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[Dale Carpenter (guest-blogging), October 31, 2005 at 9:20am] Trackbacks
The Traditionalist Case for Gay Marriage -- The Week Ahead:

First, thanks to the Conspiracy for giving me this opportunity. Also, thanks to Maggie Gallagher for her contributions on marriage two weeks ago. Her writing is powerful. It constantly challenges and enlightens me. My hope is that one day the vast majority who share her views can be persuaded that gay families, united in marriage, are no threat to marriage and are even a small part of its revival.

But that day is many years, probably decades, away. My aim here is much more modest. It is to frame the debate in a way that's quite distinct from the end-of-civilization vs. civil-rights-for-all rhetoric that has come to dominate it.

This week I will sketch the traditionalist case for gay marriage, by which I mean briefly this: (1) Marriage will help support and stabilize gay families, including the many such families raising children; (2) it will help channel these families into traditional patterns of living, providing them and their communities some measure of the private and public goods we expect from marriage; (3) it will, over time, tend to traditionalize gay individuals by elevating respect within gay culture for values like commitment to others and monogamy at the expense of hedonism and promiscuity; (4) it will make available the most moral life (in a traditionalist sense) possible for a sexually active homosexual; (5) and it will do all of this without hurting traditional families or marriage, (6) perhaps even helping to a limited extent with the revival of marriage. Of these, I regard points 1, 2, and 5 as the most important and most likely results. I'll focus most of my attention on these. Points 3, 4, and 6 are possible, and would be good from a traditionalist perspective if they happen, but are more tenuous or are less likely. I'll offer only some tentative thoughts on these. There are, in short, both individualistic (private) and communitarian (public, state) interests in recognizing gay families through marriage.

O.K., maybe my project is more ambitious than I thought.

If any significant part of what I described above actually came to pass, it would be a dark day for sexual liberationists, for opponents of marriage, for much of the gay left, and for many others who now say they favor gay marriage; conversely, if any significant part of it came true, it should be cause for rejoicing among conservatives, especially traditionalist conservatives. The key here is the "if."

Subject to change, here's how I plan to proceed. Today and tomorrow I will make the affirmative case for marriage for gay Americans. The affirmative case points to both the individualistic and communitarian benefits. Wednesday and Thursday I will respond to some of the most common arguments against marriage for gays, including the procreation and slippery-slope questions. (Sometimes the pro and con arguments will overlap.) Friday will be clean-up day, including suggestions for how to proceed, with some consideration of the role of legislatures vs. courts and marriage alternatives like civil unions.

I'll try to respond to some reader commentary as we go along, perhaps in a single last post each night. In return, I ask this of commentators. Try to focus narrowly on the discrete point(s) made in the post to which you're responding. There's a tendency in this debate, on both sides, to "kitchen-sink" every argument, that is, to respond to specific points with unrelated points or with global observations about the nature of marriage, the world, the meaning of life, and so on.

Here are some things I will not do this week. First, I won't try to change anyone's religious views about gay marriage or homosexuality. If your religious faith leads you to oppose gay marriage, and if your faith further commands that this tenet be mandated in secular law, not much I say this week will matter to you. However, if this tenet (like others?) need not necessarily be mandated in secular law, come along for the ride. The faith-based traditionalist opposed to homosexuality, like all those generally uncomfortable with homosexuality, might reluctantly reconcile himself to gay marriage as the most realistic public-policy way to make the best of the bad.

A related point: though there's no logically necessary connection, attitudes about gay marriage correlate strongly with a person's underlying views of homosexuality. Is it a harmful or benign variation of human sexuality? Is it chosen or unchosen? The best evidence strongly favors the benign/unchosen answers. I may devote some, but not much, space to these Gay 101 issues if it seems necessary.

Second, I will not make rights-based arguments, e.g., that there is a constitutional right to gay marriage. Lots of people spend lots of time arguing about this; indeed, rights-talk has monopolized the debate. The traditionalist case is consequential and moral, not legal.

Finally, I won't be accusing the opposition of bigotry. Many Americans oppose gay marriage out of a fear of possible unintended and unforeseeable consequences. These opponents of gay marriage are not bigots; they are prudent. Their prudential concerns must be treated seriously, not dismissed as blind prejudice. Such concerns can and should be accommodated in the time-frame and process by which we get to gay marriage.

At the same time, I hope nobody will think I'm intentionally trying to destroy marriage. Put simply, I believe in gay marriage because I believe in marriage.

Commenterlein (mail):
This is certainly a promising start. Welcome, best of luck to you, and hopefully the discussion in the comments manages to stay above the belt.
10.31.2005 10:37am
A Berman (mail):
Dale, let me say that I appreciate your approach and truly hope to be convinced.
10.31.2005 10:39am
Roach (mail) (www):
I once wrote in response to Andrew Sullivan, the following on my blog:

"I should add that I think the state and society should be in the marriage business because marriage is primarily about taming heterosexual men (who are biologically disposed to promiscuity) in order to create a financially and socially viable institution for rearing children. We honor men who enter it as "adult" and "responsible" to counter-balance the trade-off: no more attempts to screw irresponsibily everything that moves. It seems to me that [Andrew Sullivan] and other gay marriage advocates have taken one of the accoutrements of marriage--romantic love and partnership--and turned into the end all and be all, when in fact societies have long recognized, rewarded, and sanctioned marriage for the more prosaic reasons I list above. The fact that we allow old people and the infertile to marry is merely ancillary to this primary social end (and the ability to recognize these impediments has only come into place with modern science). If you redefine marriage and the state's recognition of it as simply a means to give away health and other legal benefits then [Andrew Sullivan's] position makes sense. If you think these benefits exist primarily to make marriage a more pro-children-rearing institution, then [Sullivan's] position breaks down."

This may be a separate point, but certain gay rights activists have explicitly said that they want to break down the notion that marriage means monogamy, opting instead to normalize notions of what heterosexuals dismiss as eccentric swinging. It seems obvious if this comes about as advocated that the practical effect would be to(a) undermine the prejudice in favor of heterosexual monogamy needed to tame the male sexual impulse by normalizing promiscuity within marriage and (b) undermine the alleged benefits to gays of gay marriage, namely, your argument that gays will behave more responsibly if their behavior is channeled in socially approved (and disapproved) directions. If their lifelong partnerships in marriage lead to frequent purely sexual trysts--as is now the case in many (male) gay parternships--then it kind of makes a mockery of marriage.

Cordially,


Chris Roach, SC
10.31.2005 10:39am
Medis:
Dale,

Perhaps this will be covered in points 1 and 2, but I hope you make at least some mention of the potential joys associated with being in a healthy marriage. I've noticed that we tend to try to reduce the benefits of marriage to something more concrete (like health, wealth, longevity, successful childrearing outcomes, and so forth), but I always think that the instrinsic value of marriage--the pure fun of being in a good marriage--deserves its own place in this discussion.
10.31.2005 10:49am
George Talbot (mail):
I appreciate your approach. FYI: I agree with the stuff you say in this approach. Would it be possible for you to help illuminate the previous arguement I've seen on this blog that (paraphrasing) allowing gay marriage will destroy the US via sexual disorganization a-la the Roman Empire? I don't think I really understood that arguement, and it sounded a bit kooky to me.
10.31.2005 10:52am
Justin (mail):
Roach,

Leon Kass's theory that you regurgitate is chock full of errors, the most obvious being that women are not cows, and are perfectly capable of enjoying sex. Once you understand that, the "benefits" of marriage you get are illusory, as marriage significantly predates its political subsidy.
10.31.2005 10:52am
Medis:
Justin,

I agree that marriage can help promote monogamy not just among straight men, but also straight women, gay men, and gay women. But why does that make the "benefits" to all these people "illusory"? For one thing, I think many of them end up benefiting from monogamy. For another thing, obviously the institution has to come with certain benefits if you want people to participate in it. So the pro-monogamy aspects of marriage are always going to be related at least in part to the benefits of marriage.
10.31.2005 11:01am
Taimyoboi:
Mr. Carpenter,

I hope you make clear, as you did at NRO, your belief in the following:

"(8) Proponents of change in an important social institution like marriage bear the burden of persuasion."

A lost of commenters taking issue with Mrs. Gallagher assumed that the burden of proof was on the other end.
10.31.2005 11:09am
John Armstrong (mail):
Mr. Carpenter,

Thank you for the clear, concise statement of intent. I can already tell I have much to look forward to this week.

I'm especially intrigued in seeing the core of your case worked out explicitly. I think, though, that some of your statements ("it would be a dark day for ...") can veer into straw-man territory. I'm willing to give your post a narrow (textualist?) reading and not expand that list into "the left as a whole", but I'm afraid that another reader might take it as an assertion that everyone to the left is opposed to those six points.

To the contrary, I'll venture to say that many -- if not most -- liberals pushing for gay marriage support it for just those reasons, although for one reason or another they're not the most vocal about it. If nothing else, I'm looking forward to seeing the case for these "values-based" benefits made explicit.
10.31.2005 11:10am
APL (mail):
Dale,

Welcome! I am impressed with your first post, and look forward to an interesting week of discussion of the traditionalist (what I call the conservative) case for marriage.

Interestingly, I think that Chris Roach has raised what may well be the central issue relating to the traditionalist approach: will gay marriage change gays, or will gay marriage change marriage?

In a nutshell, I believe that a majority of people who have same-sex attractions yearn for moral, committed relationships defined by the marriage model.

