November 8, 2006

"Quite damaging, wide-reaching, nefarious and mean-spirited."

Reactions to Wisconsin's "yes" vote on the marriage amendment.
Crystal Hyslop, 55, of Madison, helped rally Fair Wisconsin volunteers for a final late-afternoon push of canvassing... [She] said she's been with her female partner for 26 years. Before Tuesday's results were known, she said she would "just be devastated" if the measure passed. "The first thing I'll think is, 'Why do they hate me?'"

[Julaine Appling, president of the Vote Yes campaign,] said supporters of the ban don't hate gay people.

"For us, this amendment was not personal," she said. "This was about protecting the institution of marriage that we will collectively hand down to the next generation. We didn't see Fair Wisconsin or the individuals comprising it as our enemy, and we do not see them as second-class citizens."

She said she was proud that her side "never fell prey to bashing" people.

ADDED: But it looks as though the gay marriage ban may fail in Arizona. Imagine that! Arizona getting out in front of Wisconsin. So much for the progressive tradition. I just noticed that news via Instapundit, where I'm also seeing that Michigan has voted down affirmative action. After all that litigation defending affirmative action, the people say no.

143 comments:

Daryl Herbert said...

Even though I don't support these amendments, is it so wrong to take solace in them as small victories against the Democrats?

I'm thinking the answer is "yes."

If anything, the amendments may have hurt Republicans: conservatives probably felt like they could vote for Democrats without compromising themselves on gay issues.

Al Maviva said...

The first thing I'll think is, 'Why do they hate me?'"

Because starting your argument in favor of major social change with the reductionist premise, "anybody who disagrees with me necessarily is evil and hateful" is sort of the opposite of a box of chocolates and some roses. "They" hate you because your politics are somewhat fascistic - "either agree with me or be damned." That "argument" invites only two responses: either "I agree" or "screw you."

quietnorth said...

I think those of us who opposed this amendment should take heart: This was a battle in a war that we are winning, and will win. Things are changing, just not as quickly as we would like.

10 years from now, only a few very honest people will admit to having voted yes on this disgraceful amendment.

MadisonMan said...

quietnorth, what you say may be true. But in the meantime, what will be the economic damage to the state? Why should Gays stay somewhere where they perceive they are unwanted? I think this will hit the UW particularly hard.

David said...

The pro-gay coalition, always looking for acceptance, need to eschew the victim mantra and join the "melting pot" society they live in.

In my opinion their cause is less about financial arrangements as it is social acceptance. Financial arrangements are easily set up for sharing and transferring wealth. It appears that the real reason we go through this self-flagellation of "why do they hate me" is, in reality, the question "Why do I hate myself?"

Bless yourself and the rest will follow! I think civil unions are in the future for alternative lifestyles. The only stigma associated with a civil union is in the eye of the beholder. Call a civil union what it is: a union between other than a man and a woman. It is stating the obvious so why hide from the truth?

There is moral equivalence between civil union and marriage.

Pogo said...

Re: "only a few very honest people will admit to having voted yes on this disgraceful amendment."

"Why should Gays stay somewhere where they perceive they are unwanted?"

Thereby proving Al Maviva's point that proponents of SSM can see no principled opposition to their cause, just "either agree with me or be damned." And MM concurs, advancing the interpretation that opposition to SSM means they hate gay people.

Bullocks.

Derve said...

Bless yourself and the rest will follow! I think civil unions are in the future for alternative lifestyles.

Read the amendment Wisconsin passed. No to civil unions too.

Yesterday, Ms. Appling's side bashed a lot of gay people. Just in pretty, civilly accepted way. Don't kid yourself.

MadisonMan said...

pogo, re-read my comment. It has everything to do with how opponents are perceived by gays. If opponents want to change that perception, they have some education to do. Just saying Bullocks doesn't work.

David said...

Derve(ish):

It is not an either/or proposition, so to speak.

Disassociate civil union from marriage and you might have a chance!

Sheeesh! Buy you books and it does no good!

I sincerely doubt that the world will stop what it is doing and witness the sudden migration of gays and their supporters from "Hello Wisconsin" to the West Coast!

One suggestion. Tell the gay leadership to cool it on the publicity of gay parades in San Francisco. It does the cause no good as a visual!

Fenrisulven said...

Because starting your argument in favor of major social change with the reductionist premise, "anybody who disagrees with me necessarily is evil and hateful" is sort of the opposite of a box of chocolates and some roses. "They" hate you because your politics are somewhat fascistic - "either agree with me or be damned." That "argument" invites only two responses: either "I agree" or "screw you."

Agreed. My interaction here with Edward has made me less sympathetic to gay "rights" issues. The agree or you're a bigot approach only serves to polarize the issue even more.

Simon said...

Yes, the Michigan thing was actually quite lovely to see, although it's disappointing that so many people still support it.

The Drill SGT said...

The proponents of SSM have adopted the same "victim" and "if you oppose me, you are evil" approach of the left. I consider myself a non-religious social moderate.

The tipping point in any of these votes are going to be a set of people in the middle like me who don't "hate" gays, but rather are "conservative" in the simple use of that word. It is not hateful to say:

marriage is one of the bedrocks of civilization. Overall, the codification of 10,000 years of testing alternative arrangements has generally settled on one man, one woman approaches. (to the extent that some societies have encouraged (one man , several women) that has often been a safeguard / safety net for widows, etc). These conservatives want to go slow and be careful before we throw out a cultural system that works.

that is not evil, just risk adverse.

Pogo said...

Re: "It has everything to do with how opponents are perceived by gays. ...Just saying Bullocks doesn't work."

My comment "Bullocks" was damning the critique promulgated by proponents of SSM that disagreement defined opponents as those who hate gay people.

What a simplistic interpretation. Gay marriage supporters should worry about alienating the anti-SSM majority, and risk isolating themselves further by suggesting that people who voted for this amendment are by definition bad. Demonizing the rubes won't sway them to your side.

As for the "economic damage" threat: Do you really think gay people are going to leave Wisconsin in large numbers because of this? What kind of tactic is that? That would leave even a smaller minority in support of SSM behind. Not a successful plan for change, in my view.

bearing said...

pogo, re-read my comment. It has everything to do with how opponents are perceived by gays. If opponents want to change that perception, they have some education to do. Just saying Bullocks doesn't work.

True enough. But what we've seen over the years is that explaining the reasons we are opposed to SSM doesn't work either. At some point, it's more reasonable to quit trying to reason with someone.

The perception is wrong, but it's too well-loved for many people to let go. It feels good to nurse a grudge and to believe the worst about a perceived enemy. A universal (and bipartisan) flaw in human nature, that.

Goesh said...

-there's alot of myth and tradition in keeping men and women in marriage and Santa in Christmas, but it is what the people want. I have encountered very, very few who outright hate gay people for being gay and I've been around the proverbial block many, many times. Victimhood, like anal sex, is a rather messy business that few try to fully understand because of the stench.

Sloanasaurus said...

The Michigan amendment is a great victory for freedom. I think such an amendment would pass in almost all states. We will start seeing them in the years to come.

Regarding gay marriage. This is the fault of the gay marriage lobby. They should never have pushed the argument that a gay marriage is the same as a traditional marriage. Most people just don't see it as being the same and saw marriage as being under attack by leftist organizations. Instead they should have recognized the difference but pushed for equal contractual rights and economic benefits - i.e. a civil union.

B. P. Beckley said...

Pogo said:

As for the "economic damage" threat: Do you really think gay people are going to leave Wisconsin in large numbers because of this? What kind of tactic is that? That would leave even a smaller minority in support of SSM behind. Not a successful plan for change, in my view.

Well, the hypothetical people that would leave would be GIVING UP on Wisconsin completely. They stop caring about what happens there.

I don't know about Wisconsin, but here in Ohio, brain drain is a big deal. The kids leave and never come back, and people from outside the state think that coming here is a bad thing. Anti-gay policies are disliked by many people that aren't gay, and those people tend to be young, and they vote with their feet. Maybe Wisconsin can afford that.

It's not about people with roots leaving, it's about people without roots not putting them down.

quietnorth said...

We have to resort to psychological explanations to explain why people oppose civil unions because none of the stated ones make any sense.

How is my marriage impacted by civil unions? I can't think of one way. Are there any other threats to marriages besides civil unions, and have they inspired constitutional amendments? No.

David blames gays for the fact that they aren't fully integrated into society. This is how the change will happen: At first, people will oppose gay people being integrated into society. Then, they will say they were for integration all along, but blame gays for not integrating. Then, as society changes, the fact that there was ever opposition will be forgotten.

CB said...

Whether I should or not, I honestly don't care about same-sex marriage. But I think that its proponents have (unfairly) borne the brunt of the blowback from decades of liberals advancing their causes through the courts rather than the legislature. As a conservative, I would of course rather see SSM handled through the legislative process. COnservatives have started to fight fire with fire, and I'm not sure that's a good thing.

On a more optimistic note, hooray for divided government! May the partisan gridlock commence!

Daryl Herbert said...

Is it possible the voters in both AZ and WI feel the same way about gay marriage, and both made rational decisions?

Assume voters in both states don't want gay marriage (a good bet, because they haven't sent many open supporters of gay marriage to the legislature)

Assume voters in both states don't particularly want a Constitutional amendment, either.

Now assume AZ trusts their judiciary to exercise restraint, and WI doesn't . . .

Derve said...

Victimhood, like anal sex, is a rather messy business that few try to fully understand because of the stench.

Read this and tell me people have no fears or irrational discriminatory thoughts against homosexuals. If you're clean, relax and do it right, there's no mess and no stench. Dumbass.

People who try to bring down others because they don't know the concept of personal freedom die sad. They never really know life. You don't have to even try anal sex to know this, but what you say about others who make choices other than yours says a lot. Some call it upholding tradition. Some call it bigotry. I think its non-freedom, whatever you call it, and I feel sad for people who lock themselves in to that kind of life, for whatever reason. I'm sure it's mutual.

Anonymous said...

This issue will be moot in about 30 years. Social change takes longer than technological change but like technology, the social change we are seeing is astronomically faster than at any other period in history.

MadisonMan said...

Re: Gridlock. The Wisconsin legislature is now divided -- Democrats control the Senate, Republicans control the House. So I expect less insanity to reach the Governor's Desk. Hooray.

I would not want to be a recruiter for the Univ. of Wisconsin now. The UW has already lost a talented researcher -- and the $3M he brought in annually. When domestic partnership benefits are eliminated, retention will be all the more difficult.

Derve said...

Disassociate civil union from marriage and you might have a chance!

Are we still talking Wisconsin? The anti-gay people who put this on the ballot purposely tied the civil union/marriage issue together, and won against both. People aren't as open-minded as you might think, or they would have voted no, which would not have shut the door to recognizing other unions.

One suggestion. Tell the gay leadership to cool it on the publicity of gay parades in San Francisco. It does the cause no good as a visual!

I bitched in the comments once about Miss Ann posting the drag queen/colorful kiddies pictures from the Madison Pride parade two years ago. She didn't go down to photograph it this year, putting up all those flaming characters that don't represent the gay community but which the photographers love to highlight. I consider that a small victory. Sometimes in trying to help, you should ask yourself, who am I helping by posting this?

It's the damn Andy Warhola types -- all "art", no responsibility. We all saw how that turned out. :)

SteveS said...

marriage is one of the bedrocks of civilization. Overall, the codification of 10,000 years of testing alternative arrangements has generally settled on one man, one woman approaches. (to the extent that some societies have encouraged (one man , several women) that has often been a safeguard / safety net for widows, etc). These conservatives want to go slow and be careful before we throw out a cultural system that works.

The problem with this line of thinking is that proponents of letting gay people marry don't want to "throw out" a cultural system that works. They want to join it. This line of argument makes it sound like everybody out there wrestles with the question of whether to settle down with someone of the same sex or someone of the opposite sex, and the tradition of opposite-sex marriage operates as some kind of lever pushing them towards the opposite-sex option.

The vast majority of people I know are either gay or straight (mostly, of course, straight), and they don't need some kind of external force to tell them which. So the argument that gay people are trying to throw out or destroy marriage is not borne out by reality: gay people just want to participate in the institution the same as everyone else.

Pogo said...

