage is the best and safest context in which to practice gay sex. It’s no different from heterosexual sex in this respect."

That's essentially the David Brooks position (that is, the cultural conservative case for homosexual marriage, vs. the religious conservative case against it. My objection isn't that I disagree with you, it's that I'm concerned about where this is all leading. Show me a rationale that permits homosexual marriage but that doesn't lead inexorably to polygamy, and to the end of marriage. I support the sanctity of marriage, I'm not pursuaded that homosexual marriage is detrimental to the sanctity of marriage, but I am concerned that once you abolish the role of tradition in defining marriage, once you say that the tradition of two people of opposite genders no longer has any force, you cannot unring that bell, and you will never thereafter be able to assert the role of tradition to limit marriage to two people of either gender. You essentially ask people who are sympathetic to your cause to open a floodgate that will sweep away marriage as an institution. You've got to give people like me a reason to oppose these amendments, you've got to find a way to mollify people who share David Brooks' views and my concerns, because otherwise you're going to lose each and every time. I'm open to such an argument, but you and the opponents of these amendments have to come up with that argument.

Revenant said...

edward,

Revenant: Lesbian sex is the safest of all, safer even than heterosexual sex

That is true -- sorry, I said "male homosexual sex" in the first post but forgot to add the "male" qualifier the second time around.

These crude arguments about "safety" are really pointless

Hey, you brought it up, with your remarks about how obesity is unhealthy and homosexuality isn't. I've never been clear on why the healthiness of either thing is relevant. We should not, in my opinion, restrict people's rights just because they're doing something unhealthy (a point on which most Democrats and Republicans disagree with me).

townley,

Why are you assuming that all sex between males is anal? The odds of transmission during oral sex are much lower than during vaginal sex.

I am no more assuming that all sex between males is anal than you are assuming that all hetero sex is vaginal. It is disingenuous to imply that anal sex isn't the norm in male homosexual relationships, though -- some gay men might restrict themselves to oral-only with their husbands, but such men are few and far between.

And besides, the fact that HIV is orders of magnitude more common among male homosexuals than among heterosexuals in the United States means that homosexual activity is much risker even *if* the sex acts themselves were equally likely to result in transmission.

Moreover, I'm not sure where you live, but everywhere I've been, condoms are ubiquitous, easily available for free within the gay community (extremely inexpensive otherwise) and quite close to 100% effective when used properly.

The chance of infection during vaginal sex is V; during anal sex, A. Chance of an infection bypassing the condom somehow, C. Overall chance of infection is A*C for anal and A*V for vaginal. Given that A>V, the *only* way for anal and vaginal sex to be equally safe is if "C" is equal to zero. It isn't. Even that is simplified, as "C" is greater for anal sex than vaginal due to increased tear risk caused by the lack of built-in lubrication in the anal cavity.

It is not enough that condoms are "close to 100% effective". It is not enough that they are widely available -- they aren't ubiquitous as they aren't universally used.

downtownlad said...

Every gay person I know who has HIV (all two of them by the way) got it by having unprotected sex.

I have yet to meet (or even hear) about someone who got HIV and who used protection. I'm sure it has occurred, but it is rare.

And how the hell do Revenant become such an expert in gay sex matters anyway? I know lots of gay men who don't engage in anal sex.

Edward said...

Simon: The simplest explanation for why someone like you should vote against the amendment in Wisconsin is that a “no” vote does not necessarily mean you are ready to support same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage is not going to suddenly be recognized by the Wisconsin government the day after this amendment is defeated (if it is defeated).

The vote on this amendment is not really a vote about whether same-sex marriage should be legalized in the near future, or even ever at all.

What the vote is really about is whether Wisconsin deserves more time (a lot more time, actually) to debate and to weigh the costs and benefits of same-sex marriage before making a final decision on this issue at some point, probably many years from now.

The state legislature is not going to be approving same-sex marriage any time in the foreseeable future. That’s for sure.

As for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the likelihood that it will declare same-sex marriage to be constitutionally mandated is small. Even if the Supreme Court were inclined to rule this way (a big if), it probably wouldn’t do so any time soon.

Furthermore, if the Wisconsin Supreme Court ever did require recognition of same-sex marriage, the political forces arrayed in opposition to such a ruling could kick into action at that time and try to get this type of amendment passed.