I do reject the proposition that gays are by nature more promiscuous than straight people, or that the desire to change marriage is anything but the position of a vocal minority of gay activists. To the extent that there is a libertine deviation amongst some people with same-sex attraction, and there is, I believe that it is a reaction to the freeing process of coming out after being sexually and socially repressed, by fear, expectation of family and societal reactions, and so on. I have seen a number of friends through the process of realizing and admitting the nature of their sexuality, and then, in a burst of freedom, revelling in giving expression to it. Typically, although not always, this is a transitory stage, followed by what could be termed the American courtship ritual - looking for a satisfactory long-term committed relationship, again usually but not always monogamous. I am an attorney, not a sociologist, but it is my analysis that the coming-out promiscuity one occasionally sees is a reaction to the social situation of anti-gay animus rather than something intrinsic to people with same-sex attractions. Accordingly, I believe that your points 2,3, and 4 are, at least based upon my anecdotal experience and analytical reasoning, valid expectations as well as desirable results.

Those who followed the comments to Ms. Gallagher may recognize me as the poster whose marriage was imminent. I was married in Lethbridge 9 days ago and yes, I do feel different about my relationship with my guy. Now, he is my husband.
10.31.2005 11:23am
Roach (mail) (www):
Justin, women undoubtedly enjoy sex. But they also enjoy love, partership, stability, and a helping hand when they have children. That's why women are typically more selective by nature in their choice of mates, and that is why successful societies everywhere have channeled the untutored sexual instinct into marriage and other relationships that generate social stability.
10.31.2005 11:25am
Michael McCulley (mail):
The true Libertarian case for gay marriage is that not that gay marriage is good for (or at least not bad for)American culture, but that government has no legitimate role as the supervisor or controller of culture to begin with. It is not for the State to say whether any particular cultural trend is good, bad, or ugly. Let the culture go where it will, free of the politicians' social engineering programs.

Of course, with the above in mind, the true Libertarian solution to this problem is to abolish marriage licensing (and all other licensing schemes) altogether. In the absence of such an abolition, however, the next preferred option is to expand the numbers of persons eligible for marriage (and other) licenses as dramatically as possible.
10.31.2005 11:29am
TL:
Professor Carpenter:
Welcome! I was in attendance earlier this fall when you debated the Solomon Amendment at the Federalist Society-sponsored event. Though I suspect I will disagree with some of your views (as I did in the Solomon debate), I wanted to comment that I appreciate your approach. Because you are not dismissive toward traditionalists, and un-willing to speak in the pejorative about religiously-motivated, and otherwise worldview-based objections to policy, I know you will add a cordial spirit to the debate. As well as your manner, I look forward to your reasoned analysis. I suspect we will all have the opportunity to expand as well as sharpen our views through your writings this week.
10.31.2005 11:31am
Randy R. (mail):
Women are more selective by nature in their choice of mates? I think that is sweeping generalization that needs a bit of proof.
In informal survey among many of my female friends indicates that ALL, as in every single one, married the first person who asked her.

So this myth that women have lots of opportunities to marry men, and the intelligently select the best provider, lover, or whatever, needs some proof before I can accept it.

So I suggest this for readers -- the women out there, did you reject offers of marriage before you settled on the "right" one? Men, ask the women friend's this question. I'll bet you that many, if not most, married the first guy they seriously dated.

If true, that would upend a lot of hooey about marriage, I should think
10.31.2005 11:33am
Humble Law Student:
I am really looking forward to this. My question is in regards to your Point 5. Many opponents of SSM don't actually believe there would be an immediate drastic negative effect on traditional marriages, the point is that your redefinition of marriage changes the social understanding of the function and purpose of the marriage institution, potentially causing numerous harms down the road (I don't think I need to mention them). My question (no one seems to provide a principled answer against) is what keeps the redefinition from only applying to dual partner relationships and not polyamorous relationships? Why deny the stability and the support brought about by inclusion into the marriage institution to only couples?

This question may be beyond the scope of your discussion, but I feel it is important one that many advocates of SSM either dismiss out of hand or just ignore. What principled (in accordance with arguments allowing for SSM) arguments exist to for denying marriage to those desiring more than one partnet?
10.31.2005 11:40am
Horny cow:
Hey, who says we cows can't enjoy sex, too? You've been listening to our males, haven't you? What a load of bull.
10.31.2005 11:40am
Medis:
Roach,

Are you claiming that men don't enjoy love, partnership, stability, and a helping hand when they have children?

I think it is obvious that both men and women (and both gay and straight people) can all live in some tension between sexual desire for other people and the desire for healthy relationships with their romantic partner. I also think it is obvious that the exact nature of this tension will vary a great deal from individual to individual.

Whether or not there are also some trends over gender and orientation is less obvious, but that issue also strikes me as irrelevant. As long as this tension exists in some form across all these types of people, the same basic argument will apply (that marriage will help all these people resolve that tension in favor of a healthy relationship with their partner).
10.31.2005 11:43am
Humble Law Student:
Randy R.

I can't disprove your argument through data, but rather through common sense. Women may seem to marry the first man to ask, because, unless the male is an total idiot, he only asks once their relationship has developed to a point to where he thinks she is the one and he believes that she thinks the same about him. It is in a sense, a case of self-selection. The only men that are likely to ask are the ones that are sure they are meant to be together and are confident the woman feels the same way.

Also, you say to ask how many woman married the first guy they seriously dated. Well, once again that is self-selecting. A woman and likely the man, aren't likely to let the relationship develop to a point where marriage is an option if one party doesn't think they are likely to marry the other. Consequently, the only "serious relationships" are the one's that the woman and man have let to develop to that point, because both parties see the other as a potential life mate.

It is all rather simple.
10.31.2005 11:47am
Medis:
Humble Law Student,

Why should a gay marriage supporter be required to answer that question any more than a "traditional" marriage supporter? For example, consider those who stress the procreative purposes of marriage, or those who stress the importance of well-tested historical models. Why shouldn't these people have to show why a man and his harem is less worthy of state recognition, given their theories?

I point this out only to suggest that I don't think much is served by bring up these tangential issues, and I rather think they are just going to end up being a distraction from the main points.
10.31.2005 11:49am
Medis:
Humble Law Student,

Please note the cross-posting (my last post was in response to your earlier post about multiple partner relationships).
10.31.2005 11:52am
MNKurmudge (mail):
This statement is essentially true, and still irrelevant:

"I do reject the proposition that gays are by nature more promiscuous than straight people, or that the desire to change marriage is anything but the position of a vocal minority of gay activists."

The issue with promiscuity and gay marriage has little to do with the gayness itself- people in these relationshios reflect who they are. The mountain of relevant data and research shows that in a normal distribution curve, straight women reflect a certain nature and set of bahavior patterns, significantly informed by their relative testosterone levels, among other factors. Men also reflect a certain set of behavior patterns based on maleness (which is heavily informed as well by factors like testosterone levels).

So, in general, lesbian couples would tend to reflect the prepondernace of female behavior in relationships- more relational, less of a tendency toward pure sexuality-driven promiscuity. Male gay couples will still behave like men- physically driven and much more oriented toward polyamory, with the difference form the sraight marriages being that there is no female to put a brake on the erotic epicureanism that males naturally seek. In short, you have two people together who want variety and a lot of sex, so they will both have a natural tendency to look for purely physical fulfillment first.

So the talk about gay promiscuity is right back to saying that men will behave like men tend to behave, especially when women aren't around. It's about being male, not about being gay. Thus this is not a particularly useful argument for either side of the marriage debate.
10.31.2005 11:54am
Roach (mail) (www):
Randy R, I won't debate the obvious. Men are more promiscuous than women and will have sex at the drop of a hat if given the opportunity. Go to a strip club or a whorehouse or Thailand sometime and observe. It will be an education in human nature, specifically male nature.
10.31.2005 11:55am
JGUNS (mail):
Government never got into the marriage game for love, which is the tack that most SSM advocates seem to take. They got into marriage for children, with the idea that the marriage contract supported a family unit with a mother and a father. The ideas espoused here in terms of what may be positive as a result of SSM, I would tend to agree with. However, it does assume a society in which SS couples were considered the equals of hetero couples as far as a home environment for raising children. There is indeed a body of science that suggests the optimal environment for raising a child is with both male and female parents present. This is a point of contention that I rarely see raised in arguments for SSM, and I wonder what the response of this author would be to that point.
10.31.2005 11:55am
Medis:
JGUNS,

You say, "it does assume a society in which SS couples were considered the equals of hetero couples as far as a home environment for raising children." That strikes me as wrong, because there is no claim that all straight couples provide an "equal" home environment. Rather, the way it works for straight couples is that we recognize a broad range of home environments as worthy of our support, and withdraw that support only from a few (after something like a finding of parental unfitness).

So the only assumption we need is something like that many straight couples are capable of providing a home environment that is within this broad range of acceptable home environments, such that we cannot declare all gay couples presumptively unfit to raise children. We don't need any further claim about absolute parity, or compliance with some hypothetical ideal, since we do not use such standards with straight couples.
10.31.2005 12:18pm
Lamont Cranston:
I won't debate the obvious. Men are more promiscuous than women and will have sex at the drop of a hat if given the opportunity. Go to a strip club or a whorehouse or Thailand sometime and observe. It will be an education in human nature, specifically male nature.


Are there not women engaging in these activities? Is there not a female stripper, a whore, or a Thai (?) pandering to these awful promiscuous males?