Re: "It's not about people with roots leaving, it's about people without roots not putting them down."

An Ohio "brain-drain" would refer specifically to people leaving the state, not failing to move there. nevertheless, your point is well-taken, and restated suggests that gay-friendly Madison isn't gay-friendly enough (even though nothing has actually changed for them in state law), leading to fewer future gay citizens.

Let's just say I doubt Madison will become a gay-bashing town, or that it is now or will be anything but strongly supportive.

Regardless, maybe supporters of SSM should move to states that favor their approach. Such is Federalism, and by that method achieve their goals incrementally. But such an all-or-none tactic seems self-defeating to me.

Pogo said...

Re: "So the argument that gay people are trying to throw out or destroy marriage is not borne out by reality..."

Not borne out by what "Reality"? Your fallacious argument offers nothing at all but the statement itself as support.

bob said...

Julaine Appling thinks this amendment is just about protecting marriage and not discriminating against gay people? OK, fine. What is her group's next step to "protect marriage". What other legislation is in the works to clean up the sacred institution from rampant divorce and broken families. How does her group explain to children that many of the authors of these amendments have themselves been divorced. How is her group moving to protect children from watching one marriage dissolve only to see, confused, their parents remarry. Where are the amendments against divorce, remarriage, having children out of wedlock? I think the whole thing is rather hypocritical.

Fenrisulven said...

all those flaming characters that don't represent the gay community

Its not just the Gay Pride S&M parades. Consider, after all the whining about AIDs research, whats up with barebacking? Do you think there's any reason societies consider anal sex taboo? You talk about sexual freedom, but every appetite has boundries that, when crossed, become self-destructive.

Fenrisulven said...

What other legislation is in the works to clean up the sacred institution from rampant divorce and broken families

Arguments that they should support more devolution of the institution of marriage becasue it is already broken won't win many converts. You might as well use DUI stats to support legalization of weed.

Wade_Garrett said...

Ann -- Did "the" people vote no, or did the white people vote no? If it lost fair and square then I can live with that, but I have a hard time saying "the people" in a context like this, because it would not be the first time the phrase "the people" has excluded African-Americans.

In an unrelated note, anybody who thinks that gay marriage is worse for society than straight divorce is a moron. That's just my opinion.

SteveS said...

Not borne out by what "Reality"? Your fallacious argument offers nothing at all but the statement itself as support.

Actually, I did offer an argument (unlike, say, your response). To claim that proponents of same-sex marriage want to "destroy" or "throw out" marriage is false because to attempt to destroy something is to seek to have it cease occurring, or at least occur less frequently. So how is attempting to let more people marry in any way synonymous with trying to destroy the institution? It is not.

And to the misguided notion that letting gay people marry is so distinct from when straight people do it that it effectively destroys the institution, I offered the observation (borne out by experience) that the vast majority of people's sexual orientation is essentially fixed, and therefore straight people will continue to marry in the same way they do now even when gay people are permitted to do so as well.

If you think you have a better argument to illustrate how letting gays marry is tantamount to "throwing out" the institution of marriage, then why don't you try to make it.

chickenlittle said...

r,s, buck said:

"This issue will be moot in about 30 years"

Especially since America will be vastly different in so many ways by then. Just finished Steyn's new book which more people should be discussing.

Fenrisulven said...

anybody who thinks that gay marriage is worse for society than straight divorce is a moron

As is anyone who thinks that gay marriage is better for society because of straight divorce - "more corruption won't damage an institution already damaged by corruption" [??]

Fenrisulven said...

to attempt to destroy something is to seek to have it cease occurring, or at least occur less frequently

Or to redefine it to the point of becoming meaningless.

Pogo said...

Steves,
Re: "So how is attempting to let more people marry in any way synonymous with trying to destroy the institution? It is not."
Again, you are merely restating your opinion as a fact. It is not.

Re: "the vast majority of people's sexual orientation is essentially fixed"
Interestingly, gay rights folks argued precisely the opposite in the 1970s and 1980s. Why did they change? Anyway, the jury's still out here.

Re: "therefore straight people will continue to marry in the same way they do now..."
Therefore? Therefore? No, sorry, it doesn't follow as simply as you suggest. I know this is a blog and posts must be brief, but your statements are classic examples of logical errors and fallacies.

Re: "If you think you have a better argument to illustrate how letting gays marry is tantamount to "throwing out" the institution of marriage..."
Sorry, but since you are arguing for change from the status quo, it is your responsibility to show that altering the current state would be better than what we have now, or at least no worse. The Drill Sgt stated the conservative approach most succinctly. Start with that, and argue why you think he's wrong, and not via conclusory statements alone.

David said...

As an aside, I live in Arizona. Up until recently it was a bastion of retired folks, indigenous types who love the Sonoran Desert, the typical university towns of Phoenix and Tucson, and the various Indian tribes that populate the state.

Skyrocketing house prices in California spured many people there to sell at an enourmous proft and move to Arizona where they found quality housing at an affordable price with large lots and acreage.

In my opinion, the SSM ammendment would not have passed five years ago before the influx.

On the subject of perception, I think the usage of SSM is noteworthy as an anacronym for not only 'same sex marriage' but also for 'sado-sexual-masochism'! SSM is a big city expression that may be lost on the unwashed masses living in the flyover states.

Perception is everything! LOL

bearing said...

We have to resort to psychological explanations to explain why people oppose civil unions because none of the stated ones make any sense.


See what I mean about explaining our reasons not working?

Joan said...

Terry: I have a hard time saying "the people" in a context like this, because it would not be the first time the phrase "the people" has excluded African-Americans.

I thought this was a weird thing for Terry to say, because the African-American community is well known as being against gay marriage. But then I realized that Terry was talking about the Michigan affirmative action vote. From the linked article:
A CNN exit poll of Michigan voters suggested that the ban passed because of support from men. Sixty percent of men, but only 47 percent of women said that they backed the ban. By educational status, support for the ban was strongest among those who were college graduates, and opposition was strongest among those with postgraduate education. Among white voters, CNN found that 59 percent backed the ban, while only 14 percent of black voters did so.

You can look further at the polling data and see if it all adds up.

As for Wisconsin passing the ban, I'm still surprised that AZ failed to do the same. AZ is growing and is not as conservative/libertarian a state as it used to be, since we're getting a lot of people from CA and liberal states to the north and east. The opponents of Prop 107 were heavily funded and ran a terrific ad campaign, while the proponents were scarcely heard on the airwaves or seen on billboards or street-corner signs. The opponents spun the question as taking away already-established benefits, and obviously the majority of people didn't want to do that. The proponents response to that charge were late and weak.

Of course, nothing changes in AZ state law. None of the major newspapers endorsed 107 because marriage is already defined as man+woman only in law, and the editors are all confident that will never be overturned. I guess the majority of people also believe that the AZ judiciary is not as activist as those in MA or NJ. AFAIK, there isn't a huge gay community in AZ, so it may be some time before that statute is challenged, at which point we'll see whether or not the state constitutional amendment would have been necessary.

Wade_Garrett said...

Pogo,

We didn't know a lot of things in the 70's that we know today. Gay rights advocates at that time said it was a choice because 25 years ago America was still open to protecting the right to choose. Today, science shows that you're born gay (or lesbian.) Either way, nurture or nature, it shouldn't make a difference. I haven't heard a good reason why it should make a difference.

Unless you come from very old money, the odds are that your great-grandparets weren't married in a church. The state only started recognizing church marriages exclusively when the church lobbyists got to them. For decades (and centuries, going back to colonial times) you'd just start living with someone until people started referring to you as man and wife.

paul a'barge said...

Arizona getting out in front

Describing Arizona as in front and Wisconsin as therefore behind is certainly in keeping with your position on this issue. That's fair enough.

However, compare this slant with the quote you attribute to the Wisconsin supporter of the amendment (we don't hate anyone). I also note the slant being spun by the anti-amendment leader (they hate us!.

Who's being the bigger person? We ask, you respond, or something like that.

As a conservative who holds his gay friends dearly, I would reiterate to gays who support gay marriage ... this is not about you, or your lifestyle, in which you are entitled to live.

This is about the definition of marriage, and a majority of us want do not want that definition to change.

Derve said...

In an unrelated note, anybody who thinks that gay marriage is worse for society than straight divorce is a moron. That's just my opinion.

And a well-observed one it is, Terry. I suspect in years to come, when we have the numbers to stop playing nice and start meeting absurd support statements -- even the religious ones -- with direct challenges, we'll hear more honest open statements like yours.

Playing nice avoids challenging the currently accepted dogma that gay parenting/unions somehow threaten society. Homosexuals are asked to pay the price for heterosexual divorce -- how many bitter divorced men do you know who are very anti-gay marriage? Almost unreasonably so. Whether they want to admit it or not, much of the anti- support comes because of fear, ignorance or bigotry. Watch how quickly things change when someone you know is affected. "Do unto others..."

Like quietnorth noted, in the future, the majority of thinking-for-themselves people not clinging to misguided notions of fear/ignorance are expected to increase in numbers and more honesty like Terry's can take place. Even if feelings get hurt and it's not so nice.

Pogo said...

Re: "Either way, nurture or nature, it shouldn't make a difference."

Well then, tell Steves. He's using it as an argument that since "the vast majority of people's sexual orientation is essentially fixed", therefore SSM will have no effect on marriage itself.

Pogo said...

Derve said "much of the anti- support comes because of fear, ignorance or bigotry"

'Why do they hate me?'
I still say bullocks.

Les said...

"These conservatives want to go slow and be careful before we throw out a cultural system that works."

But does it work anymore? Maybe things are drastically different where you live, but marriage doesn't seem to be working so well from what I've seen: cheating done casually and often; a tendency to just get divorced instead of working hard to make the marriage work; tossing marriage out the window completely and just cohabitating and having kids as an unmarried couple....

It amuses me when my right-leaning friends accuse me of being a liberal (ooh, scary, bad) because I support same-sex marriage: I've always thought of my support being based on very conservative or traditional reasons - marriage is a serious commitment, and I want to be able to make that commitment to someone, though in my case that would be between two men. So it's odd to me when people claim to be against same-sex marriage because they're "conservative"; likewise, I find it odd when my liberal friends bash the institution of marriage in general, but then when I ask "so are you against same-sex marriage too?" they immediately do a 180 and attempt to pretend to strongly support same-sex marriage.

And the whole "why do they hate me" thing - oh give it a rest, lady. Maybe they're just tired of listening to you whine.

And... I agree that a better a way to go about the whole thing would have been to go for civil unions first, and not even mention the word "marriage". In another generation, marriage would have naturally followed. Regardless of what the law is, when and if I find this man, I'll simply refer to him as my "husband" and if it bothers or confuses people, well, tough.

Zeb Quinn said...

Imagine that! Arizona getting out in front of Wisconsin.

Not hard. Arizona is a western and cowboy-libertarian culture much more than anything else, not really so much a haven for traditional values, and that's the basis of the reluctance to have the government micromanaging people's lives and relationships. Wisconsin remains ensconced in the midwest. Lots of traditional values going on there.

Wade_Garrett said...

Paul,

What you just said is irrelevant. The Wisconsin marriage amendment was not about preserving the definition of marriage. Read the amendment. The second sentence of the marriage amendment goes beyond the definition of marriage to state that the legislature shall pass no law creating a legal status substantially similar to marriage which would afford people rights similar to those enjoyed by married couples.

Make no mistake about it, the Wisconsin amendment was about enshrining gay bashing into the state constitution. In other states with differently worded amendments, it might be a different story, but the whole "preserving the definition" argument strikes me more as a massive rationalization.

Fenrisulven said...

but marriage doesn't seem to be working so well from what I've seen: cheating done casually and often; a tendency to just get divorced instead of working hard to make the marriage work; tossing marriage out the window completely and just cohabitating and having kids as an unmarried couple....

So your point boils down to "SSM won't damage marriage because marriage is already damaged"?

B. P. Beckley said...

Pogo:

...your point is well-taken, and restated suggests that gay-friendly Madison isn't gay-friendly enough (even though nothing has actually changed for them in state law)...

What do you mean, nothing has changed? What are we discussing if nothing has changed? Why are you happy with the result if nothing has changed?