The big question in all this, especially for someone who is undecided and unsure about whether to support or reject same-sex marriage is “Why approve this amendment now?” “What’s the rush?”

Let there be no doubt: approving such an amendment now, when there really is no urgency to do so, will greatly diminish the flexibility that government in Wisconsin has to consider and deal with the issue of what kind of legal protection same-sex relationships deserve, not only for the good of the gay people in those relationships, but for the good of all Wisconsin.

Townleybomb said...

It is disingenuous to imply that anal sex isn't the norm in male homosexual relationships, though -- some gay men might restrict themselves to oral-only with their husbands, but such men are few and far between.

Bullshit. In my experience (which is pretty hands on) a pretty substantial minority of gay men don't like anal sex at all (something I'd be shocked to hear is true for straight men and vaginal sex), and it's just one of several options for a large majority


Even that is simplified, as "C" is greater for anal sex than vaginal due to increased tear risk caused by the lack of built-in lubrication in the anal cavity.


You simplified that by ignoring a major point-- that gay men use condoms more reliably than straight men. Addionally, you seem to be unaware that anal sex pretty much always involves some artificial lubrication-- some simple experimentation at home will show why, if you're curious.
It's pretty much impossible to reduce this argument to an managable equation anyway, since I doubt that there's any source for reliable statistics on say how many straight guys know to squeeze the air out of the tip of a condom before putting it on. My point is that avoiding certain risky behaviors (which gay culture encourages in an intensive way that straight culture doesn't) reduces the health risks of ordinary gay sex to the point that they're roughly equivalent to those of ordinary heterosexual sex (even when the whole sticky issue of unplanned pregnancy is ignored).

To bring this back (somewhat tenuously) to larger issues, an uncloseted, politically engaged gay community and an open discussion of sexuality (which I assume is the 'gay agenda' that the religious right mutter about when they can get away with it) is what has made this possible-- a trend that recognition of stable gay marriages by society and government will further encourage.

Revenant said...

Every gay person I know who has HIV (all two of them by the way) got it by having unprotected sex.

And none of the heterosexuals I know have gotten HIV from *any* form of sex. Should I therefore conclude it is impossible for straight people to get AIDS from sex?

Or -- here's an idea -- let's just stick to the proven facts, among which is that regardless of your personal experience, condoms do sometimes fail.

I know lots of gay men who don't engage in anal sex.

Yeah, "lots"... there's a solid number. I love how you're trying to pretend that anal sex is something really uncommon among gay men after all your ranting about how laws against sodomy amount to criminalization of homosexuality. Make up your mind.

Edward said...

Revenant: Sodomy laws often used to outlaw same-sex oral sex, too, not just anal sex. Thank God we don’t have to deal with those atrocious, Neanderthal laws since Lawrence v. Texas.

Revenant said...

Bullshit. In my experience (which is pretty hands on) a pretty substantial minority of gay men don't like anal sex at all

Translation: the majority of gay men like anal sex.

it's just one of several options for a large majority

And its an option that polls of the gay community show that the vast majority of gay men take part in as a regular part of their sex lives, and a substantial part of the rest take part in at least occasionally.

So I'm afraid the only "bullshit" here is the attempt to paint anal sex as some sort of weird activity that gay men hardly have anything to do with. Puh-lease.

You simplified that by ignoring a major point-- that gay men use condoms more reliably than straight men.

If you want to factor that in, you must also include the chance of one partner harboring a deadly STD to *be* transmitted, which puts homosexual men far back out in front again, risk-wise.

Addionally, you seem to be unaware that anal sex pretty much always involves some artificial lubrication

I'm aware it is used, and you're aware that it isn't always completely effective or perfectly applied, so I'm not even sure why you brought it up. It is a simple fact that condoms break more frequently during anal sex than during vaginal.

My point is that avoiding certain risky behaviors (which gay culture encourages in an intensive way that straight culture doesn't)

Gay culture does not discourage risk in proportion to the risk that actually exists. Straight culture is somewhat less obsessive about safe sex, but vastly less likely to suffer consequences from failing to follow safe sex practices. In contrast, the fact that a large minority of uninfected gay men still occasionally have bareback sex is pretty terrifying, health-wise.

Townleybomb said...

Show me a rationale that permits homosexual marriage but that doesn't lead inexorably to polygamy, and to the end of marriage.