The "obvious" conception of men as promiscuous dogs and women as virginal saints does not reflect the reality that most people choose to be in long term monogomous relationnships. Moreover, it ignores the fact that since the advent of the pill women have been having more sex partners.
10.31.2005 12:37pm
Medis:
Lamont,

I agree, and frankly, I don't even understand the argument in question. Suppose it were true that, on average, men were somewhat more "promiscuous" than women. Why would that mean that "promiscuity" among women was not a valid social concern AT ALL?
10.31.2005 12:45pm
cw (mail):
I don't think you can make a very good argument that: because the gays are promiscuous and allowing them to marry will normilize promiscuity in marriage.

What you are trying to figure out is how many promiscuous gay marriages will be add to the pool of all marriages.

First, how many gay perople are there? According to the most recent gays represent somewhere between 1% and 6% of the population, with a lower number more likely. For simplicity, let's just say 4% of all americans are gay or lesbian.

How many of these are going to want to be married? Currently about 70% of straight americans eventually marry. So say 70% of gay people want to marry. So then the likely number of gay marriages will be 2.8% of all marriages.

Now you have to account for the differences between gays and lesbians.

There are significantly fewer lesbians than gays, but lesbians partner up at about twice the rate as gay men. 54% of gay marriages granted in Mass, were to lebians.

So, lets assuming half of gay marriages are going to be between lesbians. That means that 1.4% percent of all marriages are going to be between lesbians.

And now, lets remove 90% of lesbian marriages from the gay/married but promiscuous pile. Why, because, in general, lesbians are much less promiscuous than gay men. In fact, they are likely more monogamous(being two women) than heterosexuals are. So we are going to remove 90% of the lesbian marriages from the married but promiscuous pile.

That makes the percentage of dangerous gay marriages 1.15% of all marriages

And then, you have to ask, how many of these men are likely to be promiscuous. The fact that they choose traditional marriage, which everyone knows, is supposed to be monogamous, suggest that a significant number are going to, at least, WANT to be monagamous. So lets be conservative and say that 1/4 of gay men getting married will be manage to be monogamous. That leaves us with the number .9%

.9% of all marriages are likely to be gay and promiscuous.
I don't think that this number is high enough to change anything.
10.31.2005 12:47pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
Kudos to Dale for a thoughtful start the week's festivities. I'm looking forward to the substance of your argument.

And to the newlyweds (APL and husband), congratulations.

More generally, we seem to have gotten the ball rolling without much input from Dale?
10.31.2005 12:55pm
Cooper :
Dale,

I look forward to your posts. I have a question regarding your points 1-3. It essentially comes down to this. What is it that civilizes men? Is it marriage, or is it women? If it is marriage, then that is a strong point in favor of gay marriage. But what if it is women? What if marriage serves society by civilizing aggressive male behavior by attaching it to a domestic life governed by a woman? If it is true, as Tocqueville argues, that women are the protectors of societies morals, then it might be women that civilize men, not marriage. Good luck on the blogging.
10.31.2005 1:03pm
Michael McCulley (mail):
If all one wants to do is live a promiscuous lifestyle, there's no point or advantage in getting married. Indeed, the legal obligations of marriage would greatly impair one's ability to discard one's current lust interest in favor of a new one.

There are a group of homosexuals that oppose monogamy on principle, but those obviously aren't the homosexuals that want to get married.
10.31.2005 1:04pm
Roach (mail) (www):
Lamont and Medis, does the fact that women are being paid and men are paying not point to the obvious reality.

Michael, that only matters if one thought marriage and monogomy went hand in hand. That's not a major assumption of at least some gay marriage advocates and many leading voices in the gay marriage movement. Viz.:


Michelangelo Signorile, writing in Out! magazine, has stated that homosexuals should, "...fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely … To debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution. … The most subversive action lesbians and gays can undertake-and one that would perhaps benefit all of society-is to transform the notion of 'family' altogether." (Out! magazine, Dec./Jan., 1994)

Andrew Sullivan, a homosexual activist writing in his book, Virtually Normal, says that once same-sex marriage is legalized, heterosexuals will have to develop a greater "understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman."

He notes: "The truth is, homosexuals are not entirely normal; and to flatten their varied and complicated lives into a single, moralistic model is to miss what is essential and exhilarating about their otherness." (Sullivan, Virtually Normal, pp. 202-203)

Paula Ettelbrick, a law professor and homosexual activist has said: "Being queer is more than setting up house, sleeping with a person of the same gender, and seeking state approval for doing so. … Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex, sexuality, and family; and in the process, transforming the very fabric of society. … We must keep our eyes on the goals of providing true alternatives to marriage and of radically reordering society's view of reality." (partially quoted in "Beyond Gay Marriage," Stanley Kurtz, The Weekly Standard, August 4, 2003)

Evan Wolfson has stated: "Isn't having the law pretend that there is only one family model that works (let alone exists) a lie? … marriage is not just about procreation-indeed is not necessarily about procreation at all. "(quoted in "What Marriage Is For," by Maggie Gallagher, The Weekly Standard, August 11, 2003)

Mitchel Raphael, editor of the Canadian homosexual magazine Fab, says: "Ambiguity is a good word for the feeling among gays about marriage. I'd be for marriage if I thought gay people would challenge and change the institution and not buy into the traditional meaning of 'till death do us part' and monogamy forever. We should be Oscar Wildes and not like everyone else watching the play." (quoted in "Now Free To Marry, Canada's Gays Say, 'Do I?'" by Clifford Krauss, The New York Times, August 31, 2003)

1972 Gay Rights Platform Demands: "Repeal of all legislative provisions that restrict the sex or number of persons entering into a marriage unit…" [Emphasis added.]


In other words, the movement for gay marriage is part and parcel of the "sexual revolution," which seeks explicitly to undermine traditional western norms of sexuality.
10.31.2005 1:28pm
Designbot:
I'm confused. This guy just laid out a series of easily-digestible numbered points in a one-paragraph summary of his argument. How does he ever expect to obfuscate his message like that? People are going to be specifically responding to concrete claims! It will be total absence of anarchy!

Can't he re-write this to drag out over, like, seventeen posts, and add some fluffy philosphical stuff about the foundations of our ideals, and the collapse of Western civilization and stuff? What kind of debate is this anyway?
10.31.2005 1:31pm
R. Gould-Saltman (mail):
"That's why women are typically more selective by nature in their choice of mates".

As someone who's practiced family law for 27 years, I'll respectfully disagree with this sweeping, and near-meaningless generalization.

First question: where can you find these women who make their selection of mates based entirely upon their "womanly nature", without the influence of social institutions?

RFGS
10.31.2005 1:35pm
Lamont Cranston:
does the fact that women are being paid and men are paying not point to the obvious reality.

Of course, you discount the existence of male escorts and strippers.

But granting your point that men are generally paying for sex and women are generally getting paid, how do you respond to the fact that the proportion of men who will ever visit a prostitute is exceedingly low?

Your argument seems to be premised on the notion that men are so desperate for sex that they are willing to bind themselves for life to one woman in order to get it. If this is the case, why aren't these men all visiting prostitutes instead? After all, all they want is sex.

I fail to see how an uncontrollable desire for sex leads men to choose a lifelong monogamous relationship.
10.31.2005 1:45pm
Gabriel Malor:
Roach,

A list of excerpts from some outspoken SSM advocates does not make for a comprehensive digest of thought on the matter. Extremists are often the ones yelling the loudest.

No doubt there are people who want to "undermine traditional western norms of sexuality." No doubt some of them are gay and advocate SSM. But that doesn't mean that all SSM advocates want to "undermine traditional western norms of sexuality."
10.31.2005 1:45pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
If this is the traditionalist view, then what do we call the marriage-isn't-about-procreation/equality argument? The non-traditionalist argument? When it gets down to it though they differ in very interesting ways.

In an allegorical way, op-ed points out the fallacy of the non-traditionalist argument in Parable of the School Zone.

But the traditionalist argument is different, isn't it. Instead of the deny-deny-deny approach we saw two weeks ago to Maggie Gallagher's articles, it actually accepts the premises and says "if it works for heterosexual couples, why not homosexual couples too?" Instead of incredulity, we have triangulation.

Op-Ed has posted the allegorical exposition of that fallacy also in Of Seat Belts and Sweat Pants. Roach seems to hit somwhere close to the mark (if APL's summation is to be accepted) but we should investigate even further. Is this a word game? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a slippery-slope, no escape from reality.

I've explored this much deeper in Conservative Case for Marriage (101).

My prediction: The logical conclusion to Dale's argument will be that marriage is not something that the government will really care about, except for those that hereld for the day of Big-Brother.
10.31.2005 1:52pm
Marianne:
Humble Law Student: My question (no one seems to provide a principled answer against) is what keeps the redefinition from only applying to dual partner relationships and not polyamorous relationships? Why deny the stability and the support brought about by inclusion into the marriage institution to only couples?


In his post, Professor Carpenter says that he'll address these "slippery slope" arguments on Wednesday and Thursday.
10.31.2005 1:59pm
Medis:
Roach,

Believe it or not, women also sometimes have sex outside of a relationship--and even cheat on their romantic partners--FOR FREE!

But regardless, I'm not sure why you think that this matters. As I understand it, you are claiming that when women are "promiscuous", they [sometimes] have a financial incentive to be "promiscuous". Well, isn't that all the more reason to give women countervailing incentives to not be "promiscuous"? In other words, you aren't showing that female "promiscuity" is not worthy of social concern. Rather, you are just showing that female "promiscuity" is not driven solely [at least not in all cases] by sexual desire.
10.31.2005 1:59pm
Medis:
On Lawn,

As Dale is describing his argument, it certainly isn't just a "word game". In particular, his points (1) through (4) are all substantive claims about what the proposed institution would achieve, and (6) could be along the same lines (depending on what exactly he means).
10.31.2005 2:10pm
vepxistqaosani (mail) (www):
Prudence and tradition
Dale,

I do appreciate your willingness to assume that I'm not a bigot. Rare, in these debates.