...leading to fewer future gay citizens.

Yes, and fewer non-gay citizens who don't want to live in a state that is explicitly anti-gay.


Regardless, maybe supporters of SSM should move to states that favor their approach. Such is Federalism, and by that method achieve their goals incrementally. But such an all-or-none tactic seems self-defeating to me.

Self-defeating in what sense? Ah, you're thinking that they'll never get gay marriage legalized in WI if everyone who favors it leaves. My point is that they STOP CARING about WI once they leave. How is that a defeat for the individual doing the leaving? It looks more like a defeat for WI, at least in economic terms. Or do you not think that it matters economically what places people choose to move to and what places they choose to move away from?

Al Maviva said...

Sorry this is long, but maybe it will enlighten some people on us "haters."

Some who are sadly among the legal and academic leaders of the pro gay marriage movement are clear that their motivation is Marcusian in nature – they wish to overturn the existing social institutions and they feel gay marriage is a step in the right direction. Other gays want to join a valuable social institution. Those of us on the fence are simply reluctant to tamper with a good arrangement.

The Drill Sgt. was on the right track, I think. If you want it in more academic terms, social institutions matter. It is consistent with conservative intellectual tradition going back to Burke to point out that social habits and social institutions are a bulwark of society. At a very high level, laws are nice, but a society where people are in the habit of doing the right thing based on their participation in various social institutions is a better place than a society where the government has to constantly police people to get them to do the right thing. Laws against littering are nice, but they won’t cause a tight knit neighborhood to self-organize to pick up downed trees after a storm. Welfare is a nice social safety net, but government coerced charity isn’t as high a good as the local volunteer food bank, which operates without the threat of government coercive power (in taxation) and which is more immediately responsive to local needs. Admittedly, this views society as more of a interconnected web of institutions than as a random collection of completely autonomous, unconnected beings; and if you don’t buy that premise then nothing I say could convince you that social institutions even exist, much less have merit.

Many conservatives or traditionalists view ordinary historical marriage as perhaps the most important social institution, one that exists on a formal (legal) level but also on an informal level. That it is legally recognized is generally thought proper, but conservatives would point out that marriage or something like it has existed at most places in known history whether or not the laws are functioning.

A recent example that makes us believe marriage is more than a legal arrangement, part of the social web, involves divorce and welfare. From my reading – formerly extensive though I haven’t studied the area in four or five years – a lot of kids come through divorce and broken homes just fine, but there is a higher percentage of children of divorce with bad outcomes than children of intact families; and among the children with bad outcomes, the children of divorce on the whole generally have markedly worse outcomes than children from families that don’t divorce but who also manage to have bad outcomes (felonies, drug addiction, welfare dependency, etc). This doesn’t mean that divorce is an unalloyed evil or the kids have to go bad as a result, rather that in making it easy to break up marriages means it is more likely that you will have more kids with really bad outcomes. Similarly, the problem with welfare as it was then working was pointed out by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the late 60’s. He led a study group at the LBJ-era Department of Labor looking at the Great Society programs and determined that treating out-of-wedlock births as a value-neutral activity, permitting it without attaching any entitlements penalty and in fact incentivizing it by providing higher payments to one-parent homes, would destabilize the family and especially wreak havoc on the Black family which was already under assault by centuries of slavery and decades of segregation. At the time he was run out of town for being such a racist fool; by the mid-90’s, he was hailed as a prophet for having the courage and foresight to speak the truth. The laws concerning marriage or who could receive welfare didn't change much in the 1960's, but the habits of people who would otherwise have been married changed due to relatively minor legal shifts, with disastrous results that we are still paying for today.

My point isn’t anti-gay marriage per se. My point is that we didn’t arrive at these traditions in an arbitrary manner, society arrived at them after a lot of trial and error, sorting out the bad ideas and holding onto what works. The end result of destabilizing marriage in the other contexts wasn’t just damage to people directly involved; ‘bad outcome’ means that your vandalized store front, your burgled house or your assaulted child was victimized by one of the unintended consequences of our social experimentation. I'm hesitant to sign onto another re-engineering of the marital relationship, given how bad our last couple great ideas have turned out.

So my conclusion? Insofar as we want to radically re-define what constitutes marriage, we should do it slowly, and at the polls, with some attention paid to any unintended consequences. If people like what they see, they can do more; if they don't like it, it's in their hands to move back. I’m not against gay marriage per se. I am against having it inflicted on an apparently unwilling country by judicial pen stroke, with a lot of high minded language but little regard for how the whole of society will be affected. “Who could it possibly harm?” isn’t proof that nobody will be harmed, it’s a speculation that nobody will be harmed. If marriage is an integral part of the foundation of society, you need to ask: would you put some new building material in your home’s foundation without it being tested? I believe the polls are the right place to settle this question. As people’s mindset evolves, so too should our understanding of marriage. But it’s a dangerous applecart to tip over all at once and it's disingenuous to pretend you know that nobody will get hurt as a result. Yeah, society will recover no matter what we do. It always does eventually, it’s just a matter of time and how many damaged people you screw up before you realize the error. See the original incarnation of welfare and housing projects, and the eugenics movement if you have trouble understanding why I worry. A lot of ideas thought to be really progressive and smart at the time had disastrous results, some that we're even sort of ashamed of now.

Pogo said...

Re: "What do you mean, nothing has changed? What are we discussing if nothing has changed?"
Gay people couldn't marry before the amendment, and can't marry now. The only thing that has changed is the prior traditonal view has now obtained a legal imprimatur.

Re: "Yes, and fewer non-gay citizens who don't want to live in a state that is explicitly anti-gay."
More 'Why do they hate me' demonizing. Bullshit.

Re: "Self-defeating in what sense?"
No, self-defeating in that if the goal were to gain social acceptance for homosexuals and SSM, disappearing isn't likely to be a successful approach. Instead, you'll achieve balkanization, state versus state.

Re: "How is that a defeat for the individual doing the leaving? "
It's a defeat if a goal for gays is greater social acceptance. Demonizing your opponent and taking your ball and going to your new home will not advance this cause. It is victory however for a gay individual who has an eye only on the short term.

The Drill SGT said...

Al Maviva said...


Wow! Wonderful full length version of my "Cliff" notes.

Nicolas said...
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Joe Baby said...

More on AZ:

1. Yes, slightly changing demographics -- peeps from California + a hearty young partying population. Live and let live crowd.

2. Confidence that the judiciary will not start whipping out a batch of cloth, etc.

3. "No on 107" did a good job (albeit they were deceptive if not outright lying) on the subject of benefits for people currently in domestic partnerships.

4. "No on 107" also repeatedly said that this amendment was not necessary because marriage was already protected. They were able to pose this amendment as overkill. Hence any move toward gay marriage already has a built-in speedbump.

Fitz said...

“But it looks as though the gay marriage ban may fail in Arizona. Imagine that! Arizona getting out in front of Wisconsin. So much for the progressive tradition.”

“In front of” – “progressive” , why must the cultural left always paint their agenda as a fait accomplie’? Why does it always appear as if they are the conductors running the freight train of history? Why does the argument for their social agenda always seem over before anyone ever here’s it start?

Yes Wisconsin has a long, storied, “progressive” tradition. Yet this Amendment passed? Were the considerable Liberal voices that voted for it? If this is such a progressive no-brainer, then why are mainstream democrats and average liberals not spouting their superior morality to us mindless bigots?

Perhaps it has something to do with the breakdown in family structure over the last forty years. A forty year stretch that corresponds directly with cultural libertine ascendance.

BJK said...

I can't help but notice how the views of those (largely on the left) dissenters on the SSM ban differ from my own thoughts.


Not as to the amendment itself, but as to the election results.

As a solid conservative, I'm more than a bit disappointed as to the polling results. Am I blaming things on the 'cut-and-run' crowd, or the hollywood left, or on people who hate freedom (or just about anything else Jon Stewart suggests for that matter)? No.

Republicans lost because they didn't get out a consistent message. They didn't do as good a job at selecting moderate candidates to run for office in contested seats (Heath Shuler had been approached twice by Republicans to run for Congress before running as a Democrat this year). Moreover, their actions in Congress didn't stay on-message with Conservative principals: they got spendy, they got distracted.


Anyone who thinks that the SSM ban amendment passed because Wisconsin hates gay people (or, as Fair Wisconsin put it, just don't know any gay people) fail to understand what really happened.

If you quit trying to convince the center to support you...you've already lost.

SteveS said...

Al Maviva, thanks for your thoughtful post. I agree with much of what you say, and also believe in our communitarian responsibilities to one another, and the importance of social institutions to maintaining stability of the social order.

You point out that it's disingenuous to pretend nobody will get hurt by the result. I think people say that no one would be harmed for 2 reasons: 1. because they don't see extending marriage rights to gay couples as such a radical change in the institution, and 2. because they don't see how a further deterioration of marriage would ensue. On these 2 points:

Looking at the way you characterize SSM: "radically redefine" what constitutes marriage, and "a dangerous applecart to tip over all at once": I don't see that, and it's difficult for me to understand where this perception comes from. I'm not belittling it, I'm trying to understand it. I start from the assumption that gay people exist, and that if they are to form a family anchored by a life-long affectional and romantic relationship with someone else, that will be with someone of the same sex. (I suppose one could dispute this assumption, but then we really do have nothing to talk about.) They may also raise children. They want the law to afford them the same protections and responsibilities it affords to other families formed by opposite-sex couples, and so they seek to marry, as marriage is the mechanism by which the state does that. How is this such a radical redefinition of marriage? My best sense of why it feels that way to some is that they think the difference between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples is so wide, so different in character, that heterosexuals will no longer wish to participate in the institution once gay people can marry, and it will fall into disfavor.

So you try to see if that would happen, and why would that happen. I suppose there are some who might feel like the institution would no longer be worth joining, though I wonder what would motivate that feeling (discomfort with the idea that gay relationships are on a par with straight relationships? something else?). I try to look at other places where society changed in comparable ways and examine the results (there aren't any perfect corollaries). To me, the closest examples would be cases where permission to participate in an institution was extended to individuals who were previously denied it. When bans on interracial marriage were dropped, did that cause people to stop wanting to marry? I've never heard of a study that showed that, and I highly doubt it. When women were allowed to become police officers, say, did that stop men from wanting to be police officers? Maybe a tiny minority, but it's not as if police forces became so weakened as to become ineffective. Again, I know these are not great examples of perfectly parallel situations, but there are none that are perfect.

It's fair to say that advocates of same-sex marriage have an obligation to advance an argument that society wouldn't be harmed, and in a brief (ok, not so brief) blog post I don't have space to do that fully. Others, of course, have done so with lengthy essays and books. But it's also reasonable to say to opponents that you have to consider the effects of the current situation on the real people who are here now and whose lives are genuinely made more difficult because of the exclusion. (I'm not necessarily including you as an opponent here, as you pointed out your argument was not per se an opposition to same-sex marriage.) It's not for "arbitrary" reasons that people are questioning this, it's because real people are trying to improve their lives. The two examples you gave of weakening marriage (divorce and welfare) are to me so different in character from same-sex marriage that I'm unpersuaded. In both cases, the change has the effect of more easily permitting the dissolution of marriages or at least incentivizing their absence, so there's a clear logical line between them and a weakening of the institution. But where is the line from same-sex marriage? I offered my best understanding above, and from that I don't see it. But I'd like to understand better if there is a different objection, and why that leads people to fear such consequences.

Sorry for such a long post.

AJ Lynch said...

Jeez- the commenters here veer the discussion into gay rights so often, you'd think that was all people had concerns about.

And I know in this case that is the topic and Ann selects the topics, but no matter what she selects, the discussion oftimes veers back to gay rights. Whassup with that?

Pogo said...

SteveS:
After proponents redefine marriage to deny that parenthood and marriage are intrinsically linked, and insist instead that marriage is just one of many relationship options, fewer parents will choose marriage, favoring mere cohabitation.