How about:

Marriage-- the loving, permanent union of two people-- is the foundation of our society. Homosexuality is as deeply ingrained and immutable as heterosexuality, and since it's impossible for a homosexual to enter into an honest and whole marriage with a person of the opposite sex and unfair to exclude them from so central an institution because of trait they can neither change nor deny without terrible consequences, marriage should be open to them.

Also, do you mind my asking why you're mentioning polygamy here? What makes you expect any kind of push to legalize it-- the only constituentcy for it that I can think of is a few splinter Mormon groups, the tiny and fringey polyamory movement and a handful of extremist Muslims? Do you have some reason to believe that the desire to have 4 wives is hardwired in the way that sexual orientation is?

Edward said...

Revenant: I really don’t understand the excessive passion that you’re investing here to prove some point about anal sex.

Why? What do you gain from this? Why do you seem so angry?

To the extent that what you’ve said so far has any relevance to the debate here, it only strengthens the case for same-sex marriage.

Only the most obnoxious homophobes deny that same-sex marriage would actually improve the health of gay people and make their sex lives safer.

Only the most obnoxious homophobes say that they don’t care about the health of gay people and about the safety of their sex lives.

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

So I'm afraid the only "bullshit" here is the attempt to paint anal sex as some sort of weird activity that gay men hardly have anything to do with. Puh-lease.

Revenant-- where in the hell did I do that? You've got no room to call anyone disingenuous.

You're pretty overflowing with mathematical certainty for someone who hasn't brought a single figure to the table. Unless you've actually got some evidence to back up all of your 'vast majorities' and 'simple facts' it's basically you against everyone here who actually knows anything about gay sex.

Townleybomb said...

Revenant:

I managed to track down some actual, you know, evidence-- from the CDC, no less. Even if you ignore the fact that gays are much more likely to know their partner's HIV status (which can reduce your risks by a factor of 40), unprotected vaginal sex is a little more than twice as risky as protected passive anal sex. The details are on my blog.
In the absence of some evidence of your own, I'm going to go ahead and write you off as a dishonest blowhard from now on. 'Night.

Daryl Herbert said...

Wow...Goldwater Quakers. :)

That's funny. I always thought Quakers were more Nixonian.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Someone, somewhere above, suggested that there was no difference between potential gay marriages and heterosexual ones. And we are often told that the result of gay marriage would be the same as straight marriage, because, after all, homosexuals want the same thing we all do.

Of course, a gay marriage would be exactly the same as a straight marriage if... men were exactly the same as women. But are the sexes the same?

Will two women talking to each other have the same conversations as two men? Likely, and drastically, not. Will a man and woman have the same conversations as two men, or two women?

Men and women - biologically, emotionally, and experientially- are different. Thus, marriages produced by various combinations would be different. You cannot have different INPUTS and produce the same output.

So, realistically speaking, a marriage between two men is likely to be quite different from a relationship between a man and a woman. For better, or worse.

Now if we look at how men are (and not merely gay men, but all men), we can observe that they tend to be more aggressive, in everything. I am generalizing; there are exceptions to any rule, surely and irrelevantly.

Thus, a relationship involving two men is apt to be extremely different than one involving two women, or, a woman and a man. Indeed if we look at both sexual frequency and activity, we are likely to find it higher within a gay relationship, and due to "maleness", not some innate gay characteristic.

There is no reason to assume that two men would fundamentally change natures, producing a result that is found when females enter a relationship, but without the female. Men together tend toward certain behaviors, and even extremes of behavior (in relation to what that behavior might otherwise be if a woman were standing there with raised eyebrow).

Now this can quite possibly be refuted, but I should think the best way to do so would be to pull statistics that contrast the number of partners of men and women, gay and straight.

Or, when was the last time you saw a glory protrusions in dark places where women congregate.

Differences.

All this is to say that allowing gay marrriage will produce results that are different from straight marriage, while at the same time creating a generation of kids who will grow up lacking the parenting of one biological sex or another, and thus rendering the idea of equality between the sexes irrelevant. Society will have determined that there is no adverse impact in lacking the close emotional and instructive attentions of a biological parent of a specific sex: direct male or female inputs go wanting.

It's all a rather experimental turn in society, with the likely result that gay marriage will prove drastically different from straight marriage. Different how, is the question.