I hope you will address the fact that homosexual marriage is something completely new in the history of the human race. At no time, in no culture, have two men ever lived together licitly as equals in a sexual relationship. Given that this has never happened before, how can we reasonably forecast the effects of such a change?
10.31.2005 2:11pm
Michael McCulley (mail):
I really can't swallow Roach's conspiracy theory. It is one thing for Michelangelo Signorile to write an inflammatory article, it is another thing entirely to expect tens of thousands of monogamy foes to actually risk 50%+ of their personal assets in legally-enforced intimate relationships. If you want to lose your house and get slapped with a massive alimony bill, there's no better way than to commit adultery.

Secondly, Roach is painting a population of millions of people with an extremely broad brush. Michelangelo Signorile and Andrew Sullivan do not speak for the entire gay and lesbian community any more than David Duke and Fred Phelps speak for all conservatives.
10.31.2005 2:15pm
Designbot:
At no time, in no culture, have two men ever lived together licitly as equals in a sexual relationship.

You're joking, right?

Or, by "licitly," do you mean that their relationship is specifically recognized and regulated by law? Because that's still just not true. See: A History of Gay Marriage.
10.31.2005 2:17pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Dale,

Two things I hope you will address in your "conservative" response that, to date, the "neuter marriage now!" folks have all failed to address:

1) Why do we need to replace marriage with neutered marriage to accomplish any of the goals you ostensibly wish to persue? Put another way, replacement involves eliminating one thing and adding something else in its place. You clearly want to focus on the "adding" part of the equation by talking about how to tame homosexual behavior by creating a legal relationship for society to first acknowledge then regulate, but what of the "elimination" part of the equation? Removing the one organization geared toward the needs of the procreative couple and replacing it with a neutered organization for no other purpose than to meddle in private affairs has a cost and you will not make any progress toward neutering marriage without dealing honestly with those costs.

2) What would be the societal purpose in a neutered "marriage" that merits government involvement in it? Some have postulated promoting some sort of constancy among the knavery or settling of property issues, but those sorts of purposes don't rise to the level of government involvement in other relationships that aren't sexual and are directly contradicted by other limitations in marriage law that proponents of neutered marriage want to leave in place.
10.31.2005 2:19pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Medis,

One and four are arguments for Reciprocal Beneficiaries, not marriage.
10.31.2005 2:21pm
Roach (mail) (www):
Both male and female promiscuity are worthy of social concern. Both men and women exhibit a wide range of sexual and relationship interests and behaviors. That said, pressuring men through formalized procedures--including increased status--for monogamous marraiges has been a major part of what we think of as civilization. It has been so because men like sex with multiple partners more than women, and many men are more than willing to abandon the children that result from these relationships. Men and women will both want sex, love, relationships, partnership, and opposite sex friendship in the absence of marraige. They'll pair off, deal with the rituals of courtship, have sex, and have babies. But will those men be around long after those babies are born without the hard-to-leave strictures of a marriage? Will men tolerate those strictures when they can easily get the benefits of marriage--sex compansionship--without the burdens of marriage?

Well, look to America's inner cities. The marriage norm has broken down. Upwards of 75% of children are born out of wedlock. 75%!!! These children and their mothers are hurt in innumerable ways by this situation. Since the norm in favor of female chastity and channeling of sex into marriage has completely broken down, these same men can still get a sexual outlet outside of marriage without meeting the responsibilities of fatherhood.

Pace the feminists, I don't say it was men who created the patriarchy, but women who invented the norms, prestige, and pressures of chastity and traditional marriage to prevent themselves from being forced to raise kids without the help of a man. It was a solution to a collective action problem and a negotiation of the competing desires of men and women.

And for those who pointed to gigilos and male strippers, don't be so willfully ignornat of the facts before your eyes. There are more male consumers of all of these things--hookers, strippers, pornography--than women in all contexts. This is an order of magnitude difference. If we can't agree on basic self-evident facts about statistical probability--such as men are hornier and more promiscuous on average than women--then it's impossible to have a debate about this or any subject. Any interlocuter must be able to point to some basic social reality or the conversation breaks down into stupid demands that I establish these facts with double-blind studies. I suppose next we'll learn women love sports as much as men, that men enjoy domestic chores as much as women, that women are as violent as men, and that both sexes are not only equal but the same in every important respect. That tabula rassa bullshit might fly at Oberlin, but I live in the real world.
10.31.2005 2:22pm
dweeb (mail):
It's disingenuous and insulting to call this a "traditionalist case." It's a sales pitch aimed at traditionalists, perhaps, but the entire premise, from the benign/unchosen characterization on, is counter to traditionalist thinking. The idea that if people engage in traditionally unacceptable behavior in a pseudo-traditional framework, that's traditional is counter to the very core of traditional views - absolute truth. It's like trying to make a libertarian case for socialism.
10.31.2005 2:23pm
John H (mail) (www):
Dale,

Do you feel that there are any rights that only a man and a woman should have? I feel that only a man and a woman should be allowed to procreate together. A woman should not be allowed to use a lab to combine her gametes with another woman, she should only be allowed to combine her gametes with a (marriable) man.

This is something that is currently legal, has been done in mice (success rate < 1%), and could be banned by Congress. Would that ban conflict with the rights of same-sex couples?

Would you support a ban on attempts at conceiving a child that is not the union of a man and a woman, or do you think scientists should continue to be free to attempt human same-sex procreation experiments at their discretion?

How do you see this ban interacting with "all the rights of marriage"?
10.31.2005 2:27pm
A2 Reader:
A related point: though there's no logically necessary connection, attitudes about gay marriage correlate strongly with a person's underlying views of homosexuality. Is it a harmful or benign variation of human sexuality? Is it chosen or unchosen?

If this is true, then I'm not sure why the "prejudice" or the "you just think gays are ikcy" charge is off the table. If most SSM opponents are hostile to homosexuality (the practice and practioners), it seems as if they have pre-judged the case.
10.31.2005 2:35pm
Medis:
On Lawn,

Please elaborate. For example, it seems likely to me that one of the reasons why marriage helps support and stabilize families is that it is not just a private arrangement between the parents, but it also has a public/social/community dimension. So why would it be the case that something like "reciprocal beneficiaries" would have the same beneficial effects for gay families as marriage (assuming you mean by that something which has been stripped of this public/social/community dimension)?

Roach,

I still do not understand your argument. You note that both male and female "promiscuity" is worthy of social concern. So even if it is true that male "promiscuity" is a somewhat greater concern on average, why couldn't marriage serve to address both of these concerns (both male and female "promiscuity")? The relative amount of "promiscuity" between the genders in that sense is irrelevant, since there is no internal conflict between these goals.
10.31.2005 2:37pm
Roach (mail) (www):
I think if all sexuality were like women's sexuality, formal guarantees of monogamy would hardly be necessary. I think the widespread, lifelong and uncoerced lesbian partnerships make this fairly plain. The formalities are needed primarily to reign in men, who would gladly get the milk without buying the cow, so to speak.
10.31.2005 2:40pm
Lamont Cranston:

If we can't agree on basic self-evident facts about statistical probability--such as men are hornier and more promiscuous on average than women--then it's impossible to have a debate about this or any subject.

I guess we can't have a debate then. You disregard the fact that until about 50 years ago women were functionally the property of the men in their lives and the fact that there was not widely available, effective birth control.

I posit that the womens movement and the availability of birth control have led to increasing promiscuity among women. This trend shows no sign of stopping. Women have always had sexual desires, they just haven't always been able to act on them. You claim that men are "biologically disposed to promiscuity" and that women are not. I disagree. There's no need to get into a snit about it.

If the primary purpose of marriage is, as you put it, "taming heterosexual men (who are biologically disposed to promiscuity) in order to create a financially and socially viable institution for rearing children." Then I would suggest that marriage is in for a bumpy ride.

Women often make enough these days to raise kids on their own, and they get to choose when to have them. That is why marriage is in trouble, not a tiny fraction of the population wanting to marry people of the same sex.
10.31.2005 2:42pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Medis,

Please elaborate.

Please follow the link I provided earlier, Conservative Case for Marriage (101).

it seems likely to me that one of the reasons why marriage helps support and stabilize families is that it is not just a private arrangement between the parents, but it also has a public/social/community dimension.

The question begged by that statement is,

What is more important, a strong ideal of marriage that encourages equal gender participation, sacrifice and devotion; or spending the political capital invested in marriage to balm the persecution complex of a sector of society regretting the legal, fair, and natural consequences of their actions?
[from Gender Discrimination: Intolerance or permissiveness?]


Which brings this back to the non-traditional argument which doesn't seem to be where Dale is heading.

So why would it be the case that something like "reciprocal beneficiaries" would have the same beneficial effects for gay families as marriage (assuming you mean by that something which has been stripped of this public/social/community dimension)?