Such has been the case in the Netherlands.
"Ever since the Dutch passed registered partnerships in 1997, followed by formal same-sex marriage in 2000, their out-of-wedlock birthrate has been moving up at a striking clip.
The Netherlands is so important because it provides evidence for an actual acceleration of out-of-wedlock birthrates following the passage of same-sex unions—proof demanded by Eskridge and Spedale. We see this in the Netherlands because, in contrast to Scandinavia, out-of-wedlock birthrates were relatively low in Holland prior to the advent of registered partnerships and gay marriage. So in the Netherlands, we aren’t comparing apples and oranges (out-of-wedlock births for second-born children and above, as opposed to first-born children). In the Netherlands, we are still largely dealing with an increase in out-of-wedlock births for first children. And the Dutch out-of-wedlock birthrate has in fact accelerated dramatically following the introduction of legal same-sex unions."

bob said...

Re Fenrisulven's comment: So your point boils down to "SSM won't damage marriage because marriage is already damaged"?

No, the point is "why should anyone believe that you care about stemming the damage to marriage that SSM might cause if you aren't doing anything to fix the damage that already exists." Unless you show me continued enthusiasm to make marriage a better institution, how can I believe that this amendement is your attempt to protect marriage instead of a mean sprited attempt to "protect" it specifically from gay people.

SteveS said...

Pogo, don't have time for a fuller reply now (or a refutation of Kurtz's analysis), but how will "mere cohabitation" suddenly emerge as a new option after same-sex marriage? Aren't there plenty of opposite-sex couples who cohabitate now? (Yes.)

Is parenthood and marriage "intrinsically linked" now? Why do we permit the infertile and elderly to marry?

Joe Baby said...

bob,

Aren't the family policy council's (who have generally been behind the amendments) the same groups who have advocated covenant marriage and against no-fault divorce?

Wouldn't those qualify as shoring up marriage?

Pogo said...
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Joe Baby said...

BTW, the reason Prop 107 has not yet been called as an official "No" is that there are 300,000 to 400,000 absentee ballots yet uncounted.

"No" still leads by 30,000, however.

Joe Baby said...

Caveat to last post:

POTENTIALLY as many as 300k to 400k.

It's also the reason that they Hayworth has not conceded and Mitchell has not claimed victory.

Pogo said...

Pogo said...
Re: "but how will "mere cohabitation" suddenly emerge as a new option after same-sex marriage?"
Of course it's not a 'new' option. How foolish. Unmarried cohabitation increases, as do unwed births (and then, more easily, separation of the partners).

Re: "Is parenthood and marriage "intrinsically linked now?"
Traditionally, yes, but that has been eroding thanks to Marxism, socialism, and leftism of the 20th century. Marriage between couples unable to procreate was previously a marginal number, having no effect on reproduction within a nuclear family, and therefore of little concern.

Now that you've seen how adoption of SSM in the Netherlands has in fact been followed by an undesirable increase in out-of-wedlock birthrates -a "a causal smoking gun for gay marriage’s negative effects"- what say you?

bearing said...

SteveS, thanks for your thoughtful post.

Re: My best sense of why it feels that way to some is that they think the difference between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples is so wide, so different in character, that heterosexuals will no longer wish to participate in the institution once gay people can marry, and it will fall into disfavor.

Close, but not quite, at least about how I think. You are right that I think the difference between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples is entirely different in character. I view it as definitionally different in character, almost mathematically so: a set that includes just {A A} or {B B} is existentially different from the set {A B}.

But I don't think it will prevent heterosexuals from marrying. That seems like a non sequitur to me. In fact I do not expect there will be a great deal of effect on heterosexual marriage, at least not directly.

I object because the word "marriage" *means* a particular kind of union between a man and woman. The heterogeneity of it is part of the definition and always has been. And any attempt to change the legal definition to include the homogeneous sets {A A} or {B B} will always be a legal falsehood.

That's all.

Can calling same-sex couples "married" undermine marriage in an indirect, long-term way? If so, I think the mechanism is that it is one step toward rendering the word so inclusive as to be essentially meaningless. Why get married if there's nothing special about it?

The specter of "same-sex marriage" also threatens people who belong to religions that won't recognize these unions as sacramental marriages. We fully expect, if it becomes widely accepted in mainstream secular society, that someday we'll be portrayed as senseless bigots or fanatics for refusing to bless such unions. I'm sure some people think that's a good thing and that such social stigma ought to apply to members of these religious groups. However, as you can imagine, we don't like the idea much.

I do not believe that most gay people or other proponents of changing the definition of "marriage" want to undermine or destroy marriage. I give y'all the benefit of the doubt. Rather, I'm concerned that its destruction will be an unforeseen consequence.

Fenrisulven said...

Pogo: After proponents redefine marriage to deny that parenthood and marriage are intrinsically linked, and insist instead that marriage is just one of many relationship options, fewer parents will choose marriage, favoring mere cohabitation.

Such has been the case in the Netherlands.


And then, as society suffers for it, the State steps in to take over the role of Family.

The Jerk said...

I object because the word "marriage" *means* a particular kind of union between a man and woman. The heterogeneity of it is part of the definition and always has been. And any attempt to change the legal definition to include the homogeneous sets {A A} or {B B} will always be a legal falsehood.

Your objection is based on semantics? How about if we call marriages that are acknowledged by governments "schmarriage," and allow gay people to enter into them. You can call religious ceremonies anything you like.
Will that solve your problem?

The Jerk said...

After proponents redefine marriage to deny that parenthood and marriage are intrinsically linked, and insist instead that marriage is just one of many relationship options, fewer parents will choose marriage, favoring mere cohabitation.

Such has been the case in the Netherlands.


Post hoc and overlooking a common cause. It's a two for one sale!

Pogo said...

Gosh, you're not named 'the Jerk' for nothing! What wit! What depth!

Pffft.

Edward said...

Pogo: The out-of-wedlock birth rate in the African-American community has been sky-high for decades. This phenomenon among African-Americans has absolutely nothing at all to do with gay people.

You’d be crazy to say otherwise.

The African-American experience and the experience in Eastern Europe, where out-of-wedlock births are also common, show that this social problem typically has nothing at all to do with same-sex marriage.

If Stanley Kurtz wants to claim a connection to gay marriage, then he’d better be able to prove it. But he can’t. He probably knows that he can’t, and so he doesn’t even try.

Kurtz has made a small industry out of producing nightmare scenarios of social collapse, which he claims would ensue from the legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

When he’s not distorting evidence to “prove” his nightmarish claims, he simply asserts causation, hoping that conservative squeamishness about granting full equality to gay people will create an imaginary causation in the minds of his readers.

Kurtz hopes that his scary language will frighten people enough that they’ll fail to notice how he never proves the causation on which his entire claim depends.

Just because out-of-wedlock births have increased in the Netherlands over the past 9 years does not “prove” same-sex marriage caused the increase.

Kurtz doesn’t present the slightest empirical evidence that actually connects the increase in out-of-wedlock births to same-sex marriage. He just asserts that the connection makes logical sense to him.

That doesn’t prove a single thing.

The strength of the new book by Spedale and Eskridge is that it shows many social benefits that have derived directly from the legalization of same-sex marriage in Europe. Heterosexual couples and their children benefited directly from fairer marriage laws that stopped discriminating against gay people.

Their book’s title is Gay Marriage: For Better or For Worse? What We’ve Learned from the Evidence.

I would recommend it to everyone.

The link to the book’s description on the Oxford UP web site is here.

Pogo said...

Sorry, Edward, but I don't want to risk being an intellectually reckless jerk again.

Edward said...

Pogo: Economic issues and the presence of absurdly generous welfare programs have always been the principle cause of out-of-wedlock births.

No heterosexual woman is going to be willing to give birth to a bunch of kids if she knows she alone will be responsible for providing for those children financially.

If there’s an overly generous system of welfare provided by the government, then a young woman might be willing to give birth without the economic security that marriage provides.

Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and (until Clinton’s welfare reform) some states in our oen country have had such generous welfare programs that out-of-wedlock births increased substantially.

Yet once young women realize that the government will not step in to fully fund the cost of their children, these mothers will want the fathers to help shoulder the cost.

And the surest way to make fathers help shoulder the cost of children is marriage.

Social indicators such as the rate of out-of-wedlock births inevitably fluctuate from year to year in every country. There can even be trends in one direction or another that last for a decade or so.

Economic reality will always bring people back to their senses eventually and will correct any negative social trend, given sufficient time.

And same-sex marriage has absolutely nothing to do with any of that.

Edward said...

Pogo: Fine, don't respond to my posts.

The other readers in this thread will simply conclude that I've successfully refuted all your arguments.

The Jerk said...

Shorter Pogo: I got nuthin'.

Pogo said...

Re: "The other readers in this thread will simply conclude that I've successfully refuted all your arguments."

Perhaps they will.

Re: "Shorter Pogo: I got nuthin'."
Both you and Edward are operating under the erroneous idea that there can possibly be some sort of "proof" that you would agree to call "evidence" of causation. But it doesn't exist, and cannot, given the complexity of human interactions.

It's the idiocy of "social science" writ large. By rejecting the traditional wisdom of embedded within social institutions, and even claiming they don't exist at all, but are mere structures for maintaining power, you are blinded.

And you refuse to see. Europe is dying. Its demography favors Islam to take over, and very soon. Gone will be their vaunted SSM. Gone will be their way of life.

Well, since you are the ones demanding the change to SSM and saying it will cause no harm, and you believe in the scientific application of 'proof' to human interactions, the burden of proof is on you to prove it. Show me the stats, the grams, the windspeed, the graphs, the isobars, the nanograms, the volume, or the DNA that proves SSM is safe and effective.

les said...

I have yet to find any heterosexual, married or single, who actually believes that their own marriage (or attitude thereto) would change if gay marriage or civil union were allowed. Neither have any shown any actual evidence of the destruction of the sacred institution, the downfall of civilization, nor any other dread consequence. Oddly, where such unions are allowed, marriage is doing quite well, thank you. http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/11/gay_marriage_helps_straight_ma.php
High falutin' cover for genteel bigotry. It's icky, after all.

Edward said...

Pogo: I’m sure methods exist in the social sciences for establishing a certain degree of proof on these matters -- not proof with absolute certainty, but with a reasonable degree of certainty.

What I find so dishonest about Kurtz’s approach is that he uses the scariest language possible (The end of marriage! An explosion of out-of-wedlock births! The collapse of civilization!) without making the slightest attempt to apply accepted methods from the social sciences to substantiate his claims.

My own Ph.D. is not exactly in these areas, and so I’ll be the first to admit my own limitations in discussing this particular aspect of same-sex marriage.

Nevertheless, I am sure that a lot of credible and serious research has been done, for example, on the relation between welfare and out-of-wedlock births.

Yet Kurtz never admits that his claims about out-of-wedlock births are based on pure speculation. Yes, he has some evidence, but no serious scholarly work has decided, after a careful analysis of Kurtz’s data, that same-sex marriage actually caused the increase in out-of-wedlock births.

As a start, anyone wanting to establish such a connection would probably have to interview young mothers who gave birth out of wedlock to see what actually motivated them to do so.

I’m sure there exist lots of other respected methodologies to use in trying to establish such a connection.

But Kurtz does none of this, and he never cites any reputable scholar who does.

And you say those who disagree with you must prove that civilization won’t collapse as a result of same-sex marriage? Haven’t you ever heard that it is impossible to prove a negative like that?

The longer same-sex marriage exists in the states and countries that have already legalized it, you will see that civilization does not collapse as a result.

Fitz said...

“The African-American experience and the experience in Eastern Europe, where out-of-wedlock births are also common, show that this social problem typically has nothing at all to do with same-sex marriage.”

Agreed (& I know of no one who says otherwise) But it dose prove a variety of other points we try & make.
#1. The institution of marriage is not invulnerable. (its susceptible to damage)
#2. Its breakdown has serious consequences for society.
#3. State manipulation has unexpected results.
#4. The cultural left are incapable of foreseeing them.
#5. The cultural right has foreseen them quite clearly.

”If Stanley Kurtz wants to claim a connection to gay marriage, then he’d better be able to prove it. But he can’t. He probably knows that he can’t, and so he doesn’t even try.”

It’s important to accurately understand Kurtz thesis in order to understand if he has “proved it” .
(Here it is verbatim – people always misrepresent it, as you have Ed)

“Same-sex marriage has locked in and reinforced an existing Scandinavian trend toward the separation of marriage and parenthood
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.


He does try & continues to. He has answered Spendales & Eskriges work directly.
The problem with “prove” - is to who’s satisfaction.

“But Kurtz does none of this, and he never cites any reputable scholar who does.”
He sites many reputable scholars??
“The longer same-sex marriage exists in the states and countries that have already legalized it, you will see that civilization does not collapse as a result.”
Rome wasn’t burnt in a day Ed. “Societal collapse” is not the bench mark, rather the number of children being raised in married households by their mothers and fathers. The health of the social institution of marriage is important than any single groups desires. I’m sure you agree if this concerns polygamy and other deviations.

Pogo said...

Re: " I’m sure methods exist in the social sciences for establishing a certain degree of proof on these matters"

I disagree. Nos uch proof is possible. Opinions are the best that can come of such post hoc reviews , but these are always biased.

The only real proof cannot not ever be done: an experiment assigning one society to the SSM arm, and the other to traditional marriage. Only in a totalitarian society could this be possible.

And I repeat: if you're demanding scientific proof of harm by SSM, I turn the tables and say that science has always placed the burden of proof on those who are proposing the new idea. And you admit it can't be proven. So how could its opposite be proen either? It can't. So we agree. So quit asking for proof, and quit pretending that Kurtz is dishonest when you can't prove or disprove the concept either way.

I find the smirking about a collapse of civilization worrisome, for it exposes the bias common amongst the left that 'human progress' is inevitable and follows a left-leaning social trajectory. Thus, they express disbelief that civilization could ever be at risk.

But civilization has fallen, many times in the past. And living through the rebuilding phase was a bitch.

Pogo said...

Shorter version: out-of-wedlock births are the canary in the coalmine heralding societal collapse.

Fitz said...

Edward- I understand your position and that of your sources.

Its simply inaccurate however to portray Kurtz work as either
#1. Unsubstantiated or debunked
#2. Not recognized and affirmed by other scholars.

Stanley Kurtz. I have a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from Harvard
University (1990). His scholarly work has long focused on the intersection of culture and family.


European demographers British demographer David Coleman and senior Dutch demographer Joop Garssen have written that "marriage is becoming a minority status" in Scandinavia. In Denmark, a slight majority of all children are still born within marriage. Yet citing the 60 percent out-of-wedlock birthrate for firstborn children, Danish demographers Wehner, Kambskard, and Abrahamson argue that marriage has ceased to be the normative setting for Danish family life


This collection of Dutch Scholars – singed this joint statement
http://www.refdag.nl/artikel/105038/


Prof. M. van Mourik, professor in contract law, Nijmegen University
Prof. A. Nuytinck, professor in family law, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Prof. R. Kuiper, professor in philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam J. Van Loon PhD, Lecturer in Social Theory, Nottingham Trent University H. Wels PhD, Lecturer in Social and Political Science, Free University Amsterdam

Containing (this)

“there are good reasons to believe the decline in Dutch marriage may be connected to the successful public campaign for the opening of marriage to same-sex couples in The Netherlands. After all, supporters of same-sex marriage argued forcefully in favor of the (legal and social) separation of marriage from parenting. In parliament, advocates and opponents alike agreed that same-sex marriage would pave the way to greater acceptance of alternative forms of cohabitation.

In our judgment, it is difficult to imagine that a lengthy, highly visible, and ultimately successful campaign to persuade Dutch citizens that marriage is not connected to parenthood and that marriage and cohabitation are equally valid 'lifestyle choices' has not had serious social consequences…..At the same time, we wish to note that enough evidence of marital decline already exists to raise serious concerns about the wisdom of the efforts to deconstruct marriage in its traditional form.”



The list goes on.

Edward said...

Pogo: The philosophy at the core of your last two posts would cause the entire world to come to a standstill, if it were ever put into practice.

Your philosophy would require advocates for any social change to prove that any number of far-fetched catastrophes won’t happen as a result.

Yet there is only one possible catastrophe here, and that’s if your extreme conservatism ever became the guiding principle of American social policy.

The world is changing at an accelerating pace, and social policy needs to be flexible and open to change in order to keep up.

Reasonable concerns about the potential harm of some changes certainly need to be considered.

But only reasonable concerns need to be considered. The concerns you raise are obviously hysterical.

And despite what you say, accurate methodologies do exist in the social sciences to prove or disprove those concerns that are reasonable and that merit consideration.

Edward said...

Fitz: The list of people with Ph.D.s that you cite is nice, but it still doesn’t show that reputable methodologies were applied to the evidence to demonstrate real causation by same-sex marriage.

Even the opinions of people with Ph.D.s are just opinions. They may be educated opinions, but opinions can never be a substitute for actual scholarship.

And neither you nor Pogo reply to my argument based in economics.

When a rising rate of out-of-wedlock births runs up against the very real cost of raising children, something’s gotta give.

And it’s the rate of out-of-wedlock births that’s sure to diminish once economic reality fully kicks in.

Pogo said...

Edward, I am not even close to arguing that conservatism means 'no change -ever'. That's bogus and you know it.

I was calling your demand for "proof" bullshit because
(1)the burden of 'proof' (if such were possible) would be yours
(2) not you nor any SSM marriage supporters could ever agree what would constitute acceptable proof after which you'd say "okay, I'm wrong"
(3) I'm with historian Paul Johnson in finding that accurate methodologies do not exist in the social "sciences" to prove or disprove anything at all. It cannot do so, for it is not a science in that way. at best, it can show vectors, but it cannot demonstrate causality.
(4) the real agenda is that you don't believe the objection to SSM based on its effect on kids could possibly be true, so you cannot even discuss it intelligently. (e.g. "The concerns you raise are obviously hysterical.") Yeah. Being concerned about the colllapse of the family is unreasonable. It was hysterical when the family was destroyed by Mao, and 50 million people died. A real laff riot.

In the end, you will dismiss all evidence against you as insufficient, and merely fall back on calling me and those who object bigots, haters, and jerks.

Pogo said...

P.S. I agree with your economic points, Edward, to a point. But you neglect the rest of the economic setting: choice in human behavior. Economics isn't just about money.

Consider the effect a change in definition of marriage, its loss as a privileged status, would have on people (especially men) at the margins.

That's the real economic question here. The answer is the same as the effect that welfare had on black men and families.

bearing said...

You know, "schmarriage" does have a nice ring to it.

Fitz said...

“Reasonable concerns about the potential harm of some changes certainly need to be considered.”

“Reasonable” – Hell, we’ve been dismissed as “irrational bigots” by the Massachusetts Supreme Court before this debate even started.

“But only reasonable concerns need to be considered. The concerns you raise are obviously hysterical.”

I disagree; the demographics of Europe are widely known and agreed upon. Civilizations peek and fall, this is hardly a novel conception. I don’t think Pogo or I would blame homosexuals. We would however talk about the integrity of the marriage based family, and importance of childbearing & rearing.

“And despite what you say, accurate methodologies do exist in the social sciences to prove or disprove those concerns that are reasonable and that merit consideration.”

Yes they do Edward. But if your PH.D has any connection to social science , you knows that those scientists always require one thing…..More Data.

We can only “prove” our case (to your satisfaction) by running the long term experiment you are advocating.

An important article for understanding the complex ways that society, gender & tradition interact is the touchstones article focusing on the work of George Akerlof a Nobel prize-winning economist, and professor at Berkeley.

Its by Brad Wilcox (and yes its in a Christian magazine- but try and chew slowly)

http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=18-01-038-f

You may want to look into George Akerlof work itself, for full effect.

Like I said… the cultural left has a track record on marriage & the family.

Edward said...

Pogo: You compare the legalization of same-sex marriage to Mao’s family policy in communist China?

And you also say that social science research doesn’t prove anything?

And yet you deny that you’re being unreasonable and hysterical?

I think you’ve just demonstrated the phoniness of your claims for all to see.

Finally, you now say that same-sex marriage will cause harm only at the margins? This new claim seems to contradict everything that you’ve written before on this subject.

Kurtz, whom you admire so much, suggests that same-sex marriage will eventually result in ALL newborns to be bastards (born out of wedlock). Kurtz’s argument, which you’re trying to defend, is not at all an argument about the margins.

Fitz said...

POGO

“I'm with historian Paul Johnson in finding that accurate methodologies do not exist in the social "sciences" to prove or disprove anything at all. It cannot do so, for it is not a science in that way. at best, it can show vectors, but it cannot demonstrate causality.”

I guess I’m with him too. Obviously we are talking about a “soft science” here.
The variables are incalculable, the laboratory incapable of being sealed off (societies) & all the control groups have been contaminated.
In Edwards zeal for “proof” he forgets that the closest thing in the social sciences is “consensus”.
Even when this emerges (divorce, birth-control/abortion, Fatherless ness, & the importance of traditional marriage for healthy childrearing) cultural leftists will continue to refute that consensus & refuse to extrapolate what we already know with what is being proposed.
It pathetic, but dangerous.


Edward.

“When a rising rate of out-of-wedlock births runs up against the very real cost of raising children, something’s gotta give.
And it’s the rate of out-of-wedlock births that’s sure to diminish once economic reality fully kicks in.


So far the “gotta give” has been
#1. Getting married at all.
#2. Having children
#3. having children within marriage.
#4. Replacing absent generations with immigration.

Physiologists consider an instinct for self preservation to be a hallmark of mental health.

Derve said...

Julaine Appling thinks this amendment is just about protecting marriage and not discriminating against gay people? OK, fine. What is her group's next step to "protect marriage". What other legislation is in the works to clean up the sacred institution from rampant divorce and broken families.

In today's Capital Times, By Judith Davidoff:

Fresh from their successful fight to ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution, supporters are now ready to turn to what they see as the next biggest threat to the institution of marriage: Wisconsin's no-fault divorce law.

"What was highlighted in this campaign is that marriage is indeed under attack and no-fault divorce is one of those attacks," Julaine Appling, CEO of the Family Research Institute of Wisconsin and president of the "Vote Yes for Marriage" campaign, said Tuesday night.

Appling said the Family Research Institute, which took the lead in fighting the same-sex marriage ban, would "judiciously" examine Wisconsin's no-fault divorce law - spouses can request termination of the marriage without having to prove marital misconduct - and eventually approach legislators about introducing changes. She said she could foresee proposing a longer waiting period for divorces and implementing required premarital counseling.

Slac said...

Hooray. Divorce has been declared an institution between a man and a woman.

Marriage is dead.

J Michael said...

Those who support gay marriage haven't given a majority of voters a compelling reason for agreeing with their position. "Support our idea or you're a bigot and a hater" doesn't do it. An arguement made on reasonable terms, one that a majority of voters will find acceptable and agreeable, will result in success.

Derve said...

An arguement made on reasonable terms, one that a majority of voters will find acceptable and agreeable, will result in success.

I disagree.
Some people don't respond to reason because they let others do their thinking for them = a good segment of the religiously inclined.
If you can't verbalize a rational reason -- one that holds up under questioning -- for discriminating against families that are unlike yours, that is blind discrimination. The ideas that gay unions hurt society or families just do not hold up under scrutiny. Despite all the bogus studies, twisted facts, and nobly held intentions. Only by continually pointing out the "truth" and rational facts -- and not allowing blind faith or bogus stories to stand in for reasoning -- will gays succeed in receiving the special rights currently available to married folks. Not by downplaying the value of marriage/primary partner unions. Not by being nice and thinking everyone is going to like you. By continuing to paint irrational opponents as bigots, the taboo will take hold. As younger folks grow up knowing gay people, they will buy into the idea that opponents of treating people equal is shameful. The burden won't be on gay people to prove themselves, but on the anti-gay people to defend themselves, explain why they are not simple bigots. The numbers will change. The shame of being associated with the special rights for straights crowd will eventually swing this thing the other way. I hope you all live long enough to see it. Even the 1950s eventually came to an end...

Pogo said...

Re: "And yet you deny that you’re being unreasonable and hysterical?"

Edward, you would do well to read the work of Robert Conquest, an historian. He noted that the inability of the left to foresee the negative consequences of their experiments in social 'progress' was due to "a failure of imagination". They could not accept the many warnings (quite prescient, but mocked at the time), even dating to the years Marx wrote, given in advance of attempts to implement his folly. Millions of people died. One of their goals was the destruction of the family, a wish dating back to Rousseau, and even earlier.