This question signifies to me that you are playing word games, contrary to your assertion in this post. If RB's provide the benefits you are looking for, but by another name, does it not still smell as sweet?
10.31.2005 2:46pm
Joseph Gratz (mail) (www):
Professor Carpenter, I enjoyed your first post and look forward to a week of marriage discussion free of "cow" and "milk" metaphors.
10.31.2005 2:49pm
cw (mail):
THis is boring. I could be milking a cow.
10.31.2005 2:57pm
JayLittleATL (mail):
Roach,

Touching on what Gabriel mentioned. Keep in mind that gay people are well... people. You have those type that you quoted wanting to "challenge and change the institution", and you have those that don't. I could list quotes from several straight white male activists. (I'm taking a guess here... forgive me if I'm incorrect), but you wouldn't agree with what they all said. Just because those individuals are speaking out with their opinions, doesn't mean they speak for the whole community or represent the views of the whole community.

On another note, what about straight couples who engage in extra-marital relationships and do so knowingly... Swingers. Should they not be allowed to marry and if not, how would it be policed? Should the government mandate that "if you're promiscuous then you can't get married."

Bottom line is that the gay community isn't out to destroy marriage. What does the union of two men in Massachusetts have to do with the vows and the relationship that you share with your wife in South Carolina. I'm guessing not much. And as far as promiscuity is concerned, well if you're promiscuous your promiscuous, gay or straight. And having a wife to keep you in check isn't going to change that. If a married man wants to cheat he will, gay or straight.
10.31.2005 3:01pm
JayLittleATL (mail):
Roach,

Touching on what Gabriel mentioned. Keep in mind that gay people are well... people. You have those type that you quoted wanting to "challenge and change the institution", and you have those that don't. I could list quotes from several straight white male activists. (I'm taking a guess here... forgive me if I'm incorrect), but you wouldn't agree with what they all said. Just because those individuals are speaking out with their opinions, doesn't mean they speak for the whole community or represent the views of the whole community.

In regards to promiscuity, what about straight couples who engage in extra-marital relationships and do so knowingly... Swingers. Should they not be allowed to marry and if not, how would it be policed? Should the government mandate that "if you're promiscuous then you can't get married."

Bottom line is that the gay community isn't out to destroy marriage. What does the union of two men in Massachusetts have to do with the vows and the relationship that you share with your wife in South Carolina. I'm guessing not much. And as far as promiscuity is concerned, well if you're promiscuous your promiscuous, gay or straight. And having a wife to keep you in check isn't going to change that. If a married man wants to cheat he will, gay or straight.
10.31.2005 3:03pm
vepxistqaosani (mail) (www):
DesignBot,

For the purposes of my argument, I leave aside tendentious and anachronistic readings of the historical record.

You could argue that this is unfair, since there was no concept of a homosexual identity until quite recently -- but that rather makes my point, doesn't it?
10.31.2005 3:04pm
JayLittleATL (mail):
sorry about the double post.
10.31.2005 3:04pm
Medis:
Roach,

The existence of some committed lesbian couples doesn't prove the complete lack of a need for institutions encouraging female monogamy. Consider again the fact that some women actually do cheat on their romantic partners, or otherwise exhibit non-monogamous behavior.

On Lawn,

I didn't find the linked articles helpful. I also didn't find your block quote above to be on point. It seems to me you want to shift the discussion to Dale's point #5, but it is not "begging the question" to suggest that before we get to point #5, we should discuss points #1-4 (the posssible benefits to gay people and gay families of marriage).

Finally, I don't think anything I wrote about the public/social/community dimension of marriage depended on playing a "word game". But maybe you can define for me what you mean by "reciprocal beneficiaries". My point was that it sounded to me like you were describing a private arrangement without the public/social/community dimension straight marriages have. If I am wrong, please explain.
10.31.2005 3:06pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Medis,

You sure are depending a lot on what you find and think. Perhaps you should really evaluate how seriously you take your own opinion, because honestly you seem to think others take it far more authoritatively than it is.

If you have a disagreement, please say so. If you simply want to judge arguments for yourself, you might as well keep it to yourself.
10.31.2005 3:11pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Medis,

So as to keep my commentary on your over-reliance of your opinion seperate from content, I make this a seperate post.

My point was that it sounded to me like you were describing a private arrangement without the public/social/community dimension straight marriages have. If I am wrong, please explain.

Please do some research on what RB's are, they do not appear to be private arrangements. Take Hawaii for an example.
10.31.2005 3:14pm
Aultimer:
All this chatter about male promiscuity is simply irrelevant as a matter of policymaking. Whatever the proportion of men and women who prefer to be promiscuous or monogamous, there's presently a sufficient supply of women willing to engage in activity to satisfy the men's demand. Marriage, from this perspective, is just one way the "market" matches supply and demand (apparently Thailand has it's own market niche - the things you learn at VC!)
10.31.2005 3:24pm
Medis:
On Lawn,

I'm not expecting anyone else to rely on my opinion of your linked articles, or for that matter my opinion of anything you write here. But this is how a discussion works: people react to the things you write--expressing their own thoughts, findings, opinions, conclusions, and so forth--and you can choose to respond as you see fit to those reactions.

Anyway, I think the legal aspects of Hawaii's reciprocal beneficiaries scheme clearly fall short of the sort of public/social/community dimension that I have in mind. It is true that such a scheme is not entirely "private" in the sense that there are legal consequences to registering as reciprocal beneficiaries, but it certainly is not obvious that these legal consequences alone are sufficient to provide all the support and stabilization to gay families that the entire institution of marriage provides to straight families.
10.31.2005 3:28pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
But this is how a discussion works:

Condesention is the root of why your posts have little resemblance to rational discourse.

I'm not expecting anyone else to rely on my opinion of your linked articles

No one is saying you shouldn't have an opinion. But to accept what you find as helpful, relevant, or even persuasive as a counter-argument is wishful thinking.

I await an answer as to how Dale's arguments 1 and 4 are for ss"m" instead of RB's.
10.31.2005 3:42pm
Medis:
On Lawn,

I'm not sure why you see the need to resort to personal attacks.

Anyway, getting back to the substantive issues: with respect to Dale's point (1), my answer to your question is that "reciprocal beneficiaries"--at least as defined in Hawaii--lack most of the public/social/community aspects of marriage. It seems likely that those missing aspects contribute substantially to the ability of marriage to support and stabilize families. Accordingly, a "reciprocal beneficiaries" scheme that lacks these aspects is unlikely to produce the same benefits. Incidentally, this reasoning, of course, applies whether we are talking about gay families or straight families--in other words, I think it is unlikely that a "reciprocal beneficiaries" scheme for straight families would do as much as marriage to support and stabilize those families.

On #4, obviously it depends a bit on what Dale means by a "moral life". But the Hawaii "reciprocal beneficiaries" scheme is actually almost entirely decoupled from what sort of life is being lived by the registered beneficiaries (they do not, for example, have to be living together in a committed relationship). So insofar as such a scheme seems to have little if anything to do with what sort of life the people in question are living, it is hard to see how participating in such a scheme will do much "to make available the most moral life (in a traditionalist sense) possible" to those participants.
10.31.2005 3:53pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
I'm not sure why you see the need to resort to personal attacks.

Medis, I appologize if you took anything personally. However, as you set yourself up as a personal authority, you can naturally expect that authority to be challenged. Indeed, while you appeal to your own opinions and judgements, you can expect perhaps, a sense of personal rejection when your self-serving assertions are not accepted as you wish?

my answer to your question is that "reciprocal beneficiaries"--at least as defined in Hawaii--lack most of the public/social/community aspects of marriage.

An enumeration of such would be helpful. But alas after querying you are still short of providing.

Honestly, no, I have better things to do if all you want to do is keep reflecting yourself as an authority.
10.31.2005 4:11pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Medis: It seems likely that those missing aspects contribute substantially to the ability of marriage to support and stabilize families. ...But the Hawaii "reciprocal beneficiaries" scheme is actually almost entirely decoupled from what sort of life is being lived by the registered beneficiaries (they do not, for example, have to be living together in a committed relationship).

So exactly what is the government's interest in assuring the "registered beneficiaries" are actually doing each other? How does that help their families whether they are or not?

The "public/social/community" piece of marriage that is missing from neutered "marriage" is purpose.
10.31.2005 4:18pm
Randy R. (mail):
Oh for pete's sake, Roach. We gay people don't want marriage just so we can destroy the underpinings of western civilization. First, those quotes from gay activists (and perhaps you can say gay, not homosexual..?) are out of context. What they want, what all us gay people want, is to have religious people and conservatives and what not to stop telling us that being gay is abnormal, wrong, repulsive and so on. It may in fact be those things for YOU, but they are not for me. For me, it is quite normal, right, and wonderful.

The problem is that the message that we send to gay youth is that they are abnormal, against nature and God and so on, and as a result, gay youth have a much higher rates of suicide depression than others. If we had a society that valued gay people equally with straight people, we could alleviate a lot of pain and anguish. THAT is what we want -- an acknowedgement that being gay is just as good as being straight. That in turn would require normalizing gay relationships, and changing our society's ideas about sexuality overall. What it does NOT mean is that we are trying to make everyone gay, or destroy heterosexuality.

As for women civilizing men, I think you have it exactly backwards. Most of the gay men I know are the most civilized beings you could ever meet -- they play Chopin on the piano, read Dostoyevsky, know the difference between Merlot and Cabernet, can distinguish a chair that is Louis XV from a chair that is Louis XVI, and can dance better than any straight man I know. Far more civilized than those idiots who belch as they drink beer watching the game on tv.

(Can't wait to see who is offended by this post!!! tee-hee)
10.31.2005 4:32pm
Former Student (www):
Professor Carpenter,

Thanks for providing us with a clear outline of where you are going. As a side question, why are you choosing to approach this issue from a 'moralistic' rather than a 'rights-based' framework?
10.31.2005 4:32pm
Medis:
On Lawn,

Again, I see no purpose to your personal attacks. And also again, I don't claim that anyone should take anything I write on my personal authority.