I believe that same failure explains your inability to grasp the dire effects of SSM and the denigration of the family, and thus your need to classify that threat as 'hysterical'.

Your inability to imagine is a danger to the rest of us.

bearing said...

The ideas that gay unions hurt society or families just do not hold up under scrutiny.

That is apparently your whole argument.

*sigh* It's probably not worth the effort, but...

"The idea that two men or two women are capable of contracting 'marriage' just does not hold up under scrutiny."

If I stopped there, would you be satisfied?

No?

Slac said...

I support gay marriage because I support polygamy. I think polygamists like myself will have a better chance at recruiting activist judges to help us if SSM is not banned.

Also, I support temporary marriages contracts. It should be illegal to make a marriage contract that lasts indefinitely. They should be renewed a maximum of every decade.

Every year would be much more celebratory, I'd think. It's like getting married over and over again. :)

No one needs to destroy the family. Parents have already done that. The only way we can save it is to expand it beyond the narrow traditions of those same parents.

Internet Ronin said...

Ann: Not only did Arizona vote "no" while Wisconsin overwhelmingly voted "yes," the race on this issue in South Dakota was even closer than Wisconsin, with only a52-48% yes split. South Dakota!! I wish I'd sent them the contribution I gave to Fair Wisconsin. I doubt they would have wasted it mailing me dozens of times asking for more money (despite my specifically asking them not to).

(I wonder if they would have sold their donor list, as Fair Wisconsin must have done - I'm getting lots of mail about gay charities and other stuff at the address I gave them - one no one else had until then.)

Seven Machos said...

The Family Research Council wants legislators to implement "required premarital counseling"? Well, that's just crazy talk right there. Those fringe assholes on the far right have a lot of nerve.

Why on earth are these fringe wackso allowed to encourage the legislature to limit anything? We should be able to do what we want. Unless it involves having guns, advocating strict immigration policies, large corporations acting rationally, "hate" speech, or picketing at abortion clinics. Naturally, right-thinking people should be allowed to encourage legislatures to enact proper, sensible laws limiting those kinds of things.

Revenant said...

The Family Research Council wants legislators to implement "required premarital counseling"? Well, that's just crazy talk right there. Those fringe assholes on the far right have a lot of nerve

Sarcasm aside, that certainly clears up any misconceptions about the FRC being "small government" conservatives. No such conservative could support a policy like that; it simply isn't the government's business.

Seven Machos said...

Rev -- I agree wholeheartedly. But it's not exactly a ridiculous, reactionary law to make. I mean, reasonable minds can differ and not hate each other wildly.

Al Maviva said...

Edward, that was an impressive display of brilliance and humility, not to mention the graceful manner in which you accepted the good faith arguments of those who disagree with you.

FWIW, my original point wayyyyyy up in comments, was that many of the pro gay marriage forces get a lot of abuse for starting their argument with the premise with the reductionist premise, "anybody who disagrees with me necessarily is evil and hateful". Let me add a corrolary to that based on your discussion with Pogo: a lot of folks on your side might add "stupid" to the first premise, and frequently use the same statement as the conclusion of the argument as well.

I'll just stand over here in the corner with the other stupid conservatives, like Burke and Marcuse (and Gramsci, can't leave him out), who all thought social institutions mattered and that inflicting change on such institutions often has the effect of destroying them.

Derve said...

"The idea that two men or two women are capable of contracting 'marriage' just does not hold up under scrutiny."
I think you're confusing words able and capable.

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

Pogo: Rousseau, Marx, and Mao wanted to destroy the family and hand over the responsibility of raising children to the government. Their agendas amounted to a huge imposition on every family, and their ideas could only be implemented by the use of force and compulsion.

The programs of Rousseau, Marx, and Mao required a revolution in the way everyone lived.

In spite of what you think, same-sex marriage is only a reform in current marriage law -- and a rather modest reform at that.

It’s not revolutionary. It involves only the removal of a small barrier that discriminates against an historically oppressed minority.

Supporters of this modest change keep telling opponents like you that same-sex marriage will not impose any change at all on heterosexual families. Heterosexual families will continue living their lives exactly as they have in the past.

The only response that people like you make to this argument is that legal recognition of same-sex marriage will force a change in the way everyone “thinks about marriage.”

I’m sorry, but that is a truly pathetic response. It’s not only a weak reason to oppose same-sex marriage. It’s no reason at all.

Same-sex marriage will not force anyone to change what they think about marriage. If conservatives want to continue believing that marriage can exist only between a man and a woman, they will be perfectly free to continue believing that. They will also be perfectly free to teach that to their children.

Your comparison to Rousseau, Marx, and Mao is not only wrong, it’s obscene. It also shows how little you truly understand about history. You may have read history books like those of Robert Conquest, but you must not have learned much, because you clearly took away the wrong message after reading them.

Real social revolution is always violent. Communist Russia and communist China had gulags and prison camps for people who refused to live and think in the new, governmentally approved way.

For you to suggest even for a minute that same-sex marriage is at all comparable to the family policies of communist countries is absolutely obscene.

And there’s another branch of history that you clearly know little about, and that’s the history of traditionally oppressed minorities. The path to same-sex marriage perfectly fits the narrative of an oppressed minority finally being granted long-denied respect and equality under the law.

That’s the history that applies here, not the history of communism.

SteveS said...

Hey Al, can you help me understand better your link between same-sex marriage and potential harm to the institution (as discussed in my long post just below yours way above). I'm genuinely interested.

Also, I don't think you're stupid or evil or hateful. At least, not yet. (that's a joke)

Pogo said...

Edward,
I think I understand the generosity of spirit animating the newly-minted demand for SSM. But it is this kind of "radical politics protected by bourgouis order" (cf Dalrymple) that has long been the fashion among the left. That chic moral exhibitionism portrays itself as the highest good, while giving notice to peers of one's leftist credentials.

But while the demand for SSM may give you the warmth of generosity, it does so without the cold requirement of responsibility. Such has been the recurrent fault in all leftist experiments in the 20th century: thinking that radical change in social institutions is "incremental", or even not change at all, and being blind to the downstream effects of their actions. Moreover, it assumes the continued safety and order of the society, even though those very conditions exist only because of these selfsame traditional institutions.

Your failure to admit that there might be any risk at all here makes me dubious of your ability to prognosticate. It means you are blinded by ideology.

Social revolution is always violent? Really? I'm stunned. I didn't realize the massive move into the workforce by American women required so much bloodshed. Hell, my five sisters must have kept their personal gulag pretty quiet! I never realized the Industrial revolution required mass murder and prison camps. I never knew the rise of unwed-motherhood came by the jackboot.

Edward, don't be so foolish.

P.S. As for my supposed ignorance of "the history of traditionally oppressed minorities"? Please. I had heard and read of nothing else throughout grade school, high school and college. You mean there's more navel-gazing and DeadWhiteMale flagellation to be read? Aack!

Edward said...

Al maviva: I apologize if my rhetoric seemed a little heated in my posts from yesterday.

It’s just that I’ve been discussing same-sex marriage with Pogo in the Althouse threads for many months now.

Some of things that I tell him might seem unusual or inappropriate to those of you who began reading these threads more recently.

But I really never intend to give personal offense to anyone.

And let me say one more thing.

Pogo has always claimed that same-sex marriage will lead to the complete collapse of Western civilization. The exact phrases that he uses to express this idea change from month to month, but that’s his basic argument.

If you don’t think that Pogo’s “collapse of civilization” argument is overheated and unfair to supporters of same-sex marriage, well then I suggest that you reconsider.

Nataraj said...

[Julaine Appling, president of the Vote Yes campaign,] said supporters of the ban don't hate gay people. "For us, this amendment was not personal," she said.

Well Ms. Appling, and others who supported this amendment, I spent time last night with half a dozen of my gay and lezbian friends. I assure you, they took it personally. All of them looked miserable and felt like they had been kicked in the gut. What WI said to them was, "You can form no meaningful relationship." WI law now prevents them from forming any semblence of a legitimate, committed relationship. Basically, they might be allowed to date, as long as they don't expect any "rights" that a married couple has (hospital visitation for a sick partner, health insurance benefits that we take for granted, etc.). Say what she likes, Ms. Appling's statement, used in a full-page Isthmus ad last week and recalled rather than quoted here: I think we've done well to let them live where ever they want.

Presumably, just not in her neighborhood.

WI was *wrong* on this. Time will tell, and it'll be hell to remove that bit o' nastiness from our Constitution.

Pogo said...

Nataraj,

When you say "What WI said to them was, "You can form no meaningful relationship", it brings to mind a repeated criticism brought against opponents of SSM.

It has been oft-repeated that "SSM has no effect on your heterosexual marriage." But then the converse must also be true. The presence of heterosexual marriage can have no effect on same sex couples. Either one affects the other, or neither does. Which is it?

Moreover, a claim that gays and lesbians can have "no meaningful relationship" makes no sense when the legal reality before the amendment (no SSM in WI) is exactly the same now as before, leaving existing relationships unchanged.

What has changed is an ability to alter WI law in favor of SSM (and civil unions). I think the latter a mistake, but one brought on as a backlash against the incessant moralistic in-your-face grandstanding by proponents of SSM. Sorta like Edward here, who demonizes those who disagree with him.

Nataraj said...

Al-Maviva said...So my conclusion? Insofar as we want to radically re-define what constitutes marriage, we should do it slowly, and at the polls, with some attention paid to any unintended consequences. If people like what they see, they can do more; if they don't like it, it's in their hands to move back. I’m not against gay marriage per se. I am against having it inflicted on an apparently unwilling country by judicial pen stroke, with a lot of high minded language but little regard for how the whole of society will be affected. “Who could it possibly harm?” isn’t proof that nobody will be harmed, it’s a speculation that nobody will be harmed. If marriage is an integral part of the foundation of society, you need to ask: would you put some new building material in your home’s foundation without it being tested?


So, how do we TEST it now that SSM, and anything closely resembling it is specifically prohibited in our defining document? And why damn it so thoroughly if WI is as open minded as some here profess? That second sentence of the amendment is punative.

It's only been a year in Mass., but I haven't seen Western Civilization screech to a halt yet.

S-S partners wanting IN on marriage does not, de facto, harm marriage. It says, de facto, "That institution is good, and I want me some of that commitment and responsibility." And maybe, just maybe, a little tolerance.

Nataraj said...

Pogo, you said,
What has changed is an ability to alter WI law in favor of SSM (and civil unions). I think the latter a mistake, but one brought on as a backlash against the incessant moralistic in-your-face grandstanding by proponents of SSM.

I agree. Nothing changed except barring the door to any legitimate S-S relationship. Tuesday there was potential for more legitimate S-S partnership (room for experimentation, if you will) and on Wednesday there was no potential, no hope. Much changed.

"Marriage" is too tightly bound to religion for it to encompass S-S partnership. I believe pursuing that term as opposed to civil union (which is what I believe my wife and I have, despite the M-word being on the legal document signed by the judge) was a strategic error. It was a crap shoot; go for broke. Well, that camp is broke. It will take years to get back to where they were Monday. And during those years, Appling and her ilk will make hay.

I work with a largely under-educated workforce. There was no tolerance expressed around here. Just variations of "They can't have what we have. It's not right." It was not nice, but it was honest.

Quick rhetorical questions: How many readers here have divorced? Do you really want Appling and Co. determining when and how you can get out of your marriage? How long before Christian religion enters the fray (again), determining whether you can divorce or not? (What's the going bribe for an annumlment these days?) And lastly, can there be a distinction made between a state-granted union (which allows for S-S partnerships) and a religious marriage (which is not required to allow S-S partnerships)?

UW Student said...

One thing I want to mention that I don't think I've seen in this thread: Existing gay couples who wish to marry spend a lot of time and money to make a patchwork set of contracts that approximate marriage. I am not convinced that the amendment will leave these relationships untouched. As such I think it's totally disingenuous to say that nothing's changed for gay couples: the familial rights and privileges they have created here are now on shakier ground, it seems to me. A lesbian couple I know have been talking about having kids, but are now thinking they need to put that off until they can move somewhere where their family's rights in case of catastrophe (death, disability, divorce) will be clearer.

That brings up another thing that irritates me about this thread -- I've seen a number of conservatives here state that it's cowardly for gay families to move somewhere where their rights as a family unit are not in question, rather than staying to fight. Do you seriously think it's better to raise kids in a legal environment in which there are no disincentives to split up, in which there is no safety net for a child whose biological mom dies or becomes disabled? Do you actually expect people to sacrifice their families on the altar of politics? If you *do* expect that of queers, it's no wonder that you don't believe they should be raising kids -- but the lesbians I know put their family first, and I think they're right to do so.

Nataraj, I too believe that my (hetero) relationship is better described as a civil union, and wouldn't mind if gov't got out of the marriage business entirely -- but we'll never sell that to most of the straights. Husband and wife are old words, words with resonance; partner is an ugly, corporate-sounding word. And I worry that creating a separate status that applies only to gays makes it a lot easier to give only partial rights to them. I don't know; I think it's complicated.

paul a'barge said...

the legislature shall pass no law creating a legal status substantially similar to marriage

As well the law should read. I would hope that all state constitutional amendments would disallow gay marriage and gay civil unions.

The civil union track is clearly a mechanism to create gay marriage via a back/alternate door.

Once again, so far with one exception, states in the USA have overwhelmingly said that our culture will not allow marriage to be redefined.

I for one support this, and my support for this does not make me a basher of anyone.

Al Maviva said...

Steve S, SSM redefines who is eligible for entering into this particular social institution. As a parent in a traditional marriage, I can confirm from first hand experience that there is a bond formed by the biological process of having a child with somebody. While things are tougher with a kid in the house, more arguments, less fun play time for the grownups, more stress, our relationship is also a lot stronger because of it. We get through hard things - financial stuff, discussions about whose family to spend the holidays with - a lot easier now.

Now I know there are other ways to reproduce but I find the biological congruence of traditional marriage to normal reproduction striking, and I suspect that the social institution has been so widely accepted because it is complementary to and supports the biological process. Both the biological process and the social institution have evolved with each other. I don't *know* that gay marriage would damage this symbiotic relationship but I am positive it would change the nature of it. I suspect the harm, if any, would come from the attempt to legally (and attitudanally) untie the biological component of marriage from the legal portion of it.

Yeah, before having a child we were married and close alright, but having a child together sort of put an iron hoop around the relationship. Part of that iron hoop is the natural love I feel for my son, part of it is my understanding of the societal expectation that I'm married, have a child, and must be a good and present provider for them, I have to live up to certain societal expectations. Along with my own choices, these expectations placed on me make me a decent husband and father. Where a lot is riding on people's adherence to certain social conventions (like being a good parent, sticking around to help raise children, etc) I believe it is risky to try to tinker with society's expectations.

We talk about the damage done to marriage by easy divorce (and miscreant heterosexuals) and I think that an attempt to untie the legal aspect of marriage from the biology of the situation might weaken our expectations of what being married actually means, reducing it to something like a mere contract. So I guess for me marriage is a sum of biology and a legal contract, where the sum is much greater than the constituent elements.

This isn't to say gay marriage would wreck that, but I have concerns and would prefer that we proceed with a bit of caution. Our record of altering laws relating to families, whether divorce, custody, welfare or juvenile justice is pretty dismal, we tend to screw it up, especially when we impose top-down changes. If you follow Hayek at all, social institutions are strong because they are more or less spontaneously organized rather than directed. So I'm more than willing to give civil unions a shot, and open in the long term to SSM as long as it comes about by democratic process, by social evolution. It is important though, if we realize we are damaging ourselves that we have the ability to pull back somewhat. I see civil unions as more amenable to a traditional conservative viewpoint because they are more in the nature of a special contractual relationship, and they don't attempt to co-opt the unique symbolism of marriage and dilute it by applying it to a relationship that is generally unmoored from the biological, reproductive basis that has reinforced the social institution for so long. The defense of traditional marriage is often vociferous because it really does occupy a special place in the mind of many people - perhaps a supermajority if the recent referenda are too be believed. It is a bit hard to articulate, but then explaining the formation and operation of most of "life's little platoons" is difficult to explain as well.

Please pardon me if my Catholic roots and natural law philosophic leanings are showing...

Fitz said...

Edward

"The only response that people like you make to this argument is that legal recognition of same-sex marriage will force a change in the way everyone “thinks about marriage.”

The law effects culture. This is a given. If the law states that marriage as exclusively between a man & a women is bigoted idea, then it will speak with the same authority it has now - considering it a male/female institution.


I’m sorry, but that is a truly pathetic response. It’s not only a weak reason to oppose same-sex marriage. It’s no reason at all.

Your not being hyperbolic here Edward, your revealing yourself. Its neither "pathetic" , nor "no reason at all" to assume what we define, honor, subsidize, & promote within our laws doesn’t actually matter.

"Same-sex marriage will not force anyone to change what they think about marriage. If conservatives want to continue believing that marriage can exist only between a man and a woman, they will be perfectly free to continue believing that. They will also be perfectly free to teach that to their children."

But that will not be able to say the laws of the United States reflect that view. This is a powerful authority in any society. It effects the culture & society. No man is an island onto himself. Schools, government documents, laws, regulations, will all support a vastly different conception.

Its just as inane to say that maintaining traditional marriage wont - "force anyone to change what they think about marriage. If gays want to continue believing that marriage exist between a man and a man & a women & a women, they will be perfectly free to continue believing that. They will also be perfectly free to teach that to their(?) children."

Pogo said...

UW Student said: "the familial rights and privileges they have created here are now on shakier ground"

That's a reasonable interpretation, actually, one I hadn't considered. Whose fault do you think that is, though?

If not for the aggressive and demonizing efforts of the SSM marriage crowd which has, anew since 2000, pushed for and loudly demanded this new right or else, this ballot would never have come before the people. The all-or-none approach of SSM proponents got them none, and maybe even less than they had before. Sounds like the 'moralistic' tactic failed, and badly so. This is what comes from a backlash, a reaction which often overshoots.

And re: "I've seen a number of conservatives here state that it's cowardly for gay families to move somewhere ..."
Actually, you are the very first to do so. Congrats!

Jeremy said...

Al said, It is important though, if we realize we are damaging ourselves that we have the ability to pull back somewhat.

I just don't think that this is a real possibility. If homosexual couples feel like they've "been kicked in the gut" after Tuesday night, imagine the reaction after they've been told "Sorry, this experiment didn't work out. We no longer recognize your status."

Kirk Parker said...

That's an interesting fantasy history of marriage in America you've got, Terry, and I'd love to know where you got it from. It has no relation to reality of course, nor does your assertion that "church marriages" are the only kind the government now recognizes.

You can't really think that the same colonial legislatures that criminalized sodomy (in some cases with the death penalty!) were indifferent about cohabitation, can you?

Edward said...

Fitz: I’m sure you felt clever paraphrasing me back to myself, but you missed the larger point in doing that.

People have all sorts of opinions about what sorts of marriage are good or bad, praiseworthy or blameworthy, legitimate or illegitimate.

Some people believe (and teach their children to believe) that intermarriage between people of different religious faiths is wrong. Some people believe (and teach their children to believe) that interracial marriage is wrong. Many people believe (and teach their children to believe) that virtually all divorce is wrong and that a person marrying for the fifth or sixth time is simply despicable.

Yet the law permits all these kinds of marriage.

At the same time, the law doesn’t force anyone to believe (or teach their children to believe) that these marriages are good or bad, praiseworthy or blameworthy, legitimate or illegitimate.

The main point of all this is that people inevitably have strong personal feelings and opinions about what the best kind of marriage is.

Yet feelings and opinions that are merely personal should not play a role in the public policy debate over same-sex marriage.

Only facts that can be documented and our nation’s fundamental political principle of equality for all should enter into this debate. If same-sex marriage can be justified on those two grounds, then it should be legally recognized.

Once same-sex marriage is legally recognized, people can continue believing whatever they want about gay marriage, and they can continue teaching their kids whatever they want.

From a public policy perspective, that is the only right way to resolve this debate.

Edward said...

Pogo: From the standpoint of political philosophy, I was correct when I said “Real social revolution is always violent.”

That was the essential message of Edmund Burke in his landmark essay “Reflections on the Revolution in France.”

I believe that you’re an admirer of Burke. I recommend that you re-read his most famous essay and give more thought to its fundamental message.

Burke was not opposed to change, not even major change. What he opposed was major change that occurs too quickly. Burke thought that the use of force is the clearest sign of excessive haste in the implementation of change.

Burke realized that social change is inevitable, even necessary and beneficial. He just wanted change to be organic and the result of voluntary reform of custom and practice on the part of society.

Burke disapproved of the French Revolution, because it was imposing major social change by means of an extreme amount of violence.

Leftist political philosophers also typically agree that real revolution requires a certain amount of force to succeed.

Of course, in our everyday use of the English language, we casually call many different kinds of change “revolution,” when in fact, what we’re really taking about usually is gradual, voluntary and non-violent social reform.

Same-sex marriage is advancing in this country on the reform model, not the revolutionary model. No physical force is being applied. Hearts and minds are being changed through persuasion.

Yes, there are setbacks, many setbacks, but no major reform movement occurs without setbacks.

And please don’t tell me that the same-sex marriage movement depends entirely on court victories and that court victories are the same thing as “force.”

Courts are an organic part of any democracy, and the victories that same-sex marriage supporters have won in the courts are entirely fair and legitimate. Anyway, court victories can always be overturned, if sufficient political will exists.

Finally, never forget that the state legislatures in both Connecticut and California voluntarily enacted civil unions almost indistinguishable from marriage. Our movement is not entirely dependent on court decisions.

And we are making steady progress, and we will win. We’ve already won over the younger generations to our side, and they will soon be determining social policy in this country.

Anonymous said...

Yet feelings and opinions that are merely personal should not play a role in the public policy debate over same-sex marriage.

That's ridiculous. All public policy that comes to the vote is decided on the aggregration of the voters' opinions.

Same-sex marriage will not force anyone to change what they think about marriage.

You keep repeating this, Edward, but that doesn't make it true.

Nataraj said...

Edward wrote: Burke thought that the use of force is the clearest sign of excessive haste in the implementation of change.

Right. Iraq, anyone? *smirk*

Social change happens slowly because it takes time for We The People to adapt. Witness the abolishing of slavery or the civil rights fights in the 50s and 60s. Witness the acceptance of divorce (think back to the scandal a divorcee used to cause amongst 'decent folk'). Witness women in the workplace.

-- Brief segue to address an earlier post: Much bloodshed did open the door to women in the workplace, WWII. When the GIs returned women were unceremoniously booted back to the kitchen where conventional wisdom (Natural Law?) believed they belonged. It took most of two decades, and Women's Lib demonstrations, before it was generally accepted that women were going to work, and have careers that superceded making babies. My sisters had to deal with it, including from my dad. Were there women working all that time? Of course. But as a general statement, and particularly outside of large urban areas, women were not expected to work. It wasn't right. God had different plans for women. Different, not lesser. Sound vaguely familiar? --

Gays and lesbians today enjoy far, far more freedom in places like Madison than they did as little as 25 years ago. Imagine the hazing (or worse) that two girls or boys would have taken if they had the audacity to walk a school hallway holding hands back in, say, 75 or 80 (when I was at Madison East). I can picture it...I witnessed it. Today I think nothing of seeing a S-S couple on State St or at the Farmers Market. I *expect* to see it. My mom never would have grown comfortable with the idea. Tolerated maybe. The kids who are in high school today? I'll bet every single kid at East knows an openly gay person. For them it is mostly a non-issue. Ponder their children.

From "smear the queer" to open acceptance in a mid-sized city in one generation? Amazing!

The previous generation of homosexuals had Stonewall. This generation gets to deal with the fallout of a S-S marriage amendment. While I'd have prefered it had been shot down, the fact that there was 41% disapproval statewide is kinda amazing too.

Pogo said...