Back to the substance: I'm not sure I can enumerate all the public/social/community aspects of marriage--that is a complicated task, I'm sure you would agree. But reflecting just on my own marriage, I can name a few obvious things. For example, the way in which our families interact with us has been changed dramatically by our marriage. Similarly, the way in which we interact with the people in our neighborhood is colored by our marriage, as is the way in which we interact with the people at our places of work. I could go on, but I would think this is all pretty obvious: marriage, at least in many cases, has implications well beyond something like our ability to name each other as beneficiaries on certain insurance contracts.

And I also think these social aspects render our family more stable. Generally, these interactions tend to reflect an understanding that we will make important decisions together, that we will coordinate our important activities together, and so forth. So, to give just one somewhat trivial, but often emotionally-significant, example, my family will no longer demand that I join them for every holiday, because they understand that as a married couple we will spend holidays together, but will also have to share our time with both sides of the family.

So, this is the sort of thing I have in mind. And while I don't have a general and comprehensive enumeration of public/social/community aspects of marriage, I would suggest that the general idea that marriage has such a dimension is a pretty uncontroversial notion.

Op Ed.,

That quote comes under my discussion of Dale's point (4), and I hesistate to suggest on his behalf what role sexuality should play in a moral life. My only point was that whether or not government should play any role consistent with his point (4), it seems likely that the "reciprocal beneficiaries" scheme in Hawaii is unlikely to play such a role, given that it is not tied at all to any specific aspects of the life being led by the registered beneficiaries.
10.31.2005 4:41pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Medis,

There is no need to accuse me of personal attacks here, unless you are attempting to attack me personally yourself. I ask you once again to produce something appealing to reason, logic, or even common sense.

I could go on, but I would think this is all pretty obvious: marriage, at least in many cases, has implications well beyond something like our ability to name each other as beneficiaries on certain insurance contracts.

It sounds like you are advocating using marriage as a way to gain credibility for your relationship. Perhaps this ss"m" couple can provide inspiration for you to search within yourself, rather than government to solve your dillema of personal accptance:

Couples said that losing their legal marriages did not mean they have lost their relationships. "In our case, and most of the cases, the marriage existed before the piece of paper, and the marriage will exist after the paper," said Beren DeMotier, 40

Our marriage isn't void. It's so very full. It's miraculous and mundane. It's the foundation we'll build a family on.

"It doesn't change who we are," Lauren said ...

Christine Tanner, 57, of Northeast Portland, a nursing professor, said she and Lisa Chickadonz, 48, a nurse midwife, have two children, have been together 20 years and are married in every way.


What you should also produce is reasoning as to why you don't think RB's would provide the same credibility to your relationship socially.

I think you are floundering here, I've noted previously that your arguments have been more substantial at times. Perhaps you should really evaluate your position when you start advocating the government get into the business of touchy-feely affirmation.

Marriage advocates well point to reasoning such as yours as just how marriage is devalued by ss"m". While you advocate a social need of acceptance by marriage, others advocate a social moring of procreative powers to ensure the rights of children. You may try to argue that a re-alignment of the interests of the former can still provide the interests of the latter, but that is wishful thinking. As the government has moved from the latter to the former, we have seen all sorts of social mayhem produced. That you wish to produce more to fulfill your own relationships petty needs shows you still have much to learn about marriage.
10.31.2005 4:57pm
Tom (www):
Good luck promoting the gutting of the definition of marriage on the premise that this will somehow promote "values." Society for more than 2,000 has embodied in law, not a (necessarily) religious principle, but a social principle, that homosexuality is contrary to society's good. You can dispute that stance, but it is in fact the bedrock for the "decision" to build upon marriage as it is naturally found, i.e., between one man and one woman, and enshrine that form into law with its concomitant protections. All to nurture the traditional family, seen as the fundamental building block of society. That some secondary "value" such as moving from promiscuity to "monogamy" might incidentally occur with the revolution you propose, is hardly evidence against the fundamental value you're discarding, namely, the protection and nurturing of the traditional family of mother, father, and child.

Second, your burden is incredibly high precisely because society has for so long so heavily weighted its law in favor of this family structure and against contrary impulses such as homosexuality. You have to prove that because a very small minority (marriage minded homosexuals) of what is itself a small minority (homosexuals) want to rearrange the definition of a fundamental institution, then the will of not only a current vast majority, but of their forbears, should be thwarted. I hope you will not exclude from your proofs why tradition and custom should not prevail, since they are, as Chesterton averred, "the democracy of the dead."
10.31.2005 5:10pm
Marianne:
On Lawn, Are you saying that rb's are as qualified as marriage to achieve the ends Professor Carpenter lays out in (1) - (4)?
10.31.2005 5:17pm
Roach (mail) (www):
In the examples you cite, Randy R, I would distinguish a la Nietzsche culture from civilization. Culture gays have in spades and are indeed some of our most prolific contributors. Mere civilization and order, however, are different.

Gays live on the artistic and cultural and cosomopolitan fringe. But you can't at once be bohemian and normalized. Virtually normal. Much of the gay marriage movement is an attempt to find approval in what cannot be mainstreamed, namely, a sexual norm outside of heterosexual marriage. Sexual morality more than any other field of morality is probably the most dependant upon taboo and social prejudice. The sexual revolution of the sixties has led to the current "anything goes" "consenting adults" skeletonized sexual morality. One might have asked then, "How do a bunch of hippies cavorting in Woodstock NY lead to gay marriage?"

In this post-1960s climate of unraveling social prejudices, other alternative structures can also enter through the gap: e.g., polygamous marriage, open marriages, etc., etc. When combined with mass immigration, these alternatives seem quite real. It is telling that our culture has strong taboos against these things for reasons just as "irrational" as our long established taboos against gay marriage. Frankly the liklihood of further undermining our fast-unravelling sexual morality is too likely to mess with gay marriage, pace the normalization advocates.
10.31.2005 5:34pm
Medis:
On Lawn,

Once again, I will ignore your personal attacks.

On the substance:

I'm not sure what you mean by "credible" in this context. When I got married, I didn't think my relationship with my wife was not credible until we got married. Rather, I saw our marriage as more like a notification to the world of the status of our relationship, and a request to our family, friends, and community to treat us accordingly. If we had instead notifed everyone that we were "reciprocal beneficiaries" within the meaning of Hawaiian law, I'm not sure what, if anything, our family, friends, and community would have taken away from that about our relationship. Again, the Hawaiian scheme is actually pretty clear about the fact that it requires no relationship in particular between the beneficiaries, so why would the announcement that we had registered as beneficiaries have any particular significance to anyone?

In short, I find it hard to believe that you really believe that being married and being registered reciprocal beneficiaries is the same for straight families, so why would it be the same for gay families?

All of this, of course, is separate from two other issues you raise. One is whether the government should be involved at all in this process of being married (again, one can ask this question for gay or straight families). The other is whether the benefits of this process can be extended to gay families without somehow harming straight families.

But these are different issues. Your specific claim was that all the benefits listed under (1) and (4) would be conveyed by reciprocal beneficiary schemes, and I am still having trouble understanding why you think that marriage does not often involve much more than the Hawaiian scheme--whether or not those additional aspects should be a matter of state policy at all, or extended to gay families.
10.31.2005 5:42pm
Marianne:
Roach:
Gays live on the artistic and cultural and cosomopolitan fringe.

Do you mean this for both gay men and women? Of rural gay men and women as well as urban gay men and women? Do you mean it as universally true?
10.31.2005 5:47pm
Medis:
Roach,

Why do you think gay relationships cannot be "mainstream"? They will never be a majority of relationships, but infrequency alone does not render a particular kind of relationship outside the range considered "mainstream".
10.31.2005 6:15pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Medis,

Once again, I will ignore your personal attacks.

I'm not sure how to take this. You've lobbied this false accusation now, and you seem to think repetition will make it true. My efforts to come together with you to find where you feel attacked and how were ignored. I feel that is opportunism and bad-faith on your part.

As I said before, I see no reason for you to accuse me of personal attacks, except of course as a personal attack of your own.

I saw our marriage as more like a notification to the world of the status of our relationship

Marriage is not a harbringer of social status. You argue that you don't understand "credibility" means, yet continue for the next three sentances to argue just what credibility you sought by being married.

I find it hard to believe

Here you accuse me falsely in proporting something I am not. I will simply point that out, and let its ramifications of your personality lie as it may lest you again feel the need to discuss how people view you and how important it is to you.

being married and being registered reciprocal beneficiaries is the same for straight families, so why would it be the same for gay families?

RB's describe what Dale is after in benefits and recognition. Why does marriage have anything to do with this? You'll need to answer that for me also.

If you are after homogenization, you need to pitch your case for it. Dale's case is not for homogenization but for benefits, therefore RB's are something he needs to consider as an appropriate solution.

Because, it seems to me that if there are two sides to this issue, two models of marriage in competition here, then we need to evaluate them independantly. You are asking to decide them dependantly, which often simply means conflation and homogenization which are poor social policies.
10.31.2005 6:17pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
-- Society for more than 2,000 has embodied in law, not a (necessarily) religious principle, but a social principle, that homosexuality is contrary to society's good. --

And the institution of slavery has had just as much cross cultural traditional support. This isn't to make an equivalence between slavery and anti-gay animus, but merely to point out that cross-cultural consensus can be used to support the most horrific evils that one can think of.