The end of the Cold War was a revolution across the communist world, but few shots were fired. East Germany's Communist country joined West Germany. Poland and the Eastern Bloc were freed. All without violence. The rise of the Christian religion was not a violent event by and large, although there was violence. And the Enlightenment was a clear revoluttion in thought, also without violence. The Industrial Revolution initiated some of the largest social changes in the history of mankind, mostly without violence. And Marxism profoundly changed Western thought, even though it did not result in the bloodshed seen elsewhere. Freud's ideas, and Einsteins as well, were also philosophical revolutions, and also bloodless. You may prefer not to call those events revolutions, but you'd be quite wrong.

It apears you choose to redefine 'revolution' in the same way you wish to redefine marriage. That doesn't mean the rest of the world agrees. Much of the world sees SSM as a revolution in thought. You prefer to call it progress or evolution.

Similarly, you wish to refine 'force'. I agree with Burke that 'the use of force is a clear sign of excessive haste'. However, the state is nothing if not force. Your belief that court-imposed legislation against the will of the people is not force is laughable. If not force, then how will the new law be enforced? Ridiculous.

You may be right. Tha nation may change and support SSM. Burke didn't think all change was for the good merely because it was change per se, however. You misread if that's your interpretation. He clearly held that certain fundamental institutions were required for liberty to be possible at all, and that hacking away at these roots would undermine the bourgeois order permitting the very change sought. Some writers point to this fundamental flaw as a reason why democracies are necessarlily doomed to fail (e.g. Ravel).

Pogo said...

Nataraj, your statement "Much bloodshed did open the door to women in the workplace, WWII. " has to be the strangest reading of feminist history I have ever run across.

The bloodshed was not about women in the workplace. I know what you meant to say, but really, no need to be ludicrous.

Nataraj said...

>>The bloodshed was not about women in the workplace. I know what you meant to say, but really, no need to be ludicrous. <<

Right. My bad. (Work kept interfering with that post, and the first version actually disappeared into the big Bit Bucket in the sky and I had to retype it. Too hastily, it seems.)

chickenlittle said...

Edward said:

"We’ve already won over the younger generations to our side, and they will soon be determining social policy in this country."

The same could be said of Europe Edward, and yet the very nature of "young people" is changing as result of cultural demographics (cf. Steyn).
You may be correct to be optimistic about the future of the youth in this country and in others, but I am not convinced it is a given, unless you are prepared to say that muslims and latinos are becoming more open to gays too.

Fitz said...

Edward, I went through the time & effort to site several sources and articles. I even directly quoted Kurtz thesis. (which you had misrepresented)

One gets the distinct feeling in these debates, that the pro-ssm side doesn’t really want a debate. (Hence the judicial approach).

It seems always to be an obviation around what’s said, and a return to mantra’s of “equality”.
#1. You can prove it
#2. It’s the future
#3. Its no big deal (change)
#4. Poor me.

To your credit Edward, you have avoided #4.

Fitz said...

Does this sound like a cause that has confidence in its purpose and message?

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/city_region/breaking_news/2006/11/legislators_aga_1.html

Edward said...

Fitz: There’s a limit to how much time I can devote to this thread. I value the discussion we’re having, though, and I’m sure we’ll have the opportunity to continue it both here and in future Althouse threads.

Also, don’t forget that I was taking on both you and Pogo almost single-handedly. It was quite a burden for me.

I thought I dealt effectively with your Kurtz quote. I did read the entire Kurtz article that you linked to.

If you wish, send me the link to the one other article that you consider most important in making your case. I’ll look at it. Don’t send me a whole bunch of links. Just send one, the most important one for the time being.

In terms of what Massachusetts legislature did today, all I can say is that a majority of the members view same-sex marriage as a question of minority rights, and minority rights are typically not put up to a vote of the majority.

You may disagree with their decision, but you can’t deny that there is a long democratic tradition that minority rights should not be subjected to popular vote, especially when the minority in question has a long history of being unpopular and being discriminated against.

One more thing: If popular opinion in Massachusetts were overwhelmingly against same-sex marriage, the voters of that state could have elected a larger number of anti-SSM legislators in the last election. But they didn’t. Democracy is still at work in Massachusetts.

SteveS said...

Al, thanks again for another thoughtful post. I'll focus on this point: gay marriage would change the nature of the symbiotic relationship between marriage and childbearing. I get the sense that you have concerns that societal expectations of married couples with biological children would become weakened once people who were not capable of producing children were permitted to marry. Of course, there are heterosexual couples who marry today who aren't capable of reproducing, because of age or infertility. I don't think anyone looks at a wedding of retirees and thinks society demands less from them now re. their parenting. (I know that's glib, but there is still a point there -- what is it about same-sex couples that is so dramatically different from opposite-sex couples that also can't or don't reproduce.) These marriages are far fewer in number than traditional marriages between couples who plan to have and raise children, though, of course, that would also be true for SSM, since gay people make up a pretty small percentage of the population.

What about adopted children? I will agree that the bond between a couple is strengthened when they produce a child together (though of course, in sadly far too many cases still not enough, and sometimes still to a degree that is less strong than the bond between some couples without children). But no doubt the bond is also strengthened between a couple who have chosen to adopt a child, and assume a shared responsibility for that child's future. Wouldn't you see a marriage between the adopted child's parents as integral to the stability of that family? Doesn't society have just a great an interest in ensuring that those parents fulfill their responsibilities? And today there are more and more families headed by gay/lesbian couples who are also raising children. I would argue that society is already being harmed by the absence of the institution for the benefit of those children.

I guess I still struggle with the notion that in a world with SSM, just because some of the people who can marry can't reproduce, that heterosexuals will begin to feel that society now has reduced expectations for their parenting responsibilities. I can't see the link there. I don't think we are trying to dilute the symbolism of marriage, but rather say we want that symbolism to apply to us too.

Pogo said...

Re: "I don't think we are trying to dilute the symbolism of marriage, but rather say we want that symbolism to apply to us too."

That's exactly what dilution is.

Edward said...

Pogo: Yeah, just like allowing interracial marriage dilutes the purity of the master race’s gene pool, huh?

Your rhetoric is often a lot more obnoxious than you realize.

Pogo said...

Edward, your false comparisons are odious. Your only and recurrent tactic is to throw the absolute worst epithets you have at your opponent.

Having no real philosophical basis for SSM other than "I want it to be so", you resort to name-calling when others disagree. You've called me racist, crazy, hysterical, and the like. Big deal.

SSM has never been big in the black or hispanic community. Why is that? Are they racists? Do they see the struggle for black civil rights as as no different than gays wanting to marry? If they do, I'd like to hear about it. Good luck searching.

The word "dilution" was used not by me, but by a previous post, to which I responded. It referred to the term 'marriage' becoming diluted by redefinition, a possiblity recognized by that writer. I disagreed. You follow with a non-sequitur, and a vicious one at that. Your tendency to demonize makes for an unintelligent debate.

We disagree; I can accept that. The citizens of Wisconsin sided with me on this one.

Edward said...

Pogo: The same-sex marriage cause is a classic civil rights movement. I know you don’t see it that way, but that’s what it is.

Civil rights movements never progress in straight lines. They always suffer setbacks, sometimes major ones.

The reason for this has to do with the nature of bigotry, not with the nature of the minority seeking protection for its civil rights.

Progress achieved in one area by an historically disliked minority will inevitably produce backlash among the segment of society with the most prejudice against that minority.

Bigotry on a mass social level has traditionally operated through backlash and gross overreaction.

This string of state constitutional amendments is nothing more than a backlash against the progress gay couples have made in a handful of states in obtaining legal recognition for their relationships. There is nothing logical, fair or wise about these poorly written and hastily debated amendments. They are just the product of an ugly backlash.

You can take all the smug satisfaction that you want out of being in the majority in the recent vote in Wisconsin.

History is going to look at what people like you just did in Wisconsin in a very different light.

And I’m sure you don’t really believe that an oppressed minority automatically becomes an infallible arbiter of the civil rights of all other minorities. Many African-Americans and Hispanics do support same-sex marriage. A majority of them don’t, but so what?

Only through education and discussion can people understand the need for minority rights. Support for the civil rights of someone different from yourself is not an automatic feeling in the hearts of any group. It’s something that needs to be studied and learned.

African-Americans and Hispanics are undergoing a learning process on the need for gay civil rights just as everyone else is.

Pogo said...

Again the epithets. You are unable to see any reasoned or principled support behind opposition to SSM. Blinded by your SSM = civil rights paradigm, you are forced to conclude that those challenging your conclusion must be bigots.

You also have the usual leftist tendency to view the world with a magical kind of predestination, the dangerous messianic idea that "progress" is inevitable.

I think I understand what motivates your point of view, and it is honorable, even if misguided. I don't think you understand mine, nor do you care to, and you find me bigoted and hysterical, obnoxious and a jerk.

I wonder why those demanding tolerance seem to be the most intolerant of all?

Edward said...

Pogo: People like you over-rationalize their opposition to gay rights.

The case for same-sex marriage can be made entirely on the level of logic and reason.

But that approach ignores a large part of what motivates people to oppose legal equality for gay people.

Bigotry is driven by irrational emotion. No one can deny – not even you, Pogo – that gay people, like every other historically unpopular minority, have been the victims of a great deal of irrational antipathy.

I know it’s uncomfortable even to consider the possibility that you’re on the side of bigotry. Only the worst bigots are proud of their bigotry and call it by its true name without hesitation.

More honorable people, whose prejudice is much milder, resist with all their strength the suggestion that one of their political views might be motivated by bigotry.

People like you need to search their hearts, their feelings, and their memories to understand how opposition to mere equality for gay people is, in fact, a form of bigotry.

Anonymous said...

The elephant in the room that no one is talking about is the inherently risky nature of gay sex. Anal sex -- even if "done properly" -- traumatizes the tissues involved. Over time, repeated use of the practice can lead to serious medical problems. The nether end of the digestive tract wasn't designed for sex. Other forms of gay sex, while less risky, still carry higher risks than straight sex does.

Legalizing same-sex marriage would put society's stamp of approval on this risky behavior, so we'd get more of it. Bi-sexual men who previously limited themselves to straight sex would have no disincentive to avoid gay sex.

Individually, I'm not about to tell anyone what they can do with their bodies. I just think it's absurd not to recognize that actions have consequences, and gay sex has many negative consequences that are glossed over because no one wants to talk about it. Here is a high-level article on the health risks of gay sex. Yes, it's on a Catholic website, but take a look at the footnotes, which cite many articles in peer-reviewed publications. This article from the LGBT Health Channel calmly discusses the risks of anal sex.

Let the drubbing begin.

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

Edward, why do you so hate heterosexuals? Why are you anti-straight? What secret repulsion toward the heteronormative class do you maintain? Do you similarly detest black people, and brown? Are you a heterophobe, fearful of your opposite-sex attractions, and projecting your self-loathing onto "the other"?

Search you heart, and be free of your bigotry.

So Edward, do you see how idiotic that argument is? It's just as worthless when you say it.

chickenlittle said...

Edward:

Conflating gay rights with civil right along the lines of race and gender based civil rights is getting you nowhere. The numbers just aren't there. Most people are just rightly worried about other matters right now. Isn't there some sense of priority in you too?

UW Student said...

Pogo, Edward is calling you names because you're a smug jerk whose major approach in this thread appears to be "bait the ideologue." I'm extremly pro-gay-rights, and I can still differentiate a thoughtful and productive interchange, like that between Steve S and Al Maviva, from your smarmy oneupmanship.

Edward, Pogo is a jerk, and you're an idiot for responding to him. He is not the person we need to convince. Take your toys and go home; or focus on the few comments that mean something. This particular argument does nothing for anyone's mental health and makes our side look bad.

Joan, I do not think your approach ("anal sex is dangerous, therefore we shouldn't allow gay marriage") is a good one. First of all, on a physical level, no sex is safer than lesbian sex, except maybe masturbation. Second, while men aren't at high risk of contracting STDs from female partners, the male-to-female transmission rate of many STDs is much higher. Third, most women experience some form of pain or tissue damage upon first intercourse (and for some of them this never goes away). Fourth, childbirth is not exactly kind to the body, and some women wind up dead or permanently incontinent. In my mind, if we're using safety as the moral yardstick, all women should be lesbians and all men should invest in porno, lube, and tissues. Since I'm in a straight marriage, this answer doesn't satisfy me ;) and I choose to believe that your yardstick is wrong.