-- You can dispute that stance, but it is in fact the bedrock for the "decision" to build upon marriage as it is naturally found, i.e., between one man and one woman, and enshrine that form into law with its concomitant protections. --

And arguably marriage is not "naturally found" between one man and one woman. A cursory review of most cultures throughout history shows that one-man/ multi-woman marriages -- with the Alpha Males hording the entire crop of women to the exclusion of lesser males -- have been just as common if not more so than one-man/one-woman.
10.31.2005 6:55pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
And the institution of slavery has had just as much cross cultural traditional support.

two problems with that statement, 1) Marriage is not slavery and 2) your statement is false. Even in the USA states needed to be gerrymandered to maintain a 50% pro-slavery coalition.

This isn't to make an equivalence between slavery and anti-gay animus

An equivolence cannot even be made between support for equal gender representation in marriage and anti-gay animus. Though we should take a good look at the increase in animus towards gays as they advocate neutering marriage.
10.31.2005 7:10pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
"1) Marriage is not slavery and"

Completely besides the point. I already addressed it in my original post, which you even quoted. "This isn't to make an equivalence between slavery and anti-gay animus...."

"2) your statement is false. Even in the USA states needed to be gerrymandered to maintain a 50% pro-slavery coalition."

By the time we were founded, the theory which ended up putting nail in the coffin of slavery was already articulated and had begun to be accepted by more and more people. Indeed, we were "founded" on such a theory: "All men are created equal." In order to support slavery, one had to deny that blacks were human, which is a pretty untenable and absurd belief. But go back one hundred years or so and slavery went on pretty much unquestioned in the West and every else. It was the oldest, most deeply ingrained cross-cultural historical institution, second to only the family.

So my original post stands unrefuted.
10.31.2005 7:23pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Correction: I should have written:

"But go back one hundred years or so BEFORE THE FOUNDING."
10.31.2005 7:24pm
Medis:
On Lawn,

Again, I will ignore the personal attacks.

On the substance:

I still do not know what you mean by "credible" in this context. Please explain. As I see it, I was not trying to add credibility to my relationship by getting married (I'm not sure what that even means). Rather, as I suggested, in my view we were notifying people of something (the status of our relationship--not our "social status" I would note), and also requesting something of people (that they behave in certain ways toward us in the future).

Where do you see "credibility" coming into my account? Perhaps I am confused because I did not see us as making an equivalent public claim regarding our relationship (the claim in this case being a combination of a notification and a request) prior to the marriage, and so we did not need a marriage to add credibility to some other public claim. Rather, the marriage itself WAS the public claim. And to me, at least, your notion of marriage lending "credibility" to something implies a separation between marriage and some other claim. So what was my other claim in your view?

Finally, I'm not sure why you think that something like Hawaii's "reciprocal beneficiaries" scheme conveys the same recognition as marriage (it doesn't convey the same legal benefits either, but we can hold that aside for now). As I have repeatedly noted, there is no relational content to registering as "reciprocal beneficiaries" in Hawaii. So if marriage, at least in cases like mine, involves a request for public recognition of a certain relationship between those getting married, then registering as reciprocal beneficiaries can't be a substitute precisely because it lacks that relational content.
10.31.2005 8:37pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Let me point out that I'm not all for throwing out tradition. We have two sides -- the "conservative" side which seems to argue that "tradition" is dispositive, or seeks such an overwhelming presumption in favor of it, I feel the need to point out that tradition could justify the most horrific moral evil, slavery being just one.

Before we were "founded" as a liberal democracy, "divine rule of Kings" was "tradition." And as Allan Bloom pointed out all Foundings, including ours, are radical.

And the other side, I won't call it "the Liberal," but more the radical Progressive side (those "social constructionists," critical theorists, those inspired by "Foucault") who want to throw out EVERYTHING, every tradition, even the good ones which we ought to conserve.

I'd like to think I, as a classical liberal, support the happy medium.

We don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Tradition does have its merits. We should seek to conserve what is good, what works, and throw out illiberal, valueless traditions (of which I'd argue anti-gay animus is one). We must also recognize that our traditions -- even and especially the good ones -- are constantly in a state of flux and evolution.

Jonathan Rauch, in this article, explores both sides. I don't think -- as I'm sure some will argue -- that "gay marriage" = throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I'd argue, again, after folks like Carpenter and Jonathan Rauch, that abolishing marriage itself (something that those aforementioned leftist radicals would do) would be "throwing out the baby with the bathwater," and that preserving marriage and expanding it to include gay couples constitutes throwing out the bathwater, while preserving the baby.
10.31.2005 8:52pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Medis,

Again, I will ignore the personal attacks.

There were no personal attacks, and if there were stating you are ignoring them isn't ignoring them. Its a sluffed way to make a false accusation.

I'm just calling it for what it is.

I still do not know what you mean by "credible" in this context.

I think you are evading now. Well enough, your posts are enough to judge your words by.

When you have to make the same play three times, its stalemate. I hold no blame in your construction of an impass in the conversation.
10.31.2005 11:45pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
I had planned to steer clear of this discussion, but find I can't resist a point that needs making. It was quite obvious that there was a lot of hostility to Gallagher's position/arguments. It is also quite obvious that there is a lot of receptivity to Carpenter's. This hostility/receptivity prejudices the "debate" in such a way that it becomes self-serving.

Why do I say this? Almost from the starting blocks, Gallagher was castigated, maligned, and disagreed with. Her posts were logically ripped apart from Day One. Intentions were inferred. Meanings were denigrated. And her purposes were scoffed at or attacked ad hominem.

The bulk of the posts for this thread have been the exact opposite. Now, whether you like or dislike Gallagher (I have my own issues with her discussion), why have only a couple of posters noted the self-limiting, misleading, and exclusionary nature of Carpenter's post? I dare say it has to do with the receptivity that many have for his arguments. Frankly, I find it a bit disingenuous that this blog's normal increduality has been pushed aside.

Let's see...


If any significant part of what I described above actually came to pass, it would be a dark day for sexual liberationists, for opponents of marriage, for much of the gay left, and for many others who now say they favor gay marriage; conversely, if any significant part of it came true, it should be cause for rejoicing among conservatives, especially traditionalist conservatives. The key here is the "if."


Gotta love the 'reaching across the aisle' warm fuzzies. But, somehow I don't think that true, "traditionalist conservatives" (noting that Carpenter leaves this group suspiciously undefined in the finest deconstructionist tradition) would see the following as exemplary of our social identity:

1.) support and stabilize gay families - Traditional conservatives don't agree with 'gay families' to begin with. Why would they have any interest or rejoice in their support and stabilization? Frankly, they would much rather see homosexuals precluded from creating child-raising 'families.' Bear in mind that my observation has nothing to do with morality, religion, or the 'rightness' or 'wrongness' of such a position. I simply point out that Carpenter is attempting to give credibility to the arguments by self-selecting aspects of marriage, as it currently exists, extolled by 'traditional conservatives' and presuming or de facto claiming that these aspects would be, essentially, the same in their effect based on familial relationships that are, by definition, different from those that exist within traditional marriage. As Houston Lawyer said in the last set of arguments (sorry, I like the analogy): "Calling a bull a cow doesn't make it suitable for milking." As this saying applies in this circumstance, adding the title doesn't automatically equate to support and stabilization, let alone the same support and stability that traditional marriage may, or may not, engender. In fact, 'traditional conservatives' would argue that homosexuality, particularly government sanction thereof, is, by definition, a 'destabilizing' factor in society and family relationships; statistics notwithstanding.

2.) it will help channel these families into traditional patterns of living, providing them and their communities some measure of the private and public goods we expect from marriage - Again, this is assuming that these private and public goods (many of which are intangible ) will be available to an arrangement that Carpenter recognizes is different. And, if "some measure" is the standard, then don't we already have "some measure" of these private and public goods already provided? So, are we to assume that "some measure" means "more than traditional conservatives" are willing to recognize as appropriate? Not to mention that there is a precursory presumption of a changed "tradition" to include what are viewed as "nontraditional" relationships so that these families can be 'channeled into traditional patterns of living.' Does anyone else see this as a bit presumptive, putting the cart before the horse, or begging the issue?

3.) it will, over time, tend to traditionalize gay individuals by elevating respect within gay culture for values like commitment to others and monogamy at the expense of hedonism and promiscuity - Once again, traditional conservatives DON'T feel that "gay individuals" or the "gay community" are representative of proper behaviors. Traditional conservatives consider homosexuality, no matter the context, to be, at its base, 'hedonistic and promiscuous.' How does adding the tag of 'marriage' change a traditional conservative's view that homosexuality is unacceptable to begin with?

4.) it will make available the most moral life (in a traditionalist sense) possible for a sexually active homosexual - To 'traditionalists' (Does Carpenter deliberately obfuscate between 'traditionalist' in the homosexual community and 'traditionalists/traditional conservatives' in the general public?), homosexuality is immoral to begin with; adding the appellation of 'married' doesn't ameliorate the perceived 'immorality.'

5.) and it will do all of this without hurting traditional families or marriage - This seems another, LARGE assumption given his later recognition of 'prudential' resistance based on "possible unintended and unforeseeable consequences." Further, it totally ignores the given that to redefine marriage is to change marriage; at least insofar as 'traditional conservatives' are concerned. And, by the very nature of their being "traditionlists" (i.e., bound to tradition), ANY change or redefining of 'tradition' is a de facto negative or 'harm.'

6.) perhaps even helping to a limited extent with the revival of marriage - The campaign for homosexual marriage has already created a revival of marriage in the sense that 'traditional conservatives' find themselves in the awkward position of feeling compelled to defend, define, and justify the definition of "is." If, on the other hand, Carpenter intends that 'revival' carry that portion of its definition so that his actual statement would read - "perhaps even helping...with an improvement in the condition, strength, or popularity of marriage" - then we are brought back to the concept that his unstated, but decidedly intended, meaning is predicated by his purpose.

In other words, rather than intention informing meaning and meaning defining purpose, Carpenter has let his purpose define his intent, thereby creating meanings which are, at best, obfuscation and misleading insofar as 'traditionalist' and 'traditional conservative' are concerned. He then furthers this 'agenda' by pointing out that he probably won't convert those who view homosexuality through the prism of their religious beliefs; at least insofar as those religious beliefs predicating their perceptions of secular law.

Huh? So, Carpenter has just dismissed all those who feel that their religious beliefs, or the sense of morality derived therefrom, are outside his target audience in that he only wishes to address 'secular law;' i.e., law which does not represent a religiously-derived sense of morality. Is it just me or is this Carpenter's way of saying that his discussion/argument is not predicated on the Judeo-Christian tradition which has informed our laws and that we should accept a different definition of 'tradition' or create a new 'tradition' in the shaping of our laws?

Does this not, at one stroke, exclude the 'traditional conservative' in that his premises are different than their's? And, if their premises, definitions, perceptions, and assumptions are different, then why bother with them? After all, Carpenter feels confident that his case will persuade these people of the above six benefits; but, if not, then the "faith-based traditionalist opposed to homosexuality, like all those generally uncomfortable with homosexuality, might reluctantly reconcile himself to gay marriage as the most realistic public-policy way to make the best of the bad."

Isn't this just another way of saying: "If they won't be converted, we will proceed without them and pronounce ourselves victorious so that they will have to accept the inevitable?"

Of course, there seems to be quite a bit of this type of dismissiveness and purpose-defined boundary construction in Carpenter's post.



A related point: though there's no logically necessary connection, attitudes about gay marriage correlate strongly with a person's underlying views of homosexuality. Is it a harmful or benign variation of human sexuality? Is it chosen or unchosen? The best evidence strongly favors the benign/unchosen answers. I may devote some, but not much, space to these Gay 101 issues if it seems necessary.



Second, I will not make rights-based arguments, e.g., that there is a constitutional right to gay marriage. Lots of people spend lots of time arguing about this; indeed, rights-talk has monopolized the debate. The traditionalist case is consequential and moral, not legal.


Where to begin? Day One, Logic class. Question: Does God exist? If you answer 'yes,' all subsequent argument is based on that premise. If you answer 'no,' all subsequent argument is based on that premise. The two answers, and thereby the premises, are mutually exclusive.

Query: Is homosexuality moral? If you answer 'yes,' then your views and arguments, no matter how logically valid, on topics, including gay adoption and gay marriage, are premised on this answer. If you answer 'no,' then your views and arguments related to these same topics are different than those who answered 'yes.' Are they mutually exclusive? Yes, insofar as their 'morality.' Is either 'truthful?' How do you falisfy a definition of 'truth' when that definition of 'truth' is based on personal belief?

When Carpenter states that there is no logically necessary connection, he is correct. One can have a valid, logical argument based on false premises. Therefore, an argument, no matter how logically valid, is NOT, of necessity, a 'truthful' one. But, ignoring this part of the lecture, Carpenter then proceeds to assert that the "best evidence strongly favors the benign/unchosen answers;" giving us a clear indication of his perception of 'truthfulness' and condescending to educate us in 'Gay 101' if we show signs of apostasy or heretical intent which does not correlate with his argument. Thus, Carpenter has avoided the necessity of 'falsifying' the truth of counter-arguments by excluding them as inconsistent with his beliefs.

He then posits the intellectual inconsistency that the argument he is about to present is not a legal one, but one which is consequential (e.g., legal redefinition of 'marriage' as inclusive of homosexual relationships and legally enforced access to the benefits derived therefrom) and moral; provided "this tenet [a religiously-derived morality] (like others?) need not necessarily be mandated in secular law..." Again, 'secular law' is, by definition, based on precepts which are commands issued in writing through the process of the courts or other legal authority. In religion, precepts are usually commands related to moral conduct or behavior. Thus, Carpenter's continued reference to 'secular law' is a veiled reference to a code or sense of morality decidedly different from one based on religious precepts; making his 'secular law' based on something other than 'traditionalist' Judeo-Christian beliefs.

Of course, this creates a problem. By focusing on the discrete points in how he intends to frame his discussion/argument, we see that Carpenter is neither presenting a 'traditionalist' or 'traditional conservative' argument for homosexual marriage, nor is he willing to discuss a sense of morality different than the one which premises his argument. He simply wishes to present an argument in favor of homosexual marriage by separating those positive aspects of marriage from the traditional definition and moral scope of marriage itself. Further, he wishes to effect a legal outcome through discourse framed, not on legal issues, but on consequences which may, or may not, be separable from the traditional definition of marriage; and on a sense of morality different from the religious-based morals which have come to surround the institution itself.

He expresses these parameters when he states:


Try to focus narrowly on the discrete point(s) made in the post to which you're responding. There's a tendency in this debate, on both sides, to "kitchen-sink" every argument, that is, to respond to specific points with unrelated points or with global observations about the nature of marriage, the world, the meaning of life, and so on.


This is much like a magician's sleight of hand. Don't look at this hand, look at THIS hand. Don't look at the fact that you're losing your money in this game of 'three card monty' or 'where's the pea.' Look instead at how nice the cups are and how fast the hands are moving. Focus on the card or cup you THINK is correct in this round. Oops. Wrong again. Let me help you with a little advice. Ready? Let's try again.

In the end, the parameters Carpenter lays down in this post require that posters do something completely different than they did with Gallagher. He wishes you to argue against or discuss his discrete points based on HIS point of view, sense of morality, and by ignoring those issues which conflict with his premises. Nice work if you can get it. But, like Jack McCoy said in an episode of Law &Order: "If you're gonna play stick-ball in...you'd better learn [their] rules."

Or, do the posters here intend to play by Carpenter's rules? So far, that seems to be the case.
11.1.2005 2:18am
Randy R. (mail):
Thanks for the long post. Basically, we can boil it down to this: Traditionalists oppose anything gay, gay related or possibly gay, and so why should they accept any of it?

Well, they don't have to. Traditionalists can ignore gay people and their families as much as they would like. Traditionalists would like us to go back to the closet where these issues aren't even discussed. Traditionalists also would probably like it that women stay home and raise children while the husband earns the bread.

But that doens't mean the world works that way for everyone. I believe the world is big enough to accomodate everyone, gay and straight, married and unmarried. So do a growing number of people.
11.1.2005 11:24am
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Randy R.: Thanks for the 'spin.' I can appreciate the fact that you totally ignored the points I made about the argument being framed so as to be misleading as to 'traditionalists' and 'traditional conservatives; not to mention precluding any viewpoint except the one held by Carpenter. Your post provides a perfect example of the 'receptivity' and 'hositility' that I was referring to. I appreciate your help in making the very point I had in mind.

Thanks.
11.1.2005 2:47pm
Dr Bill:
It seems to me that you assume that orientation necessarily determines behavior... that is, that simply because one experiences romantic attractions to members of the same sex, that homosexual conduct is therefore inevitable. Why can't society sympathize with the "struggle" that gays experience but still insist that they express their sexuality in the context of heterosexual monogamous marriage?

Many, if not most, pathological desires are unchosen. Yet, individuals are expected to control their conduct despite those desires. An extreme example is pedophilia, which is presumably an unchosen orientation, yet we expect adults to not express sexual "love" towards children. I understand that homosexuality is different in many people's minds because it is unchosen/benign rather than unchose/malign (although there are some organizations such as NAMBLA who argue that it is healthy for men to have sex with boys). However, it is an example, among many, where society chooses not to accomodate an individual's desires but insists on conduct that requires the sublimation of those desires.

Additionally, there are many gay people who legally marry. That is, they marry someone of the opposite sex. Note that this means that gay people are not denied marriage, only gay couples are denied marriage. This is a huge point. The law and society does not ask a man or woman wishing to marry if they are gay.... it only matters that they are of opposite genders. Therefore, gay individuals are not denied the right to marry... they are expected to sublimate their dysfunctional (in the sense that same gender sex has no biological function other than to satisfy the sexual desires of the parties involved) desires in favor of rational/functional ones.

Recently Cheryl Swoopes admitted she was gay. Yet she was previously married to a man and had a child?!?!? So obviously, she was capable of sex with a man... I assume she enjoyed it... I assume she loved him at some point or she wouldn't have married him. She then CHOSE to enter into a relationship with another woman despite the fact that the option existed (as it does for all gay people) to choose another man.

The entire gay marriage debate is premised on the idea that society is obligated to respect the same sex behavioral choices of individuals who call themeselves gay, when in fact opposte sex choices are legally available to them. It seems to me that it is socially irrelevant whether an individual feels sexual attraction to members of the same sex.... their obligation is to pursue sexual relationships with members of the opposite sex (preferably within the context of monogamous marriage). I understand that it is not ideal to marry someone that you are not sexually attracted to (although I suspect they can learn to like it just as I suspect I could probably learn to have sex with a man, as unenticing as it seems to me now) but, not meaning to be smug, we all have our issues. This just happens to be their "thorn in the flesh"
11.2.2005 4:52pm